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Valency is a category that indicates the number of syntactic arguments required by any predicate.

Natural language

In the UNLarium framework, valency may assume the following values:

Verb valency and transitivity
Verb valency is related, though not identical, to verb transitivity. Valency includes all arguments (including the subject) whereas transitivity includes only objects.
rain = intransitive and monovalent (VAL1)
llover (es = rain) = intransitive and avalent (VAL0)
run = unergative (intransitive) and monovalent (VAL1)
Non-verbal valency
Nouns, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions also have valency, which is related to the number of (internal) arguments they require.
beauty (noun) = avalent (VAL0)
beautiful (adjective) = avalent (VAL0)
beautifully (adverb) = avalent (VAL0)
arrival = monovalent (VAL1) (arrival of someone)
loyal = monovalent (VAL1) (loyal to someone or to something)
differently = monovalent (VAL1) (differently from something)
in = monovalent (VAL1) (in someplace)
Elliptical objects
In the UNLarium framework, objects are to be considered stretch marks elliptical (hidden) in verbal constructions if they can be inferred from the context.
I read the book = I read all the afternoon = divalent (VAL2) (no significant semantic change)
John kissed Mary = John kisses well = divalent (VAL2) (no significant semantic change)
John bought a car = John buys (and Peter sells) = divalent (VAL2) (no significant semantic change)
Different valency values mean different senses
In the UNLarium framework, the same verb may have different valency values, but only when associated to different UWs:
John lives in Paris = monovalent (VAL1) (live = reside)
John lives a nightmare = divalent (VAL2) (live = experience)
Objects (essential) are not to be confounded with adjuncts (accidental)
John bought a car to Mary = divalent (VAL2) and not trivalent (VAL3)


  • avalent: house, sad, now
  • avalent: llover (es), chover (pt) (= rain) (null subject verbs in non-pro-drop languages)
  • monovalent: construction, interested, contrarily, run, fall, sleep;
  • divalent: buy, sell, go
  • trivalent: give


In UNL, valency, as a syntactic category, is not to be represented.