Definition of benefactive in US English:



  • Denoting a semantic case or construction that expresses the person or thing that benefits from the action of the verb, for example for you in I bought this for you.

    • ‘A key feature of South Efate grammar is the grammaticalisation of a benefactive phrase in pre-verbal position.’
    • ‘The privative and benefactive suffixes should have vowels (a and e) written with underdots.’


  • The benefactive case, or a word or expression in it.

    • ‘The association between dative case and recipients or benefactives holds for direct objects and subjects as well as indirect objects.’
    • ‘For example in Golin, a Chimbu language of the Papuan highlands, the same overall strategy that produces multi-verb representations for benefactives or motion events does the same for reciprocal situations, by reporting them as complex symmetrical pairings of subevents.’
    • ‘I'm going to look at applicatives and benefactives shortly.’
    • ‘Let's look at an example with benefactives: ‘Sam baked a cake for Matilda’ (for Matilda is the benefactive).’


1940s: from Latin benefactus ‘capable of giving’ + -ive.