EGT_5 The Structure of Verb Phrases


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On verb phrase structure, very briefly commented.

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EGT_5 The Structure of Verb Phrases

  1. 1. English Grammar Topics No 5 The Structure of Verb Phrases General facts on the English verbal phrase. Copyright 2013 Jesús Lorenzo Vieites
  2. 2. Verb phrases Adverb phrases Noun phrases Adjective phrases Prepositional phrases (*) A grammatical unit which may consist of one or more than one word and which is one of the classes of constituents into which simple sentences can be divided
  3. 3. A Verb phrase… …is a phrase consisting of one or more verb words. It is the essential element of a clause. The verb phrase can also be interpreted as being a bigger unit, including not only verb constructions, but also the elements of a clause which follow the main verb such as its object. (Verb phrase in this sense is equivalent to predication).
  4. 4. In this type of verb phrase the first or only word is a finite verb (-s form and –ed form (the past form)… …and the rest of the verb phrase (if any) is made of nonfinite verbs.
  5. 5. 1. They occur as the verb phrase of independent clauses 2. There is a distinction between present and past tenses 4. Finite verb phrases have mood, which indicates the factual or nonfactual status of the predication 3. There is person and number concord between the subject of a clause and the finite verb phrase You read the paper every day
  6. 6. 1 A verb form which is nonfinite does not involve variation for past tense and 2 present tense. Thence, any phrase in which one of the forms [infinitive, the –ing 3 Such phrases do not participle, and the –ed participle] is normally occur as the first or only word is a nonfinite the verb phrase of verb phrase. an independent clause…
  7. 7. He smokes Sue is having a smoke He must smoke 40 a day You have been smoking all day To smoke like that must be dangerous I regret having started to smoke The cigars smoked here tend to be very expensive That was the last cigarette to have been smoked by me
  8. 8. The finite verb phrase is simple when it just consists of one word (without ellipsis!) Complex, on the other hand, when it is formed by two or more words In COMPLEX verb phrases… The auxiliaries follow a strict order Modal + infinitive Perfect + -ed participle Progressive + -ing participle Passive + -ed participle
  9. 9. Tense Aspect Mood Finiteness Voice Questions Negation Emphasis 1 Tense = requires a choice between present and past in the first or only verb in a finite verb phrase He works hard He worked hard 2 Aspect = choice between the nonperfect and the perfect, and between the nonprogressive and the progressive She writes essays She has written essays She is writing essays She has been writing essays
  10. 10. Tense Aspect Mood Finiteness Voice Questions Negation Emphasis 3 Mood = requires a choice between the indicative, imperative, and subjunctive He listens He is listening to me Listen to me I demand that he listen to me 4 Finiteness = choice between the finite and nonfinite She plays tennis Playing tennis is good for your health
  11. 11. Tense Aspect Mood Finiteness Voice Questions Negation Emphasis 5 Voice = it just involves a contrast between the active and passive The judge will examine the evidence The evidence will be examined by the judge 6 Questions = generally require subject-operator inversion I should pay for you – Should I pay for you? The teacher objected – Did the teacher object?
  12. 12. Tense Aspect Mood Finiteness Voice Questions Negation Emphasis 7 Negation = it just makes use of operators I should pay for you I shouldn’t pay for you The teacher objected The teacher didn’t object 8 Emphasis = which is frequently carried by an operator I should pay. The teacher did object.
  13. 13. Active & passive The distinction applies to sentences where the verb is transitive, ie, it has a direct object (DO) Differences involve both the verb phrase and the clause: The Passive in the verb phrase + be +-ed participle of the main verb At clause level there are the following changes: Active clause Subject > < Object > < passive agent passive subject “by” is inserted before the agent Passive clause
  14. 14. A few uses of the passive (1) It is worth remembering that the prepositional phrase (agent byphrase) of passive sentences is an optional element and is commonly omitted The constable murdered the butler The butler was murdered (by the constable) Get is frequently used with the passive in informal English get dressed - get caught - get run over The change to passive is highly restricted if the active object is a clause. It becomes acceptable when the clause is extrapolated and replaced by anticipatory it: They all thought that she was gorgeous It was thought that she was gorgeous
  15. 15. A few uses of the passive (2) In sentences where there is a choice between active and passive, the active is the norm. Use of the passive in the following cases: When speakers/writers they do not know the identity of the agent of the action They feel there is no reason for mentioning the agent (identification is fairly obvious and/or unimportant) They want to avoid identifying the agent because they don’t want to assign or accept responsibility In scientific writing to avoid the constant repetition of the subject I or we and to put the emphasis on processes and experimental procedures
  16. 16. English Grammar Topics No 5 Copyright 2013 Jesús Lorenzo Vieites