Phonetics. Lexicology. history 

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Phonetics. Lexicology. history

Phonetics. Lexicology. history

Phonetics as a branch of linguistics

structure and functions of the speech sounds. - This branch of linguistics is called phonetics.

Phonetics is an independent branch of linguistics like lexicology or grammar. These linguistic sciences study language from three different points of view. Lexicology deals with the vocabulary of language, with the origin and development of words, with their meaning and word building. Grammar defines the rules governing the modification of words and the combination of words into sentences. Phonetics studies the outer form of language; its sound matter.Phonetics occupies itself with the study of the ways in which the sounds are organized into a system of units and the variation of the units in all types and styles of spoken language.

Theoretical Phonetics has the following branches: articulatory, acoustic, auditory, functional /phonological Each branch of Theoretical Phonetics investigates the appropriate aspect of speech sounds. Articulatory Phonetics investigates the functioning of one’s speech apparatus and mechanism. It is based on profound knowledge of physiology and the structure of one’s speech apparatus. While investigating the articulatory aspect of speech sounds both subjective and objective methods are employed: the method of direct observation (concerning the lips & the tongue movements) – subjective method and X-ray photography and X-ray cinematography (objective methods). Acoustic Phonetics studies the acoustic properties of sounds (quantity, timber/voice quality, intensity, the pitch of the voice and temporal factor) in terms of the frequency of vibration and the amplitude of vibration in relation to time. The analysis begins with a microphone, which converts the air movement into corresponding electrical activity. While investigating the acoustic aspect of speech sounds special laboratory equipment is employed: spectrograph, intonograph, sound analyzing & sound synthesizing machines.

Auditory Phonetics is aimed at investigating the hearing process which is the brain activity.

Functional Phonetics presupposes investigating the discriminatory (distinctive) function of speech sounds.

Lexicology is a branch of linguistics which deals with a systematic description and study of the vocabulary of the language as regards its origin, development, meaning and current use. The term is composed of 2 words of Greek origin: lexis + logos. A word about words, or the science of a word. It also concerns with morphemes, which make up words and the study of a word implies reference to variable and fixed groups because words are components of such groups. Semantic properties of such words define general rules of their joining together. The general study of the vocabulary irrespective of the specific features of a particular language is known as general lexicology. Therefore, English lexicology is called special lexicology because English lexicology represents the study into the peculiarities of the present-day English vocabulary.

Lexicology is inseparable from: phonetics, grammar, and linguostylistics b-cause phonetics also investigates vocabulary units but from the point of view of their sounds. Grammar- grammatical peculiarities and grammatical relations between words. Linguostylistics studies the nature, functioning and structure of stylistic devices and the styles of a language.

Language is a means of communication. Thus, the social essence is inherent in the language itself. The branch of linguistics which deals with relations between the language functions on the one hand and the facts of social life on the other hand is termed sociolinguistics.

Modern English lexicology investigates the problems of word structure and word formation; it also investigates the word structure of English, the classification of vocabulary units, replenishment3 of the vocabulary; the relations between different lexical layers4 of the English vocabulary and some other. Lexicology came into being to meet the demands of different branches of applied linguistic! Namely, lexicography - a science and art of compiling dictionaries. It is also important for foreign language teaching and literary criticism.

The history of the English language really started with the arrival of three Germanic tribes who invaded Britain during the 5th century AD. These tribes, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, crossed the North Sea from what today is Denmark and northern Germany. At that time the inhabitants of Britain spoke a Celtic language. But most of the Celtic speakers were pushed west and north by the invaders - mainly into what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The Angles came from Englaland and their language was called Englisc - from which the words England and English are derived.

Old English (450-1100 AD) The invading Germanic tribes spoke similar languages, which in Britain developed into what we now call Old English. Old English did not sound or look like English today. Native English speakers now would have great difficulty understanding Old English. Nevertheless, about half of the most commonly used words in Modern English have Old English roots. The words be, strong and water, for example, derive from Old English. Old English was spoken until around 1100. Middle English (1100-1500) In 1066 William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy (part of modern France), invaded and conquered England. The new conquerors (called the Normans) brought with them a kind of French, which became the language of the Royal Court, and the ruling and business classes. For a period there was a kind of linguistic class division, where the lower classes spoke English and the upper classes spoke French. In the 14th century English became dominant in Britain again, but with many French words added. This language is called Middle English. It was the language of the great poet Chaucer (c1340-1400), but it would still be difficult for native English speakers to understand today.

Modern English Early Modern English (1500- 1800) Towards the end of Middle English, a sudden and distinct change in pronunciation (the Great Vowel Shift) started, with vowels being pronounced shorter and shorter. From the 16th century the British had contact with many peoples from around the world. This, and the Renaissance of Classical learning, meant that many new words and phrases entered the language. The invention of printing also meant that there was now a common language in print. Books became cheaper and more people learned to read. Printing also brought standardization to English. Spelling and grammar became fixed, and the dialect of London, where most publishing houses were, became the standard. In 1604 the first English dictionary was published. Late Modern English (1800-Present) The main difference between Early Modern English and Late Modern English is vocabulary. Late Modern English has many more words, arising from two principal factors: firstly, the Industrial Revolution and technology created a need for new words; secondly, the British Empire at its height covered one quarter of the earth's surface, and the English language adopted foreign words from many countries.




1.General characteristics.


The noun is the central lexical unit of language. It is the main nominative unit of speech. As any other part of speech, the noun can be characterised by three criteria: semantic (the meaning), morphological (the form and grammatical catrgories) and syntactical (functions, distribution).

Semantic features of the noun. The noun possesses the grammatical meaning of thingness, substantiality. According to different principles of classification nouns fall into several subclasses:

According to the type of nomination they may be proper and common;

According to the form of existence they may be animate and inanimate. Animate nouns in their turn fall into human and non-human.

According to their quantitative structure nouns can be countable and uncountable.

This set of subclasses cannot be put together into one table because of the different principles of classification.

Morphological features of the noun. In accordance with the morphological structure of the stems all nouns can be classified into: simple,derived (stem + affix, affix + stem – thingness); compound (stem+ stem – armchair) and composite (the Hague). The noun has morphological categories of number and case. Some scholars admit the existence of the category of gender.

Syntactic features of the noun. The noun can be used un the sentence in all syntacticfunctions but predicate. Speaking about noun combinability, we can say that it can go into right-hand and left-hand connections with practically all parts of speech. That is why practically all parts of speech but the verb can act as noun determiners. However, the most common noun determiners are considered to be articles, pronouns, numerals, adjectives and nouns themselves in the common and genitive case.


2. The category of number


The grammatical category of number is the linguistic representation of the objective category of quantity. The number category is realized through the opposition of two form-classes: the plural form:: the singular form. The category of number in English is restricted in its realization because of the dependent implicit grammatical meaning of countableness/uncountableness. The number category is realized only within subclass of countable nouns.

The grammatical meaning of number may not coincide with the notional quantity: the noun in the singular does not necessarily denote one object while the plural form may be used to denote one object consisting of several parts. The singular form may denote:

oneness (individual separate object – a cat);

generalization (the meaning of the whole class – The cat is a domestic animal);

indiscreteness (нерасчлененность or uncountableness - money, milk).

The plural form may denote:

the existence of several objects (cats);

the inner discreteness (внутренняя расчлененность, pluralia tantum, jeans).

To sum it up, all nouns may be subdivided into three groups:

The nouns in which the opposition of explicit discreteness/indiscreteness is expressed: cat::cats;

The nouns in which this opposition is not expressed explicitly but is revealed by syntactical and lexical correlation in the context. There are two groups here:

Singularia tantum. It covers different groups of nouns: proper names, abstract nouns, material nouns, collective nouns;

Pluralia tantum. It covers the names of objects consisting of several parts (jeans), names of sciences (mathematics), names of diseases, games, etc.

The nouns with homogenous number forms. The number opposition here is not expressed formally but is revealed only lexically and syntactically in the context: e.g. Look! A sheep is eating grass. Look! The sheep are eating grass.

3. The category of case.

Case expresses the relation of a word to another word in the word-group or sentence (my sister’s coat). The category of case correlates with the objective category of possession. The case category in English is realized through the opposition: The Common Case:: The Possessive Case (sister:: sister’s). However, in modern linguistics the term “genitive case” is used instead of the “possessive case” because the meanings rendered by the “`s” sign are not only those of possession. The scope of meanings rendered by the Genitive Case is the following:

Possessive Genitive: Mary’s father – Mary has a father,

Subjective Genitive: The doctor’s arrival – The doctor has arrived,

Objective Genitive: The man’s release – The man was released,

Adverbial Genitive: Two hour’s work – X worked for two hours,

Equation Genitive: a mile’s distance – the distance is a mile,

Genitive of destination: children’s books – books for children,

Mixed Group: yesterday’s paper

To avoid confusion with the plural, the marker of the genitive case is represented in written form with an apostrophe. This fact makes possible disengagement of –`s form from the noun to which it properly belongs. E.g.: The man I saw yesterday’s son, where -`s is appended to the whole group (the so-called group genitive). It may even follow a word which normally does not possess such a formant, as in somebody else’s book.


There is no universal point of view as to the case system in English. Different scholars stick to a different number of cases.

There are two cases. The Common one and The Genitive;

There are no cases at all, the form `s is optional because the same relations may be expressed by the ‘of-phrase’: the doctor’s arrival – the arrival of the doctor;

There are three cases: the Nominative, the Genitive, the Objective due to the existence of objective pronouns me, him, whom;

Case Grammar. Ch.Fillmore introduced syntactic-semantic classification of cases. They show relations in the so-called deep structure of the sentence. According to him, verbs may stand to different relations to nouns. There are 6 cases:

Agentive Case (A) John opened the door;

Instrumental case (I) The key opened the door; John used the key to open the door;

Dative Case (D) John believed that he would win (the case of the animate being affected by the state of action identified by the verb);

Factitive Case (F) The key was damaged (the result of the action or state identified by the verb);

Locative Case (L) Chicago is windy;

Objective case (O) John stole the book.


4. The Problem of Gender in English


Gender plays a relatively minor part in the grammar of English by comparison with its role in many other languages. There is no gender concord, and the reference of the pronouns he, she, it is very largely determined by what is sometimes referred to as ‘natural’ gender for English, it depends upon the classification of persons and objects as male, female or inanimate. Thus, the recognition of gender as a grammatical category is logically independent of any particular semantic association.

According to some language analysts (B.Ilyish, F.Palmer, and E.Morokhovskaya), nouns have no category of gender in Modern English. Prof.Ilyish states that not a single word in Modern English shows any peculiarities in its morphology due to its denoting male or female being. Thus, the words husband and wife do not show any difference in their forms due to peculiarities of their lexical meaning. The difference between such nouns as actor and actress is a purely lexical one. In other words, the category of sex should not be confused with the category of sex, because sex is an objective biological category. It correlates with gender only when sex differences of living beings are manifested in the language grammatically (e.g. tiger – tigress). Still, other scholars (M.Blokh, John Lyons) admit the existence of the category of gender. Prof.Blokh states that the existence of the category of gender in Modern English can be proved by the correlation of nouns with personal pronouns of the third person (he, she, it). Accordingly, there are three genders in English: the neuter (non-person) gender, the masculine gender, the feminine gender.



1.General characteristics

Grammatically the verb is the most complex part of speech. First of all it performs the central role in realizing predication - connection between situation in the utterance and reality. That is why the verb is of primary informative significance in an utterance. Besides, the verb possesses quite a lot of grammatical categories. Furthermore, within the class of verb various subclass divisions based on different principles of classification can befound.

Semantic features of the verb. The verb possesses the grammatical meaning of verbiality - the ability to denote a process developing in time. This meaning is inherent not only in the verbs denoting processes, but also in those denoting states, forms of existence, evaluations, etc.

Morphological features of the verb. The verb possesses the following grammatical categories: tense, aspect, voice, mood, person, number, finitude and phase. The common categories for finite and non-finite forms are voice, aspect, phase and finitude. The grammatical categories of the English verb find their expression in synthetical and analytical forms. The formative elements expressing these categories are grammatical affixes, inner inflexion and function words. Some categories have only synthetical forms (person, number), others - only analytical (voice). There are also categories expressed by both synthetical and analytical forms (mood, tense, aspect).

Syntactic features. The most universal syntactic feature of verbs is their ability to be modified by adverbs. The second important syntactic criterion is the ability of the verb to perform the syntactic function of the predicate. However, this criterion is not absolute because only finite forms can perform this function while non-finite forms can be used in any function but predicate. And finally, any verb in the form of the infinitive can be combined with a modal verb.


2. Classifications of English verbs

According to different principles of classification, classifications can be morphological, lexical-morphological, syntactical and functional.

A. Morphological classifications..

I. According to their stem-types all verbs fall into: simple ( to go), sound-replacive (food - to feed, blood - to bleed), stress-replacive (import - to im port, transport - to transport, expanded (with the help of suffixes and prefixes): cultivate, justify, overcome, composite (correspond to composite nouns): to blackmail), phrasal: to have a smoke, to give a smile (they always have an ordinary verb as an equivalent). 2.According to the way of forming past tenses and Participle II verbs can be regular and irregular.

B. Lexical-morphological classification is based on the implicit grammatical meanings of the verb. According to the implicit grammatical meaning of transitivity/intransitivity verbs fall into transitive and intransitive. According to the implicit grammatical meaning of stativeness/non-stativeness verbs fall into stative and dynamic. According to the implicit grammatical meaning of terminativeness/non-terminativeness verbs fall into terminative and durative. This classification is closely connected with the categories of Aspect and Phase.

C. Syntactic classifications. According to the nature of predication (primary and secondary) all verbs fall into finite and non-finite. According to syntagmatic properties (valency) verbs can be of obligatory and optional valency, and thus they may have some directionality or be devoid of any directionality. In this way, verbs fall into the verbs of directed (to see, to take, etc.) and non-directed action (to arrive, to drizzle, etc.):

D. Functional classification. According to their functional significance verbs can be notional (with the full lexical meaning), semi-notional (modal verbs, link-verbs), auxiliaries.


4. The category of tense

The category of tense is a verbal category that reflects the objective category of time. The essential characteristic of the category of tense is that it relates the time of the action, event or state of affairs referred to in the sentence to the time of the utterance (the time of the utterance being 'now ' or the present moment). The tense category is realized through the oppositions. The binary principle of oppositions remains the basic one in the correlation of the forms that represent the grammatical category of tense. The present moment is the main temporal plane of verbal actions. Therefore, the temporal dichotomy may be illustrated by the following graphic representation (the arrows show the binary opposition):

Generally speaking, the major tense-distinction in English is undoubtedly that which is traditionally described as an opposition of past::present. But this is best regarded as a contrast of past:: non-past. Quite a lot of scholars do not recognize the existence of future tenses, because what is described as the 'future' tense in English is realized by means of auxiliary verbs will and shall. Although it is undeniable that will and shall occur in many sentences that refer to the future, they also occur in sentences that do not. And they do not necessarily occur in sentences with a future time reference. That is why future tenses are often treated as partly modal.

5. The Category of Aspect

The category of aspect is a linguistic representation of the objective category of Manner of Action. It is realized through the opposition Continuous::Non-Continuous (Progressive::Non-Progressive). The realization of the category of aspect is closely connected with the lexical meaning of verbs.

There are some verbs in English that do not normally occur with progressive aspect, even in those contexts in which the majority of verbs necessarily take the progressive form. Among the so-called ‘non-progressive’ verbs are think, understand, know, hate, love, see, taste, feel, possess, own, etc. The most striking characteristic that they have in common is the fact that they are ‘stative’ - they refer to a state of affairs, rather than to an action, event or process. It should be observed, however, that all the ‘non-­progressive' verbs take the progressive aspect under particular circumstances. As the result of internal transposition verbs of non-progressive nature can be found in the Continuous form: Now I'm knowing you. Generally speaking the Continuous form has at least two semantic features - duration (the action is always in progress) and definiteness (the action is always limited to a definite point or period of time). In other words, the purpose of the Continuous form is to serve as a frame which makes the process of the action more concrete and isolated.



The category of voice


The form of the verb may show whether the agent expressed by the subject is the doer of the action or the recipient of the action (John broke the vase - the vase was broken). The objective relations between the action and the subject or object of the action find their expression in language as the grammatical category of voice. Therefore, the category of voice reflects the objective relations between the action itself and the subject or object of the action:

The category of voice is realized through the opposition Active voice::Passive voice. The realization of the voice category is restricted because of the implicit grammatical meaning of transitivity/intransitivity. In accordance with this meaning, all English verbs should fall into transitive and intransitive. However, the classification turns out to be more complex and comprises 6 groups:

1. Verbs used only transitively: to mark, to raise;

2.Verbs with the main transitive meaning: to see, to make, to build;

3. Verbs of intransitive meaning and secondary transitive meaning. A lot of intransitive verbs may develop a secondary transitive meaning: They laughed me into agreement; He danced the girl out of the room;

4.Verbs of a double nature, neither of the meanings are the leading one, the verbs can be used both transitively and intransitively: to drive home - to drive a car;

5.Verbs that are never used in the Passive Voice: to seem, to become;

6. Verbs that realize their passive meaning only in special contexts: to live, to sleep, to sit, to walk, to jump.

Some scholars admit the existence of Middle, Reflexive and Reciprocal voices. "Middle Voice" - the verbs primarily transitive may develop an intransitive middle meaning: That adds a lot; The door opened; The book sells easily; The dress washes well. "Reflexive Voice": He dressed; He washed - the subject is both the agent and the recipient of the action at the same time. It is always possible to use a reflexive pronoun in this case: He washed himself. "Reciprocal voice”: They met; They kissed - it is always possible to use a reciprocal pronoun here: They kissed each other.

We cannot, however, speak of different voices, because all these meanings are not expressed morphologically.



Pronouns are words which point to objects without naming them.

Morphological composition. They may be of different structure: simple(I, you, he), compound(myself, themselves), and composite(each other, one another).

Subclasses of pronouns and their functions. Semantically all pronouns fall into the following subclasses:

Personal pronoun s are noun-pronouns, indicating persons (I, you, he, we, they) or non-persons (it, they) from the point of view of their relations to the speaker. Thus I (me) indicates the speaker himself, we (us) indicates the speaker together with some other person or persons. Personal pronouns have the category of person, number, case (nominative and objective), and gender, the latter is to be found in the 3rd person only: masculine and feminine is he - him, she - her; neuter case-forms it - it coincide.

Possessive pronouns indicate possession by persons (my, mine, your, yours, their, theirs) or non-persons (its, their, theirs). They comprise two sets of forms: the conjoint forms - my, your, his, her, our, their, which always combine with nouns and premodify them as attributes and the absolute forms - mine, yours, his, hers, ours, yours, theirs, which do not combine with nouns, but function as their substitutes.

Reflexive pronouns indicate identity between the person or non-person they denote and that denoted by the subject of the sentence. They are: myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselve.

Reciprocal pronouns indicate a mutual relationship between two or more than two persons, or occasionally non-persons (each other, one another) who are at the same time the doer and the object of the same action.

Demonstrativ e pronouns point to persons or non-persons or their properties: this (these), that (those), such.

Indefinite pronouns indicate persons or non-persons or else their properties in a general way without defining the class of objects they belong to, class or properties they possess. They are: some, any, somebody, anybody, someone, anyone, something, anything, one.

Negative pronouns as the term implies render the general meaning of the sentence negative. They are: no, none, nothing, nobody, no one, neither.

Detaching pronouns indicate the detachment of some object from other objects of the same class. There are only two pronouns of this subclass - other, another.

Universal pronouns indicate all objects (persons and non-persons) as one whole or any representative of the group separately. They are: all, both, each, every, everything, everybody, everyone, either.

Interrogative pronouns indicate persons or non-persons or tlieir properties as unknown to the speaker and requiring to be named in the answer. who, whose, what, which, who­ever, whatever, whichever.

Conjunctive pronouns (whom, whose, what, which, whoever, whatever, whichever) are identical with the interrogative pronouns as to their morphological, referential and syntactical characteristics. They refer to persons and non-persons. The difference between the two subclasses lies in that the conjunctive pronouns, along with their syntactical function in the clause, connect subordinate clauses to the main clause. They are used to connect subject, predicative, and some adverbial clauses, or rather to indicate the subordinate status of these clauses, as the sentence may begin with the clause they introduce.

Relative pronouns refer to persons and non-persons and open attributive clauses which modify words denoting these persons or non-persons. They are who, whose, which, that.



Notional formal

The introductory function

Before sharing some information about the object, we need to introduce it to the hearer. Fairy tales can be used as ideal illustrations of the use of the indefinite article in its introductory function.

e.g. Once upon a time there lived an old man. He had a wife and a daughter. He lived in a small house.

The quantifying function

The indefinite article developed from the numeral “one”. The meaning of “oneness” is still preserved when the article is used with nouns denoting measure, like “a minute”, “a year” or “a pound”.



The definite article may be used in the following functions:

The identifying function

When we speak, we may want to point out to something that both us and the hearer perceive with our organs of feeling. There are five different ways of getting the information about something existing in the objective reality. We can see it (Do you like the picture?), hear it (I believe, the music is too loud), feel it (The pillow is so soft!), smell it (What is the name of the perfume?) or taste it (The soup tastes bitter).

The definitizing function

The object or thing denoted by the noun is presented as a part of some complex. In modern science the term “frame ” is often used. The frame is a structurally organized system of images. For example, the frame “classroom” includes a window, a blackboard and a door. So if both the speaker and the hearer know what classroom they are speaking of, the constituents of the classroom don’t need any special concretization, and the indefinite article will be used.

e.g. I want to talk to the rector (even if you have never met the man).


We should distinguish between TIME as a universal non-linguistic concept and linguistic means of its expression which can be lexical (today, tomorrow) and grammatical (the category of tense). The grammatical category of tense may be defined as a verbal category which reflects the objective category of time and expresses the relations between the time of the action and the time of the utterance.

The category of tense is universally recognised. There has never been any argument about the existence of this grammatical category in Modern English. Nobody has ever suggested to characterise the distinction, for example, between wrote, writes, and will write as other than a tense distinction. But the questions of how many tenses there are in English and what each of them means is one of the most problematic in modern linguistics. It is also necessary to analyse the mutual relations between tense and other categories of the English verb.

The main divisions of objective time appear to be clear enough. There are three of them, past, present, and future. However, it doesn’t mean that tense systems of different languages are bound to be identical. On the contrary, there are wide differences in this respect.

In English there are the three tenses (past, present and future) represented by the forms wrote, writes, will write, or lived, lives, will live. However, some doubts have been expressed about the existence of a future tense in English. O. Jespersen discussed this question more than once. The reason why Jespersen denied the existence of a future tense in English was that the English future is expressed by the phrase "shall/will + infinitive", and the verbs shall and will which make part of the phrase preserve, according to Jespersen, some of their original meaning (shall an element of obligation, and will an element of volition). Thus, in Jespersen's view, English has no way of expressing "pure futurity" free from modal shades of meaning, i. e. it has no form standing on the same grammatical level as the forms of the past and present tenses. However, this reasoning is not convincing. Though the verbs shall and will may in some contexts preserve their original meaning of obligation or volition respectively, as a rule they are free from these shades of meaning and express mere futurity. This is especially clear in sentences where the verb will is used as an auxiliary of the future tense and where, at the same time, the meaning of volition is excluded by the context. E. g. I am so sorry, I am afraid I will have to go back to the hotel — (R. WEST) Since the verb will cannot possibly be said to preserve even the slightest shade of the meaning of volition here, it can have only one meaning — that of grammatical futurity. Moreover, in Modern English the verbs “shall” and “will” are used in their contracted form (‘ll), which proves they are not modal verbs.

So the three main divisions of time are represented in the English verbal system by the three tenses. According to one point of view, the category of tense is closely connected with the verbal category of aspect which describes the character of the action – common or continuous. Each of the tense-forms may appear in the common and in the continuous aspect. Thus we get six tense-aspect forms.

Besides these six, however, there are two more, namely, the future-in-the-past and the future-continuous-in-the-past. They do not easily fit into a system of tenses represented by a straight line running out of the past into the future. They are a deviation from this straight line: their starting point is not the present, from which the past and the future are reckoned, but the past itself. With reference to these tenses it may be said that the past is a new centre of the system. The idea of temporal centres propounded by Prof. I. Ivanova as an essential element of the English tense system seems therefore fully justified in analysing the "future-in-the-past" tenses.

A similar view of the English tense system has been put forward by Prof. N. Irtenyeva. According to this view, the system is divided into two halves: that of tenses centring in the present, and that of tenses centring in the past. The former would comprise the present, present perfect, future, present continuous, and present perfect continuous, whereas the latter would comprise the past, past perfect, future-in-the-past, past continuous, and past perfect continuous. The latter half is characterised by specific features: the root vowel (e.g. sang as against sing), and the suffix -d (or -t), e.g. looked, had sung, would sing, had been singing. 4 This view has much to recommend it. It has the advantage of reducing the usual threefold division of tenses (past, present, and future) to a two-fold division (past and present) with each of the two future tenses (future and future-in-the-past) included into the past or the present system, respectively.

The above mentioned theories seem to be inconsistent to a number of grammarians. They (Ilyish, Smirnitsky and Yartseva) treat tense and aspect as different grammatical categories. Theyrestrict the amount of tense-forms to three (present, past and future) which correlate with two more distinct categories - the category of aspect and the category of order (time correlation).

The category of aspect is a system of two-member opposemes such as woks-is working, has worked- has been working etc. showing whether the action is taken in its progress, or development; or it is simply stated; in other words whether it is continuous or non-continuous.

Ivanova suggests that aspect cannot be separated from tense, it is like tense-aspect system. But if we take infinitive we find aspect is not linked with tense as the Infinitive does not indicate tense. E.g. to write- to be writing, to have written- to have been writing. So, the infinitive proves that aspect can be and is separated from tense.

The categories of tense and aspect characterize an action from different points of view. The tense shows the time of the action while the aspect shows its development.

According to the category of aspect verbs are divided into a) terminative (limitive) – the point of the end of the action is vividly seen (to bring, to stop); and b) durative (unlimitive) – to carry, to play, to look for. Another division is into static (statal) and dynamic (actional). Static verbs have no aspect opposemes. To this group of verbs we refer:

The category of order is a system of 2-member opposemes such as writes-has written, wrote-had written, writing-having written etc., showing whether the action is viewed as a prior to (perfect) or irrespective of (non-perfect) other actions or situations. Smirnitsky was the first to draw attention to the fact that opposemes like- writes-has written represent a grammatical category different from that of tense. If we take a close look at the perfect, we can see that it conveys the meaning of priority & precedence.

Ex. She has come (priority to the situation in the present);

She had come before Mrs. B. called me (priority to the act of Mrs. B. called me) & etc..

From these examples it’s clear that the perfect serves to express priority, whereas the non-perfect member of the opposemes (as to write - to have written) leaves the action unspecified as to its being prior or not to another action, situation or point of time.

Smirnitsky calls this category time correlation (категория временной отнесенности). But if we take any example where the perfect is used we’ll see that all the events will be set in a certain order, the actions don’t take place at the same time but follow each other in a certain succession. So, it’s more comfortable to name this category as the category of order.

All the opposemes of this category are exactly alike with regard to the content. They have the same particular meaning of perfect & non-perfect order united by the general meaning of the category of order. In this respect all the opposemes are identical. When we describe an action prior to some action in the past, both actions must be mentioned, & the notion of priority is obvious. But when an action prior to the present is described, the present need not be mentioned, since it’s the act of speech.

Thus, any verb-form can be characterized by the following temporal categories: tense, aspect, order. E.g. has been doing – present tense, continuous aspect, perfect order.





What Is the Infinitive Form of a Verb? (with Examples)

The infinitive form of a verb is the verb in its basic form. It is the version of the verb which will appear in the dictionary.

The infinitive form of a verb is usually preceded by to (e.g., to run, to dance, to think). The infinitive form is not always preceded by to. Look at these examples:

I need to run every day.

(The infinitive form with the word to is called the full infinitive or to-infinitive.)

I must run every day.

(After certain verbs, the to is dropped (more on this below).)

I run every day.

(This is not in the infinitive form. This is a finite verb, i.e., a verb functioning as the main verb.)

Note: The word to is not a preposition. It is often called the sign of the infinitive.

An infinitive is a non-finite verb. In other words, it cannot be the main verb in a sentence.

An infinitive can be used as a noun, an adjective or an adverb.

Examples of Infinitives as Nouns

Here are some examples of infinitive verbs as nouns:

To dance was her passion.

(The infinitive is the subject of was.)

Compare it to this:

Dancing was her passion.

(This proves that the infinitive to dance is being used a noun.)

Here is another example:

He likes to hunt.

(The infinitive is the direct object of likes.)

Compare it to this:

He likes hunting.

(This proves that the infinitive to hunt is being used a noun.)

Examples of Infinitives as Adjectives

An adjective modifies a noun to tell us something about the noun (e.g., its colour, type, or number). You have to bear this in mind when working out how infinitives function as adjectives. Here are some examples of infinitive verbs as adjectives:

Give him an ornament to polish.

(The infinitive modifies ornament. This means it is functioning as an adjective.)

Compare it to this:

Give him an ornament that he can polish.

(The clause that he must polish is an adjective clause. This proves that the infinitive to polish is being used an adjective.)

Here is another example:

I need a volunteer to take the minutes.

(The infinitive modifies volunteer. This means it is functioning as an adjective.)

Compare it to this:

I need a volunteer who is prepared to take the minutes.

(The clause who is prepared to take the minutes is an adjective clause. Therefore, the infinitive to take is being used an adjective. Note how to take is grouped with the minutes. This is an infinitive phrase.)

An infinitive that acts as an adjective usually appears immediately after the noun it is modifying.

Examples of Infinitives as Adverbs

An adverb usually modifies a verb to tell us when, where, how, in what manner, or to what extent an action is performed. You have to bear this in mind when working out how infinitives function as adverbs. Here are some examples of infinitive verbs as adverbs:

The officer returned to help.

(The infinitive modifies the verb returned. This means it is functioning as an adverb.)

Compare it to this:

The officer returned so he could help.

(The clause so he could help is an adverbial clause. This proves that the infinitive to help is being used an adverb.)

Here is another example:

He will complete the mission to set an example.

(The infinitive modifies the verb will complete. This means it is functioning as an adverb.)

Compare it to this:

He will complete the mission so he can set an example.

(The clause so he can set an example is an adverbial clause. Therefore, the infinitive to set an example is being used an adverb. Note how to set is grouped with an example. This is an infinitive phrase.)

Bare Infinitives (When Not Preceded by To)

Most infinitives are preceded by to, but after certain verbs, the to is dropped. The most obvious example is when an infinitive follows can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, or would (i.e., a modal verb). For example:
More examples (bare infinitives shaded):

He should go home.

(This is called a bare infinitive.)

They might finish by Wednesday.

Bare infinitives also follow other verbs. The main ones are feel, hear, help, let, make, see, and watch. This time, there is a direct object involved. For example:
More examples (bare infinitives shaded):

Mark helped his friend finish.

(The "special" verb is helped. The direct object is his friend.)

I watched them bake the bread.

(The "special" verb is watched. The direct object is them.)

Use the Infinitive Form As a Name for a Verb

When discussing grammar, the infinitive form is used as the name for a verb. For example:

The verb to play has the participles playing and played.

In the present tense, the verb to be has the forms am, is, and, are




The gerund is a non-finite form of the verb with some noun features. It is formed by adding the suffix -ing to the stem of the verb. Similar with the infinitive the gerund serves as a verbal name of the process but its substantive quality is more strongly pronounced than that of the infinitive. As a matter of fact the gerund cannot perform the function of the paradigmatic verbal head form for a number of reasons. In the place it is more detached from the finite verb than the finite verb than the infinitive semantically tending to be far more substantival unit categorically. Then, as different from the infinitive it doesn’t join in the conjunction of the finite verb. Unlike the infinitive it is the suffixal form which makes it less generalized than the infinitive in terms of the formal properties of the verbal lexeme.

The grammatical meaning of the gerund is that of a process. Thus to some extent it competes with nouns of verbal origin, e.g. translating -translation, describing - description, arriving - arrival, perceiving - perception, helping - help. Nouns, however, tend to convey the fact or the result of an action, which in certain circumstances may be something material, whereas gerunds convey the idea of action or process itself.


Show me your translation: it is neatly done, and there, are no mistakes in it.

You will enrich your vocabulary by translating from English into Russian and vice versa.

If the meaning of the gerund is nearly the same as that of the noun, the former emphasizes the process, and the latter - the fact:

Thank you for helping me.

Thank you for your help.

It is natural that the verbal character of the gerund is more prominent in transitive verbs, owing to their combinability and their passive forms.

Morphologically the verbal character of the gerund is manifested in the categories of voice and perfect and syntactically in its combinability. Thus the gerund may combine: a) with a noun or pronoun as direct, indirect or prepositional object, depending on the verb it is formed from; b) with an adjective or a noun as a predicative; c) with an infinitive.Gerunds can be modified by adverbs and prepositional phrases function­ing as adverbial modifiers.The nominal character of the gerund reveals itself syntactically, mainly in its syntactical function, partly in its combinability.

Like a noun, it can function as subject, object, or predicative.

Seeing me he stood irresolute, his eyes dark and mournful-subject (Hansford Johnson)

I remember laughing aloud –object (Du Maurier)

She was angry with herself for letting her voice become hoarse.- prepositional object


Peter’s hobby is seeing all new films. (predicative)


When it is an attribute or an adverbial modifier, a gerund, like a noun is preceded by a preposition.


There is a chance of catching the train.

Don’t forget to call me up before leaving London.

I reached my goal in spite of there being every reason against it.


The fact that the gerund can associate with a preposition is a sure sign of noun features.

Like a noun, but unlike the other non-finites, it can combine with a possessive pronoun and a noun in the genitive case denoting the doer of the action expressed by the gerund.


Excuse my interrupting you.

I insist on John’s staying with us.


It combines with the negative pronoun no in the idiomatic construction of the type: There is no getting out of it.


The grammatical categories of the gerund


As already stated the gerund has only two grammatical categories, those of voice and perfect.



The participle is a non-finite form of the verb which has a verbal and an adjectival or an adverbial character. There are two participles in English -- Participle I and Participle II, traditionally called the Present Participle and the Past Participle.

These traditional terms are open to objection on the ground that Participle I does not necessarily refer to the present, just as Participle II need not refer to the past. The difference between them is not a difference in tense, but chiefly a difference in voice.

Participle I is formed by adding the suffix -ing Зятковская Р.Г. Суффиксальная система современного английского языка. - М., 1971. - 187 c. to the stem of the verb; the following spelling rules should be observed:

(a) If a verb ends in a mute e, the mute e is dropped before adding the suffix -ing: to give -- giving, to close -- closing.

(b) If a verb ends in a consonant preceded by a vowel rendering a short stressed sound, the final consonant is doubled before adding the suffix -ing: to run -- running, to forget -- forgetting, to admit-- admitting.

A final l is doubled if it is preceded by a vowel letter rendering a short vowel sound, stressed or unstressed: to expel--expelling, to travel -- travelling.

(c) The verbs to die, to lie and to tie form Participle I in the following way: dying, lying, tying.

A final у is not changed before adding the suffix -ing: to comply -- complying, to deny -- denying.

The formation of Participle II.

According to the way in which the Past Indefinite and Participle II are formed, verbs are divided into three groups: regular verbs, irregular verbs, and mixed verbs.

1. Regular verbs. They form the Past Indefinite and Participle II by adding -ed to the stem of the verb, or only -d if the stem of the verb ends in -e. Зятковская Р.Г. Суффиксальная система современного английского языка. - М., 1971. - 188 с.

to want --wanted

The pronunciation of -ed (-d) depends on the sound preceding it. It is pronounced:

[эd] after t, d:

wanted [w?ntэd], landed [lжndэd]

[d] after voiced consonants except d and after vowels:

opened ['?up?nd], played [pleэd];

[t] after voiceless consonants except t:

worked [w?:kt].

The following spelling rules should be observed:

(a) Final у is changed into i before the addition of -ed if it is preceded by a consonant.

to carry -- carried

у remains unchanged if it is preceded by a vowel.

to enjoy -- enjoyed

(b) If a verb ends in a consonant preceded by a short stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled.

to stop --stopped

Final r is doubled if it is preceded by a stressed vowel.

to occur --- occurred

Final r is not doubled when preceded by a diphthong,

to appear -- appeared

Final l is doubled if it is preceded by a short vowel, stressed or unstressed:

to compel -- compelled

2. Irregular verbs. Here belong the following groups of verbs:

(a) verbs which change their root vowel.

to sing --sang -- sung

(b) verbs which change their root vowel and add -en for Participle II.

to speak --spoke --spoken

(c) verbs which change their root vowel and add -d or -t.

to sell --sold --sold

(d) verbs which change their final -d into -t.

to send --sent --sent

(e) verbs which have the same form for the Infinitive, Past Indefinite and Participle II.

to put -- put -- put

(f) verbs whose forms come from different stems.

to be -- was, were -- been

to go -- went -- gone

(g) special irregular verbs.

to have -- had -- had

to make -- made -- made

to do --did --done

(h) defective (anomalous) verbs.

can -- could



may -- might

will -- would

shall -- should

3. Mixed verbs, their Past Indefinite is of the regular type, and their Participle It is of the irregular type:

to show -- showed -- shown

As has already been stated, the participle has a verbal and an adjectival or adverbial character. Its adjectival or adverbial character is manifested in its syntactic functions, those of attribute or adverbial modifier. (Some participles have lost their verbality altogether and have become adjectives: interesting, charming, alarming, etc., complicated, distinguished, furnished, etc.

E.g. an interesting book, a charming girl, the alarming news; a complicated problem, a distinguished writer, a furnished apartment.)

I hated the hollow sound of the rain pattering on the roof. (Du Marnier) (attribute)

Мне был отвратителен глухой шум дождя, стучавшего по крыше.

And then she turned to the title-page, and looked at the name written in the schoolboy hand. (Ch. Bronte) (attribute)

Затем она открыла книгу па титульном листе и посмотрела на имя, написанное ученическим почерком.

The verbal characteristics of the participle are as follows:

1. Participle I of a transitive verb can take a direct object.

Opening the door, he went out on to the terrace. (Galsworthy)

2. Participle I and Participle II can be modified by an adverb.

Leaving the room hurriedly, he ran out. (Thackeray)

Deeply affected, Priam Farll rose and left the room. (Bennett)

3. Participle I has tense distinctions; Participle I of transitive verbs has also voice distinctions. In Modern English Participle I has the following forms:

  Active Passive  
Indefinite writing being written  
Perfect having written having been written  

The tense distinctions of the participle.

Like the tense distinctions of all the verbals, those of the participle are not absolute but relative.

Participle I Indefinite Active and Passive usually denotes an action simultaneous with the action expressed by the finite verb; depending on the tense-form of the finite verb it may refer to the present, past, or future.

When reading The Pickwick Papers, one can't help laughing.

When reading The Pickwick Papers, I couldn't help laughing.

When reading The Pickwick Papers, you will roar with laughter.

He looked at the carpet while waiting for her answer. (Galsworthy)

Он смотрел на ковер, ожидая ее ответа.

Me returned to the hut, bringing in his arms a new-born lamb. (Hardy)

Он вернулся в хижину, неся на руках новорожденного ягненка.

Being left alone, Pauline and I kept silence for some time. (Ch. Bronte)

Оставшись одни, мы с Полиной некоторое время молчали.

Sometimes Participle I Indefinite denotes an action referring to no particular time.

The last turning had brought them into the high-road leading to Bath. (Hardy)

После последнего поворота они вышли на дорогу, ведущую (которая вела) в Бат.

Participle I Perfect Active and Passive denotes an action prior to the action expressed by the finite verb.

Mr. Bumble, having spread a handkerchief over his knees..., began to eat and drink. (Dickens)

Мистер Бамбл, разостлав платок на коленях..., стал есть и пить.

They were, indeed, old friends, having been at school together. (Walpole)

Они и в самом деле были старыми друзьями, так как вместе учились в школе.

It should be noted that a prior action is not always expressed by Participle I Perfect: with some verbs of sense perception and motion, such as to see, to hear, to come, to arrive, to seize, to look, to turn and some others, Participle I Indefinite is used even when priority is meant.

Turning down an obscure street and entering an obscurer lane, lie went up to a smith's shop. (Hardy)

Свернув на темную улицу и войдя в еще более темный переулок, он подошел к кузнице.

Hearing a footstep below he rose and went to the top of the stairs. (Hardy)

Услышав шаги внизу, он встал и вышел на лестницу.

Participle II has no tense distinctions; it has only one form which can express both an action simultaneous with, and prior to the action expressed by the finite verb; the latter case is more frequent.

His sister's eyes fixed on him with a certain astonishment, obliged him at last to look at Fleur. (Galsworthy)

Взгляд сестры, устремленный на него с некоторым недоумением, заставил его, наконец, взглянуть на Флер.

I was reminded of a portrait seen in a gallery. (Du Maurier)

Мне вспомнился портрет, который я видела в картинной галерее.

In some cases Participle II denotes an action referring to no particular time.

He is a man loved and admired by everybody.

The voice distinctions of the participle.

Participle I of transitive verbs has special forms to denote the active and the passive voice.

When writing letters lie does not like to be disturbed.

Being written in pencil the letter was difficult to make out.

Having written some letters he went to post them.

Having been written long ago the manuscript was illegible.

Participle II of transitive verbs has a passive meaning, e. g. a broken glass, a caged bird. Participle II of intransitive verbs has no passive meaning; it is used only in compound tense-forms and has no independent [unction in the sentence unless it belongs to a verb which denotes passing into a new state, e. g. a withered flower, a faded leaf.


The parts of speech are classes of words, all the members of these classes having certain characteristics in common which distinguish them from the members of other classes. The problem of word classification into parts of speech still remains one of the most controversial problems in modern linguistics. The attitude of grammarians with regard to parts of speech and the basis of their classification varied a good deal at different times. Only in English grammarians have been vacillating between 3 and 13 parts of speech. There are four approaches to the problem:

Classical (logical-inflectional)




The classical parts of speech theory goes back to ancient times. It is based on Latin grammar. According to the Latin classification of the parts of speech all words were divided dichotomically into declinable and indeclinable parts of speech. This system was reproduced in the earliest English grammars. The first of these groups, declinable words, included nouns, pronouns, verbs and participles, the second – indeclinable words – adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections. The logical-inflectional classification is quite successful for Latin or other languages with developed morphology and synthetic paradigms but it cannot be applied to the English language because the principle of declinability/indeclinability is not relevant for analytical languages.

A new approach to the problem was introduced in the XIX century by Henry Sweet. He took into account the peculiarities of the English language. This approach may be defined as functional. He resorted to the functional features of words and singled out nominative units and particles. To nominative parts of speech belonged noun-words (noun, noun-pronoun, noun-numeral, infinitive, gerund), adjective-words (adjective, adjective-pronoun, adjective-numeral, participles), verb (finite verb, verbals – gerund, infinitive, participles), while adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection belonged to the group of particles. However, though the criterion for classification was functional, Henry Sweet failed to break the tradition and classified words into those having morphological forms and lacking morphological forms, in other words, declinable and indeclinable.

A distributional approachto the parts to the parts of speech classification can be illustrated by the classification introduced by Charles Fries. He wanted to avoid the traditional terminology and establish a classification of words based on distributive analysis, that is, the ability of words to com


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