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Hi, Lagrange—"Break" is in a family of verbs known as "unaccusative" or "ergative" verbs. You can look them up. Briefly, an ergative verb is one that can either be used transitively with an agent as subject ("Jack broke the vase") or intransitively with the theme/patient as subject ("The vase broke"). Another verb that illustrates this well is "evaporate." We can say "The sun/heat evaporated the water" or "The water evaporated." "Smell" is not an ergative verb. You've noticed that "smell" can be used as a copula, or linking verb, in addition to its use as a sensation verb. Compare: "He looked at her" vs. "He looked nice."

Last edited by David, Moderator

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