Major verb classesThe term VERB is used in two senses:(a) the verb is one of the elements in clause structure, like the subject and the object;(b) a verb is a member of a word class, like a noun or an adjective.The two sense are related in the following way: a VERB PHRASE consists of one or more verbs (sense b), eg linked, can believe, might be leaving in the sentences below; the verb phrase operates as the verb (sense a) in the clause:
Major verb classes(1) They linked hands.(2) He is making a noise.(3) I can believe you.(4) She might be leaving soon.As a word class (part of speech), verbs can be divided onto three major categories, according to their function within the verb phrase:(I) the open class of FULL VERBS (or LEXICAL verbs)(II) the closed class of PRIMARY VERBS(III) the closed class of MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
Major verb classesFULL VERBS believe, follow, like, see…PRIMARY VERBS be, have, doMODAL AUXILIARIES can, may, shall, will, must, could, might, should, wouldIf there is only 1 verb in the verb phrase, it is the MAIN VERB.If there is more than 1 verb, the final one is the main verb, and the one or more verbs that come before it are AUXILIARIES:(5) She might be leaving soon.Leaving is the main verb in (5), and might and be are aux.
Major verb classesOf the three classes of verbs, the full verbs can act only as main verbs, the modal aux. can act only as auxiliary verbs, and the primary verbs can act either as main verbs or as aux. verbsSome verbs have a status intermediate between that of main verbs and that of aux. verbs:(a) the modal idioms are a combination of aux. and infinitive or adverb. None of them have nonfinite forms and they are therefore always the first verb in the verb phrase: had better, would rather, have got to, be to.(b) the semi-auxiliaries are a set of verb idioms which are introduced by one of the primary verbs have and be. They have nonfinite forms and can occur in combination with preceding auxiliaries. So, two or more semi-aux. can occur in sequence: be able to, be bound to, be going to, be supposed to, be about to, be due to, be likely to, have to.
Major verb classesThere are also multi-word verbs, which consist of a verb and one or more other words: turn on, look at, put up with, take place, take advantage of, etc.
Full verbsRegular full verbs , eg call, have 4 morphological forms:(I) base form;(II) –s form;(III) –ing participle(IV) –ed form.Irregular full verbs vary in this respect, for example the verb speak has 5 forms, whereas cut has only three.Since most verbs have the –ed inflection for both the simple past and the past participle, we extend the ‘-ed form’; to cover these two sets of functions for all verbs.
Full verbs – the function of verbformsThe verb forms have different functions in finite and nonfinite verb phrases. The –s form and the past form are always FINITE, whereas the –ing participle and the –ed participle are always NONFINITE.The BASE form (the form which has no inflection) is sometimes FINITE, and sometimes NONFINITE.
Full verbs – the function of verbformsIn a finite verb phrase (the kind of verb phrase which normally occurs in simple sentences), only the first verb word (in bold) is finite:(6) She calls him every day.(7) She has called twice today.The subsequent verbs, if any, are nonfinite.In a nonfinite verb phrase all verbs are nonfinite:(8) Calling early, she found him at home.(9) Called early, he ate a quick breakfast.(10)Having been called early, he felt sleepy all day.
Full verbs – the function of verbformsThe verb forms with their syntactic functions:(I) the base form (call) is a finite verb in:(a) the present tense in all persons and numbers except 3rd person singular: I/you/we/they call regularly.(b) the imperative: Call at once!(c) the present subjunctive: They demanded that she call and see them.It is a nonfinite verb in:(a) the bare infinitive: He may call tonight.(b) the to-infinitive: We want her to call.
Full verbs – the function of verbforms(II) The –s form (calls) is a finite verb in the 3rd person singular present tense: She calls him every day.(III) The –ing participle (calling) is a nonfinite verb in:(a) the progressive aspect following be: He’s calling her now.(b) -ing participle clauses: Calling early, I found her at home.(IV) The past form (called) is a finite verb in the past tense: Someone called her yesterday.(V) the –ed participle (called) is a nonfinite verb in:(a) the perfect aspect following have: He has called twice today.(b) the passive voice following be: Her brother is called Jim.(c) –ed participle clauses: Called early, he ate a quick breakfast.
Primary verbs and modalauxiliaries – verbs as operatorsAux. have one important syntactic function in common: they become the operator when they occur as the first verb of a finite VP.The main verb be and the main verb have are also operators when they are the only verb in the verb phrase.On the other hand, only the aux. do is an operator, not the main verb do.
Primary verbs and modalauxiliaries – verbs as operatorsOperators share the following main characteristics:(a) to negate a finite clause, we put not immediately after the operator: She may not do it.(b) to form an interrogative clause, we put the operator in front of the subject (subject-operator inversion): Will he speak first?(c) the operator can carry nuclear stress to mark a finite clause as positive rather than negative: Won’t you try again? –Yes, I WILL try again.(d) The operator functions in a range of elliptical clauses where the rest of the predicate is omitted: Won’t you try again? –Yes, I will.
Primary verbs and modalauxiliaries – verbs as operatorsIf there is no operator in a corresponding positive declarative sentence, the dummy (or ‘empty’) operator do is introduced: She did not see the play.
Characteristics of modal aux.(a) They are followed by the bare infinitive: You will ask the question.(b) They cannot occur in nonfinite functions, i.e. as infinitives or participles: may - *to may, *maying, *mayed.(c) They have no –s form for the third person singular of the present tense: She must write.(d) Their past forms are used to refer to present and future time: I think we may/might be outside.Will/Would you phone him tomorrow?
The primary verbs be, have, doBe:(a) be is the main verb in: Ann is a happy girl.Is that building a hotel?(b) be has two aux. functions: as an aspect aux. for the progressive, and as a passive aux.: Ann is learning Spanish.Ann was rewarded a prize.Be has 8 different forms
The primary verbs be, have, doHave:(a) as an aux.: for perfect aspect: I have finished.(b) as a main verb: I have no money.Do:(a) as an aux.: do has no nonfinite forms, but only present and past forms(b) as a main verb, do can function as a pro-predicate or pro- predication referring to some unspecified action(s), alone or in combination with so, it, this, that, etc.: She didn’t earn as much as she might have done.I’m throwing these books away. – Why are you doing that?(c) the main verb do has many uses as a general-purpose transitive verb: Let’s do the dishes.
Modal aux. and marginal modalaux.Marginal modal aux.: used to, ought to, dare, need.Used to always occurs on the past tense: She used to attend regularly.It is used both as an aux. and as a main verb with do- support: He usedn’t (or: used not) to smoke./He didn’t use(d) to smoke.The normal interrogative construction is with do-support: Did he use to drink?Ought to – to optional following ought in ellipsis: You oughtn’t to smoke so much.Ought I to stop smoking? – Yes, I think you ought (to).
Modal aux. and marginal modalaux.Dare and need can be used either as modal aux. (with bare infinitive and without the inflected forms) or as main verbs (with to-infinitive and with inflected –s, -ing, and past forms).The modal construction is reserved to nonassertive contexts, i,e, mainly negative and interrogative sentences.The main verb construction can always be used, and is in fact more common.
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