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V ARIATION IN THE VERB PHRASE : TENSE, ASPECT, VOICE AND MODAL USE Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English Biber; Conrad; Leech (2009, p.148-

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Presentation on theme: "V ARIATION IN THE VERB PHRASE : TENSE, ASPECT, VOICE AND MODAL USE Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English Biber; Conrad; Leech (2009, p.148-"— Presentation transcript:

1 V ARIATION IN THE VERB PHRASE : TENSE, ASPECT, VOICE AND MODAL USE Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English Biber; Conrad; Leech (2009, p.148- 185)

2 VERB TENSES Imperative Present Simple Present Continuous Past Simple Past Continuous Present Perfect Present Perfect Continuous Past Perfect Past Perfect Continuous Future with going to Future with will Future Continuous Future Perfect Future Perfect Continuous Subjunctive

3 E XAMPLES OF V ERB T ENSES Come here! They like to dance. We’re reviewing the tenses. She went there in 1995. They were having dinner. We have already seen it. He has been waiting for a long time. The thief had escaped before the cops arrived. She had been talking for an hour before he left. I’m going to travel. I will survive! We will be flying to Peru. They will have graduated from college. He will have been studying for six years. It is vital that he decide what to do.

4 I NTRODUCTION There are six major kinds of variation in the structure of verb phrases. These are illustrated below with the verb see: 1) Tense: present (sees); past (saw) 2) Aspect: unmarked (also called simple aspect) (sees); perfect (has seen); progressive (is seeing); perfect progressive (has been seeing) 3) Voice: active (sees); passive (is seen) 4) Modality: unmarked (sees); with modal verb (will/can/might see) 5) Negation: positive (sees); negative (doesn’t see) 6) Finite clause type (also called ‘mood’): declarative (you saw); interrogative (did you see?); imperative/subjunctive (see)

5 G RAMMAR B ITE A : T ENSE Verbs in English have only two tenses marked on them: present and past. Verb phrases can either be marked for tense or have a modal verb, but not both. Verb phrases that are marked for tense are more common than verb phrases with modal verbs. There are several different meanings expressed by present and past tense. Present tense verbs often refer to present time, either describing a state that exists at the present time or describing a habitual action. Present tense is also used to show past or future time. Past tense often refers to past time, but it is sometimes used to mark present time and for hypothetical conditions. Future time is usually marked in English with modals and semi-modals. Many verbs tend to occur with a particular tense. Verbs describing mental states are commonly in the present tense. Verbs about activity and communication are commonly in the past tense.

6 G RAMMAR B ITE B: A SPECT There are two aspects in English: perfect and progressive. Each aspect can be combined with present and past tenses. Perfect aspect ‘points back’ to an earlier time, and usually signals that the circumstance, or its result, continued up to a given time. Perfect aspect is most common in fiction and news. BE newspaper writing uses perfect aspect much more than AE newpapers do. Perfect aspect verbs are often used with time adverbials that make the time reference explicit. Past perfect often occurs in dependent clauses, and the main clause makes the time reference clear. Progressive aspect signals an event currently in progress or an event in the future that is quite certain. Progressive aspect is used more commonly in conversation than in writing. AE conversation uses progressive aspect the most, far more than BE conversation. Surprisingly, the most common verbs in progressive aspect include both dynamic verbs and stative verbs.

7 G RAMMAR B ITE C: V OICE There are three types of passive voice verb phrases: short passives (the agent is not specified), long passives (contain a by phrase), and get- passives ( It’s about these people who got left behind in Vietnam ). Compared to active voice, passive voice reduces the importance of the agent of the action to become the subject of the sentence. Passive Voice verbs are most common in the expository registers, where agents are often unknown or unimportant. In academic prose, passives often relate to scientific methods or logical relationships. In news, passives often report negative events that happened to someone. Get-passives are rare, and used almost exclusively in conversation. Some verbs usually occur as passives (e.g. be born, be based on). Other verbs rarely occur in the passive voice (e.g. hate, like, want). Voice and aspect combinations are possible; in use, the perfect passive is moderately common and the progressive passive is rare.

8 G RAMMAR B ITE D: M ODALS AND SEMI - MODALS There are nine central modals in English: can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, and must. In addition, there are a number of semi-modals (e.g. be going to, have to ); these are sequences of words that function like modals. Their main function to convey stance (attitude/point of view). Modals fall into three major categories of meaning; each category combines personal (intrinsic) meaning and logical (extrinsic) meanings. Permission/possibility or ability; obligation/necessity, and volition/prediction. Four modals and semi-modals are used primarily to express time meanings: will, shall, and be going to for future time, and used to for past time. Modals are common in all registers, but esp. in conversation. Semi-modals are especially common in conversation and rare in news and academic prose. Modals can be used in combination with both aspects and passive voice. Most modals occur with simple aspect and active voice. The semi-modals have to, need to, and be going to can follow a modal or other semi-modal in a series.

9 E XPRESSING MOOD Mood in verbs refers to one of three attitudes that a writer or speaker has to what is being written or spoken. The indicative mood is used to make a statement or ask a question. The imperative mood is used when we're feeling sort of bossish and want to give a directive, strong suggestion, or order: Get your homework done before you watch television tonight. The subjunctive mood is used in dependent clauses that do the following: 1) express a wish; 2) begin with if and express a condition that does not exist (is contrary to fact); 3) begin with as if and as though when such clauses describe a speculation or condition contrary to fact; and 4) begin with that and express a demand, requirement, request, or suggestion. She wishes her boyfriend were here. We would have passed if we had studied harder. I requested that he be present at the hearing


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