Ling 131: Language & Style
Topic 2 (session A) - Being creative with words and phrases > More on word classes > Verbs
|(Semi) Automatic poetry|
|Introducing word classes|
|More on word classes|
|Manipulating word classes|
|Changing word class - affixation|
|Changing word class - functional conversion|
|New words for old|
|Word class problems|
|Word class checklist|
More on word classes - Verbs
Verbs are often described as 'doing words', and it is certainly true that they prototypically 'refer' to actions and processes (e.g. 'run', 'hammer', 'escape, 'ooze', 'trickle'). So, we could invent a character to contrast with Mr Solid, our noun, who we might call 'Mr Shift'.
But meaning is again rather unreliable as a way of defining verbs. The most common verbs in English, 'is' (the verb 'to be') and 'have' do not describe actions or processes, and the same can be said of (a) 'linking' verbs like 'become', and 'seem' and (b) psychological verbs like 'believe' and 'see' as well as stative verbs like 'stand' and 'remain'.
(b) Internal Form
Verbs always function inside verb phrases, either as the main (head) verb, or as an auxiliary to it, as in: has been drinking might have been being drinking In both these cases, 'drinking' is the main (head) verb and the other words are all auxiliary verbs of different kinds.
The participial forms (those ending in '-ing', 'Ed' or '-en') are ambiguous formally between verbs and adjectives, but their differing functions in context remove the ambiguity: