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Verb phrases

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List of Shortenings

N noun

NP noun phrase

Adj adjective

AdjP adjective phrase

Adv adverb

AdvP adverb phrase

V verb

VP verb phrase

P preposition

PP preposition phrase

S sentence

Introduction

The theme of the present paper is investigation of verb phrases in the
structure of the modern American text.

Verb phrases are examined in the research work paper as a method
included into utterance extra linguistic context in prism of human
comprehension of the surrounding life.

Novelty of the semester paper lies in cognitive and communicative
approaches to linguistic analysis of verb phrases aimed at acquiring the
communicative competence.

The aim of the work is to describe the workings of the system of special
verb forms used in English to locate situations in time.

Object of the research is the verb within syntax and morphology.

Subject of the research is semantic relations of verb phrases in the
discourse structure.

The objective of the work is to lay the terminological and conceptual
groundwork which is necessary in providing precise definitions of the
basic linguistic terms dealing with the English verb phrases.

The methods of linguistic analysis used in this research paper work are:

1. Componential analysis, which helps to research lexemes that have a
common range of meaning and constitutes a semantic domain of this
project.

2. Discourse analysis, that enables to reveal the hidden motivations
behind a text or behind the choice of a particular method of research to
interpret that text.

3. Semantic analysis which is used to divide all the verb phrases of the
text into groups, concerning their semantic meanings.

4. Distinctive analysis, which purpose is to measure the preference of
one verb phrase over another particular construction.

Theoretical value of the paper is based on the analyzed data of 20 pages
with verb phrases used in the novel.

Practical value of the work may be useful in theoretical grammar and
general linguistics.

Structurally the term paper consists of three parts. The first part is
dedicated to syntax and functions of the verbs within syntax and
morphology. The second part defines basic linguistic terms, such as
‘verb’, ‘verb phrase’, ‘categories of the verb’, etc. Since this study
is intended as the part of a theoretical grammar, it seems necessary to
make explicit the way in which we use such terms. The third part
presents the discourse analysis of the verb phrases in the novel
“Forsyte Saga” by John Galsworthy. Each part has conclusions that carry
the most useful and important information concerning the theme of the
paper. In the end of the paper there are supplements providing the most
important notions and terms, and also a list of abbreviations that can
be found in the paper; and the list of bibliography used while making
the research.

Part I. Syntax

1.1 Peculiarities of the English Syntax

Language plays a unique role in capturing the breadth of human
diversity. We are constantly amazed by the variety of human thought,
culture, society, and literature expressed in many thousands of
languages around the world. We can find out what people think only
through their language. We can find out what they thought in the past
only if we read their written records. We can tell future generations
about ourselves only if we speak or write to them. If we want other
civilizations in space to learn about us we send them messages in dozens
of our planet’s six thousand languages.

Language has often been characterized as a systematic correlation
between certain types of gestures and meaning. For spoken language, the
gestures are oral, and for signed language, they are manual.

It is not the case that every possible meaning that can be expressed is
correlated with a unique, unanalyzable gesture, be it oral or manual.
Rather, each language has a stock of meaning-bearing elements and
different ways of combining them to express different meanings, and
these ways of combining them are themselves meaningful. The two English
sentences Chris gave the notebook to Dana and Dana gave the notebook to
Chris contain exactly the same meaning-bearing elements, i.e. words, but
they have different meanings because the words are combined differently
in them. These different combinations fall into the realm of syntax; the
two sentences differ not in terms of the words in them but rather in
terms of their syntax. Syntax can thus be given the following
characterization, taken from Matthews [40, p.48]:

The term ‘syntax’ is from the Ancient Greek syntaxis, a verbal noun
which literally means ‘arrangement’ or ‘setting out together’.
Traditionally, it refers to the branch of grammar dealing with the ways
in which words, with or without appropriate inflections, are arranged to
show connections of meaning within the sentence.

First and foremost, syntax deals with how sentences are constructed, and
users of human languages employ a striking variety of possible
arrangements of the elements in sentences. One of the most obvious yet
important ways in which languages differ is the order of the main
elements in a sentence. In English, for example, the subject comes
before the verb and the direct object follows the verb.

The connection between the words in a sentence is realized through the
changes in their forms and these changes in the form of the words to
indicate their function in the sentence are what Matthews referred to as
‘inflections’, and the study of the formation of words and how they may
change their form is called morphology.[40, p.53] Something which may be
expressed syntactically in some languages may be ex-pressed
morphologically in others. Which element is subject and which is object
is signaled syntactically in the examples from English, while it is
expressed morphologically in the Ukrainian examples.

Syntax and morphology make up what is traditionally referred to as
‘grammar’; an alternative term for it is morphosyntax, which explicitly
recognizes the important relationship between syntax and morphology.[40,
p.56]

Syntax deals with simple sentences, like:

(1) Bosinney was waiting for the answer. [59, p.25]

(2) Mrs. Small grew nervous.[59, p.54]

But one of the most important syntactic properties of language is that
simple sentences can be combined in various ways to form complex
sentences. Syntax makes possible the formulation of expressions with
complex meanings out of elements with simple meanings. One of the
defining features of human language is its unlimited nature; that is,
the number of meaningful expressions that can be produced by users of a
human language is potentially infinite, and this expressive potential
comes from the combination of the basic meaningful elements with
syntactic principles.

Much of the interest in language in psychology and cognitive science
comes from what the study of the cognitive mechanisms underlying
language use and acquisition can reveal about the human mind.

To many people the term ‘grammar’ evokes bad memories of prescriptive
rules learned in school, e.g. ‘don’t split infinitives!’ Since the early
part of the twentieth century, linguistics has rejected the prescriptive
tradition which underlies school grammars and focuses instead on
describing what users of human language actually do, not on prescribing
what they should do.

A central part of the description of what speakers do is characterizing
the grammatical (or well-formed) sentences of a language and
distinguishing them from ungrammatical or (ill-formed) sentences.[22,
p.53] Grammatical sentences are those that are in accord with the rules
and principles of the syntax of a particular language, while
ungrammatical sentences violate one or more syntactic rules or
principles. For example, (1) is a grammatical sentence of English, while
Was waiting Bossiney for the answer would not be. This sentence is
ungrammatical because it violates some of the word order rules for
English, that is basic word order in English clauses is
subject–verb–object, subject Bossiney precedes the predicate was
waiting, and auxiliary verbs like was precede the main verb, in this
case waiting. It is important to note that these are English-specific
syntactic rules.

Well-formed sentences are those that are in accord with the syntactic
rules of the language; this does not entail that they always make sense
semantically. For example, the sentence the answer was waiting Bossiney
is nonsensical in terms of its meaning, but it violates no syntactic
rules or principles of English; indeed, it has exactly the same
syntactic structure as (1). Hence it is grammatical (well-formed),
despite being semantically odd.

1.2 Aspects of syntactic structure

In the syntactic structure of sentences, two distinct yet interrelated
aspects must be distinguished. The first one has already been mentioned:
the function of elements as subject and direct object in a sentence.
‘Subject’ and ‘direct object’ have traditionally been referred to as
grammatical relations. Hence this kind of syntax will be referred to as
‘relational structure’. It includes more than just grammatical relations
like subject and direct object; it also encompasses relationships like
modifier–modified, e.g. tall building or walk slowly (tall, slowly =
modifier, building, walk = modified) and possessor–possessed, e.g. Pat’s
car (Pat’s = possessor, car = possessed).

The second aspect concerns the organization of the units which
constitute sentences. A sentence does not consist simply of a string of
words; that is, in a sentence like The shaft of a passing cab brushed
against his shoulder.[59] The teacher reads a book in the library, it is
not the case that each word is equally related to the words adjacent to
it in the string. There is no direct relationship between brushed and a
or between of and the; a is related to cab, which it modifies, just as
the is related to shaft which it modifies. The is related to brushed
only through the shaft being the direct object of brushed. The words are
organized into units which are then organized into larger units. These
units are called constituents, and the hierarchical organization of the
units in a sentence is called its constituent structure. This term will
be used to refer to this second aspect of syntactic structure.

Consider the eight words in the sentence:

(3)The shaft of a passing cab brushed against his shoulde,[59, p.64]

What units are these words organized into? Intuitively, it seems clear
that the article the or a goes with or forms a unit with the noun
following it. Is there any kind of evidence beyond a native speaker’s
intuitions that this is the case? If the article forms a unit with the
noun that follows it, we would expect that in an alternative form of the
same sentence the two would have to be found together and could not be
split up.

Thus, these two aspects of syntactic structure are always present in a
sentence, and when one or the other is emphasized, the sentence is being
described from one of the two perspectives. It will be seen later that
different grammatical phenomena seem to be more easily analyzed from one
perspective rather than the other.

1.3 Phrases as the basic element of syntax

In the passive version of the sentence (3) The shaft was brushed against
his shoulder by a passing cab the unit the shaft serves as subject, and
the unit the passing cab is the object of the preposition by. The
constituent composed of a noun and an article is called a noun phrase
[NP], e.g. by the teacher; NPs can be very complex. Here is a list of
some examples of NP:

the girl beautiful weather

this boy those sunny days

a dog stupid question

that large bicycle nice try

women the Pacific Ocean

elderly men brilliant student

David this year

Queensland judgment day

They water rat

What structure do noun phrases have in English? Based on the noun
phrases listed above (there are more complicated ones), a noun phrase
seems to consist of a determinative followed by a noun, or a
determinative followed by an adjective followed by a noun, or just a
noun, or an adjective followed by a noun.

We can represent these structures using what are called phrase structure
rules, like:

NP ? Detv N

This rule says that a noun phrase (NP) “goes to” (arrow) a determinative
(Detv) followed by a noun (N). We could thus separately list the rules
that we would need to cover all the structures:

NP ? Detv N

NP ? Detv Adj N

NP ? N

NP ? Adj N

In fact, there’s a simpler way to write all of these different forms
with a single rule. There is a convention in writing phrase structure
rules so that if something is in parentheses, it can either be there or
not. So we could rewrite our rules just as:

NP ? (Detv) (Adj) N

This rule says that a noun phrase consists of a noun, possibly preceded
by a determinative.

The preposition by and the NP following it in the sentence also form a
constituent in this sentence (by a passing cab); it is called a
prepositional phrase [PP].

Some examples of the PP are:

to the shops in a weak

after the party next to the bus stop

into the large kitchen nearby

near those very large buildings under the tree

A preposition doesn’t have to be followed by anything, so we can have a
preposition phrase that consists of just a preposition (John went
outside ) . So a preposition phrase consists at least of a preposition,
possibly with a noun phrase following it. We could write this as:

PP ? P (NP)

The verb plus the NP following it form a unit as well, as shown by a
sentence like A cab rolled out of blackness, and into blackness
disappeared[59]. The constituent composed of a verb plus following NP is
called a verb phrase [VP]. As with NPs, VPs can be quite complex. In our
discourse, we have various different verb phrase structures, like the
ones we can see in the following sentences.

He stood quite still, listening with all his might. [59, p.34]

He ran forward and back, felt his heart clutched by a sickening
fear.[59, p.23]

He had just put together a neat break of twenty-three,–failing at a
‘Jenny.'[59, p.23]

The murky blackness of the fog was but faintly broken by the lamps of
the ‘Red Pottle,’ and no shape of mortal man or thing was in sight.[59,
p.35]

George turned on him, looking really formidable, with a sort of savage
gloom on his big face.[59, p.65]

Bumley Tomm was rather a poor thing, though he had been so
successful.[59, p.53]

The expression he had used was ‘a free hand in the terms of this
correspondence.'[59, p.55]

So our verb phrase can have just a verb, or a verb followed by a PP, or
a verb followed by an NP, or a verb followed by an NP and a PP, or a
verb followed by an NP and more than one PP, or a verb followed by two
NPs or a verb followed by two NPs and a PP, or a verb followed by two
NPs and more than one PP.

While these structures are more and more complex, we can actually write
them very simply with a single phrase structure rule:

VP ? V (NP) (NP) (PP)*

In this rule we have explicitly written two separate NPs, rather than
(NP)*, because (in general) there is a maximum of two NPs in a VP,
whereas it is possible to continue adding as many PPs as you like.

There are two more types of phrases, that also need to be paid attention
to: adjective phrases and adverb phrases.

Adjective phrases. As well as noun phrases, there are also adjective
phrases.

Why do we need them ? Well, consider the following sentences.

He was a very talented architect [59]

As an architect he was very talented

In these two sentences, the words very happy form a phrase. So we have
an adjective phrase. Just as with nouns and noun phrases, we will say
that whenever an adjective appears it is inside an adjective phrase,
although it may be the only element in the adjective phrase. So we can
write phrase structure rules showing the structure of simple adjective
phrases:

AdjP ? (Adv) Adj

Now that we’ve seen adjective phrases, we need to go back and modify our
rule for noun phrases. We said that an NP ? (Detv) (Adj) N, but there
are several problems with that rule. Firstly, we’ve said wherever an
adjective appears it’s inside an AdjP, so our rule should have an Adj P
in it, not just an adjective. In fact, we need an AdjP because NPs can
be more complicated than the ones we’ve seen so far. We can say things
in English like: a very talented architect.

Here, clearly, we have an AdjP very talented inside the NP. But we also
need to expand our NP rule further, because rather than just a single
AdjP, an NP can contain several AdjPs: the rather famous very talented
architect.So we must change our rule for an NP to:

NP ? (Detv) (AdjP)* N

The asterisk is used to indicate that there can be more than one of a
constituent.

Adverb phrase. Just as we have adjective phrases, we also have adverb
phrases, to take account of things like very quickly, rather carefully
and so on. An adverb phrase normally consists of an adverb possibly
preceded by a degree adverb, e.g.:

Very interesting friendly indeed

really good-looking always hungry

rather annoying incredibly miserable

So there is a small set of very simple phrase structure rules, which can
account for many, many English sentences. Obviously, to account for all
sentences of English, we would have to develop more complex rules.

In each of these alternative forms, a combination of words from the
original sentence which one might intuitively put together in a single
unit also occurs together as a unit, and this can be taken as evidence
that they are in fact constituents. Using square brackets to group the
words in constituents together, the constituent structure of The shaft
of a passing cab brushed against his shoulder may be represented as in
(4) (‘S’ stands for ‘sentence’.)

(4)[S [NP The [N shaft]] [P of NP[ a [Adj passing] [N cab]]VP [V
brushed] [AdvP against][NP [P his] [N shoulder]]

1.4 Tests for phrases

Consider the following sentence:

The rich brown atmosphere was peculiar to back rooms in the mansion of a
Forsyte. [59]

All speakers of English would agree that in this sentence, some of the
words go together with each other more closely than others. For example,
the words the rich brown atmosphere seem to go together more closely
than, say atmosphere was peculiar. Likewise in the mansion seems to go
together as a unit (often referred to as a constituent), more than the
mansion of.

For our native language we could rely on intuition to decide about
phrases. But that is not going to work if we have to describe a language
which we don’t know very well.

What sorts of formal tests can we find to decide whether something is a
phrase or not?

Substitution test

One of the simplest tests for phrases is what is called the substitution
test. If we can substitute a set of words with a single other word,
without changing the overall meaning, then we can say that those words
form a phrase.

For example, looking back at the earlier sentence, we can substitute
various of the phrases for single words:

The rich brown atmosphere was peculiar to back rooms in the mansion of a
Forsyte

It was peculiar to back rooms in the mansion of a Forsyte that it was
the rich brown atmosphere.

The rich brown atmosphere was peculiar to back rooms in the mansion of a
Forsyte

The rich brown atmosphere was peculiar there.

We can see from this that the words the rich brown atmosphere form a
phrase, as do the words back rooms, the mansion and in the mansion.

Substitution also can be seen with what is called anaphora, where a
single item substitutes for an earlier mentioned item, in question and
answer sequences or in long sentences. For example, we could have a
question and answer sequence:

“There’s no money in that,” he said. ‘Yes, he went bankrupt,” replied
Nicholas.[59, p.66]

In the second sentence here, the word bankrupt has replaced no money,
showing us that no money must be a phrase.

While substitution usually works on the basis of a single word, it is
also possible to substitute using the phrase do so or so do. We can see
this sort of substitution in:

Old Jolyon’s hand trembled in its thin lavender glove, and so did his
son’s.[59, p.45]

So the words hand trembled in our original sentence form a phrase.

Cleft test

As well as substitution, another test we can use to see if something is
a phrase is what is called the clefting. Cleft sentences have the form

It is/was/will be ____ that/who ____

The important thing for a cleft test is to take the original sentence,
and try putting it into this frame, without changing it in any way
except for taking one part of it out and putting it in the first slot,
and putting the rest of the sentence in the second slot. For example:

The rich brown atmosphere was peculiar to back rooms in the mansion of a
Forsyte

It was the rich brown atmosphere that was peculiar to back rooms in the
mansion of a Forsyte

Old Jolyon’s hand trembled in its thin lavender glove.[59.p.23]

It was Old Jolyon’s hand that trembled in its thin lavender glove.

When applying the cleft test, it is important not to change anything
about the sentence, except for taking one part out and putting it
between it is/was/will be and that/who.

If it is possible to cleft a sentence, then the part of the sentence
which occurs between it is/was/will be and that/who forms a phrase. Note
that if it is possible to cleft a group of words, then that group of
words forms a phrase; but just because you can’t cleft something, that
doesn’t mean that it isn’t a phrase. For example, we know that in our
original sentence the words the rich brown atmosphere form a phrase, but
we can’t cleft it:

It was peculiar to back rooms in the mansion of a Forsyte that the rich
brown atmosphere.

Movement tests

Phrases often behave as units for various movement operations, with the
entire phrase moving together. For example, we could move the phrase on
that shelf in our original sentence:

The rich brown atmosphere was peculiar to back rooms in the mansion of a
Forsyte.

To back rooms in the mansion of a Forsyte was peculiar the rich brown
atmosphere.

A specific case of movement is the formation of a passive sentences. As
we can see the set of words the key and the words in the lock in our
sentence must each be a phrase because each set of words moves together
under passivization:

Old Jolyon turned the key softly in the lock[59,p.58] (active sentence)

The key was softly turned in the lock[59] (passive sentence)

Noting the nesting of constituents within constituents in this sentence,
e.g. the NP the lock is a constituent of the PP in the lock which is a
constituent of the VP turned in the lock. At the beginning of this
section it was noted that the two aspects of syntactic structure,
relational structure and constituent structure, are ‘distinct yet
interrelated’, and it is possible now to see how this is the case. For
example, a VP was described as being composed of a verb and the
following NP, but it could alternatively be characterized as involving
the verb and its direct object. Similarly, a PP is composed of a
preposition and its object. NPs, on the other hand, involve modifiers,
and accordingly the relation between the and lock could be described as
one of modifier–modified.

1.5 Lexical categories

In the discussion of the constituents of sentences, reference has been
made to nouns and noun phrases, verbs and verb phrases, and prepositions
and prepositional phrases. Nouns, verbs and prepositions are
traditionally referred to as ‘parts of speech’ or ‘word classes’; in
contemporary linguistics they are termed lexical categories. The most
important lexical categories are noun, verb, adjective, adverb and
adposition, which subsumes prepositions and postpositions. In
traditional grammar, lexical categories are given notional definitions,
i.e. they are characterized in terms of their semantic content
[9,pp.25-67].

For example, noun is defined as ‘the name of a person, place or thing’,
verb is defined as an ‘action word’, and adjective is defined as ‘a word
expressing a property or attribute’. In modern linguistics, however,
they are defined morphosyntactically in terms of their grammatical
properties.

Nouns may be classified in a number of ways. There is a fundamental
contrast between nouns that refer uniquely to particular entities or
individuals and those that do not; the best example of the first kind of
noun is a proper name, e.g. Sam, Elizabeth, Paris or London, and nouns
of this type are referred to as proper nouns.

Nouns which do not refer to unique individuals or entities are called
common nouns, e.g. dog, table, fish, car, pencil, water. One of the
important differences between proper and common nouns in a language like
English is that common nouns normally take an article, while proper
nouns do not, e.g. : The boy left versus *The Sam left (cf. *Boy left
versus Sam left). Common nouns may be divided into mass nouns and count
nouns. Count nouns, as the name implies, denote countable entities, e.g.
seven chairs, six pencils, three dogs, many cars. Mass nouns, on the
other hand, are not readily countable in their primary senses, e.g. *two
waters, *four butters, *six snows. In order to make them countable, it
is necessary to add what is sometimes called a ‘measure word’, which
delimits a specific amount of the substance, e.g. two
glasses/bottles/drops of water, four pats/sticks of butter, six
shovelfuls of snow. Measure words can be used with count nouns only when
they are plural, e.g. *six boxes of pencil versus six boxes of pencils,
*two cups of peanut versus three jars of peanuts. Pronouns are closely
related to nouns, as they both function as NPs. Pronouns are
traditionally characterized as ‘substitutes’ for nouns or as ‘standing
for’ nouns, e.g. John went to the store, and he bought some milk, in
which he substitutes or stands for John in the second clause. This,
however, is true only of third-person pronouns like he, she, it, or
they; it is not true of first-person pronouns like I or second-person
pronouns like you. First- and second-person pronouns refer to or index
the speaker and addressee in a speech event and do not replace or stand
for a noun.

Verbs can likewise be categorized along a number of dimensions, such as:

person, number( in Modern English there are but few form indicating them
in the synthetic forms of the verb. These are (1).the 3rd person
singular Present Indefinite Indicative; (2) the Future Indefinite tense;
(3) the suppletive forms of the verb to be for different persons of
singular and plural), aspect (perfect and progressive), voice (active
and passive), mood (indicative, imperative and subjunctive) and tense
(there are four groups of tenses: Indefinite, Continuous, Perfect and
Perfect Continuous; each of these forms includes four tenses: Present,
Past, Future and Futute-in-the-Past. Thus there are 16 tenses in
English.)

Conclusions to Part I

1 .Syntax is the branch of grammar dealing with the ways in which words,
with or without appropriate inflections, are arranged to show
connections of meaning within the sentence.

2. The main object of syntax is sentence construction.

3. One of the most obvious yet important ways in which languages differ
is the order of the main elements in a sentence.

4. The basic word order in English clauses is subject–verb–object,
articles precede the noun they modify, and auxiliary verbs precede the
main verb. These are English-specific syntactic rules.

5. The connection between the words in a sentence is realized through
the changes in their forms and these changes in the form of the words to
indicate their function in the sentence are called ‘inflections’, and
the study of the formation of words and how they may change their form
is called morphology.

6. Syntax investigates simple sentences, as well as their combinations
called complex sentences.

7. A central part of the description of what speakers do is
characterizing the grammatical (or well-formed) sentences of a language
and distinguishing them from ungrammatical or (ill-formed) sentences.

8. Two interrelated aspects of syntax: relational structure and
constituent structure.

9. Words organization into phrases. Types of phrases.

10. In order to check if word combination is a phrase, the tests for
phrases are to be done.

11. Lexical categories. Their semantic content.

Part II. English Verb. Verb Phrases

2.1 Peculiarities of the Verb

The term “verb” is used in two senses:

1. the verb is one of the elements used in the clause structure, like
the subject and the object.

2. a verb is a member of a word class, like a noun, and an adjective.

The two senses are related in this way: a verb phrase consists of one or
more verbs (sense 2) e.g. linked, is making, can believe, might be
leaving in the sentences below; the verb phrase operates as the verb
(sense 1) in the clause, e.g.:

They linked hands. He is making a noise.

I can believe you. She will be leaving soon.

Verbs are the very large lexical word class in English, and were
traditionally called ‘doing’ words when taught to young children. The
lexical verb class is more inclusive than the label implies as there are
verbs (for example have, be) which do not describe doing, but being, or
states, rather than processes and still others that describe events with
no intentional action behind them (for example die, fall).

In order to group these words together, then, we need to identify their
formal nd functional features. The inflectional morphemes can be used to
modify the verb in English. These include the present-tense,
third-person singular morpheme, which is written as -s in most cases;
the past tense morpheme, written as -ed in all regular verbs in English;
and the progressive form, which is written as -ing for all English
verbs.

Many minor sentences, and many spoken ones, consist of a single word
that is not necessarily a verb:

No! Natalie! Me. Singing. Slowly.

It is possible to work out likely contexts in which these words will
occur as utterances in their own right. However, they must have a
context in order to have a viable meaning.

With the exception of these and other minor utterance types, clauses in
English need to have a verb in them. This verb may be the head of a verb
phrase, but it may stand alone as a verb phrase too. The following
clauses have a single verb functioning in the predicator role:

Young Jolyon looked round the room. [59, p.65]

The old face looked worn and hollow again [59, p.34]

His eyes roved from bottle to bottle.[59, p.74]

Two ladies advanced. [59, p.44]

The fixity of Swithin’s eye alone betrayed emotion[59, p.52]

As a word class verbs can be divided into three main categories,
according to their function within the verb phrase: the open class of
Full Verbs (or lexical verbs), and the very small closed classes of
Primary Verbs, and Modal Auxiliary Verbs. Since the primary verbs and
the modal auxiliary verbs are closed classes, we can list them in full.

Full Verbs believe, follow, like, see,…

Primary Verbs be, have, do

Modal Auxiliaries can, may, shall, will, must, could, would,…

If there is only one verb in the verb phrase, it is the Main Verb. If
there is more than one verb, the final one is the main verb, and the one
or more verbs that go before it are auxiliaries. For example transmit is
the main verb in this sentence, and might and be are auxiliaries:

… to whom he might transmit the money he saved,…[59, p.66]

Of the three classes of verbs, the full verbs can act only as main
verbs, the modal auxiliaries can act only as auxiliary verbs, and the
primary verbs can act either as main verbs or as auxiliary verbs. Let us
investigate the auxiliary verbs closer.

Auxiliary verbs. Auxiliaries have little or no lexical meaning. They are
‘helper’ verbs, in the sense that they help to form complex verb forms.
In doing so they express either a grammatical notion (like ‘passive’,
‘progressive’ or ‘tense’) or one or more modal ideas. This is not to say
that auxiliaries are devoid of meaning, but their meanings are more
schematic (i.e. more ‘skeletal’, more ‘abstract’, less ‘full’) than
those of lexical verbs.

Within the auxiliaries we can make a distinction between two classes:
grammatical auxiliaries and modal auxiliaries. The former, which are
sometimes referred to as ‘primary auxiliaries’, have a purely
grammatical function:

1. the ‘tense auxiliary’ have, which is used in forming perfect tense
forms;

2. the ‘aspect auxiliary’ be, which is used for building progressive
verb orms;

3. the ‘voice auxiliary’ be, which is used in the passive;

4. the ‘periphrastic auxiliary’ do, which is used as a ‘dummy’
(pro-form) when a VP that does not contain an auxiliary (e. g. love her)
is used in a construction that requires one (e. g. I don’t love her, Do
you love her?, I do love her, etc.)

Next, there are the ‘modal auxiliaries’: can, could, may, might, must,
shall, should, ought to, will, and would. These auxiliaries express
special shades of meaning, such as volition, possibility, permission,
necessity, intention, obligation, expectation, inference, ability,
determination, etc. The modal auxiliaries differ semantically from the
first group in that they add lexical meaning rather than fulfill a
grammatical function. However, they still have less concrete, and hence
more widely applicable, meanings than most lexical verbs. This wider
applicability explains why auxiliaries form a relatively small set when
compared with lexical verbs.

Because an auxiliary does not have a full lexical meaning, it cannot be
used without a main (lexical) verb, except in ‘code’, where the
auxiliary is used as pro-form for an entire verb phrase (as in If I do
the thing, I will do it thoroughly, but I must have a free hand). In
other words, an auxiliary cannot be the only or last verb form in the VP
(except in ‘code’). In the following example the main verbs are
italicized while the auxiliaries are underlined:

[“What did he do last night?”] – “He studied / worked / may have slept /
could /had to / would.”

Unlike lexical verbs, auxiliaries have the so-called ‘NICE-properties’.
‘NICE’ is an acronym (coined by Huddleston 1976) consisting of the
initial letters of the terms negation, inversion, code and emphasis. The
reference is to the four cases in which the English VP requires an
auxiliary. If there is no auxiliary, the ‘periphrastic auxiliary’ do has
to be added. In that case we say that the lexical verb requires
‘do-support’. In other words, the statement that ‘auxiliaries have the
NICE-properties’ means that they do not combine with the periphrastic
auxiliary do in clauses made negative by the use of not, in clauses
involving subject-auxiliary inversion, in code and in cases of emphasis.
By contrast, clauses without an auxiliary need ‘do-support’ (i.e. the
insertion of do) in these four cases. Compare:

He went / He didn’t go / Did he go? / Yes he did / He did go.

He will go / He won’t go / Will he go? / Yes he will / He will go.

The auxiliary verbs are made up of the modals (may, must, might and so
on), have (perfective) and be (progressive and passive). Here it is
worth noting some of the uses of the auxiliary function: to construct
questions, to provide emphasis and to carry negation.

Looking at questions first, the first auxiliary in a verb phrase can be
put before the subject in order, to ask a question:

She will be coming. Will she be coming?

The emphatic use of the auxiliary is connected with stress and
intonation patterns, but it is again the first auxiliary that carries
the extra emphasis of an emphatic version:

Will you ask Mr. Bosinney, and I will get young Flippard.[59, p.66]

I will call for you and your young man at seven o’clock.[59, p.23]

A Forsyte will require good, if not delicate feeding, but a Dartie will
tax the resources of a Crown and Sceptre [59, p.34]

His drink, too, will need to be carefully provided; there is much drink
in this country ‘not good enough’ for a Dartie; he will have the
best.[59, p.52]

The negation of English sentences is usually carried by the verb phrase
in the form of a negative particle, which intervenes in the verb phrase
after the first auxiliary and before the following auxiliary or lexical
verb:

If you exceed that sum by as much as fifty pounds, I will not hold you
responsible Jane hasn’t been hurt.[59, p.33]

He knew it was done that he might not feel she came because of her dead
lover.[59, p.23]

The feeling of shame at what might be called ‘running after him’ was
smothered by the dread that he might not be there, that she might not
see him after all 59, p.35]

As these examples show, the negative particle is often attached to the
auxiliary verb, though in the case of might the reduced form (mightn’t)
is less common now.

All three of these special uses of the auxiliary require some attention
to the first auxiliary of a verb phrase. This may be a modal auxiliary
or it may be have or be.

Whichever it is, this verb is known as the ‘operator’ because it has the
special functions described above. In the absence of an auxiliary (that
is, where there is only a lexical verb), the dummy operator – the verb
do – is used instead:

But I suppose you feel it much as I do when I part with a picture–a
sort of child?”[59, p.34]

But if you ask me how I do it, I answer, because I’m a Forsyte.”[59,
p.67]

The dummy operator, then, performs the three functions of the other
auxiliaries, but it does not carry any meaning of its own to add to the
verb phrase.

Though some verbs have a status intermediate between that of main verbs
and that of auxiliary verbs. Sometimes the main verb (and perhaps the
other words too) is understood from the context, so that only
auxiliaries are present in the verb phrase:

I can’t tell them but you can. [i.e. ‘can tell them’]

Your parents may not have suspected anything but your sister may have.
[i.e. ‘may have suspected something’].

There also multi-word verbs, which consist of a verb and one or more
other words turn on, look up, take place, take advantage, put up with,…

Let us consider at the individual forms of lexical verbs in English and
how they function. The first of the two clauses above also form complete
sentences, whereas the third, fourth and fifth are only part of an
utterance. These incomplete utterances are examples of subordinate
clauses, which we shall investigate in a later section. We are using
them here simply to demonstrate the use of particular forms of verb:
non-finite forms. These forms, often known as the -ing form, the -en
form and the i- form, are also called the progressive form, the
perfective form and the infinitive form. These forms can be part of full
verb phrases that function as the predicator in a complete clause. On
their own, however, they do not link to the subject in a clear way (for
example by an ending that indicates a person) and they do not establish
the tense of the verb as either present or past.

Note how they need auxiliaries to establish such aspects of the meaning
of the predicator:

Who shall tell of what he was thinking? [59, p.44]

And now you have your son and June coming back you will be so happy.[59,
p.24]

I shall sit in the sun with a drink in my hand.[59, p.20]

Lexical verbs that do not need an auxiliary verb in order to function in
main clauses are known as finite forms. They include the present tense
form, which is normally indistinguishable from the infinitive form in
terms of having no morphological suffix (for example catch, sing), the
third-person present tense form, which normally adds an -s to base
forms, and the past tense form, which adds -ed to regular verbs.

Table 3.1 shows some examples of all the forms of English lexical verbs.

Table 3.1

Citation formBreakPlaySingForgetPresent tensebreakplaysingforgetPresent
third personbreaksplayssingsforgetsPast
tensebrokeplayedsangforgotProgressive
participlebreakingplayingsingingforgettingPerfective
participlebrokenplayedsungforgottenInfinitivebreakplaysingforget

The most common pattern of forms in English verbs is the one represented
n the table by play. There are effectively only four different forms
(play, plays, playing, played), but because other common, but irregular,
verbs distinguish, for example, the past tense (-ed) from the perfective
form (-en), the regular verbs are also treated as though these forms
were different.

The irregular forms tend to belong to common verbs derived from Old
English, rather than those with Romance language influences, such as
French. Because they are very common they have not changed to match the
sheer quantity of verbs with a pattern such as play, although there is
some evidence that some such thing is happening. If you think about the
way that people these days often muddle sung and sang and rung and rang,
it seems that the distinction between past tense and perfective markers
is less clear-cut than in the past. However, although the two forms
might be merging in irregular verbs too, they are not moving towards
matching the regular verbs, which would result in forms such as *singed
and *ringed.

The subclasses of lexical verb that can be identified tend to depend on
the context in which they occur. Whilst the traditional grammars
distinguished between transitive and intransitive verbs, we find it
useful to distinguish further categories, depending on the clause
structures in which they typically occur.

The intransitive verb will not be found with an object, and thus will
occur n subject and predicator structures: I’m dying. The transitive
verb occurs with an object in subject-predicator-object structures: She
hates you. Ditransitive verbs occur with both indirect and direct
objects: They gave me a beautiful present. There are also subclasses of
verb that tend to occur with compulsory adverbials: John went home and I
put the cigarette back in the packet.

Two further important subclasses of verb are intensive verbs (such as
be) that occur with subject complements (She was really tired), and
those which occur with objects and object complements: (You make me
happy). The intensive verbs have a particular semantic effect in that
they invoke existence (there is a tree) and equivalence (she is my
daughter). These subcategories of verb are not watertight and some verbs
can occur in a range of grammatical contexts. However it is useful to
think in terms of verbs typically occurring in certain clause
structures.

2.2 Verbs within Syntax and Morphology

What is the essential property that makes verbs behave differently from
nouns nd adjectives in morphology and syntax? There is actually an
obvious starting-point in the widespread recognition that verbs are the
quintessential predicates. They are inherently unsaturated expressions
that hold of something else, and thus the nucleus around which sentences
are typically built. Many linguists of different schools have recognized
the significance of this. Among the formalists, Jackendoff (1977)
partially defines verbs with the feature “+subject” (although this does
not distinguish them from nouns, in his view). Among the functionalists
Buechler[16, p.54] , identifies predi-cation as the pragmatic function
that provides the external motivation for the category verb. The precise
version of this intuition stated in (3)

(3)X is a verb if and only if X is a lexical category and X has a
specifier.

Whether an item takes a specifier or not is thus an important
characterizing feature for the functional categories. (3) claims that
this property subdivides the lexical categories too. Those lexical
categories that take a specifier are verbs; those that do not are nouns
and adjectives.

The way a verb comes to have a specifier is somewhat different from the
way ost functional categories do, however. Tenses and complementizers
acquire their specifiers by movement: some constituent contained inside
their complement moves to become the specifier of the phrase. This is
not the case for verbs. Rather, the specifier of a verb usually comes
from direct combination with some other phrase that is constructed
independently. In Chomsky’s terms, verbs typically get specifiers from
“External Merge,” whereas tenses and complementizers get specifiers by
“Internal Merge.” In practice, this means that verbs usually assign a
thematic role to the phrase that is their specifier. Following
Chomsky’s[21, p.56-366] adaptation of Hale and Keyser (1993), there are
two domains in which this happens (also Bowers [1993] and others). A
verb that takes an AP or PP complement assigns a theme role to its
specifier:

(5) a.Cigar made [VP him[ feel faint []] (him is theme of feel) [59]

A verb that takes an NP complement assigns an agent role to its
specifier:

(6). It made [VP him [sick to look at them]] (him is agent of sick)

A verb can also take a VP complement, in which case it again assigns an
agent ole to its specifier. The head of the lower VP almost always
combines with the head of the higher VP, deriving a surface
representation with only one spelled-out verb:

Examples in which a single verb appears to take two complements are
always to be analyzed this way, as consisting of two verbal projections
that take one comple-ment each, following Levinson [36] Palmer [41], and
using Chomsky’s [21] terminology, we can call the higher verbal position
in structures like (5)(in lower case), and the lower position V (in
upper case). Both, however, qualify as verbs, as long as they have
lexical content, given the definition in (1)

The structures in (5) (6) also exist without an overt NP, AP, or PP
complement o the verb:

(7) a Cigar made [him [feel – ]] [59, p.76]

b It made [him [sick – ]] [59, p.76]

So the verbs have a covert complement in these cases, so that the theme
and agent arguments are still in specifier positions. Hutchby and
Wooffitt [30] actually make a somewhat stronger claim: they say that
these phrase-structural configurations are the only ones in which NPs
that bear theme and agent roles can be found. Let us consider the
following:

Agent and theme roles can only be assigned to specifier positions.

This is a subpart of the Uniformity of Theta Role Assignment Hypothesis
(UTAH) of Baker (1988a), which Hutchby and Wooffitt [30, p.543] seek to
derive. (6) is weaker than Hutchby and Wooffitt’s view, the agent role
simply is the [??V VP] configuration, they believe, and the theme role
is the [??V AP/PP] configuration. (In this, they were presumably
inspired by Carter’s [19, p.45] view that thematic roles are designated
positions in a conceptual structure.) The definitional view seems too
strong, however. (6) is strong enough to have consequences: taken
together with (4), it implies that simple nouns and adjectives can never
assign agent or theme thematic roles.

It is tempting to try to combine (4) and (6) and make it the defining
property of verbs that they assign agent and theme theta-roles.3 This
would be a mistake, however. First, if these particular thematic roles
were built into the definition, one would have to be sure one could
distinguish them from other thematic roles in a reliable way. This is a
notoriously difficult enterprise, the thematic roles having clear
central instances but fuzzy boundaries. More importantly, there are a
few verbs that do not assign any thematic role to their specifier. Verbs
like seem and appear are the clearest case; perhaps weather predicates
are another.

But even though these verbs have no thematic role to assign to a
specifier, they must still have a specifier, in the form of the
pleonastic pronoun it:

(8) a He made [(it) seem/appear that he was happy]

b Sowing the clouds made [?(it) rain /snow]

This may seem like a peculiarity of English, since many languages do not
require an overt pronoun with these verbs. However, this is simply
because many languages never require overt pronouns, often because the
person/number/gender features of the pronoun are adequately expressed in
the verbal morphology, as in Spanish and Italian. Not surprisingly, the
required subject of the verb shows up not as a pleonastic pronoun, but
as a pleonastic subject agreement in these languages.

Auxiliary verbs also illustrate this same point. These are verbs that do
not assign any thematic roles, but express only aspectual information,
such as the progressive or the perfect:

a The box broke open

b The box has broken open.

c The box is breaking open.

The nominal the box is thematically related only to the verb break in
these examples, and semantically the aspect has scope over the entire
eventuality, including the subject. Therefore, on purely semantic
grounds, one might expect the structures in (5).

(5) a has [VP the box [broken open]]

b is [VP the box [breaking open]]

But this is not what we find on the surface. Have and is are
(nonprototypical) verbs, and as such they must have a specifier. In this
case, they acquire one, not by theta-role assignment, nor by pleonastic
insertion, but by NP-movement:

(6) a[VP the box has [VP [broken open]]

b [VP the box is [VP t[breaking open]]

Again, this is not a peculiarity of English. The semantically plausible
Aux–Subject–Verb–Object order in (6) is not found in any SVO language,
based on the data from 530 languages summarized in Julien (2000). Orders
like (5) are found in the Celtic languages, but these are crucially VSO
languages, where there is independent evidence that all verbs (not just
auxiliaries) move to the left of their subjects.

The most challenging aspect of defending (1) is not to show that all
verbs have specifiers, but to show that the other lexical categories
cannot have them.

Nouns and adjectives certainly can appear without specifiers, as seen in
(6)

(7) a Water is refreshing. (specifierless N)

b Cold water is refreshing. (specifierless A)

But they can also be used predicatively, in which case they seem to take
subjects just as much as verbs do. I illustrated the subject-taking
properties of various verbs in English by embedding them under the
causative verb make, because make selects a bare VP complement (I
assume), with no obvious functional head. Thus, in this context we can
be relatively certain that it is the verb that requires a subject, not
tense or some other functional head. But NPs and APs can also be
embedded under make, in which case they too are preceded by a subject:

(8) a The chemist took a hydrogen and oxygen mixture and made [#(it)
water].

b Then she put the water into the refrigerator to make [(it)
cold].

This subtle contrast between verbs and other categories has no obvious
connection to the superficial inflectional properties of verbs, but it
does suggest that there is a structural difference between verbs and
predicate nouns/adjectives. A theory that starts with the assumption
that only verbs take subjects directly gives us immediate leverage on
this paradigm.

So we encountered the different word classes of English and looked at
the internal structure of words. In the following part we shall consider
structures that are usually made up of more than one word, and look at
how they are put together out of the word classes we have already
examined. Here, then, we shall be considering the ways in which words
are combined to make phrases, and investigate the structure of clauses,
sentences and utterances.

2.3 Verb phrases. Their composition and functions

Alternative definitions of ‘verb phrase’

Verb phrase is that part of the predicate constituent that does not
contain optional adverbials. (In many cases the predicate consists of a
VP only.) We will stick to this definition in this work. However, it may
be useful to know that some linguistic works use the term in a different
sense.

Some use it in the sense of our ‘predicate (constituent)’, i.e. to refer
to the sum of all those constituents of the clause that do not belong to
the subject NP. Others use the term in a much narrower sense, to denote
no more than the main verb and any auxiliaries accompanying it. Thus
seen, the VP of He may have been reading a book is may have been reading
(rather than may have been reading a book). In the present work a string
like may have been reading or will read will be referred to as a ‘verb
form’. A verb form consists either of a verb (in the form of a
participle or infinitive) plus one or more auxiliaries (e. g. will see,
would have seen) or of a (usually inflected) verb only (as in They take
drugs, John smokes).

The verb phrase is the pivotal phrase in English clauses. It fulfils the
role of predicator in the clause and effectively introduces a process
(action, event and so on). Unlike in the noun phrase, recursion is not
possible in the verb phrase, and with only a small number of exceptions
all verb phrases fit into a fairly predictable and clear pattern, as
described in this section. It is important to note that some approaches,
notably those deriving from generative theory, use the term verb phrase
to refer to the whole of the predicate of the clause, that is, the verb
and all that follows it. In the approach used here the term is used to
describe only the verbal element of the clause, functioning as the
predicator. To avoid confusion it is essential when reading other
textbooks to establish which of these approaches is in use.

The first thing to note is that the simplest verb phrase will be a main
lexical verb on its own. This is true of the vast majority of English
verb phrases, and also of the clauses below, where the verb phrase is
underlined:

She crumpled the letter in her hand [59, p.76]

Give them my love.[59, p.43]

Winifred recited the story of the pearls calmly. [59, p.33]

We have already examined the form of English verbs, so the above should
be as examples of the past tense, the present third person singular and
the present second person singular respectively. As English has no
future tense and things such as voice (active and passive), perfective
and progressive are not built into its morphology (unlike, for example,
French and Spanish), there is a range of auxiliary verbs instead. These
precede the main lexical verb and introduce all of the variations of
meaning that some other languages include in the form of the verb
itself.

The full form of the verb phrase is as shown in Table 4.1, though as we
shall see it is rare for all of these potential places to be filled at
once.

Table 4.1

Modal auxiliaryPerfective auxiliaryContinuous auxiliaryPassiveMain
verbmighthavebeenbeingfollowed

We shall consider each of the four auxiliary positions in turn. The
modal auxiliaries in English are a subclass with at least the following
members:

may, might, will, would, shall, should, can, could, ought (to)

There are other potential members of the modal class, including need and
dare, but these are increasingly falling out of usage as modal verbs.
Modality is an important semantic contribution to the interpretation of
any text, and it is not found in modal verbs alone but here we shall
mainly consider the structure of the English verb phrase, rather than
detailed variations in meaning and usage. In general, then, modal verbs
are responsible for bringing in the speaker’s own opinion about the
substance of the clause being uttered, by indicating either how true or
how desirable or acceptable he or she considers the circumstance being
described. The likelihood or truth of an utterance is called epistemic
modality, and its desirability is known as deontic or boulomaic
modality. These two aspects of modal meaning can be represented by the
same modal verb, with the semantics and context enabling the hearer to
distinguish between them.

He should have written to her, because and she had promised to answer.
(she knows that he has plenty of time).[59, p.23]

He should have written to her, because and she had promised to answer.
(It’s not polite, because she is still waiting).[59, p.65]

The first example shows the use of should as an epistemic modal, with
the speaker indicating some doubt about the truth of the statement. The
second example demonstrates the deontic use of modals, whereby the
speaker indicates what she or he thinks is the proper thing to happen.
The modal verbs have no formal variation in morphology, and therefore
they are always the same, irrespective of the person (first, second,
third) or number (singular or plural) of the subject they follow:

I should go.

You should eat.

He/she/it should play.

We should sing.

They should leave.

More important, perhaps, is the fact that the modal verbs do not occur
on their own, hence the inclusion of a range of lexical verbs in the
examples given above. It is only when the lexical verb is completely
predictable that the modal can stand in for the whole verb phrase. The
following exchange provides an example:

A: Might they bring a present with them?

B: They might.

When a modal auxiliary is included in the verb phrase the subsequent
verb form must be the infinitive form of the verb – one of the
non-finite forms of the verb. In the above examples the lexical verbs
follow the modal in infinitive forms – go, eat, play, sing, leave – but
because the infinitive form is the same as other forms for many verbs,
it is only clear that these are infinitives when the subsequent verb is
one with a distinctive infinitive, such as the verb be: You should be .
. .

Later we shall look at more complex cases, where some of the other
auxiliary positions are also filled in. For now the significant points
to remember are that modals do not change their own morphology but do
influence the form of any subsequent verb, so that it is obliged to be
an infinitive.

The second auxiliary position is the perfective auxiliary. This function
is fulfilled by the auxiliary verb have which looks identical in all its
forms to the lexical verb have, but must be kept separate for analytical
purposes. The lexical verb have has a clear meaning or ‘semantic
content’, approximating to the notion of ownership, though this is
sometimes more metaphorical than literal (for example I have a longing
for a cool drink). The perfective auxiliary, by contrast, brings the
idea of completion to the meaning of the verb phrase:

She has broken the glass.

I had cooked the dinner.

The perfective auxiliary, unlike the modal verbs, will agree with its
subject as long as it is the first verb in the verb phrase. It can also
take the present (has) or past (had) tense form, and this choice will
differentiate between actions or processes completed in the immediate
past and those completed at an earlier moment.

The other important feature of the perfective is its effect on the
subsequent verb, whether that is another auxiliary or a main (lexical)
verb. Those verbs which follow the perfective auxiliary have to take the
-en form, which is another of the non-finite forms of the verb.

She has taken the dog. They had sold their house.

The -en form of many verbs is either irregular (for example sold ) or
similar in form to the past tense -ed form (asked). Nevertheless,
whenever the perfective auxiliary is followed by a verb for which a
distinctive -en form is possible, this is the form that is used (for
instance taken).

The next auxiliary position in the English verb phrase is the
progressive auxiliary verb, be. Like the perfective it has the same
range of forms as a very common lexical verb, but they should be
considered as different verbs. The lexical meaning of be is hard to
capture, but it can be summed up as to do with existence and
equivalence:

Why is it necessary at all? Mother doesn’t want to marry again.[59,
p.27]

That’s only to show you how impossible your father is![59, p.29]

The auxiliary verb, be, however, conveys the idea that the process being
described by the utterance is in some sense continuous – either in the
past or in the present:

Warmson is smiling faintly–in his opinion Val is a young limb.[59,
p.30]

James’ voice was sounding from the other end.[59, p.42]

In the first of these examples the verb phrase, was making, tells the
hearer that the process is ongoing since the auxiliary is in the present
tense. In the second example the process is in the past because the
auxiliary is in the past, but there is a focus on the duration of the
process that is lacking in a past tense or perfective version:

James’ voice has sounded from the other end.[59, p.67]

These three versions all place the action in the past, and none of them
evokes the length of time during which the prayer was being said, unlike
the progressive version.

The final auxiliary to discuss is the passive auxiliary, which also
takes the form of the verb be. Again this needs to be distinguished from
the lexical verb be, and from the progressive auxiliary, which is
formally identical to it. In fact the only way that we can tell the
difference is by what follows it. In the case of the passive auxiliary,
the subsequent verb has to be in the -en form rather than the -ing form,
which follows the progressive.

Madame Lamotte was wearing black with touches of lilac colour
(progressive).[59, p.11]

And suddenly he was certain as he was caught on the idea that there was
no sentiment in either of them. (passive).[59, p.56]

The significant contribution of the passive voice to meaning is that it
changes the relationship between the subject and the predicator. In all
active (nonpassive) verb phrases, in some sense the subject is the doer
of the process (even if the verb is a fairly inactive one, such as
notice or fall). With passive verb phrases the subject is the goal of
the process, and suffers the consequence of the process described,
rather than being the initiator. This can be seen in the examples above,
where Jessica is doing the throwing in the first sentence but is
affected by it in the second. The passive auxiliary, like the perfective
and the continuous, carries person/ number agreement and tense if it is
the first auxiliary in the verb phrase:

Soames could not tell whether he was surprised of that knowledge or
no.[59, p.56]

The fine reading-room was decorated in the Adam style.[59, p.75]

When the passive auxiliary is no longer the first auxiliary in the verb
phrase the usual restrictions apply. Thus after a modal auxiliary its
form will be an infinitive, after a perfective it will be -en and after
a continuous it will have the -ing form.

We are now in a position to summarise the English verb phrase structure
and the formal restrictions that the auxiliaries place on the subsequent
verb.

Summary of English verb phrase structures

ModalPerfectiveProgressivePassiveMain
(lexical)mighthaveseenhasbeentryingisbeingturnedshouldbebuyingcanbebough
thavebeenbeingconsideredwillhavebeenbeingthought

2.4 The Structure of Verb Phrases. Their Grammatical Categories.

The Verb Phrases exist of two types: finite VP and nonfinite VP. A
finite VP is a verb phrase in which the first or only word is a finite
verb, the rest of the verb phrase consisting of nonfinite verbs. Finite
VPs can be distinguished as follows:

a) Finite verb phrases can occur as the VP of independent clauses.

b) Finite verb phrases have tense contrast, i.e. the distinction
between present and past tenses:

Dear June is so original [59, p.87]

James sat down, all knees, elbows, frock-coat, and long white
whiskers.[59, p.66]

c)There is person concord and number concord between the subject of a
clause and the finite verb phrase. Concord is particularly clear with
the present tense of be:

I am He/She/It is

here here

You are We/They are

But with most full verbs overt concord is restricted to a contrast
between the 3rd person singular present and other persons of plural
number.

He/She/Jim reads

the paper every morning.

I/We/You/They read

With modal auxiliaries there is no overt concord at all:

I/You/She/ We/They can play the cello.

d) Finite verb phrases have mood, which indicates the factual, or
counterfactual status of predication. In contrast to the “unmarked”
Indicative Mood, we distinguish the “marked” moods Imperative (used to
express commands and other directive speech acts), and Subjunctive (used
to express a wish, recommendation, etc.)

A clause with a finite verb phrase as its Verb element is called a
“finite verb clause” or, just a “finite clause”. Similarly, a clause
with a nonfinite verb phrase as its Verb element is called a “nonfinite
(verb) clause”.

The infinitive ((to)call), the –ing participle (calling), the –ed
participle (called) are the nonfinite forms of the verb. Hence any
phrase in which one of these verb forms is the first or only word
(disregarding the infinitive marker to) is a nonfinite verb phrase. Such
phrases do not normally occur as the verb phrase of an independent
clause. Compare:

The past subjunctive (or were-subjunctive) survives only in were as a
past form of be. It is distinguishable from the past indicative of be
only in the 1st and 3rd persons singular:

If she was leaving, you would have heard about it. [indicative]

If she were leaving, you would have heard about it.[subjunctive]

The indicative was is more common in less formal style.

Uses of the subjunctive. We distinguish two main uses of the present
subjunctive:

a) the Mandative Subjunctive is used in a that-clause after an
expression of such notions as demand, recommendation, proposal,
intention (e.g. We insist, prefer, request; It is necessary, desirable,
imperative ; the decision, requirement, resolution ).

b) The Formulaic (or optative) Subjunctive is used in certain set
expressions:

God save the Queen Heaven forbid that…

Long live the King Be that as it may…

Come what may Suffice it to say that…

The past subjunctive is hypothetical in meaning. It is used in
conditional and concessive clauses and in subordinate clauses after wish
and suppose:

If I were a rich man, I would…

I wish the journey were over.

Just suppose everyone were to act like you.

Subjunctive were is often replaced in informal style by indicative was.

Voice. Active and Passive. The distinction between active and passive
applies only to sentences where the verb is transitive. The difference
between the active voice and the passive voice involves both the verb
phrase and the clause as a whole. In the verb phrase, the passive adds a
form of the auxiliary be followed by the –ed participle of the main
verb. For example:

Kisses is kissed

Has kissed has been kissed

May be kissing may be being kissed

At the clause level, changing from active to passive has the following
results:

a) the active subject, if retained, becomes the passive agent.

b) the active object becomes the passive subject.

c) the preposition by is inserted before the agent.

Aspect. Aspect is a grammatical category that reflects the way in which
the action of a verb is viewed with respect on time. We recognize two
aspects in English, the perfect and the progressive, which may combine
in a complex verb phrase, and are marked for present or past tense:

Present perfect – has examined

Past perfect – had examined

Present progressive – is examining

Past progressive – was examining

Present perfect progressive – has been examining

Past perfect progressive – had been examining

Conclusions to Part II

1. Verbs are the very large lexical word class in English. Verb is a
part of speech which denotes an action.

2. The verb has the following grammatical categories: person, number,
tense, aspect, voice and mood. These categories can be expressed by
means of affixes, inner flexion and by form words.

3. As a word class verbs can be divided into three main categories,
according to their function within the verb phrase: the open class of
Full Verbs (or lexical verbs), and the very small closed classes of
Primary Verbs, and Modal Auxiliary Verbs.

4. The verb has finite and nonfinite forms (called verbals). There are
three verbals in English: the participle, the gerund and the infinitive.

5. The subclasses of lexical verb that can be identified tend to depend
on the context in which they occur. Whilst the traditional grammars
distinguished between transitive and intransitive verbs.

6. Verbs are the nucleus around which sentences are typically built.

7. Whether an item takes a specifier or not is an important
characterizing feature for the functional categories. Those lexical
categories that take a specifier are verbs; those that do not are nouns
and adjectives.

8. Verb phrase is the part of the predicate constituent that does not
contain optional adverbials.

9. The simplest verb phrase will be a main lexical verb on its own. The
other constituents of the verb phrase will be modal auxiliary, perfect
auxiliary, progressive auxiliary, and passive verb.

10. The Verb Phrases exist of two types: finite VP and nonfinite VP.
They have the grammatical categories of the verb itself.

Part III. Discourse Analysis of Verb Phrases in John Galsworthy’s

FORSYTE SAGA. Part I. THE MAN OF PROPERTY (pp.1-10)

In his novel “FORSYTE SAGA” John Galsworthy preferably uses perfective
and lexical verb phrases.

The following table shows the prevailing quantity of lexical verb
phrases, that mainly denote human feelings, emotions, thoughts,
decisions. And the other major group of verb phrases the author uses is
the perfective verb phrases. Galsworthy uses them in order to show, how
his personages’ intentions are put into life, what means do they use,
and what kind of results they bring out. Rarely he uses modal verbs,
passive voice, and progressive verbs.

Summary of verb phrase structures

Type of VPExampleSum%ModalShe ought to be very happy.

This it was that she would have to lay down when it came to her turn to
die.

How impossible and wrong would it have been for any family, with the
regard for appearances which should ever characterize, the great upper
middle-class, to feel otherwise than uneasy!1116PerfectiveA very sweet
look had come into the old lady’s face, she kissed the girl’s check with
trembling fervour.

It was her world, this family, and she knew no other, had never perhaps
known any other.

Still, he had forfeited his right to be there, had cheated her of the
complete fulfilment of her family pride, deprived her of the rightful
pleasure of seeing and kissing him.2022ProgressiveOld Jolyon’s coachman,
was driving June and Bosinney to the theatre, and remarked to the
butler…..

At the window his father, James, was still scrutinizing the marks on the
piece of china..612PassiveSoames Forsyte, flat-shouldered, clean-shaven,
flat-cheeked, flat-waisted, yet with something round and secret about
his whole

appearance, looked downwards and aslant at Aunt Ann.

Her hands, gloved in French grey, were crossed one over the other, her
grave, charming face held to one side, and the eyes of all men near were
fastened on it.915LexicalAunt Ann turned her old eyes from one to the
other.

When Winifred married Dartie, I made him bring every penny into
settlement–lucky thing, too–they’d ha’ had nothing by this time!”3335

The verb phrase can have just a verb, or a verb followed by a noun
phrase, or a verb followed by an adjective phrase, or a verb followed by
an adverb phrase, or a verb followed by a preposition phrase, or a verb
followed by preposition phrase+ verb phrase, or a verb followed by two
or more different phrases.

Verb phrase followed by other phrasesExample Sum%VP having just a
verb“What are you givin?”

If Irene had no money she would not be so foolish as to do anything
wrong; for they said–they said–she had been asking for a separate
room; but, of course, Soames had not….

Timothy, indeed, was seldom seen. 17 9VP followed by a NPHe was an
architect, not in itself a sufficient reason for wearing such a hat.

Never had there been so full an assembly, for, mysteriously united in
spite of all their differences, they had taken arms against a common
peril.

There was warmth, but little colour, in her cheeks. 37 20VP followed by
an AdjPIf he were sleek, well-brushed, prosperous-looking, it was more
necessary to give him nice things.

Her large, dark eyes were soft. 21 11VP followed by AN AdvPIn the end
each gave exactly what was right and proper.

His forehead sloped back towards the crown of his head, and bulged out
in bumps over the eyes, like foreheads seen in the Lion-house at the
Zoo.

And every now and then a Forsyte would come up, sidle round, and take a
look at him. 27 14VP followed by PPHad she not said to Mrs. Soames–who
was always so beautifully dressed—that feathers were vulgar?

Like cattle when a dog comes into the

field, they stood head to head and shoulder to shoulder, prepared to run
upon and trample the invader to death.

How impossible and wrong would it

have been for any family, with the regard for appearances which should
ever characterize, the great upper middle-class, to feel otherwise than
uneasy!

A tall woman, with a beautiful figure, which some member of the family
had once compared to heathen goddess, stood looking at these two with a
shadowy smile. 34 17VP followed by a PP+VPHe had never committed the
imprudence of marrying, or encumbering himself in any way with children.
11 6VP followed by two or more phrases.The eldest by some years of all
the Forsytes, she held a peculiar position amongst them.

The author of the uneasiness stood talking to June by the further door.

He stretched out his hand to meet that of a dapper, clean-shaven man,
with hardly a hair on his head, a long, broken nose, full lips, and cold
grey eyes under rectangular brows.

42 23

Conclusions to Part III

1. We have made a discourse analysis of the verb phrases in Forsyte Saga
by John Galsworthy. As we may conclude the author frequently uses verb
phrases.

2. According to the data from the tables we come to a conclusion that
Galsworthy mainly describes people’s acts, deeds and the results of
these acts. This is why the author preferably uses the verb phrases of
movement.

3. Galsworthy also uses simple lexical verbs to show feeling, emotions,
thoughts of his heroes.

Conclusions

1. Syntax is the branch of grammar dealing with the ways in which words,
with or without appropriate inflections, are arranged to show
connections of meaning within the sentence.

2. The main object of syntax is sentence construction.

3. One of the most obvious yet important ways in which languages differ
is the order of the main elements in a sentence.

4. The basic word order in English clauses is subject–verb–object,
articles precede the noun they modify, and auxiliary verbs precede the
main verb. These are English-specific syntactic rules.

5. The connection between the words in a sentence is realized through
the changes in their forms and these changes in the form of the words to
indicate their function in the sentence are called ‘inflections’, and
the study of the formation of words and how they may change their form
is called morphology.

6. Syntax investigates simple sentences, as well as their combinations
called complex sentences.

7. A central part of the description of what speakers do is
characterizing the grammatical (or well-formed) sentences of a language
and distinguishing them from ungrammatical or (ill-formed) sentences.

8. Two interrelated aspects of syntax: relational structure and
constituent structure.

9. Words organization into phrases. Types of phrases.

10. In order to check if word combination is a phrase, the tests for
phrases are to be done.

11. Verbs are the very large lexical word class in English. Verb is a
part of speech which denotes an action.

12.Verb has the following grammatical categories: person, number, tense,
aspect, voice and mood. These categories can be expressed by means of
affixes, inner flexion and by form words.

13. As a word class verbs can be divided into three main categories,
according to their function within the verb phrase: the open class of
Full Verbs (or lexical verbs), and the very small closed classes of
Primary Verbs, and Modal Auxiliary Verbs.

14.The verb has finite and nonfinite forms (called verbals). There are
three verbals in English: the participle, the gerund and the
infinitive.

15.The subclasses of lexical verb that can be identified tend to depend
on the context in which they occur. Whilst the traditional grammars
distinguished between transitive and intransitive verbs.

16. Verbs are the nucleus around which sentences are typically built.

17.Whether an item takes a specifier or not is an important
characterizing feature for the functional categories. Those lexical
categories that take a specifier are verbs; those that do not are nouns
and adjectives.

18.Verb phrase is the part of the predicate constituent that does not
contain optional adverbials.

19. The simplest verb phrase will be a main lexical verb on its own. The
other constituents of the verb phrase will be modal auxiliary, perfect
auxiliary, progressive auxiliary, and passive verb.

20. The Verb Phrases exist of two types: finite VP and nonfinite VP.
They have the grammatical categories of the verb itself.

21. We have made a discourse analysis of the verb phrases in Forsyte
Saga by John Galsworthy. As we may conclude the author frequently uses
verb phrases.

22. According to the data from the tables we come to a conclusion that
Galsworthy mainly describes people’s acts, deeds and the results of
these acts. This is why the author preferably uses the verb phrases of
movement. Out of about 80 sentences examined on pp.1-10 35% contain
simple lexical verb phrases, 22% – perfective verb phrases, 16% – with
mostly modal verbs, in 15% of the sentences are preferably used passive
VP and only in 6% of all sentences Galsworthy uses progressive verb
phrases.

23. To make his language rich and colorful John Galsworthy uses verb
phrases in combination with another word phrases. According to our
research verb phrases are mainly proceeded by two or more different word
combinations – 23% out of 226 sentences investigated, including 20% of
the noun phrases. Verb phrases are also followed by preposition phrases
– 17%, adverb phrases – 14%, adjective phrases – 11%. The minority of
the word combinations following verb phrases is after verb phrases
containing just a verb itself – 9%, and phrases including preposition
phrase and verb phrase again.

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59. Illustrative material J.Galsworthy “ Forsyte Saga ”

Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Adjective – is a word expressing a quality of a substance.

Adverb – is a part of speech which expresses some circumstances that
attend an action or state, or points out some characteristic features of
an action or a quality.

Article – is a structural part of speech used with nouns.

Aspect – is a grammatical category that reflects the way in which the
action of a verb is viewed with respect on time.

Auxiliary verbs – verbs that have little or no lexical meaning. verbs,
they help to form complex verb forms.

Cleft test – taking the original sentence, and putting it into the frame
like: It is/was/will be ____ that/who ____, without changing it in any
way except for taking one part of it out and putting it in the first
slot, and putting the rest of the sentence in the second slot.

Constituent structure – the hierarchical organization of the units into
a sentence.

Finite forms – lexical verbs that do not need an auxiliary verb in order
to function in main clauses.

Intransitive verb – occurs with both indirect and direct objects.

Modal verbs express the attitude of the speaker to the reality,
possibility or probability of the action he speaks about.

Morphology – the study of the formation of words and how they may change
their form.

Movement test – a specific case of movement and the formation of a
passive sentence.

Nonfinite forms – verbs that do not express person, number or mood and
cannot be used as the predicate of a sentence.

Noun – is a word expressing substance in the widest sense of the word.

Noun phrase – the constituent composed of a noun and an article.

Object – is a secondary part of the sentence which completes or
restricts the meaning of the verb or sometimes an adjective, a word
denoting state, or a noun.

Predicate – is the second principal part of the sentence which expresses
an action, state, or quality of the person or thing, denoted by the
subject.

Preposition – is a part of speech which denotes the relations between
the objects and phenomena.

Pronoun – is a part of speech which points out objects and their
qualities without naming them.

Relational structure – kind of syntax investigating grammatical
relations like subject and direct object; encompassing relationships
like modifier–modified possessor–possessed .

Sentence – is a unit of speech whose grammatical structure conforms to
the laws of the language and which serves as the chief means of
conveying a thought.

Subject – is the principal part of two-member sentence which is
grammatically independent of the other parts of the sentence and on
which the second principal part (the predicate) is grammatically
dependent, i.e. in most case sit agrees with the subject in number and
person.

Substitution test – substitution of a set of words with a single other
word, without changing the overall meaning, in order to check if the
words form a phrase.

Syntax – the branch of grammar dealing with the ways in which words,
with or without appropriate inflections, are arranged to show
connections of meaning within the sentence

Transitive verb – occurs with an object in subject-predicator-object
structures

Verb – is a part of speech which denotes an action.

Verb phrase – that part of the predicate constituent that does not
contain optional adverbials.

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