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Verb, classifications

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The Verb

Grammatically the verb is the most complex part of speech. Due to the central role it performs the predicative functions of the sentence, i.e. the functions establishing the connection between the situation named in the utterance and reality.

The general categorial meaning of the verb is process presented dynamically, i.e. developing in time. E.g. I do love you, really I do.

The verb can be modified by the adverb and can take a direct object. E.g. Mr. Brown received the visitor instantly, which was unusual.

In the sentence the finite verb performs the function of the verb-predicate, expressing the categorial features of predication, i.e. time, aspect, voice and mood.

From the point of view of their structure, verbs are characterised by specific forms of word-building. The verb stems may be simple, composite, and phrasal.

The original simple verb stems are not numerous, such verbs are go, take, read, etc. But conversion (zero-suffixation) of the ‘noun-verb’ type, greatly enlarges the simple stem set of verbs, since it is the most productive way of forming verblexemes in modern English. Cf.: a cloud – to cloud, a house – to house, a man – to man, a park – to park, ect.

The sound-replacive type of derivation and the stress-replacive type of derivation are unproductive. Cf.: food – to feed, blood – to bleed, 'import – to im'port, 'transport – to trans'port.

Derivational verbs:

The typical suffixes of the verb are: -ate (cultivate), -en (broaden), -ify (clarify), -ize (normalize). The verb-deriving prefixes of the intercalss are type are: be- (belittle, befriend), and en-/-em (engulf, embed). Some other characteristic verbal prefixes are: re- (remake), under- (undergo), over- (overestimate), sub- (submerge), mis- (misunderstand), un- (undo), etc.

The composite (compound) verb stems correspond to the composite non-verb stems from which they are etymologically derived. Here belong the compounds of the conversion type (blackmail n. – to blackmail v.) and of the reduction type (proofreader n. – to proofread v.). The phrasal verb stems occupy an intermediary position between analytical forms of the verb and syntactic word combinations. Among such stems two specific constructions should be mentioned

Two types:

The first is a combination of the head-verb have, give, take and ocassionally some others with a noun. The combination has its equivalent an ordinar verb. Cf: to have a smoke – to smoke, to give a smile – to smile, to take a stroll – to stroll.

The second combination is a combination of a head-verb with a verbal post-position that has a specificational value. Cf.: stand up, go on, give in, be off, get along, etc.

The class of verbs falls into a number of subclasses distinguished by different semantic and lexico-garmmatical features. On the upper level of division two unequal sets are identified; the set of verbs of full nominative value (national verbs), and the set of verbs partial nominative value (semi-notional and functional verbs).

Notional verbs undergo the three main gramatically relevant categorizations. The first is based on the realtion of the subject of the verb to the process denoted by the verb. The second is based on aspective characteristics of the process denoted by the verb. The third is based on the combining power of the verb in relation to other notional words in the utterance. (valency)

On the basis of the subject-process relation, all the notional verbs can be divided into actional and statal.

Actional verbs express the action performed by the subject, i.e. they present the subject as an active doer. To this subclass belong suchverbs as do, act, perform, make, go, read, learn, discover, etc. Statal verbs denote the state of their subject. To this subclass belong such verbs as be, live, survive, suffer, worry, stand, see, know, etc.

On the basis of aspective verbal semantics two subclasses of verbs should be recognised in English: limitive and unlimitive. To the subclass of limitive belong such verbs as arrive, come, leave, find, start, stop, conclude, aim, drop, catch, etc. Here also belong phrasal verbs with limitive pospositions, e.g. stand up, sit down, get out, be off, etc. To the second subclass belong such verbs as move, continue, sleep, work, behave, hope, stand, etc, presenting a process as not limited by any border point.

The combining power of words in relation to other words in syntactically subordimnate positions is called ‘valency’.

The syntactic valency falls into two types: obligatory and optional.

The obligatory valency is such as must necessarily be realised for the sake of the grammatical completion of the syntactic construction. For instance, the subject and the direct object are obligatory parts of the sentence and consequently, we say that the subjective and the direct objective valencies of the verb are obligatory. E.g. We saw a house in the distance.

The optional valency is not necessarily realized in grammatically complete constructions. For instance, the adverbial part in the above sentence may be freely eliminating. E.g. We saw a house (in the distance).

The obloigatory adjuncts of the verb, with the exeption of the subject, may be called its ‘complements’, the optional adjuncts of the verb, its ‘suppliments’.

Thus, according to the power to take compliments, the notional verbs should be classed as ‘complimentive’ or ‘uncomplementive’.

Uncomplimentive verbs fall into two unequal subclasses of ‘personal’ and ‘impersonal’ verbs.

The personal uncomplimentive verbs refer to the real subject of the denoted process (work, start, pause, hesitate, act, function, materialize, laugh, grow, etc).

The subclass of impersonal verbs is small and strictly limited. Here belong verbs mostly expressing natural phenomena (rain, snow, freeze, drizzle, thaw, etc).

Complementive verbs are divided into the predicative, objective and adverbial sets.

The predficative complomentive verbs are link-verbs (be, become, grow, seem, appear, look, etc).

The objective complimentive verbs are divided into monocomplimentive verbs (taking one object-compliment) and bicomplimentive verbs (taking two compliments). The examples of monocomplimentive verbs are have, take, forget, enjoy, look at, point to, belong to, relate to, etc. The bicomplimentive objective verbs are explain, mention, devote, say, forgive, cooperate, apologize for, pay for, remined of, tell about (taking a direct object and an address object).

Adverbial complimentive verbs include two main subclasses. The first is formed by verbs taking an adverbial compliment of place or of time (be, live, stay, go, ride, arrive). The second is formed by verbs taking an adverbial compliment of manner (act, do, keep, behave, get on).

Semi-notional and functional verbs serve as markers of predication in the proper sence, they show the connection between the nominative content of the sentence and reality. They iclude auxiliary verbs, modal verbs, semi-notional verbid introducer verbs and link-verbs.

Auxiliary verbs are be, have, do, shall, will, should, would, may, might.

He is reading a book (continuous, passive)

I have a cat (notional)

I HAVE READ (Functional)

Modal verbs are used with the infinitive as predicative markers expressing relational meanings of ability, obligation, permission, advisability, etc. The modal verbs are can, may, must, shall, will, ought, need, used (to), dare.

The verbs be and have in the modal menanings ‘be planned’, ‘be obliged’ and the like are considered by many modern grammarians as modal verbs and are included in the general modal verb list.

Semi-notional verbid introducer verbs are seem, happen, turn out, try, fall, manage, begin, continue, stop, etc. Compare ‘They began to fight’ and ‘They began the fight’. The verb in the first sentence is a simi-notional predicator, the verb in the second sentence is a notional transitive verb normally related to its direct object.

Link verbs introduce the nominal part of the predicate (the predicative) which is commonly expressed by a noun, an adjective or a phrase of a similar semantico-garmmatical character.

The linking predicator function in the purest form is effected by the verb be, therefore be is a “pure link verb”. All other link-verbs are called “specifying” link-verbs. The specifying link-verbs fall into two main groups: those that express perception and those that expess non-perceptional, or “factual” link-verb connection. The main perceptional link-verbs are seem, appear, look, feel, taste; the main factual link verbs are become, get, grow, remain, keep.

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Exam Questions. The Subject of Theoretical Grammar. Syntagmatic relations. Segmental units. History of English Grammars. Parts of speech. The noun as a part of speech.

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Exam Questions. The Subject of Theoretical Grammar. Syntagmatic relations. Segmental units. History of English Grammars. Parts of speech. The noun as a part of speech.

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