My judgement as a native speaker has been tainted. This is a homework question, but it's not necessarily a definite answer type of question. The sentence I'm having trouble with: 1) !The witches stirred the tree. The part of my answer that I'm happy with: (1) is semantically anomalous because it violates a semantic selectional restriction that stirred places on its patient argument, the tree. IOW, it doesn't make sense because you can't stir a tree. The problem: I have to define/describe this restriction and produce a grammatical sentence that obeys it. IOW, I just need to figure out what kinds of things can be stirred -- what they all must have in common -- excluding rhetorical uses. Being fluid was the first thing that came to mind... but you can, for example, stir a box of blocks, so refined a little: the patient argument of stir must refer to an entity that consists of smaller units that can be rearranged. That seemed to cover everything. But isn't 2) The witches stirred the pot. just fine and dandy? It sounds fine to me, and google turned up plenty of examples of it. Actually, I think I'm figuring it out as I'm typing this, but I'd love to hear your ideas and opinions! Should I change my description or is it understood in (2) that they stirred the contents of the pot?