Verb: Grammatical meaning

June 14th, 201210:17 pm


Verb: Grammatical meaning

The verb is a part of speech that conveys a grammatical meaning of an action, i.e. of a dynamic quality developing in time. Here, the grammatical meaning of an action is stretched: it is understood not only as “action” proper but also as a state or a statement of existence of an object, or as a statement of its belonging to a class of similar objects: A pear is a fruit, He ran a mile, He will soon wake up. It should be emphasized that the verb conveys the meaning of an action dynamically, i.e. the action develops within a certain time span (though this time span may be unlimited). This dynamic qual­ity of the expressed action makes the verb different from adjectives which denote some static quality without any reference to temporal relations. The verb differs from certain nouns in that nouns such as motion, development, swimming are abstract names of actions, whereas finite forms of the verb always represent actions as produced by a certain doer. That is why the only syntactic function of the finite forms is that of a predicate.

The verb seems to be an area of grammar which has always drawn the greatest attention in language studies. The verb can be called the most com­plicated unit of language, the keystone of the utterance and, consequently, the keystone of communication in general.

In Modern English, verbal forms convey not only subtle shades of time distinction but also deliver other meanings; they are marked for person and number, for mood, voice and aspect.

The grammatical categories of the English verb find their expression in synthetic and analytical forms. The formative elements expressing these categories are grammatical affixes, inner inflection and auxiliaries. Some categories have only synthetic forms (person, number), others – only analytical (voice distinctions). There are also categories expressed by both syn­thetic and analytical forms (mood, time, aspect).

The complexity of the verb is inherent not only in the intricate structure of its grammatical categories, but also in its various subclass divisions, as well as in its falling into two sets of forms profoundly different from each other: the finite set and the non-finite set.

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