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"Røre" vs. "røre ved"

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The following is a reply of mine to a question in a sentence discussion. If something is unclear, please don't hesitate to ask about in the comments, and I will clarify the post.

A Learner Asked: What is the difference between rører (infinitive røre) and rører ved (infinitve røre ved)?

Well, it's one of those things caused by the eternal language change. Originally, røre was an intransitive verb, meaning it took only a subject and no object. Similar to how to sleep takes only a subject (you can't say I sleep you) but to punch is transitive (I punch you, subject and object). So in order to attach an object, you had to use a modifier, similar to how you can say I cause you to sleep (but not quite).

Another variant is berøre from the prefix be- which is a (no longer productive) modifier to turn a verb into a transitive verb (similar to smile - besmile in English. I besmile you - I smile upon/towards you). This prefix is found in a LOT of verbs in modern Danish, similar to Dutch and German (my research tells me).

Today, however, røre is used by many people as a transitive verb with the same meaning as røre ved and berøre. To me, it still sounds a bit strange, but that's just how it is :)

In any case this sentence is a bit confusing, because it sounds like a command, but it's actually in the present tense, not imperative. I.e. it means you are not touching it, as a statement, not do not touch it which would be (du) rør ikke ved den.

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3 years ago
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