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Formation of verb categories
§ 3. English morphological categories are formed in two ways, synthetically and analytically.
Synthetic or simple forms are those the formal elements of which are to be found within one word from which they are inseparable. These are the present and the past indefinite affirmative (sing, sings, sang); the non-perfect common aspect forms of the infinitive, participle I, the gerund, participle II (sing, singing, sung); the imperative mood (sing!).
Analytical or compound verb forms consist of at least two verbal elements, an auxiliary verb and a notional verb; the latter is presented by participle I, participle II, or the infinitive.
An auxiliary verb is devoid of its lexical meaning, its role is purely grammatical. It may be finite or non-finite, thus showing whether the whole verb form is finite or non-finite as in:
Jane is singing.
Someone seems to be singing in the next room.
The auxiliary verbs in English are not numerous, they are seven: to do, to be, to have, shall, will, should, would.
The notional verb of a compound verb form is always non-finite, it carries the lexical meaning of the whole verb form.
The analytical verb forms are the forms of the continuous aspect, the perfect forms, the passive forms, the future forms, the future in the past forms, some forms of the subjunctive mood, the interrogative, negative and emphatic forms of the present and past indefinite.
The meaning of the analytical form as a whole is the result of the complete fusion of the auxiliary and the non-finite form.
§ 4. According to their morphological composition verbs can be divided into simple, derivative, compound and phrasal.
Simple verbs consist of only one root morpheme: to ask, to build, to come.
Derivative verbs are composed of one root morpheme and one or more derivational morphemes (prefixes and suffixes). The main verbforming suffixes are -ize, -fy, -en, -ate, as in: to criticize, to justify, to blacken, to enumerate.
Compound verbs consist of at least two stems: to overgrow, to undertake.
Phrasal verbs consist of a verbal stem and an adverbial particle, which is sometimes referred to as postposition. The adverbial meaning is evident in phrasal verbs of the type to come in, to look out, whereas it is quite lost in the verbs to give up, to give in, to bring up.
Basic verb forms
§ 5. Among the synthetic verb forms there are those which are used independently and those which are used to build other verb forms. They are four in number:
The infinitive stem and participles I and II are employed to build other verbal forms.
The past indefinite is the only basic form that is not used to build other forms.
Regular and irregular verbs
§ 6. Owing to the historical development of the verb system the English verbs fall into two groups: regular and irregular verbs.
The regular verbs, which go back to the Germanic weak verbs, constitute the largest group. The past indefinite and participle II of these verbs are formed by means of the dental suffix -ed added to the stem of the verb. This is the productive pattern according to which all new verbs form their past indefinite and participle II.
The irregular verbs form their past indefinite and participle II according tо some fixed traditional patterns going back partly to the Germanic strong verbs, partly to the weak verbs, which underwent some changes in the process of history.
The irregular verbs are about 250 in number. They can be arranged according to sound changes.
The list of irregular verbs arranged according to sound changes
Pronunciation rules of the suffix –ed
The suffix -ed is pronounced in three ways:
1) [id] when the verb stem ends in the dental consonants [d] or [t]:
2) [d] when the stem ends in any voiced sound except [d]:
3) [t]when the stem ends in any voiceless sound except [t]:
Spelling rules of the verb forms with the suffix –ed
1) The letter -d is added to stems ending in -e:
2) In all the other cases the letters -edare added:
The final consonant letter is doubled if it is single and follows a short vowel in a stressed syllable:
The final - l is doubled even in an unstressed syllable (British English):
In some words the final -p is doubled in the same position:
The final -y is changed to -i if it is preceded by a consonant:
Formation of participle I
§ 7. Participle I of both regular and irregular verbs is composed by adding the suffix -ing to the stem of the verb. In writing the following rules of spelling are observed:
1) if the stem ends in a mute -e, the -e is dropped before adding -ing:
skate - skating
2) if the stem ends in a single consonant letter preceded by a short vowel of a stressed syllable, the consonant letter is doubled:
3) if the stem ends in -l after a short vowel of an unstressed syllable, the -l is doubled (in British English):
The same refers to some words ending in -p:
4) verbs ending in -ie drop the final -e and change i into у before taking the suffix -ing:
The same rules apply to the formation of the gerund.
Semantic classifications of the verb
§ 8. Semantic classifications of the verb may be undertaken from different standpoints.
Grammatically important is the devision of verbs into the following classes:
Actional verbs, which denote actions proper (do, make, go, read, etc.) and statal verbs, which denote state (be, exist, lie, sit, know, etc.) or relations (fit, belong, have, match, cost, etc.). The difference in their categorical meaning affects their morphological paradigm: statal and relational verbs have no passive voice (though some have forms coinciding with the passive voice as in The curtains and the carpet were matched). Also statal and relational verbs generally are not used in the continuous and perfect continuous tenses. Their occasional use in these tenses is always exceptional and results in the change of meaning.
From the syntactic standpoint verbs may be subdivided into transivite(переходные) and intransitive(непереходные) ones.
Without the object the meaning of the transitive verb is incomplete or entirely different. Transitive verbs may be followed:
a) by one direct object (monotransitive verbs);
Jane is helping her sister.
b) by a direct and an indirect objects (ditransitive verbs);
Jane gave her sister an apple.
c) by a prepositional object (prepositional transitive verbs):
Jane looks after her sister.
Intransitive verbs do not require any object for the completion of their meaning:
The sun is rising.
There are many verbs in English that can function as both transitive and intransitive.
Tom is writing a letter. (transitive)
Tom writes clearly. (intransitive)
Who has broken the cup? (transitive)
Glass breaks easily. (intransitive)
Jane stood near the piano. (intransitive)
Jane stood the vase on the piano. (transitive)
The division of verbs into terminative and non-terminative depends on the aspectual characteristic in the lexical meaning of the verb which influences the use of aspect forms.
Terminative verbs (предельные глаголы) besides their specific meaning contain the idea that the action must be fulfilled and come to an end, reaching some point where it has logically to stop. These are such verbs as sit down, come, fall, stop, begin, open, close, shut, die, bring, find, etc.
Non-terminative, or durative verbs(непредельные глаголы) imply that actions or states expressed by these verbs may go on indefinitely without reaching any logically necessary final point. These are such verbs as carry, run, walk, sleep, stand, sit, live, know, suppose, talk, speak, etc.
The end, which is simply an interruption of these actions, may be shown only by means of some adverbial modifier:
He slept till nine in the morning.
The last subclass comprises verbs that can function as both terminative and non-terminative (verbs of double aspectual meaning). The difference is clear from the context:
Can you see well? (non-terminative)
I see nothing there. (terminative)
The finite forms of the verb
§ 9. The category of person expresses the relation of the action and its doer to the speaker, showing whether the action is performed by the speaker (the 1st person), someone addressed by the speaker (the 2nd person) or someone/something other than the speaker or the person addressed (the 3rd person).
The category of number shows whether the action is performed by one or more than one persons or non-persons.
For the present indefinite tense* of the verb to be there are three contrasting forms: the 1st person singular, the 3rd person singular and the form for all persons plural: (I) am - (he) is - (we, you, they) are.
* The other term used for indefinite tenses is "simple tenses". Accordingly there are the simple present, "the simple past", "the simple future".
In the past indefinite tense it is only the verb to be that has one of these categories - the category of number, formed by the opposition of the singular and the plural forms: (I, he) was - (we, you, they) were. All the other verbs have the same form for all the persons, both singular and plural.
In the future and future in the past tenses there are two opposing forms: the 1st person singular and plural and the other persons: (I, we) shall go - (he, you, they) will go; (I, we) should come - (he, you, they) would come.
In colloquial style, however, no person distinctions are found either in the future or in the future in the past tenses. The only marker for the future tenses is ‘llused with all persons, both singular and plural: I'll do it; He'll do it; We'll do it, etc. The marker for the future in the past tenses is ‘d, also used with all persons and numbers: I said I’d come; He said he’d come; We said we’d come, etc. Historically ‘ll is the shortened form of will, ‘d is the shortened form of would.
The categories of person and number, with the same restrictions, as those mentioned above, are naturally found in all analytical forms containing the present indefinite tense of the auxiliaries to be and to have, or the past indefinite tense of the auxiliary to be: (I) am reading - (he) is reading - (we, you, they) are reading; (I) amtold - (he) is told - (we, you, they) are told; (he) hascome - (I, we, you, they) havecome; (he) has been told - (I, we, you, they) havebeen told; (he) hasbeen reading - (I, we, you, they) havebeen reading.
A more regular way of expressing the categories of person and number is the use of personal pronouns. They are indispensable when the finite verb forms in the indicative as well as the subjunctive moods have no markers of person or number distinctions.
I stepped aside and they moved away.
They had been walking along, side by side, and she had been talking very earnestly.
If you were his own son, you could have all this.
If she were not a housemaid, she might not feel it so keenly.
The verb is always in the 3rd person singular if the subject of the predicate verb is expressed by a negative or indefinite pronoun, by an infinitive, a gerund or a clause:
Nothing has happened. Somebody has come.
To see him at last was a real pleasure. To shut that lid seems an easy task.
Seeing is believing. Visiting their house again seems out of the question.
What she has told me frightens me*.
* For further details see § on Agreement of the Subject and Predicate.
The category of tense
§ 10. The category of tense in English (as well as in Russian) expresses the relationship between the time of the action and the time of speaking.
The time of speaking is designated as present time and is the starting point for the whole scale of time measuring. The time that follows the time of speaking is designated as future time; the time that precedes the time of speaking is designated as past time. Accordingly there are three tenses in English - the present tense, the future tense and the past tense which refer actions to present, future or past time.
Besides these three tenses there is one more tense in English, the so-called future in the past. The peculiarity of this tense lies in the fact that the future is looked upon not from the point of view of the moment of speaking (the present) but from the point of view of some moment in the past.
Each tense is represented by four verb forms involving such categories as aspect and perfect. Thus there are four present tense forms: the present indefinite, the present continuous, the present perfect, the present perfect continuous; four past tense forms: the past indefinite, the past continuous, the past perfect and the past perfect continuous; four future tense forms: the future indefinite, the future continuous, the future perfect and the future perfect continuous; and four future in the past tense forms: the future in the past indefinite, the future in the past continuous, the future in the past perfect, the future in the past perfect continuous.
The category of aspect
§ 11. In general the category of aspect shows the way or manner in which an action is performed, that is whether the action is perfective (совершенное), imperfective (несовершенное), momentary (мгновенное, однократное), iterative (многократное, повторяющееся), inchoative (зачинательное), durative (продолженное, длительное), etc.
In English the category of aspect is constituted by the opposition of the continuous aspect and the common aspect.
The opposition the continuous aspect <——> the common aspect is actualized in the following contrasting pairs of forms:
The forms in the left-hand column (whether taken in context, or treated by themselves) have a definite meaning: they describe an action as a concrete process going on continuously at a definite moment of time, or characteristic of a definite period of time (hence its name - the continuous aspect). The forms in the right-hand column, if treated by themselves, are devoid of any specific aspectual meaning. They denote the action as such, in a most general way, and can acquire a definite and more specified aspective meaning due to the lexical meaning of the verb and specific elements of the context in which they are used. Thus, for example, the verb form sang, when regarded out of context, has no specific aspectual characteristics, conveying only the idea of the action of singing with reference to the past. However when the same form is used in the context, it acquires the aspectual meaning conferred on it by that context. Compare the following sentences:
When he was young he sang beautifully (пел = умел петь).
He went over to the piano and sang two folk-songs (спел).
He went over to the piano and sang (запел).
While everybody was busy lighting a camp fire, he sang folk-songs (пел).
The fact that these forms may express different aspectual meanings according to the context, accounts for the term - the common aspect.
§ 12.Whereas all verbs can be used in the common aspect, there are certain restrictions as to the use of the continuous aspect. Some verbs do not usually have the forms of the continuous aspect. They are referred to as statal verbs. The most common of them are the following:
1. Relational verbs have, be and some link verbs:
become, remain, appear, seem, sound.
However, both to be and to have can be used in the continuous aspect forms where to be has the meaning to act and to have has a meaning other than to possess.
Other verbs having the same meaning of relation are not used in the continuous aspect forms:
2. Verbs expressing sense perception, that is involuntary reactions of the senses:
to feel (чувствовать),
to hear (слышать),
to see (видеть),
to smell (чувствовать запах),
to taste (чувствовать вкус).
However these verbs as well as other statal verbs may be sometimes used in continuous and perfect continuous forms, especially in informal English.*
* These verbs will be considered in detail in § 22.
3. Verbs expressing emotional state:
to care, to detest, to envy, to fear, to hate, to hope, to like, to love, to prefer, to want, to wish.
4. Verbs expressing mental state:
to assume, to believe, to consider, to doubt, to expect, to find, to forget, to imagine, to know, to mean, to mind, to notice, to perceive, to remember, to suggest, to suppose, to think, to understand.
Care should be taken to distinguish between some of these verbs denoting a mental state proper and the same verbs used in other meanings. In the latter case continuous aspect forms also occur. Compare, for example, the following pairs of sentences:
I am forgetting things more and more now (beginning to forget).
She is understanding grammar better now (beginning to understand).
Moreover, all the verbs treated in § 12 can occur in the continuous aspect when the ideas they denote are to be emphasized:
Don’t shout, I'am hearing you perfectly well!
Why are you staring into the darkness? What are you seeing there?
Are you still remaining my friend.
You see, she’s knowing too much.
They don’t know that inside I know what they’re like, and that all the time I’m hating them.
The category of perfect
§ 13. The category of perfect is as fundamental to the English verb as the categories of tense and aspect, whereas it is quite alien to the Russian verb.
The category of perfect is constituted by the opposition of the perfecttothe non-perfect.
The perfect forms denote action preceding certain moments of time in the present, past or future. The non-perfect forms denote actions belonging to certain moments of time in the present, past or future.
To see the difference between the two categories compare the following pairs of sentences containing non-perfect and perfect forms:
§ 14. The perfect forms belong either to the continuous or to the common aspect and as such they have specific semantic characteristics of either one or of the other. Thus the perfect continuous forms denote continuous actions taking place during a definite period of time preceding the present moment or some moment of time in the past or future. The moment of time in question may be either excluded or included in the period of time of the action, as in the following:
The perfect forms of the common aspect are devoid of any specific aspect characteristics and acquire them only from the lexical meaning of the verb or out of the context in which they are used. Thus terminative verbs in the perfect forms of the common aspect express completeness of the action:
She had shut the window and was going to sleep.
The completed actions expressed by such forms may be momentary or iterative, as in:
Non-terminative verbs may express both completed and incompleted actions:
They may also express iterative or durative actions:
Thus the difference between the perfect and the perfect continuous forms is similar to the difference between the indefinite and the continuous non-perfect forms.
Before passing on to a thorough study of all verb forms in detail it should be clearly understood that every one of them is a bearer of three grammatical categories, those of tense, perfect, and aspect, that is every form shows whether the action refers to the present, the past, the future or the future viewed from the past; whether it belongs to a certain moment of time within each of these time-divisions or precedes that moment, and whether it is treated as continuous or not.
Tense, aspect and perfect forms of the English verbs
Thus each tense is represented by four verb forms involving such categories as aspect and perfect. There are
four present tense forms:
the present indefinite (the simple present)
the present continuous
the present perfect
the present perfect continuous
four past tense forms:
the past indefinite (the simple past)
the past continuous
the past perfect
the past perfect continuous
four future tense forms:
the future indefinite (the simple future)
the future continuous
the future perfect
the future perfect continuous
four future in-the-past tenses:
the future in-the-past indefinite (the simple future-in-the-past)
the future in-the-past continuous
the future in-the-past perfect
the future in-the-past perfect continuous.
§ 15. All the present tenses (The present indefinite, the present continuous, the present perfect, the present perfect continuous) refer the actions they denote to the present, that is to, the time of speaking. The difference between them lies in the way they express the categories of aspect and perfect.
The present indefinite
(The simple present)
Meaning. The present indefinite refers the action which it denotes to the present time in a broad sense.
It bears no indication as to the manner in which the action is performed, that is whether it is perfective (complete) or imperfective (incomplete), momentary or durative (continuous), iterative or inchoative, etc. Any of these meanings can be imparted to the form by the lexical meaning of the verb or by the context. Neither does it bear any indication as to the precedence of the action it denotes to the moment of speaking.
§ 16. Formation.Some of the forms of the present indefinite are synthetic (affirmative forms), some - analytic (interrogative and negative forms).
Affirmative forms for all persons singular and plural except the 3rd person singular coincide with the infinitive stem: to speak - I speak, you speak, they speak.
The 3rd person singular form is built from the same stem by means of the inflexion -s, -es: to speak [spi:k] - he speaks [spi:ksj; to land [lænd] - he lands [lændz]; to wish [wI∫] - he wishes [´wI∫Iz].
As can be seen from the above examples, the pronunciation and spelling of the inflection of the 3rd person singular vary:
1. Verb stems ending in vowels and voiced consonants (except voiced sibilants and affricates) take the inflection -s which is pronounced [z]:
The 3rd person singular of the verb to say (says) is pronounced [sez].
In verb stems ending in the letter у and preceded by a consonant the letter у is replaced by the letters ie:
The verbs to go and to do and their compounds (to forego, to overdo, etc.) take the inflexion [z] spelled as
to go [gou] - he goes [gouz],
the verb to do (and its compounds) changes its root vowel:
The 3rd person singular of the verb to have is has [hæz].
2. Verb stems ending in voiceless consonants (except voiceless sibilants and affricates) take the inflexion -s pronounced [s]:
3. Verb stems ending in sibilants and affricates take either the inflexion -s or -es. Both are pronounced [ɪz]:
a) -es if the final letters of the stem are -s, -sh, -ss, -x, -z, -zz, -ch, -tch:
b) -sif the final letters of the stem are -se, -ce, -ze, -ge, -dge
(i.e. sibilants and affricates plus the mute e):
§ 17. Interrogative and negative forms of the present indefinite are analytical and are built by means of the present indefinite of the auxiliary to do and the infinitive of the notional verb.
Besides these there is one more type of forms, namely negative-interrogative forms, which has two possible patterns.
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