In linguistics the term diathesis alternation or verb alternation refers to the fact that verbs can be used in different subcategorization frames or with different valency where they slightly change their semantic meaning. It is a hard problem for theoretical linguistics how to encode constraints on the diathesis alternation of a specific verb to a lexicon. It is also claimed that the manner in which verbs undergo diathesis alternation can be used to identify the semantic class they belong to e.g. in a machine learning task.
- Fred ate the pizza vs. Fred ate
- Mary broke the window vs. The window broke
- Mary presented the flowers to John vs. Mary presented John with the flowers
- Levin, B. (1993) English Verb Classes and Alternations: A Preliminary Investigation, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL