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Verbs Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English Biber; Conrad; Leech (2009, p.102-147) Verbs provide the focal point of the clause. The main.

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Presentation on theme: "Verbs Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English Biber; Conrad; Leech (2009, p.102-147) Verbs provide the focal point of the clause. The main."— Presentation transcript:

1 Verbs Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English Biber; Conrad; Leech (2009, p ) Verbs provide the focal point of the clause. The main verb in a clause determines the other clause elements that can occur and specifies a meaning relation among those elements. However, there are many different kinds of verbs, including lexical v. auxiliary verbs, different semantic classes, and single-word v. multi-word verbs.

2 Grammar Bite A: Verb functions and classes Verbs perform two major functions in clauses: main verbs v. auxiliary verbs –Main verbs are the central element in a clause –Auxiliary verbs qualify the meaning of the main verb Verb forms can be grouped into three major classes according to their ability to function as main verbs or auxiliary verbs –Lexical verbs (e.g. run, eat, think) function only as main verbs –Primary verbs (be, have, do) can function as both auxiliary and main verbs –Modal verbs (e.g. can, could) function only as auxiliary verbs Lexical verbs are much more common than primary verbs or modal verbs Lexical verbs are most common in conversation and fiction

3 Grammar Bite B: Single-word lexical verbs Lexical verbs fall into seven major semantic categories: activity verbs (work), communication verbs (write), mental verbs (wonder), causative verbs (require), verbs of occurrence (die), verbs of existence or relationship (stay), and verbs of aspect (stop). Many lexical verbs have more than one meaning. Twelve verbs are especially common in English. Their main uses fall into three types: –Activity verbs: get, go, make, come, take, give –Mental verbs: know, think, see, want, mean –Communication verb: say In conversation, these twelve verbs are extremely common. Written registers like academic prose tend to use a wider range of different verbs.

4 Grammar Bite C: Lexical verbs: structures and patterns Two areas are important in the structure of lexical verbs: –Their inflectional morphology, which marks person, tense, aspect and voice. –Their derivational morphology, which shows how verbs have been created. In their inflectional morphology, most verbs occur with regular suffixes –Many of the most common verbs have irregular morphology. –Some verbs allow both regular and irregular morphology. New verbs can be formed with derivational morphology –The prefix re- is frequently used for forming new words. –The suffix –ize is also frequently used for forming new words. –4 derivational suffixes are common/ used with similar meanings. (ize) The main verb determines the other elements that are necessary for the clause – i.e. the valency pattern –There are 5 major valency patterns: intransitive, monotransitive... –Many verbs can occur with more than one valency pattern, and they often have different meanings with each pattern... different frequencies

5 Grammar Bite D: Multi-word lexical verbs There are three major types of multi-word verb: phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs and phrasal-prepositional verbs. –Multi-word combinations can also be free combinations. Phrasal verbs consist of a verb + adverbial particle; they can be intransitive or transitive –Phrasal verbs are especially frequent in conversation and fiction. The most common verbs express physical activities (e.g. come on) –A few phrasal verbs are especially common in academic prose (e.g. carry out) Prepositional verbs consist of a verb + preposition. They can have one or two objects. –Prepositional verbs are common in all registers. –Prepositional verbs with activity and communication meanings are especially common in conversation (e.g. look at) –Passive voice prepositional verbs are especially common in academic prose. They have causative or existence meanings. Phrasal-prepositional verbs consist of a verb + particle + preposition –Like phrasal verbs, phrasal-prepositional verbs are especially frequent in conversation and fiction. The most common verbs express physical activity (e.g. get on with) There are also other kinds of multi-word verb constructions that occur with idiomatic meanings (e.g. bear in mind, make do, and take time)

6 Grammar Bite E: Primary verbs The three primary verbs – be, have, and do – can serve as both main verbs and auxiliary verbs. They differ, however, in their specific functions. –As copula (a main verb), be is the most common copular verb in English –As an auxiliary verb, be marks progressive aspect and passive voice –As a main verb, have is one of the most common lexical verbs in English –It has a particularly wide range of meanings –As an auxiliary, have marks perfect aspect –As a main verb, do is a general transitive verb of action (do work) –It often combines with a noun phrase to form idiomatic expressions (e.g. do the dishes) –As a main verb, do can also function as a transitive pro-verb (do it) or an intransitive pro-verb (e.g. I must have done) –As an auxiliary verb, do is used in the do-support construction for forming negation and questions (e.g. Didn’t you know?) –Auxiliary do is also used for emphatic meaning (e.g. Oh do shut up!)

7 Grammar Bite F: Copular verbs Copular verbs are used to express a relationship between the subject of the clause and an attribute. (You’re very stupid) Copular verbs usually take an obligatory subject predicative. Some copular verbs can also occur with an obligatory adverbial. (I was in the kitchen) Many different verbs can function as copulas. These verbs can be grouped into two major categories: current copular verbs and result copular verbs. –Current copular verbs express states of existence or sensory perceptions (e.g. be, fell) –Result copular verbs express the result of a process of change (e.g. become, turn out) The copular verbs differ in their meanings and in the complements that they can take. (BE- characterizing “Tomorrow could be sunny” – BE – identifying “That’s our house”.) There are highly systematic patterns of use associated with copular verbs + complements (come alive, come clear – recurring adjectives)

8 Time for a gag and some analysis! Teacher – Alec, what is a synonym ? It’s a word I can’t spell that means the same as one I can. Teacher – Today we are going to discuss the heart, kidneys, liver and lungs. Alec – Oh no. I hate organ recitals. Principal – All the teachers complain about you, boy. Can you imagine why? Alec – No sir! I haven’t done anything! Principal – You’ve got it exactly right, boy. Drama teacher – I told you last week you were too young to join the drama club. Alec – Yes sir. But I’m a week older now.


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