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1. INTRODUCTION 1.1. Definition The verb in English has traditionally been defined as a word that “expresses action or a state of things”. This definition is not very useful, however, because other words, especially nouns and adjectives can also express these meanings. That is why, modern grammarians prefer to define word classes (or parts of speech) not only on the basis of their meaning, but also on the basis of their form, insofar as this is possible and on the basis of their function in sentences. Therefore, a complete definition of the verb should take into account three criteria: morphological, syntactic and semantic: - Morphologically, the verb assumes certain forms to express various grammatical categories: the categories of person, number (which it shares with other parts of speech) and the specific categories of tense, aspect, voice and mood. - A finite verb discharges the syntactic function of predicate in the sentence. - From the semantic point of view (i.e. from the point of view of their meaning) the class of verbs includes words expressing actions or states perceived as processes. 1.2. Classification of verbs Verbs may be classified in accordance with several criteria: their form; lexical meaning; complementation 1.2.1. Classification of verbs in accordance with their form There are three ways of classifying verbs on the basis of their forms: in accordance with their morphological structure, derivation, their base forms 22.214.171.124. Classification of verbs according to their morphological structure (or Composition) According to their morphological structure (or composition) verbs may be classified into: 126.96.36.199.1. One-word verbs, represented by: a) simple verbs: verbs which cannot be further subdivided into morphological elements, e.g. go, eat, sit; b) Compound verbs: verbs formed of two or more morphological elements written together, e.g. broadcast, underline, blackmail; c) derivative verbs, i.e. verbs formed by means of affixes (prefixes and suffixes): discover, mislead, deafen, symbolize. 188.8.131.52.2. Multi-word verbs: A multi-word verb is a lexical verb which may be combined with one or two particles to function as a verb with a unitary meaning. There are three kinds of multi-word verbs: phrasal verbs; prepositional verbs; phrasal-prepositional verbs. a) Phrasal verbs: A phrasal verb consists of a verb and an adverbial particle (e.g., sit down, go away, get off, give in, etc). The verb is usually a common English verb (be, break, come, fall, get, give, go, make put, take, turn); The adverbial particle is usually an adverbial of place (across, away, back, down, in, off, on, out, over, up). Phrasal verbs raise two sets of problems: semantic and syntactic. i. The meaning of phrasal verbs. - Quite a large number of phrasal verbs have a ‘literal’ meaning. They retain the individual meanings of the (base) verb and the adverbial particle, i.e. the meaning of the phrasal verb is simply a result of the meanings of the two elements (the verb and the particle), e.g. to sit down, to run away, etc. In some cases, the base verb retains its meaning and the particle simply adds a special sense (so, we can fairly easily infer the meaning of the phrasal verb): on can mean ‘forward’, as in go on, read on, etc. up, off, out can mean ‘completely’, ‘thoroughly’, as in eat up, drink up, finish off, tire out (=exhaust completely) In a fairly large number of phrasal verbs, the particle can be omitted without changing the meaning of the sentence. However, the sentence sounds a good deal better (or more natural) with the particle, for instance: Turn round and see who is behind us. She usually wakes up at about six. - The meaning of the phrasal verb cannot be inferred from the individual meanings of the (base) verb and the adverbial particle.
The meaning of the phrasal verb is much more opaque or ‘idiomatic’. The particle changes the meaning of the base verb to such an extent, that we have to learn their meanings as a single unit, almost without association with the base verb: to make out (= to decipher, to understand), to let down (to disappoint), to come round (= to regain consciousness), to turn up (= to appear, arrive). Phrasal verbs are quite common in spoken, informal English. In more formal style they are sometimes replaced by one-word verbs (if there is a synonym): We decided to carry on. (= continue) The two girls fell out. (= quarrelled) Don’t give away any information. (= reveal) Don’t leave out anything important. (= omit) A large number of phrasal verbs are polysemantic and, depending on the context, they can have a literal or idiomatic meaning. For instance, bring up: Bring the piano / visitor up. (the phrasal verb has a literal meaning, i.e. carry it (the piano) up, bring him (the visitor) upstairs; They brought Tom up as their own child. (the phrasal verb has an idiomatic meaning: to raise, to educate) ii. In addition to problems concerning their meaning, transitive phrasal verbs, (i.e. phrasal verbs that take a direct object) also raise syntactic problems: - When the direct object is expressed by a noun, the noun object is placed either before or after the adverbial particle (or: the adverbial particle can either come before or after the noun object): They turned the offer down. / They turned down the offer. They managed to put the fire out. /… to put out the fire. The verb and particle may be separated by a fairly short noun phrase. If the direct object is expressed by a long noun phrase, the particle is placed immediately after the verb (the object is placed after verb + adverbial particle): They turned down lots of perfectly good suggestions. When the direct object is expressed by a (personal) pronoun, the adverbial particle is placed after the object, i.e. a pronoun object always comes before the adverbial particle: They turned it down. / They managed to put it out. b) Prepositional verbs A verb may also form a combination with a preposition (e.g. call on, look for, look after, etc.). The verb and the preposition express a single idea: I’m looking for my keys. (= seeking) She takes after her grandmother. (= resembles) Like all prepositions they are always used with objects (noun phrases/ pronouns). The noun phrase following the preposition is termed prepositional object. In fact, the purpose of the preposition is to link the (noun phrase) object to the verb. With prepositional verbs, the objects are always placed after the preposition, for instance: Look at the picture. / Look at it. I’m waiting for Mary. / I’m waiting for her. In some cases phrasal verbs with objects look identical to verbs followed by a prepositional object (prepositional verbs). But we can see they are different when we use a pronoun as an object. For instance, run down: He ran down his own wife. / He ran her down (phrasal verb) He ran down the hill. / He ran down it (verb+ preposition) c) Phrasal - Prepositional verbs are combinations consisting of three parts: a base verb, an adverbial particle, and a preposition (e.g. look forward to, look down on, catch up with, put up with, etc). They are partly phrasal verbs and partly prepositional verbs. The purpose of the adverbial particle is to change the meaning of the base verb. The purpose of the preposition is to link the noun phrase object to the verb. Both particle and preposition come immediately after the verb. Phrasal prepositional verbs are quite common in informal spoken English. They can often be replaced by a single-word verb in more formal English: The car ran out of petrol. (= finish supplies); I get on with my teachers very well. (= to have a friendly relationship with); I refused to put up with his rudeness any longer (=tolerate);
I’ve got a bad cold. You’d better keep away from me. (= avoid) Other phrasal - prepositional verbs are: to cut down on (= reduce), to look up to (=respect), to face up to (= confront), to stand up for (= defend), etc. d) Idiomatic expressions: combinations of verb + other parts of speech, especially nouns, e.g. give way (= yield), make haste (= hurry, hasten), make fun of / poke fun at (= ridicule), etc. In these expressions, the verb itself has a diminished lexical value, while the main semantic load is carried by the nominal element. 184.108.40.206. Classification of verbs in accordance with their derivation. Verbs can be derived from other parts of speech through affixation and conversion. a) Affixation is the device by means of which a verb can be derived from other parts of speech through suffixes and prefixes. Some of the most productive verb-forming suffixes are: -ize: analyse/A.E. analyse, recognize, modernize, characterize -ify: certify, simplify, clarify, magnify -en: it is a very productive suffix added to adjectives or nouns. It has the causative meaning = “to cause something to be”. Eg broaden, deafen, deepen, soften, widen, shorten; strengthen, lengthen, heighten. Prefixes are used to a lesser extent to form verbs from other parts of speech. Nevertheless, one of the most productive verb-forming prefixes is en- added to adjectives or nouns: enlarge, enable, ensure, enrich; endanger, enjoy, encircle, enrage, encourage, entrust. b) Conversion refers to the derivational process by which a word belonging to a part of speech is changed into another part of speech, without the addition of an affix. - Quite a large number of nouns can be converted to verbs: to paper (a room), to park (a car), to service (a car), to process (leather, cheese, data). Most nouns representing various parts of the body can be used as verbs: to head (an expedition, revolt), to elbow (one’s way through a crowd), to eye (someone with suspicion). - Adjectives may be converted to verbs: to dirty, to empty, to blue, to brown. 220.127.116.11. Classification of verbs in accordance with their base (inflectional) forms. The forms of English verbs are: 1. The base form. It is the uninflected form (given in dictionaries) which can be used as: a) the infinitive (often preceded by the Infinitive marker to); b) the imperative (2nd person singular/plural); c) the subjunctive (present synthetic); d) simple present tense (all persons except 3rd person sg.): E.g. work, write, put, bring, be (am, are). 2. The past tense form (Ved): worked, wrote, put, brought, was / were 3. The past participle form (Ven): worked, written, put, brought, been. 4. The –(e)s form: is added to the base for the 3rd pers. sg. simple present tense: works, writes, puts, brings, is. 5. The –ing form, also called the form for the present participle. It is formed by adding –ing to the base: working, writing, putting, bringing, being. The conjugation of the English verb is based on the first three forms (they are the dictionary forms of the English verbs): worked -worked - worked; write – wrote - written. Depending on how they form the past tense and the past participle, the English verbs are either regular (work) or irregular (write). Regular verbs: Verbs like work which have the past tense and the past participle in –ed are called regular: Regular means that we can state all the verb forms of the English verb once we know the base form. Thus, we can predict their past tense and past participle form according to a rule, namely by adding –ed to the base. The vast majority of English verbs are regular. Furthermore, all new verbs that are coined or borrowed from other languages adopt this pattern, for example xerox – xeroxes xeroxed, xeroxing. Irregular verbs: Verbs like write, put, bring, be are irregular in that we cannot predict their past tense and past participle form according to a rule. For an irregular verb, we have to learn the 3 forms (the base form, the past tense and the past participle) individually. The irregular verbs form a small but very important group of verbs.
1.2.2. According to their lexical meaning, verbs may be classified into full/ main verbs and auxiliary verbs. 1. A full (main / lexical / ordinary) verb has a meaning of its own (full lexical meaning) and can form the predicate by itself. It is used as the main verb in a verb phrase: He works hard; He has worked. 2. An auxiliary verb has no independent meaning of its own. It does not make up a verb phrase on its own but must be accompanied by a following main verb. Auxiliary verbs are used together with (before) main verbs to help them express particular grammatical functions or meanings. There are two types of auxiliary verbs: - primary auxiliary verbs: be have, do. They are the most common verbs in English. They can be used as auxiliary as well as main verbs. As auxiliary verbs, combined with the infinitive, the present or the past participle of main verbs, they help to form the grammatical categories of the main verbs, i.e. tense, aspect, voice, interrogation, negation. - modal-auxiliary verbs: can, could, may, might, must, ought, shall, should, will, would. The modal auxiliaries are called so because they express a variety of moods and attitudes towards an action or state to which the main verb refers. The modal auxiliaries are used with the infinitive of main verbs to indicate the speaker’s attitude towards the utterance, e.g. permission, possibility, necessity. Unlike the primary verbs (be have, do), the modal auxiliaries are never used as main verbs, they are always used as auxiliary verbs (i.e. they cannot form a verb phrase on their own, without the support of a main verb). The modal auxiliaries also differ from the primary auxiliary verbs in that they lack certain basic forms: they have no –s in the 3rd person singular, no infinitives or participles. Apart from these differences, all auxiliaries (both primary and modal auxiliaries) have certain characteristics in common, characteristics that distinguish them from main verbs. Rules applicable to all auxiliaries a) The negative of a verb phrase which contains an auxiliary is formed by putting the negative particle not after the auxiliary: He is helping us → He is not helping us. He should help us → He should not help us. Main verbs are distinguished from auxiliary verbs by their inability to form negation in this way. Main verbs require the use of do in order to form the negative: He helps us. → He does not help us. b) Auxiliaries admit inversion (inversion means changing the word order of subject and verb in the sentence). This inversion occurs in: - Interrogative sentences: The interrogative of a verb phrase which contains an auxiliary is formed by inverting the subject and the auxiliary (the auxiliary is placed before the subject): He is helping us → Is he is helping us? He should help us → Should he help us? Again, main verbs are distinguished from auxiliary verbs by their inability to form interrogation in this way. Main verbs require the use of do in order to perform this inversion: He helps us. → Does he help us? - With introductory negative and restrictive adverbs (for emphasis) I have seldom seen such a crowd of people. → Seldom have I seen such a crowd of people. At no time was the entrance left unguarded. At no time should the entrance be left unguarded. If the verb phrase is expressed by a main verb alone, then we need the use of do to perform this inversion: He little realised the danger he was in. → Little did he realise the danger he was in. c) Auxiliaries can be contracted in conversation. Contraction is a short form of a word, used both in spelling and in pronouncing the word. Contractions are used in speech and informal writing. The contraction is added to the end of a word and is marked in writing by an apostrophe (‘). - all auxiliaries can be contracted in the negative: usually not is spelled n’t and is added to the auxiliary: He is not helping us. → He isn’t helping us. He should not help us. → He shouldn’t help us.
These reduced constructions occur in: i. 5 . in informal speech. In order to avoid repeating a previous verb phrase.negative additions: NEITHER / NOR + AUXILIARY + SUBJECT SUBJECT + AUXILIARY NEG. There is a man at the door. for example between true and false. or between present and past: I am telling the truth. e) Auxiliaries can function as substitutes for main verbs in verb phrases. had). do are special verbs which can be used both as main and as auxiliary verbs.Be (am. . (= had) / He’d see it. aren’t is used as a contraction for am I not: Aren’t I lucky? .Verb contraction or negative contraction? In informal English we sometimes have a choice in negative sentences. of course possible. or I haven’t met him. he certainly does. special emphasis is often placed on auxiliary verbs. Main verbs which have no auxiliary in their composition require the use of do as their substitute: Ann stayed and so did Tom. is). between contraction of the verb or contraction of not: She’s not hungry. . Be is used as: 1.There are no negative contractions for am and may: In questions.replies to statements. I will.’ ‘Yes. HAVE. we use the weak forms [əm]. he can (drive a car)’/ ‘No. (= is) / He’s read. it hasn’t’. requests or orders (sentences expressing agreements or disagreements): ‘You’ll be on holiday soon. are. Main verb: in existential sentences which make statements about the idea of being or existence: We were at home last night. The word which comes before the contraction is usually a personal pronoun: I’m reading.answers to general questions (yes / no questions) ‘Has it stopped raining?’ ‘Yes. (has can’t be contracted) d) emphasis: In conversation. Or: Ann won’t stay and Tom won’t either. In normal speech. additions to remarks: ./ ‘No. + EITHER Ann won’t stay and neither will Tom. He’ll come.affirmative additions: SO + AUXILIARY + SUBJECT SUBJECT + AUXILIARY + TOO Ann will stay and so will Tom. it has (stopped raining). he can’t’ Note: an answer with yes / no.Had and would have the same contraction: ’d He’d seen it. The functions of the primary verbs: BE.’ ii.’ ‘Yes. you must believe me. This emphasis can give some emotional force to the whole sentence or it can express some kind of contrast. DO Be. (= would) . . short answers: . have. Thus the main verb of the verb phrase is omitted (either by ellipsis or by substitution). we can use an auxiliary only.’ (I’ll be on holiday) Main verbs which have no auxiliary in their composition require the use of do as their substitute: ‘Tom works hard. But if we want to stress the fact that I am not lying. I’ve not met him. We’ve seen it. . (will substitutes for the verb phrase will stay) Or: Ann will stay and Tom will too. without an auxiliary is. but it is considered less polite (or sounds rather blunt). (= has) Contracted forms. will (would) can be contracted in the affirmative. He’ll not miss the bus. [mʌst]. have (has. or He won’t miss the bus.Is and has have the same contraction: ’s He’s reading. we place special emphasis on the auxiliaries by using the strong forms [æm]. ‘Can he drive a car?’ ‘Yes.Notes: . being enclitic (= added to a preceding word) naturally do not occur at the beginning or end of a sentence: Will you be in tonight? (*’ill you be in tonight?) I haven’t finished but he has. or She isn’t hungry. [məst].
The interrogative and negative are always formed according to the rule for main verbs. future perfect. Note: Have got is also the perfect of the verb get. . have expresses various meanings: .I will be here at 8 o’clock. ‘to own’: He has a new motorbike. perfect participle. according to the rule for main verbs. i.e. with the auxiliary do: How many classes do you have a week? We’re having a party on Saturday.Be + -ing form (present participle) of a main verb forms the progressive aspect of that verb: He is writing.Be + to-infinitive of a main verb is used as a modal auxiliary to express order. state verbs do not occur in progressive forms. i. (*A semantic distinction is made into: dynamic verbs. Main verb: As a main verb. This distinction is very important for the morphological behaviour of the verbs. the latter construction is restricted to British English only: I haven’t any books. inversion (interrogation). i.g. Have is contracted only when got is added to it: I’ve got to work tomorrow. meaning ‘become’. [həd].Have + to-infinitive of main verbs expresses the modal value of obligation and provides all the tenses and forms that the defective modal verb must has not. verbs which express states. Have is used as: 1. . it has no do auxiliary for negation. Have forms the interrogative and negative in either of the two ways: i. They have arrived. Auxiliary verb: . . ‘receive’. the weak forms [həv]. He’s got tired of this game.Dynamic / action meanings. passivizations) There is an alternative to this form of have when it means ‘to possess’: have got (have got is present perfect in form but its meaning is present simple): He’s got a new motorbike. instruction: No one is to leave the building without the permission of the police. [həz]. ‘eat’. ‘d] are used. have acts as its own auxiliary. (future perfect) In speech. perfect infinitive. with the auxiliary do: I don’t have any books.Have + object (NP / pronoun in the accusative) + base verb (short infinitive) of main verbs has a causative meaning = ‘make’: 6 . perfect gerund. i. i. ii. (= are holding) Students don’t have classes on Saturday. i. The interrogative and negative forms are made according to the rules for main verbs. verbs which express activities and state verbs. with inversion. 2. such as ‘take’. etc. the strong forms are used and they are never contracted: I have to work on Saturdays.e. the perfect tenses or forms of the main verbs: present perfect. . For example. past perfect. or. or ‘receive’ e. the interrogative and negative forms are made according to auxiliary verbs (without do): I haven’t got to work tomorrow. ‘experience’. Be is constructed as an auxiliary even when it functions as a main verb. Generally speaking. (present perfect) They will have arrived.e. Auxiliary verb: .e.g. .e. Did you have any difficulty getting here? I have tea for breakfast and so does my husband. with do: Do you have to work on Saturdays? When got is added to have. e.State* meaning: ‘to possess’. In speech.Have + the past participle of a main verb is used to form the perfective aspect. ‘s.e. or the contracted forms [‘ve. The main verb be may have the auxiliary do in emphatic imperative sentences and regularly has it with negative imperative: Do be quiet! Don’t be rude! 2.Be + -en form (past participle) of a main verb forms the passive voice of that verb: The letter was written in German.
. . . ‘make’: He had us working every night.Do / did + the base form (the short infinitive) of the main verb is used to form the negative of the main verb in the present and past simple: He likes cats.He doesn’t like cats. ‘allow’ in negative sentences: I won’t have you coming home so late. in questions: He likes cats. I clean them myself. I did enjoy that dinner! It was delicious. ii. . / You really ought to have the doctor take a look at your eyes. .Have + object + past participle of main verbs has a causative meaning: ‘to cause someone to do something’. Do is also placed at the beginning of an imperative sentence for emphasis: Do write to us and tell us how you are.Does he like cats? He waited for us. when we want to avoid repeating the verb: He said he’d help us and he did.I’ll have the electrician check everything while he’s here. employed someone to repair it). When a negative or restrictive adverb is placed in initial position (at the beginning of a clause) for emphasis (especially in the rhetoric style): They realized only later what a terrible thing had happened → Only later did they realize what a terrible thing had happened. . and it has the full range of forms: What have you been doing lately? As a main verb. In adverbial clauses of comparison: He works harder than I do (= than I work) He left for school the same time as I did.’ (= he knows) ii. 2. (= I caused. or ‘to cause something to be done’: I had my house repaired.Have + object + present participle of main verbs expresses the values: i. (= made us work) The doctor will soon have her walking again. he does.Do / did + the base form (the short infinitive) of the main verb is used to form inversion: i.As a substitute for a verb phrase. ‘to perform’. I did want to come to the meeting but I was ill. At no time did he admit he was a thief. i.’ Do is used as: 1. . 7 . ‘to carry out’ etc. Little does he know how much suffering he has caused.He didn’t wait for us. Do sit down and make yourself at home! . Main verb: As a main verb. ‘permit’. Do / did are pronounced with strong stress in speech: I do love this food but I’m afraid I can’t finish it. ‘cause’.e. Auxiliary verb: . The interrogative and negative of present and past simple are formed with the auxiliary do: Did you have your suit cleaned as you intended? ‘Do you have your windows cleaned every month?’ ‘I don’t have them cleaned. In short answers (if there is no other auxiliary): ‘Does he know I’m here?’ ‘Yes. – Did he wait for us? ii.Do / did + the base form (the short infinitive) of the main verb is used to add special emphasis to these verbs (to stress the action expressed by the verb) in the present and past simple affirmative. (=he helped us) They intended to reach the top of the mountain but no one knows if they did so (= if they reached the top of the mountain) i. He waited for us. do expresses several meanings: ‘to be busy/ occupied with’. do forms the interrogative and negative in the present and past simple with do (did) as an auxiliary: What did you do last night? I didn’t do anything on Sunday. I was too tired.
go.iii. PROGRESSIVE pattern: A form of be is followed by a verb in the -ing form: He is helping us. linking verbs.e. Substitution: ‘Should he have been questioned by the police?’ ‘Yes. number. He arrived yesterday. (not is inserted after the first auxiliary). type of complementation a transitive verb requires to complete its An intransitive verb is a verb that is not followed by an object or by a complement.’ (= we enjoyed it too) The structure of the verb phrase A verb phrase consists either of a main verb: He came yesterday. C. transitive. there are certain rules for how they can be combined. A (modal auxiliary) + B (have) + C (be-ing) What is called the lexical meaning is contained in the last word: the main verb.’ ‘So do we. (VP = main verb ‘came’) or of one or more auxiliary verbs together with the main verb: He is coming tonight: VP = auxiliary ‘is’ + main verb ‘coming’ When a verb phrase consists of more than one verb. B (have) + C (be-ing) By next October he will have been working in this company for 5 years. But it is only the first auxiliary that expresses the categories of person. since it is the key word in several important operations (transformations) performed on the verb phrase: negation.3. The first auxiliary in a verb phrase is called an operator. Intransitive verbs are sometimes followed by adverbials (optional elements): We were sitting by the fire. (It does not require an object to complete its meaning – it is a verb of complete predication): The sun shines.2. In additions to remarks: ‘We often go to the theatre.’ ‘I enjoyed the film very much last night. substitution. inversion. he should (i.e. A (modal auxiliary) + B (have) + D (be-ed) He has been learning English for 5 years. 1. laugh. in general.’ ‘So did we. verbs may be classified into: intransitive. for example verbs such as appear. PASSIVE pattern: A form of be is followed by a verb in the past participle form: He is helped by us. The order of the auxiliaries is a fixed one (is alphabetical): (A) + (B) + (C) + (D) Therefore. MODAL pattern: A modal auxiliary is followed by the base form of the verb (a verb in the infinitive): He could help us. die. or tense (it is the first auxiliary that makes the group finite). rain. The old man died. D. B. words which complement the verb and which are. PERFECTIVE pattern: A form of the auxiliary have is followed by a verb in the past participle: He has helped us. obligatory in clause structure). Intransitive complementation refers to the use of verbs without any other ites being necessary to complete their meaning. There are four basic verb patterns (combinations) of auxiliary verbs with the main verb: A. The birds are singing. Classification of verbs according to their complementation According to complementation (i. He should have been questioned). Inversion: Should he have been questioned by the police? (the first auxiliary is placed before the subject while the rest of the verb phrase is left unchanged). 8 . a verb phrase which theoretically contains all auxiliaries should have the following order: [modal auxiliary + have + be-ing + be-ed + main verb]: He should have been questioned by the police. happen etc. Negation: He shouldn’t have been questioned by the police. 1. These four basic combinations may also combine with each other to form more complex verb phrases (longer strings of verbs in one single phrase).
They indicate that the role of the verb complement is a result of the event or process described in the verb: get.: direct object prep. (intransitive V) He smokes ten cigarettes a day (transitive V) Transitive oblique refers to a type of ditransitive complementation (direct object + prepositional object with to) in which the recipient of the direct object is obliquely put into focus. A transitive verb is the use of a verb with one or two objects to complete its meaning when used in the active voice. doesn’t it really? b) resulting verbs (verbs of becoming). The cake is / tastes good. make. Linking verbs (or copula(r) verbs) A linking verb links the subject of a sentence to the subject complement (or predicative). hand. My mother gives me pocket money every week. He took the book / it.2. give. use. grant. There are two types of linking verbs: a) state verbs (verbs of being): be. It seems strange. Transitive verbs associated with this usage are bring. grow. Verbs such as ask. etc. taste. sound. are typically used transitively: I love carrots. leave. 3. become. turn. fairy tales rarely come true. /Her hair has turned grey. carry. give. find. object She sent | a letter | to John Bolton. bring. go. look. The other linking verbs are not entirely devoid of meaning. In hot weather meat goes bad and milk goes sour quickly. feel. Unfortunately. remain: He looked sad / pale. 9 . The most typical linking verb is be which is practically devoid of meaning and only serves to connect the subject with the subject complement: He is happy / a student. seem. Some verbs can be transitive or intransitive according to whether an object is present or not (They can be used with or without an object): He smokes. smell. Transitive complementation refers to the type of complementation a transitive verb requires to complete its meaning. get. love. She wrote an interesting essay. appear. The complement is usually a noun or an adjective which refers to the subject or completes the meaning of the subject. come: Children grow tired easily. send.
non-linguistic (extralinguistic) concept which exists independently of the grammar of any particular language. number. (being = non-finite verb. vs 2nd person is identified by means of the subjects I vs. Time is a universal.g. indicative mood. i. By tense we understand the correspondence between the form of the verb and our concept of time (the form of the verb whose function is to mark the time at which an event takes place. lucrezi. the person who produces the utterance) and upon the time of the utterance. clauses without a finite verb). i. temporal or locational characteristics of the situation within which an utterance takes place. tense. studying = non-finite verb form: present participle).e. The categories of person and number The English verb has only one formal indicator (inflection/ending) to mark these categories. theoretically of infinite length) on which the PRESENT moment (the point of reference – NOW) is located. Anything ahead of the present moment is in the FUTURE. mood. Then Now PAST PRESENT FUTURE X X X Temporal axis The extralinguistic concept of time (with its subdivisions into past.) 10 . the -ing forms (present participle. (*Deictic (deixis) = a term which subsumes those items of the language which refer to the personal. Temps. now / then. tense is a deictic* category. the verbal forms are divided into finite and non-finite forms. Unlike other languages. but a common concept in the physical world. you I / we work: the category of number. It cannot form the predicate in a sentence by itself. where there is only one term for both concepts (extralinguistic and linguistic). time is not a grammatical concept. A finite verb phrase is a verb phrase which contains a finite verb form. (is = finite verb form. aspect. it occurs on its own only in subordinate /dependent clauses (termed non-finite clauses.1. number. The non-finite forms of the verb are represented by the infinitive. I / you work: the category of person. In a more complex finite verb phrase (made up of several verbs) the first verb is the only one that is finite. tense). THE GRAMMATICAL CATEGORIES OF THE VERB The English verb has grammatical forms determined by its categories of person. The grammatical category of tense relates the time of an event to the time when the utterance (communication) is produced about the respective event.e. and tense contrasts. The category of tense The category of tense defines the verb and it does not characterize any other part of speech. Being tired. He studies English. namely the -s for the 3rd person singular present tense. R. anything behind the present moment is in the PAST. The Tense – Time relationship: Tense and time are two distinct concepts which should not be confused. Since the category of tense is obviously dependent upon the speaker (i. Because of the scarcity of specific endings in the verb. PRESENT time or FUTURE time). number.2. voice. The concept of time can be represented by means of an axis (a horizontal line. Eg. he went to bed early. here /there. it can occur on its own in a sentence forming its predicate. plural is identified by means of the subjects I / we 2. viz.e. The non-finite form lacks person. 1st person singular vs1st pers. this/ that etc. gerund) and –ed forms (past participle). English grammatical terminology has two terms: time for the extralinguistic concept and tense for the linguistic concept. The non-linguistic (extralinguistic) concept of time has three divisions: PAST. whose meaning is thus relative to that situation: I / you. i. lucrează. present and future) can be expressed linguistically by means of the grammatical category of tense. went = finite verb). for expressing events in PAST time. namely 1st pers. e. tense.e. PRESENT and FUTURE. number. timp. lucrăm). these two categories (of person. for the forms of the verb. Depending on the presence or absence of the first three categories (person.g. (= As he was tired he went to bed early) 2. number) are usually identified by means of the subject (unlike Romanian where the category of person can be identified by means of specific endings: lucrez.2. A finite form of the verb displays contrasts in person. e. Fr. the others are non-finite: He is studying English. mood.
or that it is extended but temporary. future).e.e. In English. 1. i. The progressive aspect is realized by the auxiliary verb be + the –ing form (the present participle) of a lexical verb. The progressive (or continuous) vs. The category of aspect Aspect refers to the speaker’s/writer’s perspective on the time of an event. i. If the reference point of time is FUTURE. The perfective vs. . it does not last long. future) specified in the sentence. Taking the three divisions of time on the temporal axis as reference points. it happens during a limited period of time. If the reference point of time is PRESENT (symbolized by the deictic adverb now). . simple aspect: With progressive aspect. 2. The speech time: it is the time when the utterance is produced. events can be expressed by means of two forms: . we should analyse their lexical aspect because there is a close relationship between their lexical aspect (i. their meaning) and their grammatical aspect. The action is temporary. in progress or developing. 2.events perfected before the present moment are expressed by the present perfect tense. the focus is not on the starting or finishing point of an event but on the event as seen from its centre. and how different events relate to one another in time.e. aspect is concerned mainly with how the speaker perceives the duration of events. performed at the past moment) are expressed by the past tense.1.events simultaneous with the past moment (i. The event time: it is the time at which the event occurs.3. The progressive (or continuous) aspect describes an action in progress at a given time (past. It may therefore be used to indicate that something is ongoing. they are performed at these reference points) or perfected / completed before these reference points. This relationship refers to the fact that the lexical aspect of a verb may determine its grammatical aspect. before past (THEN). In order to be able to analyse the contrast between the simple and the progressive aspect.e. iii. non-perfective / imperfective: The perfective indicates that an event was accomplished (perfected or completed) at / before a given point in time: before present (NOW). past. adverbials of time also contribute to the temporal specification of a sentence. present. 2. English has two aspects: perfect(ive) aspect and progressive (continuous) aspect.e. unfinished. English tenses are verbal constructions expressing points of time combined with aspect.events perfected before the past moment are expressed by the past perfect. performed at the present moment) are expressed by the present tense.3. events can be expressed by means of two forms: . 11 .e.3.Three concepts are necessary for the temporal characterization of an event (action): i. besides tense forms. ii. The reference time: it is the time represented on the temporal axis (present. If the reference point of time is PAST (symbolized by the deictic adverb then) events can be expressed by means of two forms: .events perfected before the future moment are expressed by the future perfect. when the communication takes place (the NOW of the deictic system).2. the focus is principally on the duration of the event. 2. The action is incomplete. events may be viewed in two ways: as being either simultaneous with the reference points (i. . It is mistaken to believe that tense forms alone mirror time and its subdivisions into past. It may indicate that something is/was/will be already in progress when something else happens/happened. A sentence specifies the reference time by the combination of tense inflections and temporal adverbials. In other words. 3. present and future.events simultaneous with the future moment (performed at the future moment) are expressed by the future tense. The perfective aspect is realized by the auxiliary have + -ed past participle of the main/lexical verb. As we shall see. as a grammatical feature of verbs. The simple aspect refers to an action which is complete or is used when the duration of the action is irrelevant (the action is thought of as a bare statement).events simultaneous with the present moment (i. before future.
(But I don’t know whether he finished it) I have mended the car this morning (the job is finished: complete) I have been mending the car this morning (but the job may not be finished: incomplete) b) Non-durative (momentary) verbs: verbs denoting momentary events.3. an action in progress of limited duration (viewed at some point between its beginning and end). include. Thus. i. work. when they express unlimited or more permanent duration → state. require. Classification of full / lexical verbs from the point of view of their lexical aspect.3. The boy jumped for joy. Since these verbs refer to actions so momentary that it is difficult to think of them as having duration. This element of meaning is most evident in the past tense or in the present perfect: He wrote a novel several years ago. 2. On the other hand. (repeated movements of the head in a certain span of time). with these verbs the progressive aspect denotes limited or temporary duration.e. i. knock. I’m living with my aunt at present. Since these verbs indicate permanent duration of an action. play. some verbs do not normally occur in the progressive aspect. (i. These verbs can be subdivided into: a) Durative verbs. State (stative) verbs: a state verb describes a state or situation (which continues over a period of time). Dynamic verbs are normally used in the progressive aspect. 2. In other words. the action has duration. possess. (The simple form is used because the duration of the action is irrelevant) The progressive forms of durative verbs denote an action of limited. lexically. (The simple aspect implies a more permanent action) The stream flows into the sea (not * is flowing) The progressive aspect refers to activity in progress and therefore suggests not only that the activity is temporary but that it need not be complete.2. kick.The progressive forms show that the action is in progress at a certain time (past. Since the progressive aspect attributes duration to verbs and since these verbs. work). in which no obvious action takes place. She slammed the door.1. having a definite beginning and end. need.3. lack. they do not normally occur in the progressive forms: 12 .3. Verbs not normally used in the progressive forms (verbs that do not have a progressive form because they describe a state) can be subdivided into the following classes: a) Relational verbs (verbs which express the idea of of being or possessing): be. contain. it started before the present moment and has not been completed yet) He seldom reads books. while the simple forms are used to express a complete action. find. The progressive forms are often used to suggest an incomplete action. State verbs denote an unlimited. A dynamic verb primarily expresses activity (drink. grow) and bodily sensation (ache. process (change. slap.e.3. i.. do not express duration. (one single movement of the head). nod. deserve. he finished it) He was writing a novel several years ago. have. jump. present or future). slam. There are two classes of verbs: dynamic (activity / action) verbs and state (stative) verbs. Durative verbs cannot be used in the progressive aspect when their action is no longer temporary. This is a class of verbs typically used in the progressive aspect: . i.e. Dynamic (activity / action) verbs describe actions that happen in a limited time. present. verbs denoting actions that last in time: read.3. Compare: He nodded. hit. when these non-durative verbs are used in the progressive aspect.e. comprise.. we are forced to think of a series of events (repeated actions) rather than of a single event.may determine whether the verb can be used in the progressive aspect or not. eat. on account of their meaning. hurt). they cannot normally be used in the progressive aspect: He nodded. future). belong. an incomplete action. owe. the simple forms are used when the duration of the action is irrelevant: He is reading a book (the progressive form is used to express an action in progress at the present moment. permanent duration. (The progressive aspect implies an action of limited duration) My parents live in the country.e. they denote a repeated action (a series of events). etc. 2. while the simple aspect denotes unlimited. temporary duration (something that doesn’t last long) taking place around a point in time (past. consist. actions that occur in a fraction of time. actions that are completed almost at the same time they are performed: catch. He was nodding. own. permanent duration of an action: they are not normally used in the progressive forms because their meaning is incompatible with the characteristic ‘meaning’ of the progressive aspect. write.
expect. notice. such as: i. stupid etc.’ 13 . taste are not normally used in the progressive aspect: I feel (like) an absolute fool. I see a car coming towards us. This book belongs to my friend.He has / owns / possesses a house. but as a rule she does not). = He is acting foolishly. I want to go to London. like. think. loathe. some of the verbs above may be used in the progressive aspect in some special cases. These verbs commonly occur with can / could to express a sense experience that is going on at a given moment: I can see someone through the window but I can’t hear what they are saying. I believe he is the man we are looking for. such as feel. the verbs smell. ii. taste. sound may be used in the progressive aspect when they express a voluntary action on the part of the subject. to indicate temporary behaviour. However.. sound occur in the progressive forms when they are used transitively. at a party): Hello. When the speaker wishes to emphasize a temporary action. silly. Verbs which express an involuntary use of the senses. obstinate. absurd. hate. Syntactically. deliberate action: the progressive aspect refers to an activity taking place at the moment of speaking and limited in duration) Also: The cake tastes good. (involuntary use: The simple aspect refers to a state which is regarded as a permanent quality of the flower. prefer. so I imagine it is closed’. I think it is open on week-days but today is Saturday. not a permanent one: to express a temporary quality or state . emotions (likes and dislikes): adore. etc. I remember my first teachers. situation. / I dislike his behaviour. detest. suppose. Listen! Do you hear a noise? You look well. taste. . Compare: Ann is a good girl (the simple aspect is used to express a permanent state/quality = Ann is by nature a good girl) Ann is being a good girl today (the progressive aspect expresses a temporary quality or state = Ann is behaving well today. an action which is independent of the speaker’s intention: the speaker has no control over it). Be occurs in the progressive aspect with certain adjectives such as kind. doubt. remember. Do you like English? . b) Verbs of inert* (involuntary) perception are verbs which refer to actions of the senses. / The cook is tasting the soup to see if there is enough salt in it. a deliberate use of the senses. understand: 'Do you know whether the castle is open to visitors?’ ‘No. look. The house still smells of that cabbage stew.g.. Ann! Are you enjoying the party? (Letter) I’m on holiday in Brighton and I’m loving every minute. know.Be may be used in the progressive aspect to express a temporary state. imagine. realize. guess. d) Verbs referring to feelings.) I’m smelling the flower (voluntary. quality or behaviour. mean. forget. These verbs are not normally used in the progressive forms: He hates me.Verbs denoting feelings can be used in the progressive aspect if they express temporary actions: (e. They understand my problem now. wish. Be careful with that box: it contains glassware. Compare: The flower smells sweet. The verbs smell. consider. rude. smell. want. c) Verbs of inert* (involuntary) cognition (verbs of thinking. desire. He is being a fool. Feel is used in the progressive forms if we are talking about a person’s health: ‘How are you feeling today?’ ‘I’m not feeling too good actually. What’s wrong with the bread today? It tastes awful. referring to the activity of the mind): believe. Can you hear a noise outside? When I got off the train I could smell the sea. love. (*Inert or Involuntary = an action happening without conscious control or intention. hear.
expressing a passive state of mind) Be quiet! I’m thinking! (think= ‘ponder. The four aspects – simple (sometimes called zero aspect). 1999: 118) lists the three tenses along the vertical axis. Compare: Do you see that house over there? (see: basic meaning ‘sense with one’s eyes’). The director is seeing the new applicants (see = interview) I’m seeing the manager tomorrow ( = I’m meeting him by appointment. The progressive forms express: 1. an incomplete action. (have = ‘eat’ [activity verb]). i. We illustrate the tense aspect combinations with the irregular verb write and the regular verb work. and their combination. expressing deliberate action (voluntary. perfect. deal with). possess) Compare: have: He has a new car. e. (hear = ‘get news from him) Since the verbs of perception see. (see = meet) The plumber is here: he is seeing to the leak in our tank.Verbs of possession (have. I hear a noise outside (hear = basic meaning ‘perceive sounds with the ears’) You’ll be hearing from him. hear) may be used in the progressive forms when they change their basic meaning and are used with other meanings: they cease to be verbs of inert perception. I have an appointment with him). / I’m listening to music. permanent duration. hearing at will).Some verb of thinking (think.’ iii. voluntary action (we cannot start or stop seeing. unlimited. Compare: I (can) see him. listen to which can be used in the progressive forms. imagine): What do you think I should do? (think = ‘what is your opinion’ verb of inert. deliberate use of the senses). an activity not a state: . I heard you say something but I wasn’t listening. He is having a good time (have= ‘experience’ [activity verb] hold: The bottle holds two litres. the simple forms express: 1. 2. expect. consider. mere information about a fact. / I’m looking at him.g. When the verbs are recategorized. watch. He is having lunch.Perception verbs (see. I don’t consider it wise to interfere (it’s my opinion) I’m considering buying a new car (consider = think of. I shall be seeing him tomorrow. reflect’ [activity verb] He is thinking of buying a new car (to plan.e. 3. Simple Perfect Progressive Perfect Progressive Ø have + -en be + -ing have + -en be + -ing Present write/writes has/have written am/are/is writing have/has been writing work/works has/have worked am/are/is working have/has been working Past wrote had written was/were writing had been writing worked had worked was/were working had been working Future will write will have written will be writing will have been writing will work will have worked will be working will have been working 14 . this idea is rendered by its synonyms look at. when the duration of the action is irrelevant. believe’). hear cannot express the idea of deliberate.‘How is your mother feeling now?’ ‘She is feeling much better. indignation): Are you forgetting your manners? In conclusion. momentary action. when they express other meanings. perfect progressive – are arrayed along the horizontal axis. Part of a conversation might run as follows: ‘Did you hear what I said?’ ‘Well. 2. progressive. I expect he’ll finish the work in time (expect = ‘think. (see to = arrange. I’m expecting a visitor / letter from him (expect =‘wait to receive’) . temporary duration. hold. I can hear music. The following chart (Celce-Murcia & Lars-Freeman. to intend). reflect). (have = ‘possess’ [state verb]). (hold = ‘contain’ [state verb] He is holding a bottle in his hand (hold = ‘keep’ [activity verb] . an action in progress of limited.’ d) When the sentence has some emotional connotation (praise. involuntary cognition.
every day / week / month. such as often. This use covers two subdivisions: generic (or universal) present and habitual present a) Generic (or universal) present: The present simple denotes generic actions that take place in an unspecified period of time which includes the moment of speaking: they exist now. THE TENSE . he is merely reporting the events.. None of these sentences refers to a particular occurrence: The sentences do not specify a particular moment or interval of time..3..: I usually take the bus to work: I never get up late in the morning. generally. He/she/it/one/the child talks a lot. generic statements imply the presence of the adverb always. The most frequent meaning of the term ‘tense’ is that associated with the verb forms of the indicative mood. i. actions which happen repeatedly. In what follows we shall give a description of the English tenses.. regularly. The verb is completely timeless: it refers to what is true for all time. The Severn flows into the Atlantic.g. sometimes.1. e. In making a commentary. He who laughs last. laughs best. Generally. The generic (or universal) present is used to express generic or universal truths. None of these sentences refers to a particular moment of time.1. on Sundays. (1) The commonest use of the present simple is unrestrictive (or timeless) use: it expresses an action or state that extends over a period of time centered in the present moment. of their so-called absolute values and the changes these values may undergo in different contexts. Third person singular is formed by adding –s or –es to the base form. She goes to England every year. the speaker sees the events in a chain of complete acts.e. this value should be expressed by the progressive aspect. THE PRESENT TENSE 3. facts which are always true. or proverbs. I don’t drink coffee in the evening. (general truths or laws of nature) He works in a bank. THE PRESENT SIMPLE The present simple: Formation The present simple is formed using the present tense form of a lexical verb (the same as the base form) for all persons except third person singular. the present simple with generic or universal value is used to formulate general laws. definitions of scientific language.1. he is not indicating their duration: 15 . always. Normally. 3. the sentences do not indicate a particular event or state. Uses and values: A. As the examples illustrate. (2) The instantaneous present contrasts with the generic or habitual present uses in that it refers to a particular event which is simultaneous with the moment of speaking: the event takes place at the very moment of speaking. especially sports ones. usually. never.ASPECT SYSTEM OF ENGLISH: THE TENSES OF THE INDICATIVE MOOD The categories of tense and aspect are closely interrelated in English. as in the following examples: The Earth moves round the sun. The present simple expresses several values which have as a basic meaning the fact that the event is simultaneous with the present moment 'Now'. He goes to the cinema twice a week. rarely. geographical statements. b) Habitual Present: The present simple denotes habitual actions. (permanent situations or states) Water boils at 100º C. In fact. Taking into consideration these temporal and aspectual characteristics of the instantaneous present simple we can easily understand why it occurs only in a restricted number of contexts: a) in radio or TV commentaries. I study for two hours every evening. The repetition of the action is often stressed by adverbs of frequency. I/you/we/they/the children talk a lot. etc. existed in the past and probably will exist in the future. The present simple is used with dynamic verbs when no duration is thought of or when the stress is not so much on the duration of the action as on the quick succession of happenings: the event develops rapidly enough to be perceived in its entirety. since the progressive aspect is the form taken by such verbs in order to designate a single occurrence of an event simultaneous with the moment of speaking.
the commentator does not insist on the duration of the events but on their quick succession: the events are seen as momentary ones completed almost at the same time they are performed. The train leaves Plymouth at 6:30 and arrives in London at 8:30. The reason for not using the progressive aspect here – points b) and c) – is that it is the idea of repetition which is implied rather than something going on at the moment of speaking. Adverbials indicating future time are obligatory for the correct interpretation of the temporal value: The examination begins at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning. the event happens at the very moment of speaking when we describe what we are saying as ‘offering’. 16 . the future event is considered as unalterable. there: Here comes the bus!. a semantic fact which is reinforced by the presence of adverbials also indicating the present. This use is particularly frequent with a limited group of verbs of motion such as come. What time does the film begin? Our winter holiday begins on December 22nd. Adverbial clauses of time. instantaneous) which all have as a basic meaning the fact that the event is simultaneous with the present moment. the progressive aspect would be used: The bus is coming. apologize. Therefore. We shall be late if you don’t hurry. regret. end. the present simple may indicate other temporal values: it can be used to refer to the future and the past. as a certainty. She thinks you are wrong. There it goes! If these statements were not exclamatory. start. cooking that dish or performing that particular play). c) In stage directions (when the playwright gives directions to the actors): The present simple denotes a sequence of short actions going on at the moment of speaking: He stirs the fire.Smith passes the ball to Charlton who heads it straight into the goal. “the anticipated event is attributed the same degree of certainty that one usually associates with present or past events” (1978: 89). e) In assertions that use performative verbs. I apologize for my mistake. ‘accepting’: accept. finish. b) In subordinate clauses: The present simple with future time reference is used in certain types of subordinate clauses. when the future action is considered part of an already fixed programme. In other words. particularly when it refers to statements about the calendar. (4) The present simple referring to future time The present simple with future time reference occurs in simple / independent sentences and in subordinate clauses. go. the present simple with future time reference is used in contexts about plans and arrangements considered as unalterable. There is a pronounced modal nuance of certainty with this use. According to R. (3) The present simple is used with state verbs (verbs which cannot be used in the progressive aspect): I don’t know his name. these actions will happen each and every time the same circumstances are created (viz. The idea of futurity is clearly denoted in the main clause which expresses or implies future time: I’ll give you the book as soon as I finish it. Quirk. In conclusion. comparison.. b) In description of experiments and demonstrations: Now I put the cake mixture into this bowl and add a drop of vanilla essence. On day three we visit Stratford-upon-Avon. a) In simple sentences: The present simple denotes planned future actions. is restless. ‘begging’. the present simple has several values (generic. I hope you’ll come to my party. In addition to the uses discussed above which have reference to present time. they usually occur in the 1st person: We accept your offer. leave. In such a commentary. to a journey or timetable... (in itineraries – descriptions of travel arrangements) The present simple is used only in those contexts in which the anticipated event is considered as an assured fact. thank etc. shivers slightly and settles to read. Performative verbs are those verbs for which the event consists in the uttering of the statement. / I deny your charge. admit. deny. B. viz. meet. d) In exclamations introduced by here. return as well as with verbs expressing planned activity: begin. arranges some books and papers. condition. Syntactically. habitual. There goes the last bus! .
. puts on his spectacles and begins to read.e. And his mum says. Other examples: 17 . MP demands urgent inquiry.. just now. to render the communication more vivid (in colloquial style): I forget his name. tell. plots of stories. i. before the moment of speaking ‘right now’ and will probably continue or will end at some point in the future.’ and then he said. Time markers (adverbs of time) are not obligatory with the present progressive because the tense itself is understood to mean ‘right now’.Tulkinghorn takes out his paper. to make past happenings seem present. usuall for purposes of dramatising important events.Unless you leave now. hear. at the moment of speaking. ‘Homework never killed anybody. as if they were going on now. an action of limited duration and not yet finished.fiction: It is customary for writers to use the past tense to describe imaginary happenings so that the employment of the present simple in fiction is interpreted as a deviation from norm. a temporary action. the historic present tense occurs in speech (oral style) as well as in literary style.Summaries of historical events. an action in progress happening at the moment of speaking (it is viewed at some point between its beginning and end: the action has already begun but is not yet completed). Oral style: The present simple frequently refers to the past in narratives. May 1945: The war in Europe comes to an end. a past tense simple would be used. ‘No. etc. Literary style: . THE PRESENT PROGRESSIVE Form: It is formed of the present tense of the auxiliary be + the present participle of the main verb: I am working. films etc. ii. This use is traditionally known by the term historic present tense. Normally. It was amazing. Then suddenly he picks up the book and tears it into pieces. ii. From the stylistic point of view. Plane crashes in fog.’ The time reference is past which appears from the (apparently incongruous) adverbial of time then. Uses and values: (1) The present progressive denotes an action having two characteristics: i. The sooner you finish the better it will be... (Charles Dickens. Peter tells me you have been abroad. The verbal form is sleeping expresses an action which is in progress at the moment of speaking: the action began in the recent past. (= I have heard) 3.1. learn. i. use present (and present perfect) tenses: The battle takes place in a marshy region and in the end the Turks are defeated. asks permission to place them on a table. (5) The present simple referring to past time The present simple sometimes refers to events in the past in some special contexts: a) The present simple is used with reference to actions in the past in order to express vividness in narration. The use of the present gives highly coloured character to the narration in oral style. Optional time markers for the present progressive are: now. you will miss the train. At the end of the play both families realise that their hatred had caused the deaths of the lovers. . The ‘temporary’ period can be as short as a few seconds (i) or as long as a few years (ii): (i) Listen! It’s thundering.Bleak House) . . at the (present) moment: He is sleeping right now.2. vivid. understand the present simple is used instead of the past tense or present perfect in order to express the persistence in the present moment of the effect of a past communication. (ii) Industry is growing in South Africa. I hear you have changed your job. and I’m not going to be the first. I couldn’t believe it. b) with some verbs of communication: forget. where past events may be recounted partly or wholly in the present tense: for example jokes are often told entirely in present tense: Then in comes the barman and tries to stop the fight. G. gather.in newspaper headlines: Ship sinks in midnight collision. Leech (1978: 21) remarks that some writers use the present simple in imitation of the oral style (to give a dramatic heightening of the narrative): Mr. right now.
instantaneous present simple. this year).: The weather is getting colder and colder. If the speaker is more concerned with drawing attention to the fact that an activity is in progress or in a state of incompletion he chooses the progressive form: I’m placing a bell jar over the candle. in which case he chooses the present simple. In each case the actions or phenomena are the same. / I’m living with some friends until I can find a flat. The wind is blowing. increasingly. a view of an action or series of actions as a whole. b) The present progressive indicates duration and is thus distinguished from the non-durative. fall. 18 . etc.I am not wearing a coat as it isn’t cold. Usual adverbial phrases: these days. the event is mentally conceived as an indivisible entity. Shall I make tea? My parents live in the country. I am reading a novel by John Fowles. John is working very hard this term. gradually. The present simple is therefore not used because the sentences do not express a ‘general’ or ‘habitual’ action. More and more people are giving up smoking..The present progressive indicates that the bus is only slowing down (in order to stop) [incomplete] (2) The present progressive may denote an action that extends over a slightly longer period of time. Leech. The speaker may wish to take a synoptic view. b) The present progressive is used to denote a developing or changing activity. In order to distinguish the present progressive from the present simple it is necessary to study three separate aspects of meaning: a) The present progressive indicates a limited. faster and faster. The durative meaning of the present progressive is seen in the contrast of: I raise my arm. This difference between complete and incomplete actions is illustrated by event verbs (become. I need an umbrella because it is raining. It usually occurs with adverbials of degree and adjectives expressing gradual comparison. (G. a transition from one state to another. I’m studying.implies that the residence is temporary. a demonstrator is more likely to take this view: he is interested in his acts or in phenomena as items in a chain of events: I place a bell jar over a candle and in a few moments the water gradually rises. that the action has limited time extension. I’m taking driving lessons this year. this week / month / year. The bus stops. temporary situations): Water boils at 100º C. The sentence with the present progressive – am living . get. The bus is stopping. is not permanent. permanent situations) contrasts with the present progressive (expressing limited. – The present simple indicates that the vehicle arrived at a state of rest [complete]. Please don’t make so much noise. . temporary action and is thus distinguished from the unlimited (generic) present simple. The difference between the limited and unlimited duration is evident from the following sentences in which the present simple (expressing unlimited. such as more and more. There! Can you see what’s happening? The water is gradually rising. in the second sentence the event is conceived as having duration (the sentence suggests a gradual movement). . In none of these sentences is there any indication that the activity is going on at the very moment of speaking. stop) which express a transition from one state to another. including the moment of speaking. In the first sentence. etc. / I am raising my arm. but the speaker looks at them differently. a) The present progressive denotes an action which is happening around the moment of speaking but not necessarily exactly at the moment of speaking.. The choice of verb form may depend entirely on the speaker’s viewpoint. She is living in Paris at the moment. – The action can be generally in progress but not actually happening at the moment of speaking. without duration (the sentence suggests a sudden movement). In describing a scientific experiment. which therefore implies limited duration. go. (generic) / The kettle’s boiling. the leaves are rustling. Mother is knitting a pullover for me. but the present progressive is used because the action denoted by the verbs although extending over a longer period of time (this term. 1978: 22) c) The present progressive indicates that the action is not complete and thus it is again distinguished from the present simple.
The construction has a subjective connotation. all the time. irritation. We’re going to the cinema tonight. Christmas is becoming increasingly commercialized: shops see it merely as a way of making money. restricts its use to verbs having animate [+ human] subjects: Tom is rising at 5 o’clock tomorrow. The difference between the present progressive and the present simple can be seen in the following sentences: I’m leaving tonight. schedule. continually. That child is continually crying. disapproval: He is always coming late. He is forever finding fault with whatever I do. An adverbial of time is always used to indicate the time of the action. 19 . What are you doing this evening? As compared to the present simple with future time reference.He is working less and less.*Examinations are starting tomorrow. intentions or definite arrangements in the near future. * The sun is rising at 5 o’clock tomorrow. Such adverbials usually combine with the present simple to express the concept of repetition (habitual present): He always comes late. planning. a habit that annoys or causes a strong feeling of some kind in the speaker. decision. . They’re having a football match this afternoon. She looks lovely when she is smiling. He is complaining about his neighbours all the time. It is for the same reason that in the following pair of sentences the first sentence is correct while the second is not: Examinations start tomorrow. the anticipated event expressed by the present progressive is less certain. He is coming to see us tomorrow/next weekend. (4) Future time reference: planned or arranged future action The present progressive with future time reference is used in a much wider range of situations than the present simple. the plan or arrangement may be altered. The fact that the present progressive expresses personal arrangement in the future. c) The present progressive is sometimes used in subordinate clauses of time and condition to refer to an action that may be going on at any time: I don’t like to be disturbed when I’m working. When the progressive form is used with these adverbs it expresses the constant repetition of an event: an action permanently characterizing the subject. as otherwise there might be confusion between present and future meanings. (3) The present progressive has a stylistically marked use in combination with a frequency adverb such as always. The present progressive is the most usual way to express a person’s immediate plans. – the construction expresses disapproval of an action which. intention on the part of the subject. I gather. The present progressive is used when the future action is the result of a personal arrangement (somebody’s arrangement for a future activity). I start work tomorrow: The present simple suggests that tomorrow is the time fixed for him to start. an emotionally coloured tone of annoyance. while the present simple is used when the future activity is regarded as part of a fixed timetable. forever. He’s always getting into trouble. constantly. happens too often. I’m starting work tomorrow: the present progressive suggests that the speaker expects or intends to start work. (would imply that I have decided to leave) I leave tonight: could mean that this is part of a plan not necessarily made by me – the present simple is more impersonal than the present progressive. in the speaker’s opinion. incessantly.
switched off the radio and sat down again. three years ago. the past tense simple is the narrative tense par excellence. In fact.3. the event has no longer any connection with the present moment) . THE PAST TENSE SIMPLE Form: a) Regular verbs form their past tense simple by adding –ed to the short infinitive: to work → I / you / he worked b) Irregular verbs form their past tense in various ways: sing .the speaker/writer has in mind a definite time at which the event / state took place. at.the place of the action is specified/is given: I bought this book in London (the definite time in the past is identified by the adverbial of place which. The past tense expresses an action that took place at a definite past moment. questions introduced by when. (the definite time is given).the definite time is asked about. The past tense of such verbs is the second form listed in dictionaries or grammars. . The fact that by using the past tense the speaker has a definite time in mind differentiates this use of the past simple from the indefinite use of the present perfect. at 5 o’clock. He started working for his firm 3 years ago. the other day. Therefore.Sometimes the time becomes definite as a result of of a preceding verb in the present perfect: A sentence or conversation often begins with the present perfect (which denotes an indefinite time) but normally continues in the past tense. lend lent (change in the last consonant). b) The definite past moment is implied from the context: it is not necessary for the past simple to be accompanied by an explicit indicator of time (a time adverbial). what time (because we expect the answer to contain the precise date when the action took place): I called on him yesterday. The definite past moment denoted by the verb in the past simple may be expressed explicitly or may be implied from the context. indirectly. a long time ago). last week). I got up. on (in 1980.e. formerly.1.the past simple is used for an action whose time is not given but which occupied a period of time now terminated or occurred in a period of time now terminated: He lived in London for a long time.in the narrative style: The past tense is used to narrate situations that happened at a time before NOW. She worked as a secretary from May through August. went in and sat down on the sofa. THE PAST TENSE 3. According to G. Uses and values: (1) The basic use of the past tense simple is to describe actions / events completed in the past at a definite time. a tense normally used for the description and narration of past events. the past simple combines two features of meaning: . Leech (1978: 144). once. (but he is not living there now) Did you ever hear Maria Callas sing? . Byron died in 1824. . combinations with last (last night.an event/state that took place in the past. When did you see him? . Tom phoned me at 6 o’clock/…as soon as he got home. I met him outside the museum. go – went (different roots: suppletive forms). combinations with ago (two days ago. Actions completed at a definite point in the past which is not given but implied or understood as past time occur in several cases: . with a gap between its completion and the present moment (i. on Monday). but which is not given. specific points in time introduced by in. a 20 . Ann went into the station and bought a ticket. when there is a series of events occurring in a sequence: I knocked at the door. The past simple is also used for actions which occupied a period of time in the past (now terminated): He spent his childhood in a little village. a) The definite past moment is expressed explicitly by time markers (adverbials of definite time): yesterday. states when the action took place).2. cut – cut (invariable forms). This is because the action first mentioned (by the present perfect) has now become definite in the minds of the speakers.sang (internal vowel change)..2.
never. when I was a child. we would get up early and go fishing. repeated actions in the past) with the particular sense of ‘characteristic. regularly): We often spent hours on end talking about poetry.parallel can be established between the past tense / present perfect pair and the definite / indefinite article pair. I always got up at six in those days. the definite article tends to be preceded by the indefinite article. He would walk to school whenever it was sunny. but used to is more characteristic of spoken English.’ ‘Did you enjoy it? Bill has passed his examination. and would serves to elaborate (the topic): When we were children.’ Many people who used to frequent the cinema now prefer watching television. actions that regularly happened in the past but no longer happen. we used to swing on the lawn for hours. “Just as. when used to and would occur together. Used to + infinitive can render: a) Past habit: with dynamic verbs it expresses repeated actions in the past (something that regularly happened in the past but no longer happens). the past simple can be used to refer to the present and. He got an A in the oral and a B in the written paper. Leech. Jack would turn on the radio. (2) Habitual / repeated past actions: The past simple expresses habitual. Would is used to describe a person’s typical activities in the past (habitual. Father doesn’t go in for sport now but he used to play football when he was younger. / Every day he went to the park. (1999: 129). We would stop only when we were called for dinner. Would is typical of narrative style (mainly used in writing). a discontinued habit which contrasts with the present. Iceland once belonged to Denmark. He used to be a football fan when he was in is teens. On Sundays. The difference between: ‘I saw him’ and ‘I have seen him’ is therefore parallel to that between ‘the man’ and ‘a man’. so the past tense tends to presuppose a framework of time reference already established by the present perfect” (G. Both tendencies can be observed in the following utterance: I have just spoken to a man and his wife. When I was a child I used to go skating every winter. i. He used to have a beard but he shaved it off. According to Celce-Murcia et al. Ann has just become engaged: it took us completely by surprise. which establishes the initial framework of reference. The man wanted to know whether there was any work hereabouts.e. Repeated actions in the past may also be rendered by means of used to + Infinitive or would + Infinitive. so the past simple is used to refer to events other than past (events which do not denote past time). He would sit for hours in front of his house looking at the passers-by. The construction used to + the infinitive of state verbs can be paraphrased by once + past tense: His hair was once jet-black… I owned a horse once. frequently. (3) The past simple with other temporal values Just as the present simple refers to events other than present ones. ‘Where have you been?’ ‘I’ve been to the theatre. used to tends to frame the discourse. a state which no longer exists: His hair used to be jet-black but it is white now. i. Thus. to the future. A time expression is not necessary: ‘Do you go to the cinema very often?’ ‘Not now. The past simple is usually associated with a time expression (an adverbial of frequency) such as always. Iceland used to belong to Denmark. but now I get up at eight. Did you use to eat a lot of sweets when you were a child? I used to get up at six. 21 . I used to own a horse. repeated past actions. light his pipe and fall asleep. occasionally. 1978: 144). predictable behaviour’: It can only be used to describe repeated actions (it is not used with state verbs): Every evening was the same. b) Used to + the infinitive of state verbs can also describe past states (a permanent state in the past. at the beginning of a narrative. often.e. but I used to.
i. be going to.The past simple with the value of an anticipated event: This value is possible only with the verb be in constructions like: be to. that he had started it before 8 o’clock. I wondered if you could lend me this book. this time last month/week/year. want. (The past simple implies that he started it at 8’clock) At 12. Did you want to speak to me? I wanted to ask you about that. a) The particular past moment is rendered explicitly by an adverbial of time or by a clause: . all day. This is because the past tense distances an event from the present. at that time. going on precisely at that moment) It was raining at 6 o’clock.2. Uses and values (1) ‘Temporal frame’ use The past progressive is used to express an action in progress at some time in the past: it emphasizes duration of a single event. wonder is used as a marker of social distance.the past tense can refer to future actions in temporal and conditional clauses when the main verb is in the past: He asked me to call on him as soon as I arrived. (an action in progress. The past simple with the value of the past perfect The past simple may occur instead of the past perfect in clauses of time introduced by conjunctions like after (indicating that the event is prior in time to the event of the main clause): He went out to play after he finished / had finished his homework. The particular past moment (which is the time of reference for the verb in the past progressive) can be rendered explicitly or can be implied. The present tense in this situation would seem rather brusque and demanding (G. The past simple with present time reference The past simple with the value of present is also called attitudinal past because this verbal form is related to the attitude of the speaker rather than to time. The effect of the past tense in a question such as Did you want to speak to me? is to make the inquiry indirect and therefore more polite than a question with the present tense: Do you want to speak to me? or I want to ask you about that. THE PAST TENSE PROGRESSIVE Form: The past tense progressive is formed of the past tense of the auxiliary be and the present participle of the main verb: I was working. The past tense in these verbs is used to express a polite request or inquiry. and distancing an event can make it more indirect.2.a. 22 . Compare with: He had breakfast at 8 o’clock. The past tense (instead of the present tense) of verbs like: hope.an adverbial of definite time: at 8 o’clock. politeness. The period of time is denoted by adverbials such as: all day / morning. intend. etc. What were you doing yesterday at 7 o’clock? The past progressive can denote an action filling up (covering) a whole period of time in the past (when the action is considered in its progress).30 yesterday we were having a walk in the park.e. be about to expressing an event that was due to happen after a time in the past: They were to leave for London on Saturday but the flight was cancelled. 3. wish. the event continued for a temporary period (it continued for a certain time but not up to the present). The past progressive indicates that the action was in progress. 1978: 15) b. This time last year I was travelling. was in progress at that time and probably continued after it. at that time: It was raining all day yesterday. it is used for a single event or activity happening at a given past moment. Leech. . in other words. or indirectness. The past tense with future time reference: . He said he would go on the trip if the weather was fine. etc. all day yesterday. c. was going on at the period of time denoted by the adverbial of time: At 8 o’clock he was having breakfast: the past progressive implies that he was in the middle of the meal at 8 o’clock.
While I was driving from Rome to Naples my car broke down. When the two actions are in progress simultaneously – parallel actions . b) The past progressive may be used without a time expresion: the past moment may just be implied. the relationship of meaning between the past progressive and the past simple is one of inclusion: the action expressed by the past simple is included in that of the past progressive: When we arrived she was making tea: the past progressive tells us that the arrival took place during the tea-making. (the action in the past progressive – was talking . With another action in the simple past it expresses an action that began and probably continued after the other (shorter) action which interrupted it: When I arrived Tom was talking on the telephone. He was leaving when I came in. past simple: permanent. past progressive indicates that an event has already begun and extends the event in time and thus allows for a change or its interruption: He left when I came in. successive (consecutive) or completed actions (expressed by the past simple): I got off the bus and walked through the gate. A fire was burning in the fireplace and a cat was sleeping in front of it. The past progressive is used as a kind of background / frame (a longer action) for the action rendered by the past simple (shorter one). Water was dripping from the bushes past simple: consecutive/successive actions past progressive: temporary action in progress at a given moment in the past that lined the drive that led to the hut. Therefore. He was drowning in the lake. I didn’t finish it) I read a book last night. (2) Past simple versus past progressive: The past progressive can be used instead of the past simple when we want to express some slight differences in meaning: a) Unlike the past simple which expresses a complete action in the past. (incomplete) / He drowned in the lake. a man stopped me and asked me the time. / He died. (A complete act) Especially with achievement verbs there is a sharp difference between the two variants: He was dying. the relationship of meaning between two past simple forms is one of succession. while in the variants with the past progressive the event did not take place if it was interrupted: He was drowning when somebody jumped into the water and saved him. (and so may have changed his mind and stayed. non-temporary actions It was a cold winter evening. On the other hand. it began before the action in the past simple and probably continued after it. This is frequently found in descriptions: the past progressive expresses durative actions in progress which contrast with non-durative. Compare: I was reading a book last night (An incomplete act. so the lifeguard raced into the water. The past progressive expresses that the action was in progress at the time when an other action (in the past simple) occurred.The time expression is indicated by a clause which contains a verb in the past simple. While we were dining the band was playing. . c) Permanent versus temporary state: 23 .At that time we were living in the country. b) Past simple sees the event as a totality with no room for change. (complete) The variants with the past simple imply that the event actually took place (death. It was raining when I got up. A man came in and went near the fire. drowning).e. i. Outside the wind was blowing.the past progressive is used in both clauses: The boys were playing football while the girls were watching them. the two actions are consecutive: When we arrived she made tea: the past simple tells us that the tea-making followed the arrival. While I was jogging. As I was driving to Rome I was listening to music on the car radio. the past progressive is used to express an incomplete action.started before the action in the past simple – arrived – and probably continued after it).
When Tom was younger he was always getting into trouble Tom was always ringing me up late at night. ‘Anticipated event’ use Just as the present progressive can be used to express a definite future arrangement (I am leaving tonight). less deliberate action: I was talking to John the other day. for he was leaving the next day. (past permanent) They were living in London during the seventies.They lived in London all their lives. so the past progressive can express a definite future arrangement seen from the past (an action already arranged and sure to happen). The past progressive sometimes refers to plans that did not materialize (unfulfilled past intention): I was coming to see you tomorrow but now I find I can’t. I talked to John the other day (the past simple expresses a deliberate action: it indicates that the subject – I . 4. The past progressive is used with verbs of non-durative activity to express a frequently repeated action in the past. Dan was busy packing.g. the past simple is preferred if the activity itself is the chief interest and if we want to emphasize that the action was complete: My knees shook. More frequently we find the form going to instead: I was going to tell you myself (but I find you already know). 3. The verb is used with an adverb of future time: the next day. often an annoying habit. uninterrupted actions. With the verb think the past progressive suggests uncertainty: I was thinking of having a party next week. all the time. (this could mean my knees shook for a defined period of time – e. e) The past progressive can be used as an alternative to a past simple form to indicate a more casual. She wrote some /five letters in the afternoon. 5. A frequency adverb is necessary: always. etc. She solved ten problems in the afternoon. The past progressive can refer to future in the past especially in indirect speech (the past equivalent of the present progressive): When I told Pam I was getting married next month she wouldn’t believe me. The past simple must be used if we indicate the number of times the action happened: She was solving problems all afternoon. The going to form would not be used in the sentence above for stylistic reasons – we would not say *I was going to come to see you tomorrow.took the initiative and started the conversation. forever. (past temporary) d) The past progressive is used if we are interested in the continuity of an activity. The contest was taking place the next day. on Saturday express the future moment at which the action was anticipated to take place. It is the future in the past form of the present progressive. (an ongoing process at the point in the past the speaker is referring to) What were you doing all morning? What did you do this morning? She was writing letters all afternoon. a few seconds – then stopped) My knees were shaking. She was asking questions all the time. He was leaving for the country on Saturday. 24 . f) The past progressive with the verb wonder has a polite meaning: I was wondering if you could help me. continually. The past progressive is used for apparently continuous.
seldom.3. I have already seen that movie.THE PERFECT TENSES The three perfect tenses (present perfect. This value is also known as perfect of experience: what has happened once or more than once within the speaker’s experience. past perfect. often. (He is in Canada now). we are interested only in the fact that the past action has some effect at the present time. I can’t write any more because my pen has run out of ink (2) ‘Indefinite’ use This value is called ‘indefinite’ because the time of the event is unspecified (the events happened at an unknown time in the past). although no longer continuing in the present moment. 3. The event happened at an unspecified indefinite time in the past (the events are located somewhere before the moment of speaking). Within this very general use of the present perfect several subtypes can be identified: (1) ‘Resultative’ use / value The present perfect is used to express an action which was completed in the past but which still has present significance / relevance. THE PRESENT PERFECT 3. ever and never to refer to a state or habit leading up to the present: I always said (= have said) that he would end up in jail. already instead of the present perfect. (I can’t find it) He’s recovered from his illness.1. this morning: today. . etc. unfinished period of time.3. THE PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE Form: It is formed of the present tense of the auxiliary have and the past participle of the main verb: I have worked. This tense may be said to be a sort of mixture of present and past: it is used to relate events or states taking place in the past to a present time of orientation.e. past perfect leads to past. i. newspapers. so far. Have you seen my pen? (Do you know where it is?) I have read the instructions but I don’t understand them. a period of time which includes the moment of speaking (present): today. etc. just. American English often uses the past simple with (n)ever. never. letters. He has never met her before (before is often used with both ever and never with the meaning ‘before now’) Notes: i.Another category of time expressions is that denoting an incomplete. always. They haven’t finished yet. I’ve been to France three times. recently. With this value the present perfect does not require reinforcement by adverbials (it is used without any time adverbials): we are not interested when the action took place. There is an idiomatic use of the past tense with always. the effect of the respective action at the present time. The present perfect simple is used to express the completion or perfection of an event before the present moment NOW. this 25 . has present relevance: I’ve lost my key. Uses and values: The present perfect describes a past event which is related in some way to the present time. Did you eat yet? ii. lately. The present perfect implies that the action happened at some indefinite moment within a period of time extending up to the present moment: Have you ever lost anything? He has never borrowed money in his life. present perfect leads to present. The present perfect expresses indefinite events in a period leading up to the present time. The value of the present perfect is called ‘resultative’ because. (He is now well again) He has gone to Canada.g. yet. television and radio reports. it always implies a strong connection with the present and is chiefly used in conversation. e.g. ever. e. The present perfect with an ‘indefinite’ use is often accompanied by an adverbial of time: . the verbal form implies the result. future perfect) express the completion or perfection of an action before / by a given time or leading up to another time.adverbials of indefinite time and frequency: already.
by for (to denote duration. during the 21st century etc. The present perfect must be used in those contexts in which the speaker wants to indicate that the action in the adverbial clause of time is completed before (i. The present perfect (in the adverbial clause of time indicates that the action is completed before another future action (expressed by the verb in the main clause). Have you been here long? or: How long have you been here? Since can be a preposition. it introduces a clause of time with the verb in the past tense. I’ll leave as soon as the meeting has ended. That house has been empty for ages. The usual adverbials of duration are those introduced by since (to denote the beginning of the period of time that continues up to the present moment). I have never come across my friends since I’ve stayed in this hotel. i. Have you? Tom hasn’t studied very much this term. In some contexts. ‘Can I borrow your dictionary for a moment?’ ‘No. anterior to) the other action in the main clause: Come over and see me when the guests leave (the present tense would suggest simultaneous actions) Come over and see me when the guests have left (anteriority) You’ll feel better what you have had a rest. i. The present perfect is used to denote an action performed in an incomplete period of time: I’ve smoked five cigarettes today. (Perhaps I’ll smoke more before ‘today’ finishes) Have you had a holiday this year? I haven’t seen Tom this morning. I’m using it. (3) ‘Continuative’ use (‘state-up-to-the-present’ use) The verb in the present perfect denotes a state which began in the past and is still going on in the present.e.e. The verb expressing this use is compulsorily accompanied by an adverbial of duration. However. if the meaning of anteriority is implied by the context either the present tense or the present perfect can be used: I’ll leave as soon as the meeting ends.e. The present perfect simple has this meaning for those verbs that are not normally used in any of the continuous forms (state verbs): We’ve had that TV set for fifteen years (fifteen years ago till now) He’s been here since 5 o’clock. Note that the present perfect can be used with ‘this morning’ only up to about one o’clock. (preposition) When since is used as a conjunction.afternoon /week/ month/ year. the length of time that continues up to the present moment). present tense or imperative). You’ll have to wait until I’ve finished’ 26 . conjunction: She has been ill since Monday. live. He’s been here for two hours. if the two actions are parallel (with verbs such as be. stay): I’ve known her since I’ve lived in this town. other adverbials of duration are also expressed by long. (4) The present perfect with other temporal values: Future The present perfect is used with future time reference in adverbial clauses of time which depend on a main clause expressing or implying future time (the verb in the main clause is in the future tense. adverb. because after that ‘this morning’ becomes a completed period and actions occurring in it must be put in the past simple. how long. I have known him for several years. I’ve lived in this town since I was born. But the present perfect is also used in the subordinate clause if the action expressed is still going on. in other contexts the choice between the present tense and the present perfect is not free. the present perfect is used in the main clause while the past tense is used in the subordinate clause introduced by since: I have liked cowboy movies ever since I was a child. We have known each other since we were children.
The present perfect is used when it is merely stated that an action took place without mentioning the definite moment when it occurred (the time of the action is not given and it is not important). (once = on a certain occcasion.the question is asked when it is still morning – the period of time ‘this morning’ is not over yet. (1) As a means of referring to the past. never. then. (It is still bad).Comparison between present perfect and past tense The present perfect and the past tense are two important forms for expressing past time. the past tense relates a happening in the past to a past point of orientation THEN. this morning. until now. at one time) I’ve been there once. (He still lives there) His sister was an invalid all her life (she is dead now) His sister has been an invalid all her life (she is still alive) Did you see him this morning? . (definite time) I bought the car after all. the past tense. In general. the present perfect differs from the past simple on three counts: a) Present result (resultative use) The present perfect has a resultative value. has no continuative value: Have you seen the Monet exhibition? (it is still open. up to now. last week. Have you seen him this morning? . With the present perfect the period of time continues up to the present (it includes the present).The present perfect goes with some indefinite adverbials describing a period up to the present: so far. by contrast. lately b) There are some adverbials (usually describing a period of time) which can occur with both the present perfect and the past tense but in different situations. (The Hittites no longer exist) (2) The relationship between the tense forms (the present perfect / the past tense) and the time expressions (adverbials) which may accompany them. since. often. all life. I visited one when I was in Cairo.the question is asked later in the day. the present perfect relates a happening in the past to the present point of orientation NOW. 2 years ago. on Sunday.The past tense goes with definite adverbials naming a specific time in the past: yesterday. the past tense. for two years. while with the past tense the period of time is completed (it excludes the present): ever. I once lived in London. by now. Tom injured his ankle. (But now it is better) b) Indefinite time The present perfect is used for a temporally indefinite action while the past tense for a definite action. by contrast. (indefinite) I bought a new car last week. perhaps in the afternoon or evening – the speaker considers the period of time ‘this morning’ completed. Have you ever visited a mosque?’ ‘Yes. yet. (once = contrasting with twice) How long has he been ill? (he is still ill) How long was he ill? (he has recovered) 27 .’ Also: I’ve bought a new car. I saw that film last week / on Sunday. The past tense is used when our interest falls not only on the occurrence but also on the time of the event (when there is specific indication of past time in the sentence). I’ve (already) seen that film. what time . (implied definite: the car we talked about) c) Continuation up to the present The present perfect implies that whatever was going on during the period in question may still go on or is still possible in the present. today. when. (He no longer lives there) He has lived in London for 10 years. how long: I’ve never been to the circus (in my whole life. up to now) I never went to the circus when I was a child (but I do now) He lived in London for 10 years. a) There are some adverbials which occur only with a certain tense: . already. has no resultative value: Tom has injured his ankle. the other day. running) Did you see the Monet exhibition? (it is closed now) Also: The English have produced few great sculptors. always. in 1980. The Hittites produced few great sculptors. seldom. ago (three days ago).
Verbs which can be used in this way include: live. Comparison between the present perfect simple and progressive There are contexts in which both verbal forms are possible but with some slight shades of (different) meaning: (1) An action begun in the past and still continuing can. He should be finished by May. (2) When this tense is used without any specific mention of time. We have been working hard since we have been here.2. I’ve been thinking about changing my major. John has been doing a lot of work on his thesis. The verb is used without any adverbial of time: He has been running. stay. the uninterrupted character of the action: He has lived in London for ten years. be expressed by either present perfect simple or the present perfect progressive. So. i. That’s why he’s out of breath. with certain verbs. The adverbials recently. longer duration. How long have you learnt English? How long have you been learning English? 28 . what’s been happening since the last time we met? The present perfect is used in the subordinate clause if the verb denotes an action begun in the past and continued into the present. It expresses an incomplete activity: I’ve been cleaning the house but I still haven’t finished.3. it is still raining and will perhaps do so for the rest of the morning). The use of the progressive aspect instead of the simple aspect merely emphasizes the idea of duration. verbs having. He’s been playing the guitar since he was 16. all. learn. He has been living in London for ten years. THE PRESENT PERFECT PROGRESSIVE Form: It consists of the present perfect of the auxiliary be + the present participle of the main verb: I have been working. She has been doing her homework for an hour (she started an hour ago and she’s still doing it) I’ve been living in this house for five years. ‘Why are your hands dirty?’‘I’ve been repairing my bike’ (4) The present perfect progressive of non-durative verbs expresses repeated actions: He has been asking me that silly question for almost a month.e. lately are implied. I’ve been waiting for you for three hours! I’ve been reading all afternoon. etc. They have been meeting like this for years on their way to work. study. Her eyes are red: she’s been crying again. The period / length of time that has elapsed before the present time is indicated by an adverbial phrase introduced by since (when the starting point is given). Uses and values: (1) ‘Temporary situation up to the present’ use The present perfect progressive expresses an action which began in the past and is still continuing at the moment of speaking or has only just finished. I’m sorry I’m late. long: It has been raining since early morning (it began raining early morning. in themselves. The boys have been playing since their mother went out The boys have been playing since their mother has been away. for (when the duration is given).3. Have you been waiting long? How long have you been working on this paper? When since is a conjunction it introduces an adverbial clause of time with the verb in the past tense: He has been working in a bank since he left school. it expresses a general activity in progress. (3) Resultative use: The present perfect progressive indicates a recently finished action which explains a present result (the results of the past action are still apparent). Compare: We have been working hard since we came here.
/ I’ve been writing letters since breakfast. I have been ringing the doorbell for several minutes but no one has answered. especially if the number of items / actions completed is mentioned). and could mean the action is finished) He has been doing some research for a book for about a year.(2) The present perfect simple indicates completion.completed: emphasis on achievement. (I’ve finished it) I’ve been working on my composition since 5 o’clock (I haven’t finished it . I have rung the doorbell 5 times but no one has answered.I’m still working) They’ve widened the road. a recently finished action while the present perfect progressive indicates an unfinished. I’ve been ironing my shirts this morning . (this sees the action more as a completed event. apparently uninterrupted action) expressed by present perfect progressive: I’ve ironed five shirts this morning . 29 . incomplete action. He has written fifty poems. He has done some research for a book for about a year. (continuing from a year ago till now and possibly into the future) I’ve worked on my composition since 5 o’clock.incomplete or recently completed: emphasis on duration. (The job is finished) They’ve been widening the road (They are still working) (3) There may be a contrast between completion (a repeated action. I’ve written five letters since breakfast. He has been writing poems since he was a child. expressed by present perfect simple and incompletion (a continuous.
no sooner can be placed in initial position. The present perfect is placed on the present axis. anteriority of an earlier action: the action expressed by the past perfect was completed before another action in the past (expressed by the past tense). She had studied English thoroughly before she went to England. I saw the play last week. The past perfect indicates a time earlier in the past than the past tense. by. The passengers got out as soon as the train had stopped. as soon as. in adverbial clauses of time introduced by after. Hardly. it refers to ‘before THEN’. it refers to ‘before NOW’. already.4. scarcely. I had finished my homework by the time they came. when: The secretary left the office after she had turned off the lights. hardly. The clause of time is usually introduced by the conjunctions before. when: All the guests had left by the time we arrived. In other words. no sooner are often used with the past perfect to emphasize that the action expressed by the past perfect simple is completed immediately before the other past action expressed by the past tense: When The Titanic hit an iceberg the passengers had just gone to bed I had just / scarcely got into the room when the phone rang. The past perfect is placed on the past axis. .The main clause contains a past tense while the subordinate clause contains a past perfect: i. the verb in the past perfect occurs in: . This emphatic position requires inversion of subject and auxiliary: No sooner had they got on the rain than it left. I hadn’t seen it before. The past perfect and the present perfect tenses express similar relationships although in different frames. (1) The past perfect simple expresses an action completed in the past before another point of time in the past or before another activity in the past. I had hardly got into the room when the phone rang. I had finished my homework by 10 o’clock. scarcely. Until yesterday I had never heard about it. THE PAST PERFECT SIMPLE Form: It consists of the past tense of the auxiliary have and the past participle of the main verb: I had worked. By the time I got to the station the train had left. until.The main clause contains a past perfect while the clause of time a past tense. The past perfect simple is the past equivalent of the present perfect simple.3. until. The adverbs already. He said he had booked the room two weeks before. We had bought the tickets a few days before. THE PAST PERFECT 3.4. The whistle announced that the game had ended. Time markers (which express a point of time or activity the past) may be rendered by: a) an adverbial phrase of time: usually expressed by the adverbs before. Compare: The whistle announces that the game has ended. The present perfect indicates a time earlier than the present tense. etc. b) a clause which contains a verb in the past tense. Note: Compare the use of ago and before: I booked the room two weeks ago. I didn’t realize my mistake until I’d handed in the test. 30 . it expresses a time further back than a certain point in the past. When Tom arrived at the station the train had already left They had no sooner got on the train than it left. Syntactically. just. Uses and values: The past perfect simple indicates an action in the past which took place before a given past moment or before another past action. adverbial phrases introduced by the prepositions by.1. We particularly need the past perfect when we wish to emphasize the previousness.
4. Tom couldn’t get into the house because he’d lost his key. (3) The past perfect simple with other temporal values: Future. mean. I spoke to her last week. told. it expresses a future action which is accomplished. (4) With the verbs hope. The past perfect replaces both the present perfect and the past tense when the reporting verb is in the past tense.2. intend. thought. The past perfect simple has this value for those verbs which cannot be used in the progressive aspect. A verb having this continuative value is usually associated with two time markers: . Bill was in uniform when I met him.A time marker to express the past point of time / action The divers came across a wreck that had lain on the seabed for over 200 years. THE PAST PERFECT PROGRESSIVE Form: It is formed of the past perfect of the auxiliary be and the present participle of the main verb: I had been working. Indirect speech: Tom said he had spoken to her about it. explained. The past perfect progressive emphasizes the 31 . etc: Direct speech: I’ve spoken to her about it. expect. continued right up to it and may have continued after. Simple Past versus Past Perfect: The past tense is commonly used instead of the past perfect in temporal clauses introduced by after. (1) The past perfect progressive indicates an action which began before a point in the past. In reported speech (object clauses). iii. i. He had been a soldier for 20 years. He said that he would marry her when / after he had finished his studies. Uses and values: The past perfect progressive bears the same relation to the past perfect simple that the present perfect progressive bears to the present perfect simple with the difference that the time of reference is not the time of speech NOW. in adverbial clauses of cause/reason the past perfect is used to express the cause of a past effect: The watch stopped because I hadn’t wound it up. He didn’t leave until he (had) received a definite answer. completed before another future action (expressed by a verb in the future in the past): He said that as soon as he had raised the money he would let her have it. the past perfect simple indicates that the action did not materialize (was not fulfilled): He had intended / meant to call but was prevented by some unforeseen business. want. He had been ill for 2 weeks when I learnt about it. until.e. He added that he had spoken to her the week before. In 1990 we had known each other for ten years. think. The driver started the car after he (had) checked the engine.When he had had his supper he went to bed. I had hoped to catch the 8:30 train but found it was gone. He had been in the classroom for ten minutes when the teacher came in. before owing to the lexical meaning of these conjunctions (the past perfect is not necessary since the time relationship of anteriority is made clear through the conjunctions): After he (had) graduated he got a job: the past perfect is not necessary since the time relationship of anteriority is made clear through the conjunction after.A time marker introduced by for or since to show the length/period of time or the starting point of time . suppose. The past perfect is used after reporting verbs like: said. since he was 18. He didn’t want to come to the cinema with us because he had already seen the film twice. The same idea can be expressed by the past tense of these verbs + perfect infinitive: He intended to have called… 3. but some point in the past – THEN. the action began before a given past moment and continued up to that past moment. asked. The past perfect simple occurs in subordinate clauses of time and corresponds to the similar value of the present perfect simple. The past perfect refers to actions that had already happened when the conversation or thoughts took place. ii. etc. (2) Continuative use: The past perfect simple denotes a past action that took place over a period of time.
Brown been working before he retired? The present perfect progressive or past tense progressive become past perfect progressive in reported speech after a verb in the past tense in the main clause: ‘I have been reading for thee hours. This past point of time may be indicated by: i. repeated action in the past: He had been trying to get her on the phone. the past pefect simple is used: He had tried five times to get her on the phone. How long had Mr. The police had been looking for the criminal for two years before they caught him. an adverbial phrase introduced by the preposition by: By that time he had been studying English for 10 years.’ ‘How many programmes had she watched by 10 o’clock?’ ‘She had watched two programmes. If the number of times is given.’ → He said he had been reading for thee hours.an expression of time (a prepositional phrase) introduced by for or since usually accompanies the past perfect progressive to emphasize the duration of an action that was in progress before the start of another period or action in the past. How long had you been waiting for the bus when I met you? Paul finally came at 7 o’clock. The verb in the past perfect progressive usually occurs in adverbial clauses of cause or reason (introduced by because) to express a previous action whose result was obvious at a certain past time: John had a black eye because he had been fighting with the other boys. He had been writing poems for 2 years when I met him. He saw the doctor because he had not been feeling well. I was very tired when I arrived home. The verb in the past perfect progressive explains the cause of an effect which is expressed by a verb in the past tense. a clause of time (the verb in the Past Tense): I had been waiting for my friend since 5 o’clock when he finally turned up. I’d been working hard all day. The past perfect progressive is only used when we emphasize the continuity of the action. He was carrying a hammer and nails because he had been mending the fence. (2) Resultative use: The past perfect progressive expresses an action begun before a given past moment but no longer going on at that moment. He had written fifty poems when I met him.The past point of time or activity before which the action expressed by the verb in the past perfect progressive takes place. . ii. Two time markers are required: . I had been waiting for him since 5 o’clock. (3) A continuous.’ 32 . Note: In temporal clauses the past tense is not changed: When I was attending the secondary school I often met Dan. Also: ‘How long had Ann been watching TV by 10 o’clock?’ ‘ She had been watching TV for an hour. I had been waiting for my friend for an hour when he finally turned up. → He said that when he was attending the secondary school he (had) often met Dan. not the number of times the action was performed.duration of an activity that was in progress before another point of time or before another activity in the past. By May 1st I had been working (for) 3 years at my book.
The simple present tense indicates definite plans for the future as part of a timetable or programme. The train leaves at 8:30 a.5.5. You will feel better if you take your medicine regularly . Uses and values: (1) The future simple is used to denote actions to be performed in the future (i. He’ll come back next week. The performance of a future action or the occurrence of an event in the future may be caused by objective circumstances or may depend on a condition: I shall / will be 20 next week (formal / colloquial English) My horoscope says that next year will bring me success and happiness. . present progressive (least certain)” (G. be going to (least certain). the future simple is used for predictions about the future (i. Will they open the exhibition tomorrow? Syntactically. present progressive can be used in this way. “It seems that the double function of shall and will as ‘future auxiliaries’ and as ‘modal auxiliaries’ lies in the very nature of futurity. We cannot be as certain of future happenings as we are of events past and present and for this reason even the most confident prognostication must indicate something of the speaker’s attitude and so. while in informal contexts. She will forgive you if you apologize to her. Do you think it will rain? / I promise I’ll be on time. 1969: 168)./pl. It will be windy tomorrow. Why are you packing? I’m leaving tomorrow. Shall/will + infinitive. I’m afraid: I suppose they’ll sell their house. The present simple and future progressive can be used in this way. suppose. a distinction is made between future with intention and future without intention (Thomson & Martinet. THE FUTURE Future time reference is achieved in English in several ways and the so-called future tense is only one of them.Object clauses introduced by verbs which express the speaker’s opinion or assumption about the future: believe. as well as in American English it is often replaced by will. THE FUTURE SIMPLE (SHALL / WILL FUTURE) Form: This tense is formed of the auxiliaries shall / will followed by the short infinitive of the main verb. 1978: 52) When discussing futurity. the snow will start to melt. “There are five chief ways of expressing future time in the English verb phrase. The present tense is used instead): When it gets warmer. I’m sure. The other is the fact that the future auxiliaries shall and will fulfil other functions besides those of mere indicators of future time. 1978: 65) The future values expressed by simple present and present progressive were dealt with in the respective chapters.Future without intention: a form which merely states that a certain action will happen. There will be rain in places. Thus.m. expect.form. The present progressive indicates personal plans for the future. The different means which can be used to express the idea of future have their own shades of meanings and are therefore not always interchangeable.the main clause of temporal and conditional sentences (the future is not used in the subordinate clause of time and condition. 3. for announcements of future plans.e. Leech.1. 33 . describing something we know or expect will happen). This use is more frequent in formal British English. Will is used in the 2nd and 3rd persons sg. continuous future. simple future.” (Leech. they act as modal auxiliaries.Future with intention: a form which expresses a future action which will be undertaken by the speaker in accordance with his wishes. after the present moment)./pl.e. be tinged with modality. think. the future simple is particularly common in: .3. Shall is normally used in the 1st person sg. be going to. viz. . hope. The future tense differs from the tenses analysed so far on two counts: one is the existence of other devices which mark future time. The five means of referring to future time can be arranged along a scale of certainty in the following way: simple present (most certain).
have to or be to would be used instead of shall in the above sentences. legal documents. or older texts (e. refusal. The same modals replace shall in reported / indirect speech Each competitor shall wear a number → The regulations say that each competitor must/ has to/ is to wear a number → The regulations said that each competitor must / had to / was to wear a number. prepositional phrases introduced by in (in the future. Note: Modal shall is replaced by suitable equivalents in reported speech: He said ‘They shall have my support’. combinations with next (next week/month).command. interrogative sentences will expresses willingness: request.the speaker’s intention to perform a certain action: They shall have my support (promise.’ I’ve lost my bag! What shall I do? . the future progressive is generally used to set up a background or frame activity that is in progress at a certain 34 . or when used in some special constructions (interrogative. determination) You shall have your money by the end of the week. expressions with from now (two weeks from now) etc.e. invitation: Will you do me a favour? (request) Will you give me a helping hand? Will you come in please? (invitation) c) in negative sentences will expresses absence of willingness. in ten days’ time). shall and will can acquire modal value when used in other persons than specified above. immediate decision: Can somebody help me?’ ‘I will. THE FUTURE PROGRESSIVE Form: It is formed of the future simple of the auxiliary be + the present participle of the main verb: I shall/will be working Uses and values: a) It denotes an action in progress at a given time in the future: Like the past progressive. in two years. Will expresses modal values: a) in the 1st pers.2. shall expresses: the speaker’s (subject’s) intention to perform a certain action as well as a command. This construction is chiefly used in regulations.5. (= I refuse to see him again) I shan’t see him again. sg/pl/. formal instruction: Each competitor shall wear a number. i.’ ‘It’s hot in here. the Bible “Thou shalt not kill”). will expresses unpremeditated intention. All students shall attend classes regularly. They shall not pass (We won’t allow them to come here) He shan’t come here (I won’t let him come). Thus.making an offer: Shall I open the door? (= Do you want me to open the door?) Shall we carry those bags for you? b) in the 2nd and 3rd persons sg/pl. (There will be no opportunity for another meeting) 3. negative).g. b) in the 2nd.’ I’ve said it before. Applicants shall fill in a form. Both these uses are rather formal. Compare: I won’t see him again. but now I really will stop smoking. In less formal English must. old–fashioned and are normally avoided in spoken English.request for advice or suggestion: Where shall I put the books? ‘What shall we do this afternoon?’ ‘Let’s go for a walk. (2) Apart from expressing pure futurity.Common time markers (time expressions) with future simple are adverbials of future time such as: tomorrow. interrogative sentences it expresses: . Shall acquires special values: a) in the 1st person sg/pl. sg/pl. 3rd pers. → He promised them his support . .’ ‘I’ll open the window.
I shall be watching TV. (It’s part of the normal course of events. Well. 1978: 62). request or invitation while the future progressive expresses a mere question about a future action: When will you visit us again? (is a question about the listener’s intentions) When will you be visiting us again? (simply asks the listener to predict the time of his next visit) Will you bring the boxes in here? (polite request. an activity without any implication of personal intention. absence of volition. (less definite in that it allows for a change in plans.’ With an adverbial expressing a period of time: all day tomorrow.a subordinate clause of time (the verb is in the present tense): I’ll be working when you get home: the action of ‘working’ will begin before this time marker – when you get home – and will be in progress at that particular time in the future. The future simple expresses intention. .e. Don’t phone me at 7 o’clock. According to G. You’ll recognize her when you see her: she’ll be wearing a red dress. I’ll be seeing him tomorrow morning. The construction is particularly useful for avoiding the suggestion of intention in the simple will-construction. The future progressive suggests that the activity is part of the normal course of events. . this happens every morning) The future progressive allows for the possibility of change with regard to some future event: We’ll go to Everglades National Park on our vacation. I’ll be watching the match on TV. 35 . I’ll be working late every day next week. (definite plan) We’ll be going to Everglades National Park on our vacation. Sir!’ Will you be bringing the boxes in here? (a question about a future action. I think I will leave them in the hall.In negative sentences: the future simple expresses intention not to do a certain thing.e. the future progressive does not express intention: I will write to Tom. This time next year she’ll be running her own business. i. he’s had his licence suspended. plan which enter into the future meanings of shall/will + infinitive. This time tomorrow I’ll be taking my written exam in German. refusal. b) Future-as-a-matter-of-course (future without intention) The future progressive refers to a future event which will take place ‘as a matter of course’.’) Will you pass the chemist’s on your way to school? Will you be passing the chemists’s on your way to school? How long will you stay in England? / How long will you be staying in England? . an event which will happen independently of the will or intention of anyone concerned) can be seen in a comparison of the future simple and the future progressive.e. “this usage has grown up through the need to have a way of referring to the future uncontaminated by factors of volition.In affirmative sentences: unlike the future simple which expresses the speaker’s intention of a future action. The fact that the future progressive indicates a future event without intention (i. ‘Is it all right if I come at about 8:30?’ ‘No. every day next week the future progressive denotes an action in progress over a period of time: I’ll be working all day tomorrow. (The future progressive expresses no intention: it’s a mere statement of fact).an adverbial phrase denoting a point of time: at 5 o’clock.In interrogative sentences: The distinction between the future simple and the future progressive is even more obvious in questions. (I’ve made up my mind / I intend to write) I will be writing to Tom.: ‘What will you be doing at 7 o’clock tomorrow?’ ‘I’ll be working’. tell her Tom won’t be driving. intention. while the future progressive merely states that a certain action will not take place: Ann says she won’t come if Tom is driving. Time markers to indicate the specific / given future time are expressed by: . don’t come then.future time or when another action takes place. Possible answers: ‘I think I will. Possible answer: ‘yes. Leech. this time tomorrow / next week etc. present progressive and be going to” (Leech. i. I’ll be waiting right here when you come out of the examination room. We’ll be going to Everglades National Park unless we run out of time) .’ or ‘No.
the information superhighway will have become accessible to all. He’ll be asking himself what has happened. (= I think they have already left) They will have got home by now ( = They have surely got home by now). verbs which cannot be used in the progressive forms). The verb in the future perfect is used with a reference point (a time marker) to indicate the future moment / action before which this future action is seen as completed.an adverbial phrase introduced by the prepositions by. (= I suppose you have heard of this writer) They will have left by now. virtual certainty in the present: You’ll be wondering why I acted like that. Tomorrow Jane and Ken will have been married twenty years. The verb is used in the 2nd or 3rd persons: No doubt you will have heard of this writer. They will have emigrated to Canada by Christmas.5. an assumption on the part of the speaker about an action performed at a previous moment (in the past). the film will have started. The future moment from which the action is viewed as completed may be indicated by means of: . future). Next February I shall have been here for 2 months. Usually.5. In two years’ time I’ll have finished this book. strong probability referring to the present. before. two time markers occur with the future perfect simple having a continuative use: .3. I hope they will have repaired this road by the time we come back. Ann will have moved by the time she completes her studies. Also: By the time we get there. the future perfect simple expresses an action begun before a given future moment and still going on at that future moment. We are late. I expect the meeting will already have started by the time we get there. by the time (the verb is in the present tense): Compare: I hope they will have repaired this road by next Sunday. Simple future alone suggests that the event/ activity begins with the time mentioned: The information superhighway will become accessible to all by the year 2008. In two years’ time he will have taken his degree. b) Continuative use With state verbs (i. the future perfect marks an event/ activity that is complete prior to some other time (in this case. strong probability. in: By next Sunday he will have moved into the new house. or complete prior to some other future event: By the year 2008. On October 1st I shall have been here for 2 months.1.a time marker which expresses the reference point: a certain /given future moment . THE FUTURE PERFECT 3. THE FUTURE PERFECT SIMPLE Form: It consists of the future tense of the auxiliary have + the past participle of the main verb: I shall / will have worked Uses and values: a) The future perfect expresses a future action which will take place or will be completed before a certain future moment. She’ll be sleeping now.e. 36 . when.a subordinate clause of time introduced by the conjunctions before. d) Simple future versus future perfect As do the other perfect aspects.3. . c) The future perfect with other temporal values The future perfect can be used to express supposition. By the time we get to the airport the plane will have taken off. 3. I hope they will have repaired the road by next Sunday The snow will have disappeared before the end of March.c) The future progressive with other temporal values The future progressive can express supposition. I will already have finished my lessons when they arrive.a time marker introduced by for to indicate the length of time (the duration) By the end of the year I shall have been here for 2 months.
The construction is used without a time expression but usually refers to the near or immediate future.Intention: The be going to – form expresses the subject’s intention (plan. there are some other constructions which can be used to express futurity. The future perfect becomes the present perfect in temporal clauses: He won’t go away till you have promised you’ll accept the invitation When the first buds have come out spring will not be very far away. They are going to leave tonight (they’ve decided to leave). When Mr.g. Two time markers are usually required with future perfect progressive: . By six o’clock he will have been working for 8 hours. In this structure. ii. The construction is found both with animate and inanimate [+ animate] subjects. The be going to – form can be used without a time expression. The given future moment can be expressed by: i. This use is found chiefly with human [+animate] subjects: ‘What are you going to do tonight?’ ‘I’m going to stay at home and watch TV’. Notes: i.4. With all perfect tenses (present perfect. an adverbial phrase usually introduced by next. OTHER MEANS OF EXPRESSING FUTURITY (FUTURE TIME) Besides the future tense forms with shall and will discussed above. THE FUTURE PERFECT PROGRESSIVE Form: It consists of the future perfect of the auxiliary be + the present participle of the main verb: I shall/will have been working.3. strong probability. likelihood (the future fulfilment of present cause). E. a subordinate clause of time (with the verb in the present tense): When the bell rings we shall have been writing for 50 minutes. 3. future perfect) the adverb already emphasizes that the action expressed by the verb is completed immediately before another reference point: I have already finished my lessons. (implied reference point: NOW) I had already finished my lessons when they arrived. (expressed reference point: a future action ‘arrive’) ii.5. Tom and Ann are going to get married in October. 3. The going to – form expresses a future action which appears likely or inevitable due to present causes or circumstances. i.5.construction is formed of the progressive form of the verb go + the long infinitive (infinitive with to) of the main verb. 37 .5. By the end of the month he will have been living here for two years.1. Do you remember that job I was talking about? I’m going to accept it. etc.a time marker introduced by the preposition for to indicate the length of time (duration) of the activity . Use: It expresses an action begun before a given future moment and still going on at that future moment.e.Ann will move when she completes her studies.2. It then usually refers to the immediate or near future. BE GOING TO Form: the be going to .Prediction.4. . It has the same value as future perfect simple ‘continuative’ use. the speaker’s feeling of certainty. decision) to perform a certain future action (the future fulfilment of present intention). go loses its meaning as a verb of movement and becomes an empty grammatical word (an auxiliary) The going to – construction has two values: . Brown retires he will have been working in the same office for 45 years. We’re going to spend our holiday in the mountains.a time marker which expresses the reference point (a given future moment). by: By his sixtieth birthday he will have been teaching for 35 years. I am going to write. (expressed reference point: a past action ‘arrived’) I will already have finished my lessons when they arrive. I’m going to read you some of my own poems. I’m going to be a teacher when I grow up. past perfect. 3.
the be going to tends to come first. I am to move house soon.He has solved all the problems in his test.2. The construction is used with animate and inanimate subjects.’ When they occur together. usually an indirect one: the speaker merely passes on orders issued by someone else. 38 . I have bought some bricks and I’m going to build a garage. instruction. BE ABOUT TO + INFINITIVE The construction expresses an immediate future action whose fulfilment is imminent.4. Our guests will bring something to grill and we’ll supply the rest. I’m meeting them at the station at 5 o’clock. The simple future (will + infinitive) implies unplanned. That tree is going to fall tomorrow. I feel that something terrible is about to happen. They are to be married in June. He isn’t going to finish the race. or is bound to happen. . however.4. 3.’ ‘I’ll fetch you a glass of water.an arrangement which has been planned for the future. Look out! You’re about to step in the puddle. BE TO + INFINITIVE The construction expresses the following meanings: . These tablets are to be kept out of the reach of children. or ‘right away’.e.4. It’s a construction expressing the will of someone other that the speaker: You are to be back by 10 o’clock. Be to + passive infinitive is common in notices and instructions: The form is to be filled in and returned within 3 weeks. PRESENT SIMPLE (with future meaning): an official plan or arrangement regarded as unalterable (future events which we cannot control.5. he is going to get a good mark. decided upon. command. I can already see black clouds gathering) I feel dizzy – I’m going to faint. whereas be going to focuses more on the speaker’s plans or intentions I’m going to meet them at the station at 5 o’clock. ‘on-the-spot’ decisions. emphasizes that the arrangements have already been made. a future action which has already been arranged. Those dark clouds mean it’s going to rain.3. programme): The play begins at 7 o’clock this evening. You are to stay in bed for three days. The President is to visit Japan next year. It is thus an equivalent to the be going to – form and present progressive form.an order. The horse is limping badly. premeditated intention (the decision has been made before the moment of speaking). unpremeditated intention: it is used for quick. Comparison between the be going to form and other means of expressing futurity: Be going to – form and present progressive Be going to – form can be used with a time expression as an alternative to the present progressive for the ‘near future’.5. (i. The present progressive. = I already feel ill. A similar construction which emphasizes the nearness of a future event is on the point/verge of: Her marriage is on the verge of splitting up.5.pre-destined future (a future action which is bound to happen): If he is to succeed in his new profession (dacă-i e dat să) 3. ‘I’m thirsty. The meeting is to begin at 8 o’clock. Be going to – form and simple future (will + infinitive) Both forms express intention: The be going to – form always implies planned. Additional time markers are usually not required since the meaning of the construction itself is ‘soon’. with details supplied with will: Tomorrow night we’re going to have a barbecue. Hurry up! The train is (just) about to leave. (the present progressive implies an arrangement) The present progressive is not likely to be used to express the future with stative verbs or where the subject is inanimate: *That tree is falling tomorrow. to introduce the event.4. 3. . such as events in a timetable.
e) Past tense progressive expresses an action according to plan. The building of the bridge was an important event which would be remembered for many years to come. The time was not far off when he would regret his decision. ‘Why didn’t you telephone me?’ ‘I was going to telephone you but I didn’t have time.5. arrangement: The meeting was to be held the following week. Was / were going to + infinitive. He hoped that by the time he came back she would have forgiven him.e.6. b) was / were to + infinitive. They are giving a party tonight. The construction is used in the literary style to express: . But we were to meet again many years later under very strange circumstances. At that time I thought I’d never see them again.The plane for Paris leaves at 9.predestined future (formal): They said good-bye. 3.4. The contest was going to take place the next Sunday. He asked the nurse if his father would soon be better.plan. There are several ways (verb forms) in English for describing future actions viewed from a point further in the past: would + infinitive. But in this sense they are rather literary in style: a) would + Infinitive (it is confined to literary narrative style): Two years later he would prove a sculptor of genius. was/were + infinitive.5. little knowing they were never to meet again. but he sprained his ankle. 3. PRESENT PROGRESSIVE (with future meaning): a future event anticipated by virtue of a present plan. in a story.45. The professor was to speak at a conference that day (= The professor was scheduled to speak …) . The future in the past is particularly common in indirect speech: it is used mainly in reporting the past words or thoughts of someone. FUTURE ACTIONS SEEN FROM PAST PERSPECTIVE (FUTURE IN THE PAST) Future in the past means a future action seen from a viewpoint in the past. I thought it was for ever. He was later to regret his decision.5. The phrase can thus be used to talk about failed future plans from a past perspective. Would + infinitive and was/were to + infinitive are the only examples of constructions which refer to the fulfilled future in the past. was / were about to + infinitive usually carry the knowledge that the anticipated event didn’t take place. etc. 39 . past tense progressive. d) was / were about to + infinitive (= be on the point of): I was about to go to bed when there was a knock at the door.4. something which was intended to happen did not happen). arrangement: He was leaving town the next day I was meeting him in the same place the next day. Tom left the meeting early because he was flying to London the next morning. was/were about to + infinitive. was/were going to + infinitive. When we said good-bye. I shall be seeing her tomorrow → He said he would be seeing her the next day. Tom was going to play tennis this weekend.’ He was going to invite me to the cinema (but he didn’t). c) was / were going to + infinitive expresses intention which may or may not have been fulfilled (i. The priceless tapestry was about to catch fire but the firemen saved it. programme or arrangement (fixed arrangements in the near future): She’s meeting her aunt this weekend. All the future forms dealt with so far can be turned into a future in the past by substituting should or would for shall or will respectively (if the person remains unchanged): I shall see you tomorrow → I told him I should see him the next day.
A passive verb has forms for the finite moods as well as the non-finite forms. Consider the following sentences: The thief had stolen all my money. i. Darwin studied the fauna of the Galapagos Islands. The passive voice. Tom wrote the letter. or doer of the action). 4. No crime has been committed. II. or undergoer of the action.e. there are certain differences in the emphasis of these sentences. The active voice is the most common and unmarked form of voice.2. They were carrying the injured player off the field → The injured player was being carried off the field. by the cat) indicates the agent. Present progressive: He is being helped. Tom. The grammatical subject and the agent / doer of the action are one and the same. past tense progressive: He was being helped. past tense: He was helped. In a passive sentence. (2) Although be is the prototypical auxiliary verb of the passive. Voice gives information about the roles of different participants (agent or recipient) in an event (Carter.4. the mouse) is the goal/ recipient. THE CATEGORY OF VOICE 4. The letter was written by Tom. The by-phrase (by the thief. III. They are repairing the bridge. the form of the verb. → The bridge is being repaired. The cat chased the mouse The active voice shows that the grammatical subject (the thief. The letter. indicative mood: The simple aspect: present tense: he is helped.2. doer of the action. as illustrated by the sentences: All my money had been stolen by the thief. 2006: 929). The conjugation of a verb (to help . tense aspect. In point of meaning.3rd person sg. by Tom.) in the passive voice. The fauna of the Galapagos Islands was studied by Darwin. We were rung up by one of these consumer survey companies. rather than on its doer (on what happens to someone not on who does it).1. the syntactic level: the changes in the position and status of the active subject NP and object NP. Voice is the grammatical category that concerns not only the verb phrase but also other constituents in the sentence. The mouse was chased by the cat. The morphological level: the form of the verb. the English verb has passive forms for only two tenses: the present and past. future simple: He will be helped. indicates that the grammatical subject (All my money. the emphasis is placed on the recipient of the action. simple aspect. an active sentence places the emphasis on the agent. It has forms corresponding to the active voice for all the tenses of the indicative mood. the cat) performs the action (the grammatical subject is the agent. 4. Although the factual content of the two sentences (active and passive) remains the same. Voice expresses the relationship between the verb (the predicate) on the one hand and the subject and object of the verb. mood.1. past perfect: He had been helped. on the thing done. the grammatical subject is also the logical subject of the sentence. The auxiliary (be / get) marks the categories of person. (1) The passive form of the verb phrase consists of the auxiliary be (or get in some cases) + the past participle of the main verb. on the other. Darwin. number. the morphological level. future perfect: He will have been helped. There are two voices in English: the active and the passive. The active – passive relation (also known as the passive transformation or passivization) involves three grammatical levels: I. the semantic pragmatic level. it is possible to have other verbs fulfil this function: 40 . receiver. A passive construction gives less prominence to the agent. the doer of the action. present perfect: He has been helped. the grammatical subject is no longer the logical subject of the sentence. As far as the progressive aspect is concerned.
hurt. B: No. (participle is passive). However. to draw attention to the result.2.the subject of the active construction becomes an object of agent introduced by the preposition by. he didn’t even get caught. With verbs of result such as break. In the second. The active – passive correspondence (passive transformation) can be expressed by the following formula: NP1 + Vactive + NP2 → NP2 + Vpassive (+ By – NP1) (S) (P) (O) (S) (P) (O Agent) 41 . the past participle broken could be regarded as either adjectival or passive. Get is used as a resulting. With some other verbs. lose.2. The actions are reflexive rather than passive. I have to get dressed before 8 o’clock. and thus adjectival. A number of sentences look superficially like passives but cannot be derived from active sentences: with verbs like dress. I don’t want to get mixed up with the police again. (< He managed to be invited) One important structural difference to note between the be-passive and the get-passive is that get does not function as a true auxiliary in questions and negatives the way that be does. The syntactic level (the clause level): At the clause level changing from the active to the passive involves the transformation in the position and status of the subject NP and the object NP: . etc. if there is one: The beans were refried. . the auxiliary get implies actions that we do to ourselves. In a sentence such as:The windows were broken. . The auxiliary get is usually restricted to constructions without an expressed object of agent. kill. it stresses the change from one condition to a new condition: The production of this factory is becoming increasingly specialized. rather than to the action. (< Someone invited him to the party) He got invited to the party.Get is another auxiliary which can be used to form a passive construction. the passive with the auxiliary get indicates involvement of the grammatical subject. Past Participles: Adjectives or Passive? Most of the time the distinction between a past participle functioning as a passive verb and one serving as an adjective will be obvious. As I passed by. the past participle is descriptive. dynamic auxiliary to emphasize the idea of change. marry. I don’t know how the window got broken. unexpectedly or by accident: My money got stolen. engage. Compare: The window was broken by my younger son. my coat got caught on a nail. the auxiliary get expresses a detrimental meaning: actions that happen suddenly. mix. As a result of this.by someone (passive) . or stative.the object of the active construction becomes the subject in the passive sentence. the distinction is not always clear-cut. According to Celce-Murcia & Larsen-Freeman (1999: 349). he wasn’t even caught. in the first interpretation. the past participle is dynamic and thus passive. i. iii.. get expresses an action. This newspaper has already become widely read in the community. Unlike be which expresses a state. catch. They got married last week. do must serve as an operator for get in questions and negatives: be-passive get-passive A: Was Tom arrested? A: Did Tom get arrested? B: No. The house was a mess. Become expresses a more gradually achieved result. How many people get killed in road accidents? All my glasses got broken when we moved. Become is occasionally used as an auxiliary for the passive. Compare: He was invited to the party. ii. The paintwork was peeling and the windows were broken (participle is adjectival) The windows were broken by the force of the explosion.present state of the beans (adjective) 4. burn. steal. the only distinguishing sentence-level feature we are left with is the use of by with a noun phrase to mark an agent in the passive voice. In cases of ambiguity. stick.
when it conveys relevant information: Edison invented the electric bulb → The electric bulb was invented by Edison. The bank was robbed yesterday.it is redundant (it can be recovered from the context): Jack fought Mike last night and Jack was beaten (the object of agent by Mike is understood from the context) . which would be ‘by someone’ is not necessary to be expressed since it does not convey any relevant information). . is important. Thus. His fruit was stolen before he had a chance to pick it → He had his fruit stolen before he had a chance to pick it.3. We got our car radio stolen twice on holiday.Get-passives occur more frequently with no agent phrase than be. often) follow the first auxiliary. Such constructions are not true passives because they do not contain the auxiliary be. The entity responsible for an action may not be known or may not be considered relevant. The watchmaker has skilfully repaired the clock. someone. 2006: 798). skilfully) follow the second auxiliary (they are placed before the past participle). Brown can’t type.e. Passives without an agent phrase Passives frequently occur without an agent phrase and are called agentless passives (Carter & McCarthy.(or: I get my hair done about once a month).→ The clock has been skillfully repaired by the watchmaker. or what happens. The object of agent is only expressed when it is important to mention. My car was stolen last night (the object of agent.4. but the main verb is in the past participle: Mr. future perfect) which contain two auxiliaries . They opened the new theatre last month → The new theatre was opened last month. i.the speaker/writer is being tactful or evasive: Ann was given some bad advice about selecting courses. He got conscripted into the army and had to go to Belgium. Types of verbs used in passive constructions 4.1.2. There are a number of reasons why such a choice might be made. 42 . e. What is or is not done. . 4. the object of agent. The have pseudo-passives: The have-passive is more formal than the get-passive. D. the prepositional object of agent is not expressed (it is omitted) when: .g. already. The agentless passive enables focus to fall on the process. any transitive verb followed by a direct object can be passivized (the direct object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive): The board has already discussed the matter.passives: She’s been a bit nervous ever since she got burgled. 4.it is unknown to the speaker: Those pyramids were built around 400 A. past perfect. → The matter has already been discussed by the board. Note: In perfective tenses (present perfect. verbs that can take an object.The prepositional object of agent (the by-phrase) is generally an optional element. they. Passive-like causatives (pseudo-passives): in causative constructions with have (or get) the doer of the action is often omitted.adverbs of indefinite time (just. (or: We had our car radio stolen twice on holiday) I have my hair done about once a month.e. An error was made in the budget. one). Within this large class of verbs we can identify several subclasses: a) transitive verbs + one object (monotransitive verbs): According to the general rule.it is indefinite: the subject of the sentence would be expressed by an indefinite noun or pronoun (people.2. .g. Brown has his letters typed. or may simply be obvious.2.4. In such cases the passive is generally preferred and the resulting object of agent is omitted: They / people speak English all over the world → English is spoken all over the world. i.have for the perfective and been for the passive . His secretary types his letters for him → Mr. represent the largest class of verbs which allow passivization. Transitive verbs: Transitive verbs. never. while adverbs of manner (e.
→ *Her head was shaken by the woman.the direct object becomes the subject of the passive construction: in such cases the NP expressing the indirect object (the retained indirect object) is usually preceded by the preposition to: A very good job was offered to Tom. The passive construction with the indirect object as subject is more frequent than the one with the direct object as subject. refuse. envy – are followed by two objects: a [+animate] object and a [-animate] one. have. hold. promise.→*Each other could hardly be seen in the fog. tell are followed by two objects: a [+animate] indirect object and a [-animate] direct object. . say. Besides the meaning of the verb. → My hand was shaken by the woman. present. → The city was soon possessed by the enemy. . → The thief was held by the police. → *Himself could be seen in the mirror. ii. a small number of verbs .→ *A nice house is had by them.Reflexive pronouns: John could see Paul in the mirror.Possessive pronouns (when they are co-referential to the subject) The woman shook my hand. recommend. Most of them are stative /state verbs. resemble. John resembles his father. show.. teach. consider.a Nominative + Infinitive construction: Dolphins are said to be very intelligent.ask. award. These sentences normally have two passive constructions: . the passive is not possible when they refer to states.e. think – are followed in the active voice by a that-clause or by an accusative + infinitive construction: They consider that dolphins are very intelligent. The [+animate] object usually becomes the subject in the passive: They asked the pupils some questions → The pupils were asked some questions. mental cognition as well as declarative verbs – believe.Voice constraints: Some transitive verbs do not occur (at least in some senses) in the passive: contain. They say that a cigarette-end was the cause of the fire. but it is possible when they refer to an activity: hold: This jar holds sugar. A cigarette-end is said to have been the cause of the fire. hand. they refer to states not actions and they often have no continuous forms. The woman shook her head.an impersonal construction: it is only the main clause that undergoes passivization while the rest of the sentence is left unchanged: It is considered that dolphins are very intelligent. expect.the indirect object becomes the subject of the passive construction: Tom was offered a very god job. .Reciprocal pronouns: We could hardly see each other in the fog. Also: The best students are awarded special scholarships. co-reference between a subject and a NP object blocks the passive correspondence. rather than a thing as the subject of the passive construction. lack. grant. know. possess. The boy had been promised a bike for his birthday. it is preferable to use a person (a being). . deny. viz. pay. The enemy soon possessed the city. c) Transitive verbs + a that-clause: Verbs of physical perception. fit. lend. the following active sentences have no passive correspondent: He lacks confidence. This constraint occurs with: . The police held the thief. i. send.→ *Sugar is held by this jar. . . → Dinner can be had at any reasonable time. Thus. allow. suppose. possess: The king possessed great wealth → *Great wealth was possessed. hear. There is a semantic explanation for this preference. offer. You can have dinner at any reasonable time. These verbs can have two passive forms: either the indirect object or the direct object can become the grammatical subject of the passive verb: They offered Tom a very good job. John could see himself in the mirror. Verbs like allot. It is said that a cigarette-end was the cause of the fire. have: They have a nice house. ~ They consider dolphins to be very intelligent. b) transitive verbs with two objects (ditransitive verbs) i. → Paul could be seen in the mirror by John. 43 . With some verbs.
make fun of. deal with.2. The nominal element (NP) of the prepositional object becomes the subject while the preposition is retained by the verb. listen to. look after / for. agree upon. figurative use. refer to. This has the effect of creating greater focus on the passive subject. figurative use) The engineers went carefully into the tunnel → * The tunnel was gone into. Phrasal Prepositional verbs represent combinations of verb + adverbial particle + preposition: put up with. sleep. even though in the corresponding active voice the preposition is less closely associated with the verb. Semantic and pragmatic aspects of the passive: Pragmatics refers to the study of communication in relation to the intended meanings of particular utterances within particular situations. → The room has not been slept in. the prep. Through passivization. put an end to. → This silly business must be put a stop to. take notice of can be used in the passive. the nominal element of the prepositional phrase becomes subject while the preposition is kept together with the verb: They will deal with the matter at once. rely on. He could not bear being made fun of. take care of an alternative passive construction is possible with the noun within the verb phrase as subject: They took great care of his books → i. The passive is far more common in English than in other languages. → This noise can’t be put up with. The house is not lived in any longer. + NP is a prepositional object). the object of the preposition becomes the subject while the verb retains both the particle and the preposition: We can’t put up with this noise. b) Prepositional and phrasal verbs: There are some verbs (account for. I hate people laughing at me → I hate being laughed at. The engineers went very carefully into the problem → The problem was very carefully gone into. His books were taken great care of (object of the preposition as subject).) which in the active voice are followed by an obligatory preposition + NP (syntactically. Because of the close connection of the verb with the noun within the verb phrase the latter is not normally separated from the verb (and it is not used as the subject of the passive construction). Phrasal verbs: They will have to put off the meeting. Through passivization the object of the preposition becomes subject while the verb retains the preposition. go into. → The matter will be dealt with at once. Nevertheless. etc. pay attention to.4. The building had to be demolished (< They had to demolish the building) Existential there allows an indefinite subject to be placed later in a passive clause. Compare the following sentences: They eventually arrived at the station → * The station was arrived at. (concrete. etc). agent of the action is unknown or unimportant (when the active form would involve the use of an indefinite or vague pronoun / noun as subject (The object of the agent is not expressed): I have been robbed (<Someone has robbed me).4. laugh at. He looked after the children well. 44 . sit accompanied by a prepositional object (prep. (abstract. do away with. This piece of legislation has been done away with. send for.2. arrive at) accept the passive only when they have an abstract. + NP) may be used in the passive. → The meeting will have to be put off. with some verbal phrases such as pay attention to. Intransitive verbs a) Some intransitive verbs such as live. make use of. Nobody has slept in the room. The hayrick had been set fire to. The following observations may serve as a general guide when to use the passive: i. spatial use) They eventually arrived at an agreement → An agreement was arrived at. Great care was taken of his books (noun within the VP as subject) 4. Some prepositional verbs (look into. take notice of. You must put a stop to this silly business.3. Through passivization. The passive voice is especially useful when the doer. → The children were well looked after. Prepositional verbal phrases such as lose sight of. ii.
Such impersonal uses often involve reporting verbs such as believe. consider. 45 . The passive provides a means of avoiding an awkward change of a subject in the middle of a sentence: The Prime Minister arrived back in London last night and was immediately besieged by reporters. find. where the question of who performs the action described by the verb is unimportant or irrelevant. technical/scientific and official writing). instead of: The Prime Minister arrived back in London last night and reporters immediately besieged him. The new methods that have been introduced… Vitamin tablets should be taken daily.ii. think: What is poverty? Much of the debate centres on what level of income is considered to be the poverty level. iii. Detached/impersonal styles: Agentless passives are conventionally associated with impersonal style (in academic. say. when processes are the focus of attention. also when the author does not want to draw attention to himself: Heat was applied until the mixture came to the boil.
desirable. the conditional. i. interrogative. the imperative is to be analysed within the chapter of syntax (‘Sentence types’): declarative. The ‘tenses’ of the subjunctive are used to indicate remoteness from reality in various degrees. the subjunctive clauses lack deictic temporal orientation.e.real]. factual. the speaker considers the action not as real (as existing in reality) but as hypothetical (as existing in his mind as a possibility. 2006: 911) distinguish three moods: . Unlike the indicative clauses. i. doubt. existing in fact. THE CATEGORY OF MOOD 5. just like the subjunctive. the conditional should be analysed as a type or subtype of the subjunctive on account of its form and its meaning. The imperative is not only a verbal form. Mood is the grammatical category by means of which modality is expressed. present or future (discussed in the chapter: the tenseaspect system of English). Moods can be studied from the point of view of their meaning or from the point of view of the forms themselves. (present time reference) I wish he were here. to express a directive meaning: Enjoy your meal! . These two moods – the indicative and the subjunctive – are seen as the two basic propositional modalities of English.imperative. hypothetical statements. THE FORMS OF THE SUBJUNCTIVE. The synthetic subjunctive has forms for the present. The tenses of the indicative mood cover all the divisions of time on the temporal axis: past.indicative. (anteriority with respect to a reference point) The absence of these temporal distinctions in the subjunctive mood helps us understand why the subjunctive describes only possible.Traditional grammars distinguish four finite moods: the indicative. not real. The characteristic meaning of the subjunctive is best revealed by means of a comparison between the indicative and the subjunctive. the conditional expresses hypothetical values. 5. (present time reference) Also in the analytic(al) subjunctive: It is a pity you should miss such an opportunity. The subjunctive mood is non-assertive. they are not actualized in time. exclamatory. . necessary. 46 . the conditional is identical with some forms of the analytical subjunctive (in that it uses the auxiliaries should and would). Therefore. aspect. to express a non-factual meaning: We insist that he enjoy the meal first before making his speech. necessity.2. the attitude of the speaker towards the action denoted by the verb. to express a factual meaning: She enjoys her new job. By using the subjunctive. It is a pity you should have missed such an opportunity. the imperative is opposed to the declarative pattern not to the indicative mood. It is the most frequent form and involves all he choices of person. since they do not mark temporal distinctions as the indicative mood does. non-factual. the imperative.e. tense. the speaker can present the action as being: i. i. [+ real]. supposition.5. From the point of view of its form. not yet actualized (courses of) events. In this respect. i.1. actual. modality and voice. as existing in fact). it presents the action as real (or in close relation to reality) or as factual (i. purpose. from this functional point of view. Other modern grammars limit the number of moods to only two: the indicative and the subjunctive. According to modern grammarians. ii. [. wish. commands. the subjunctive.subjunctive.e. etc). An important thing that must be pointed out is that the so-called ‘tenses’ of the Subjunctive are improperly called so. perfect. or requests. The present and past subjunctive are both employed for present time reference with the difference that the present subjunctive expresses a greater degree of probability than the past subjunctive (which expresses doubt). probable. in point of meaning. It is necessary that he be here. Some grammar books (see Carter. it presents non-factual. number.e. etc. imperative. By means of this category. hypothetical: possible. but also a form of the sentence (a sentence type) whose function is to express orders.e. The indicative mood is the mood of assertion. past.
5.2. after verbs like demand. demand. a negation element is always placed directly before the main verb. ii. It occurs in some set phrases (formulaic expressions): i. referred to as the analytic(al) subjunctive or periphrastic subjunctive. the past. (2) Object clauses. Its meaning shows an event which can be fulfilled in time and which is thus assumed possible. after constructions of the type: It is + adjective (advisable. Distribution: The present subjunctive occurs in both independent sentences and subordinate clauses.1. If this be error and upon me proved/I never wrote nor no man ever loved (Shakespeare) (5) Adverbial clauses of concession: Though everyone desert you I will not.g. a verb or a noun which expresses the meaning of order. Expressions denoting urge. proposal: There was a proposal that he be elected chairman.1. regulations.2. essential. require. THE PAST SUBJUNCTIVE 47 . object. suggestion. suggestion: (1) Subject clauses. the simple synthetic forms have lost most of their distinctive endings. important. (= Whatever the reasons for it may be…) The use of the present subjunctive is found in older English and in formal (official and legal) style. The synthetic subjunctive is usually defined as a form which is dying out as an independent mood.2. We insist that he not make the telephone call. necessary. wishes: Long live peace!. productive form of expressions of this concept is may + verb: God save the Queen! = May God save the Queen! ii. The present subjunctive is used in nominal that-clauses (subject. Damn you! iii. desire. urge.The subjunctive mood is represented by two forms: the synthetic forms. Indeed. 5. a) Independent Sentences (‘Formulaic’ subjunctive) The present subjunctive in independent sentences is not a productive. etc. The present subjunctive is also used in some adverbial clauses: (4) Adverbial clauses of condition: If any person be found guilty he shall have the right of appeal. order. i. insist. In subjunctive clauses. request. also in elevated prose and poetry. The present subjunctive is quite frequently used in American English. THE PRESENT SUBJUNCTIVE (THE OLD FORM) Form: it is identical in form with the base form of the verb (short infinitive): ask.1. recommend. It is / was necessary that he go there. thus. referred to as the synthetic subjunctive. 5. resolutions. so they cannot always be distinguished from the forms of the indicative mood. THE SYNTHETIC SUBJUNCTIVE This form is called synthetic on account of the fact that it does not contain other means. suggest. e. the analytic(al) forms. The synthetic subjunctive has forms for the present. be.e.2. after abstract nouns belonging to the same semantic field: demand. oaths. Whatever be the reasons for it. God bless you! Heaven help us! The living. Suffice it to say that…. etc): It is essential that the mission not fail. advice: So be it!. in treatises. attributive-appositive clauses) when the main clause contains an adjective. (3) Attributive-appositive clauses. the perfect. curses: The devil take him!.: They demand / demanded that the committee reconsider its decision. no addition of the do operator is possible. Far be it (from me to criticize you) b) Subordinate clauses (‘Mandative’ subjunctive) i. auxiliaries in its composition. we cannot tolerate disloyalty. living form in modern English. He proposed that they hold a meeting.1. propose.
asked. An equivalent construction of the past subjunctive after It is time… is (for -) to Infinitive. so as to follow the paradigm of the past tense indicative. (when no subject is expressed) It’s time for us to go.g. It’s time to go. The past subjunctive denotes that what we would like to happen does not take place: I wish he were here. Meaning. The event or state supposed to be happening at the present time is not taking place: it is imaginary. (4) Adverbial clauses of unreal comparison (introduced by as if. = I regret he isn’t coming. Though in everyday speech there is a tendency to replace the invariable subjunctive form were with was in the 1st and 3rd person sg. The past subjunctive is preserved as a form distinct from the past tense indicative only in the verb be. There is a slight difference in meaning between the two constructions: The subjunctive (It’s time we went) implies that it is already a little too late. I wish he were coming with us. the infinitive (It’s time for us to go) implies that the correct time has arrived to do a certain thing. wrote. in some special forms: . (1) Subject clauses: The past subjunctive occurs after the construction It is (about / high) time: It’s time we went / were off. Distribution. (2) Object clauses: The past subjunctive occurs after the verbs wish. e. or a hypothetical situation simultaneous with the action in the main clause: She treats him as if he were a child (unreal meaning: He is not a child).In the expression: if I were you… I’d be a bit more careful if I were you. Would rather/sooner is followed by an infinitive when the subjects of the two actions are identical: I’d rather stay at home than go out. or it runs counter to present reality. The past subjunctive expresses improbability or doubt with reference to a present action. as though).In the construction: were + (to) infinitive: If I were to see a flying saucer I’d find it difficult to believe The past subjunctive after if only expresses regret about an action contrary to present reality (if only is used in a similar way to wish): If only I were still your age! He’s up to something: if only I knew what it is. It’s high time you made up your mind. 48 . however. would sooner. = I’m sorry/ I regret he isn’t here. would rather. He talks as if he knew everything (But he doesn’t). regret about a present action which does not occur. Would rather. He wishes he knew her address = He is sorry he doesn’t know. which has an invariable form for all persons: were. If he were here he would speak for us. The past subjunctive occurs in subordinate clauses. unreal situation contrary to present fact (Type2 conditional clause): If I saw him I would give him your message.Form: It is identical in form with the past tense indicative mood. She wants to fly but I’d rather she went by train. . It expresses a hypothetical meaning: an unreal event or state taking place at present. After wish the past subjunctive expresses an unreal situation in the present. Were is felt as rather formal and is replaced by was in colloquial English: If he was here… Were persists. They are followed by a that-clause (with past subjunctive) when the subjects are different: the person expressing the preference is not the subject of the action that follows: S1 + would rather + S2 + past subjunctive: I’d rather you stayed at home than went out. (3) Conditional clauses: The past subjunctive occurs in conditional clauses of unreal condition which refers to the present or future to express an imaginary. He wished he knew her address. would sooner are two constructions expressing preference = would prefer. = He was sorry he didn’t know. It’s about time we were leaving.
The forms of the analytic subjunctive (subjunctive equivalents) represent combinations of modal verbs used as auxiliaries + the short infinitive (present or perfect) of the main verb (The present infinitive for simultaneity or subsequence to the action in the main clause.2. why (‘rhetorical’ questions). Distribution: The perfect subjunctive occurs in subordinate clauses to express counterfactive meaning (a situation contrary to fact). I wouldn’t have refused it. SHOULD The modal-auxiliary should occurs in: (1) Independent sentences or main clauses: a) to form the present/perfect conditional in the 1st person singular and plural: I should like to see him.2. presuppositions. wishes. THE ANALYTIC(AL) SUBJUNCTIVE Since some forms of the synthetic subjunctive are falling more and more into disuse because of the loss of distinctive endings. The past subjunctive is used in both the literary and the colloquial style. other means of expressing hypothetical values at the level of the verb phrase. I wish you had written to him. conditions. / I should have liked to see him. as though. b) in (direct or indirect) questions introduced by who. It expresses events running counter to past reality. will / would. He talks / talked about London as though he had been there himself. can / could. I should help him if he asked me. THE PERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE It is identical in form with the past perfect indicative mood: had asked. the perfect subjunctive expresses regret about a past situation or about an action contrary to past reality: what we would have liked to happen did not take place: I wish I hadn’t spent so much money (= I’m sorry I spent) He wishes he had studied French at school. I should have helped him if he had asked me. (4) Clauses of concession introduced by even if.1.2. may / might. 5.g. (= I’m sorry you didn’t write) I wished you had written to him. He felt awkward as if everyone were looking at him. what. in essence. irritation. The modal auxiliary verbs used for the analytic subjunctive are: should.2. would rather. such forms are in many cases replaced by periphrastic constructions (or subjunctive equivalents) also known as the analytic subjunctive. e. The subjunctive equivalents are. even though: Even if the work had been twice as difficult. the perfect infinitive for anteriority). etc. annoyance: Why should we quarrel over such a trifle? ‘What’s Tom’s phone number/’ ‘How should I know?’ (= How can you expect me to know?) Who should come in but the mayor himself! (2) Subordinate clauses: 49 . 5. even though): Even though he were ill he wouldn’t miss school.2. (5) Adverbial clauses of concession (introduced by even if.3. (= I was sorry you hadn’t written) I’d rather you hadn’t done it. (2) Conditional clauses: The perfect subjunctive occurs in conditional clauses of unreal condition which refers to the past (Type 3): If he had been here he would have helped us In clauses introduced by if only the perfect subjunctive expresses the same meaning of regret about an action which did not occur in the past as wish: If only I had listened to her (= I wish I had listened to her) If only you’d been driving more carefully! (3) Clauses of comparison introduced by as if. as well as exclamations to express an emotional attitude of surprise. The perfect subjunctive expresses improbability or doubt with reference to a past action: I remember the movie as if I had seen it yesterday. Meaning. The distribution of the modal-auxiliary verbs: 5. (1) Object clauses: After the verbs wish. concessions.1.He talked as if he knew everything (But he didn’t).
When the verb insist introduces a statement. the subjunctive form should have missed stresses a supposition. This use of should used to represent something as a neutral ‘idea’ rather than as a ‘fact’ is termed ‘putatative’. order. desire. order. the indicative is used (insist = claim): John’s father is of the opinion that his son does not smoke. It is a pity that he has missed such an opportunity. cl. It is only fair that you should know. . other structures can be used in these clauses: . the speaker expresses a factual meaning: it is a fact that he missed the opportunity. a wonder) the analytic subjunctive with should (i) is an alternative to the indicative mood (ii): i. odd.After the construction It is + adjective (advisable. There is no reason why he should be late. . It is important that he should not make a mistake.Possessive + -ing form: He insisted on their leaving in time.) is the difference conveyed by the two moods: subjunctive and indicative. recommend. request. b) Object clauses: . ii. agree – either the subjunctive or the indicative is used: i. order. The subjunctive with should occurs after abstract nouns such as demand. He proposed that we should postpone our departure. while in the forms with the Indicative the actual fact is expressed (the description of a real. ii. (Indicative mood) 50 . demand. In the forms with the subjunctive the very idea is stressed. . “ for him to be prepared for this. essential. Leech (1978: 72). the analytic subjunctive with should is an alternative to the synthetic subjunctive present: We insist / insisted that a meeting should be held. strange. It is surprising that he should resign. ii.After verbs expressing command.Object + infinitive structure: He ordered them to go. order. important. i. “ that he be prepared for this. more uncertainty (an action less likely to occur): Type 1: If he comes we shall let you know.After some verbs – insist.). The subjunctive mood stresses the evaluation of a possible event while the indicative mood stresses the description of a real. suggestion like agree. command. Note: Depending on the main verb. Thus. an idea. proposal. necessary.) in order to express a higher degree of improbability. His suggestion that we should postpone our journey was accepted. we don’t know whether he missed the opportunity or not. suggestion. John’s father insists that he shouldn’t smoke. c) Attributive-appositive clauses. desirable. actual event). ii. surprising). etc) the analytic subjunctive with should is usually an alternative to the synthetic subjunctive present or to forto infinitive: It is essential that he should be prepared for this.After the construction It is + adjective (amazing. the subjunctive with should conveys a non-factual meaning which leaves open the question of the truth or falsehood of the statement. cl. actual event. insist. etc. According to G. a surprise. propose. John’s father insists that he doesn’t smoke. decision. or It is + noun (a pity. It is surprising that he has resigned / is resigning i. etc. reason. When the verb insist introduces an indirect command. the subjunctive is used (insist = demand): John’s father has ordered John not to smoke. or to the synthetic subjunctive past (Type 2 cond. wish. a shame. suggest. the evaluation of a possible event. The difference between the sentences (i.) and (ii. It is a pity that he should have missed such an opportunity. that of ‘missing an opportunity’. intention. d) Conditional clauses: The analytic subjunctive with should occurs in conditional clauses as an alternative to the present tense indicative mood (type1 cond.a) Subject clauses: . By resorting to the indicative (has missed). assertion.
probable. hypothetical event. → Your job may be very demanding. He felt apprehensive of what might happen.If he should come we shall let you know (subjunctive with should = If he happens to come… If by any chance he comes. Try as he may. or success. If the verb in the main clause is in the present tense. he’ll never win. They set a strong guard lest anyone should escape. at least it is not boring. I fear that he may catch cold. either may or might can be used in the subordinate clause (might suggests a higher degree of uncertainty).). It is the living. as: Whatever he may say we must not change our plan. b) Object clauses after be afraid / apprehensive. Because of its strong hypothetical content may + the adversative coordinating conjunction but can express the idea of concession: Although your job is very demanding. c) Clauses of concession. Type 2: If you were offered the job would you accept it? If you should be offered the job would you accept it? Should you be offered… e) Clauses of purpose.2. He was afraid that I might turn down his offer. for fear. while the clause of result normally contains a verb in the indicative: He slept with the money under his pillow so that no one should steal it. → 51 . productive form instead of the synthetic subjunctive present: May you live long! May you both be happy! May he rest in peace! (prayer for a dead person) (2) Subordinate clauses. by the phrase no matter (who. Although he has promised to come. happiness. such as desire for people’s health. No matter what bright ideas he may have. (Purpose) He slept with the money under his pillow so that no one stole it. fear: I’m afraid the news may upset her. It is likely that it may/will rain this afternoon. whatever. The clauses are introduced by compound conjunctions in -ever (whoever. MAY / MIGHT The modal-auxiliary may / might occurs in: (1) Independent sentences – exclamatory sentences to convey a wish. The analytic subjunctive with may/might is used instead of the indicative mood to express a supposition.2. (Result) 5. etc). He left early in case he should miss the last train (= so that he shouldn’t miss it) Note: Since both clauses of purpose and clauses of result are introduced by the same conjunction – so that -. Should the pain return take one of these pills.. likely) as an alternative to the indicative mood: It is possible that humans might one day live on other planets. pronoun). he’s always short of money. lest. May / might occurs in: a) Subject clauses after the construction It is + adjective (possible. it is the form of the verb that distinguishes them: the verb in the clause of purpose is in the analytical subjunctive (with modal auxiliaries). he will not pass the exam.2. if the verb in the main clause is in the past tense only might is used. what etc. The analytic subjunctive occurs in: i. but at least it is not boring. a more uncertain. ii. in case (+ an affirmative verb): He spoke slowly so that there should be no mistakes. some clauses of affirmative purpose: They advertised the concert so that everyone should know about it. I don’t think he will. He hurried for fear he should be late. However hard he may try.) or: Should he come we shall let you know. Clauses of negative purpose introduced by so that (+ negative verb.
(2) subordinate clauses: a) Object clauses after wish: i. 52 . if only it would rain! c) Clauses of purpose introduced by so that: will is used when the verb in the main clause is in the present tense. WILL / WOULD Will / would occurs in: (1) Independent sentences or main clauses to form the present or perfect conditional in the 2nd and 3rd persons singular and plural: She would like to see him. would is used when the main verb is in the past tense: Send the letter airmail so that he will receive it right away He wrote the notice in several languages so that the foreign tourists would understand it. 4. ii. 5. I hurried so that I wouldn’t be late. d) Clauses of concession introduced by as: Try as you will you won’t manage it.He may have promised to come but I don’t think he will. in order that): He is saving money so that he may /might buy a car. CAN/COULD Can / could occurs in clauses of purpose as an alternative construction to may / might. d) Clauses of affirmative purpose (introduced by so that. present perfect. can / could occurs in spoken English and usually indicates a more real action. b) Conditional clauses introduced by if only: Oh. She would have liked to see him. preference: we want something to happen or somebody to do something: I wish you would turn down the music.2. Builders worked day and night in order that the house might be finished in time.4. This is a rather literary structure and in modern English it is more common to use can / could. The difference between the two modal auxiliaries is that may / might is more formal and indicates a higher degree of uncertainty.2.2. It expresses a not very hopeful wish about the future: I wish it would stop raining (= but I don’t think it would) I wish you wouldn’t smoke so much.3.2. imperative. will / would in such cases. He was saving money so that he could buy a car.
Most of the verbs are followed by the short infinitive (without to) except ought to. The modal verbs are polysemantic words: each modal verb has at least two meanings. the negative is formed by putting not after the modal). probability regarding the truth of the statement. a state of the world. MODALITY AND MODAL VERBS Modality refers to a speaker’s or a writer’s attitude towards.e. while epistemic modals have no selectional restrictions on the subject: John must go there at once (deontic). i. Modal verbs can be divided into two main types: a) modal verbs which have deontic (or ‘root’ i. They cannot be conjugated in all tenses or moods. Thus. They have no non-finite forms (infinitive. presumably due to their being felt as subjunctives. e. -ing forms). i. episteme = ‘knowledge’. a semantic property also reflected by the syntax of these verbs. cognitive) values: those which assert the degree of likelihood.6. (it is possible. need. some. probable. regarding co-occurrence with aspect markers: deontic modals do not occur in the progressive aspect. used to) are the principal way in which modal meanings are expressed (Carter. 1. d) The modal verbs are verbs of incomplete predication. 6. offers. shall. might do not always indicate past time: time reference is sometimes indicated by context. will.g. Core modal verbs (can. necessary. volition. probability or possibility of something. Formal characteristics a) The modal verbs are uninflected: they don’t add -s for the 3rd person singular. (the speaker is certain) This distinction into deontic / epistemic is not confined to the semantic level but it is also reflected in the syntactic behaviour of the two kinds of modal verbs as well: each value – deontic / epistemic – is associated with a different set of syntactic environments: i. will. all persons have the same form. The modals are also used if we want to make requests.e. suggestions. at present they are a limited number of (closed-system) items which have the same formal characteristics. not certain) I’ll see you tomorrow. regarding subject selection: Deontic modals select a [+animate] subject only. the interrogative is formed by inverting the subject and the modal verb. befitting. 2. necessity or obligation: You may go now (permission) I must be careful what I say (necessity/ obligation) b) modal verbs which have epistemic (Gk.e.e. c) There are gaps in the tense-aspect-mood paradigms of modal verbs. The book must be very interesting (epistemic). ought were past subjunctives. That is why they are always followed by a main verb in the infinitive (present or perfect infinitive). 6. may. John must be very tired (epistemic). i. must. possibility and obligation. namely without do (they are ‘modal-auxiliaries’). might. Irrespective of their origin and the form in which the modals have been handed down to us. They are modal ‘defective’ verbs. 2006: 910) The modal verbs are a special group of verbal forms which were originally past tenses but have come to have the meaning of the present tense: can. ii. could. shall were past indicatives. some of their forms are missing: i. primary) values: modal verbs referring to permission. ii. It is centrally concerned with the expression of certainty. to be polite and tactful or to express our wishes and intentions. may. Furthermore. apparently past tense forms such as could. should. Semantic characteristics: The modal verbs make up a system of items specialized for expressing the speaker’s attitude towards the action of the sentence: the action is seen as possible. It involves an assessment of potential facts: I might see you later. b) They are anomalous verbs: the interrogative and negative patterns are similar to the auxiliary be. would. they do not occur in the perfect and future tenses. dare. must) and semi-modals (dare. or point of view about. while epistemic modals do: The child may play in the garden (deontic = permission) The child may be playing in the garden (epistemic = probability) 53 . Epistemic modality is concerned with the speaker’s judgement about the certainty.
understand) to express a physical sense or mental experience that is going on at the present moment. managed to. i. the climbers will be unable to reach the top of the mountain. (1) Requests for permission: When making requests. to form a kind of substitute for the progressive tense: ‘Can you see Tom anywhere in the audience?’ ‘I can see him over there. Can + present infinitive has present or future time reference: Can you lift this box? He can speak several languages. Other verbs which can provide an alternative form for the concept of ability are: manage.e. PERMISSION This concept is expressed by may / might. especially seem or feel are followed by able to: No one seemed able to help. I couldn’t do it. Asking and giving permission is a matter of politeness. (C. I’d like to be able to help you.e. know how: He is capable of keeping a secret if he wants to. He could play like a professional ten years ago. a particular event which was successfully performed in the past (in affirmative sentences) is expressed by was able. Particular past ability.2. Snow) Could + present infinitive expresses: i. He must be sleeping now (epistemic= probability) 6. My grandfather is over 80. succeeded in (could is not used): I ran and I was able to catch the bus (a particular event which actually happened on a definite occasion).’ I can remember London during the war. but he didn’t do it: He could have helped us (= he was able to help us but he didn’t). Can / could is used in less formal situations (in familiar colloquial speech) than may / might to express permission. Can you come to the meeting tomorrow? Can is used with verbs of physical perception (feel. i. When I was young I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. ABILITY The modal verbs can / could express physical or mental ability to perform a certain action. The problem was too difficult: he couldn’t solve it. Particular past ability is expressed by could in negative sentences only: I ran but I couldn’t catch the bus. hear. By the time he finishes his course he will be able to speak English correctly.He must sleep now (deontic = obligation). Past reference: could implies permanent / general ability in the past. i. P. Could + perfect infinitive expresses past ability with a subjunctive reading (perfect conditional). My grandfather is over 80. As a rule. succeed in.e.2. can / could. i. so the forms we use vary in different situations. Although the problem was difficult he was able / managed to solve it very quickly. it expresses a hypothetical value: I could help him (now / tomorrow).1. If the bad weather continues. but he is still capable of driving a car. see. He said he had lost his passport and hadn’t been able to leave the country. The missing forms of can / could are supplied by the appropriate forms of be able / unable to: This is all the information I’ve been able to get so far. smell) and mental cognition (remember. there is another past element in the sentence (an adverb. another verb in the past): He could play like a professional when he was young. be capable. I don’t know how he works 14 hours a day. ii. not the actual performance. It implies that the subject had the ability or the opportunity to do something.2. usually a modal is used in an interrogative sentence: 54 . but he is still able to drive a car. Present or future time reference with a subjunctive reading (= present conditional). Other linking verbs as well as be. 6.e. potential performance of an action.
The forms might. you may not. Must denotes a personal feeling of duty.2. respectful request for permission than may. without specifying who does the compelling) 55 . He assured me that I might come whenever I liked. need.external obligation. give / have permission: We were allowed / permitted to go out for an hour. (obligation imposed by the speaker) You have to be back by 10 o’clock (have to conveys obligation generally. Refusal of permission is expressed by may not.2. Several distinctions can be made within the concept of obligation: a) internal / external obligation: . I allow. i. shall.3. they are more natural in questions. the idea of having permission (You have a right to park/you are allowed to park). = The manager gave his typist permission to leave ii. compulsion. In You can park here – can expresses both meanings: i. you must not. to (be) permit(ted) to: Nobody was allowed to enter the room. ii. could only in reported / indirect speech after a past reporting verb: I asked if I might/could invite my friends over next Saturday. OBLIGATION Obligation is expressed by must. to mind: May I smoke in here? or: Do you mind if I smoke here? / Do you mind my smoking here? / Would you mind if I smoked here? 6.e. The library allows it. can. / No.Can / could I make a suggestion? More formal requests are expressed with may / might: May / might I use your pen? I wonder if I might have a little more coffee. You may borrow that pen if you want to (in more formal situations) As might and could suggest respect. should. Must expresses: (1) Present/future time reference.e. ii. viewpoint is expressed by must. The manager allowed his typist to leave early. or by the stronger modal must not (prohibition): May I go out? No. Other means of expressing permission are: i. for it can be used not only to express permission given by the speaker. = We had permission to go out for an hour.’ ‘Might I trouble you for a light?’ ‘You may indeed. in requests for permission than in giving it: Could I ask you something if you are not too busy?’ ‘Of course. you can. could express a more polite. in You can take two books with you – can means: i. regulations.e. orders issued by someone else) is expressed by have to: You must be back by 10 o’clock. i. obligation that arises from outside (external authority. strong advice. obligation imposed by the speaker. i. cannot. . Present or future reference: Can is used in less formal situations than may to express permission (it is used in familiar colloquial speech): You can borrow that pen if you want to. or derived from the speaker’s conviction. Since his accident he hasn’t been allowed to drive a car.1. It does not normally mean ‘you are allowed to park (by another authority)’ or ‘You have a right to park’.’ May is chiefly used to express permission given by the speaker: You may park here means ‘I give you permission to park’. but also to express the idea of having permission. circumstances. They indicate some hesitation on the part of the speaker. (2) Giving permission (someone is allowed to do something): a. permission in the past is expressed by might. b) past reference.internal obligation. Also.3. ought to. Can has a wider use than may. The missing forms are supplied by to (be) allow(ed) to. Shall we be allowed / permitted to use a dictionary in the test? He wants to be allowed to open a bank account. If the speaker has no authority in the matter he will say: ’You can park here’ or ‘You are allowed to park here’. permission given by the speaker (I give you permission). 6.
he had had to decline the invitation. sg. interdiction). it has no perfect or future forms. you needn’t’ You needn’t work tomorrow if you don’t want to.limited or single obligation (one particular occasion) is expressed by have got to: I have to be at the office at 8 o’clock a. I have to work from 9 a. ii. it forms interrogative and negative sentences with the aux.3. Present / future time reference: in interrogative sentences must and need are quite similar in meaning.2. it occurs only in interrogative and negative sentences. He did not need to be told twice. need has no -s in the 3rd person sg. . of hurrying. do. it is followed by a noun or by the long infinitive of another verb. there is a full range of verb tenses and moods (it is conjugated in all tenses and moods).m. Past time reference after a past reporting verb: I assured him that he needn’t worry. b) As a modal verb. (1) Need + present infinitive expresses: i. interrogative. e. He told us we must all be ready at 9 o’clock. I don’t usually have to work on Sundays. order) b) habitual / limited obligation: . it is used in all types of sentences (affirmative.which is thought unnecessary but nevertheless performed = he hurried but it was not necessary) You needn’t have lent him your dictionary: he has one of his own. (2) Past time reference after a past reporting verb: I told her she must be more careful. (habitual obligation) I haven’t got to work tomorrow: (limited. but the use of need instead of must shows that the speaker expects a negative answer: Need I get up early tomorrow? (I hope not). need means ‘require’ and as such it is regular: it takes –s in the 3rd pers. Books must not be taken away from the library. Need can be treated as a lexical verb or as an auxiliary verb: a) as a lexical verb. 56 .2.m.e. lack of obligation expressed by don’t have to. negative): It needs to be done carefully. it forms questions and negations without do.m. The missing forms of must are supplied by have to: The crew had to leave the sinking ship. it is followed by the short infinitive of a main verb. (2) Need + perfect Infinitive expresses absence of obligation of an action which was nevertheless performed (an action which took place in the past but was unnecessary): He needn’t have hurried (an action – i. have we? Must I write the whole text?’ ‘No.I must go (it’s my decision). I have to go (obligation imposed by circumstances. (habitual). (obligation coming from a regulation. We shall have to hurry or we shall be late.habitual obligation (obligation to perform a habitual action) is expressed by have to. (have is left out in very informal style) c) in negative sentences a distinction is made between obligation not to do something (prohibition. needn’t: You mustn’t move any of my papers on my desk. Sorry. the shops are closing). expressed by must not and absence. till 5 p. He needn’t worry: Everything will be all right.g. You just got to help me. Did you have to tell her that? Have you ever had to go to hospital? As he was too busy. I might have to go to hospital. single obligation) We haven’t got to answer all the questions in the examination paper. I’ve got to go now (single obligation). In negative sentences needn’t is synonymous with don’t have to (it expresses absence of obligation): You needn’t come if you don’t want to. 6.
(3) The verbs oblige. 6. When we use should we give our subjective opinion. he would be wise to stay here. legal documents): Each competitor shall wear a number. ‘it is advisable’). b) Past time reference after a past reporting verb: He said that all eligible people should vote. or moral obligation. . (2) Should / ought to + perfect infinitive expresses a past obligation which was not carried out.2. arrangements were not carried out: We were to have received our passports last week. 5. You are to be there at 8 o’clock: when used in the 2nd person the verb often implies that the speaker is passing on a formal order. Books shall be returned within 10 days. (impersonal statement). whereas ought to has a rather more objective force and it is used especially when we are talking about a person’s duty. have to. forceful equivalents of must in the sense of obligation. or be to is used instead of shall in such sentences: Regulations say that each competitor must / has to / is to wear a number. there is however a slight difference between them. It is synonymous with didn’t have to: He didn’t need to hurry (it was unnecessary for him to hurry and probably he didn’t hurry). You should stop smoking. She was to have given the letter to the manager but she forgot.3. Should and ought to are less categorical. plan: She was to meet him on the following day. 57 . strong recommendation. (2) Be to expresses an order.3.2.4. regret or strong reproach of non-fulfilment is implied: You shouldn’t have laughed at his mistakes. (it’s bad for your health) People ought not to drive when they are tired. Although should and ought to have very similar meanings.3. In spoken English suppose + present infinitive is often used instead of was + perfect infinitive: She was supposed to give the letter to the manager. They should have telephoned to say they were not coming. No one is to leave the room until the examination ends.With the value of past arrangement. instruction issued by someone else. Was to + perfect infinitive implies an unfulfilled arrangement. compel: The crew was / were obliged to leave the sinking ship. Therefore they are preferred in those contexts in which must would sound too peremptory. The construction is chiefly used in formal style (official regulations. You ought not to have used his pen without his permission. He was compelled by illness to give up his studies. It is usually stronger than should. (1) Should / ought to + present infinitive expresses: a) present or future time reference: You’ve watched enough television: you should go to bed (direct personal statement). Other verbs which can express obligation are: (1) Shall in the 2nd and 3rd persons (it has future time reference). The obligation is usually imposed by an authority other than the speaker. In less formal English. plan or the fact that instructions. ought to: He’d better stay here = He ought to stay here.After past reporting verbs: Mother told me I was not to speak to strange men. advisability. duty rather than obligation (they mean ‘it is proper’. Young people ought not to watch too much TV. as well as in indirect speech must. He told me I ought to be ashamed of myself. Was to + present infinitive is used: . (4) Had better expresses the meaning of advisability.Didn’t need to + present infinitive expresses absence of obligation of an action which was probably not performed (an action was unnecessary and presumably did not occur). Both modals denote recommendation. instruction given in an impersonal way.
The road can be blocked (= it is possible to block the road). Don’t drive so fast: you could have an accident. could refers to both theoretical and actual possibility and can be used instead of may. Anyone can make mistakes. (5) Adjectives: obligatory. They may be moving to Bucharest next year.’ (= perhaps he is in the library) It could be true. shouldn’t.’ You may not go swimming. Might and could express a hypothetical possibility.You’d better see a doctor. 6. while can is used to denote a more general. could you ask him to ring later? Unlike can. It may rain tonight.e. the actual chances of something happening). in a different sense. actual possibility (i. (6) Nouns: necessity. doubt than may. → Can it / this be true? He may come today. Can and may (= ‘permission’) and must (= ‘obligation’) can all have the meaning of ‘prohibition’ with a negative: ‘Can the children play here?’ ‘No. can / could.E). obligation. One can travel to England by boat or by air.3. ‘Why isn’t Tom in class?’ ‘I don’t know– he might be ill’ What you say might be true. do you think? → Do you think it will rain? c) Negative sentences.e. (= you are not allowed to…) You mustn’t keep us all waiting. Accidents can happen. had better not: You oughtn’t to waste money on smoking. I’m afraid they can’t. If he does. theoretical possibility: ‘Why isn’t Tom in class?’ ‘I don’t know – he may be ill. may does not normally occur in questions: in the interrogative may is replaced by can / could. I’d had better not wake them up.’ ‘He may /might /could be in the library. need: Is there any need for haste? 6.4. If you poured hot water into the glass it might crack. necessary. as the negation of obligation (‘He is obliged not to do something’). b) Interrogative sentences: can is very common in interrogative and negative sentences where may is rather infrequent. Can in general statements of possibility has roughly the same meaning as sometimes: Lightning can be dangerous. might: ‘I wonder where Tom is. bound: Military service is necessary in many countries. Compare: I may fly to London next week. The road may be blocked (= it is possible that the road is blocked). A weakened prohibition (more like negative advice) can be indicated by oughtn’t to (Br. can. We felt bound to tell her that her son had been taking drugs. i.2.in affirmative sentences can expresses theoretical possibility) It may be true. POSSIBILITY Possibility is expressed by may / might. compulsion. = Lightning is sometimes dangerous. compulsory. → Is he likely to come? / Do you think he will come today? It may rain tonight. He shouldn’t be so impatient. a more remote possibility or a higher degree of uncertainty. is it likely: Where can he be now? Who can that be at the door? Can it be John? (but not in affirmative sentences: *It can be John . Prohibition can be thought of as the negation of permission (‘He is not allowed to do something’) or.2.6. → Is it likely to rain. May / might occurs in negative sentences only when the scope of negation 58 . (1) present or future time reference: a) affirmative sentences: may is used to denote factual. Tom might ring.
it is impossible that she should be at home) (2) Past time reference: a) Might and could are used: i. You were stupid to try climbing up there: you could have broken your leg. i. after a past reporting verb: Ann says: ‘We may get married soon.’ Could the bank have made a mistake? . the construction expresses the possibility that an action happened in the past.interrogative: She is two hours late. while might expresses the idea that a past action was possible but did not happen (non-fulfilment): I’m really worried. They may not bother to come if it rains.negative: She can’t have gone to school. Other means of expressing the concept of possibility: a) adjectives: possible. He may have had an accident (= perhaps he had an accident. reproach about a present / past action: You might ask before you borrow my books. (= He can’t have said that) b) adverbs: possibly. That can’t be true. / It’s impossible for him to have said that. It’s Saturday. i. What can have happened? Where can he have gone? ‘Can they have missed the train?’ ‘Yes. (= It is not possible. Might + present / perfect infinitive has an additional. i. may not means ‘it is possible that something does not happen’: He may not be at school. in affirmative sentences may. In the negative. Tom: I’ve been worried to death. In certain contexts may denotes the fact that the possibility of the past action still exists. I thought he might like the concert so I bought 2 tickets. the possibility exists. perhaps: Perhaps / maybe he’ll come tomorrow (= he may come) 59 . He is already an hour late. we don’t know yet) The child came home alone. = It is possible that he isn’t at school. = It is possible that they will not come. (= It is possible that she isn’t at home) She can’t be at home. it is impossible that he should be at school. Ann couldn’t have seen Tom yesterday (negative deduction about a past event). likely: It’s possible that he’ll come tomorrow (= he may come) It’s impossible that he should have said that.’ → Ann said they might get married soon. b) may / might / can / could + perfect infinitive express speculations about past actions. impossible. they may have.e.excludes the meaning of the modal (the modal verb is not negated). could are normally used (can + perfect infinitive does not occur in affirmative sentences): I wonder how Tom knew about it. might. Note the difference between may not and cannot: She may not be at home. it is impossible’: He can’t be at school = It is not possible. He can’t be older than fifty. He may / might / could have heard it from John. Honestly. cannot means ‘it is not possible. You shouldn’t have let him do that: he might have got lost (but he didn’t).e. He said it might rain. could are frequently used: . maybe. In negative sentences with can / could the scope of negation includes the modal. He could have gone off with some friends. ii. the meanings between might not and could not differ: Ann might not have seen Tom yesterday (= perhaps she didn’t see him). If there is an adverb denoting past time: In those days a man could be sentenced to death for a small crime. i. in interrogative and negative sentences can. ii. He can’t have said that. You might have telephoned me to say you’d be late. derived meaning: it expresses criticism.e.
6. a high degree of certainty. I see a man with a white cane walking down the street: he must be blind. 6.2. . In interrogative and negative sentences can is used instead: ‘He must be at least 60. (‘They probably are. It’s only 5 o’clock. Should and ought to are weaker equivalents of must in the sense of probability. I suppose.2. supposition. You’ll be wondering why I asked you to come.2.’ ‘Oh. This house must have been built over 100 years ago.5. i.2. Must + present infinitive indicates logical deduction. Should / ought to + perfect infinitive have past time reference: they express assumption about a past action: They should have finished by now. .5.5. This sort of prediction with will often occurs with conditional sentences: If litmus paper is dipped in acid. it will turn red. Will is another modal verb used to express suppositions about an action.deontic) and must (deduction . It must be Tom. Must is used to express logical deduction only in affirmative sentences.’ 5. Must for deduction can be used in the affirmative only. 6. Tom is behaving very strangely: he must have been drinking. yes. Will + present infinitive expresses a supposition. assumption about a past action: He must have left his umbrella on the bus (= I suppose he left it). would. supposition about a present state of affairs: 60 .Possibly he has not heard the news yet. about a present action: That church must be very old. likelihood. They ought to be (at) home by now.’ “It can’t be Tom. Will + perfect infinitive expresses a present supposition about a past state of affairs: They will have arrived by now = I’m sure they have arrived by now You will have heard the news = You have probably heard ‘I met them soon after the war. Is his name Brown? Then he will be English. 6. ought to. what we infer or conclude to be the most likely interpretation of a situation or event – is expressed by must. the same form must + present infinitive is used for both obligation and deduction. (‘I am certain’) Our guests should / ought to be home by now.5. that will have been in 1946. but I’m not certain’) Should / ought to + present infinitive have present time reference: they express supposition with reference to the present: Judging by his accent he should be a foreigner. must + perfect infinitive is used for deduction. supposition. assumption.2. Must + perfect infinitive indicates logical deduction.e.’ Conclusions: Diagram showing must (obligation . There’s a ring at the door: that will be John. prediction about a present state of affairs: That will be the hotel we are looking for (= That is probably the hotel). interrogative and negative sentences. deduction: they express a lesser degree of certainty than must: Our guests must be home by now. logical deduction.In the present.In the past the forms are different: had to is used for obligation.2.’‘He can’t be as old as that.4.Must for obligation can be used in the affirmative. PROBABILITY Probability. (= He may not have heard the news) c) nouns: possibility: There’s a possibility that he’ll come tomorrow / of his coming tomorrow.3. Must is used to indicate strong likelihood. Would is weaker than will in expressing suppositions: Would + present infinitive expresses a tentative assumption.5.1. All the lights in Tom’s flat are turned off: he must be sleeping. will.epistemic) must / \ Obligation Deduction Present must (be) must (be) Past: had to (be) must (have been) .’ ‘There’s the doorbell. The children must be playing in the garden.
questions expressing polite invitation or request (would is more tactful than will): 61 . It’s going to rain (it will probably rain) Negation: improbability can be expressed by shouldn’t. Will has present time reference: Will you come in. the speaker makes his own volition and determination felt: ‘Can somebody help me?’ ‘I will. willingness in the following contexts: a) With a 2nd person subject would expresses more polite. I will go to the dance and no one shall stop me. sure.’ Other means of expressing probability are: a) adjectives: likely. VOLITION. (determination) b) With a 2nd person subject.6. willingness is expressed by will. WILLINGNESS Volition. certain. If you are so kind as to help me…) If you will wait a moment I’ll bring the book you need. Will expressing strong volition. questions expressing invitation or request. Would expresses volition.1.’ ‘No. conditional clauses (Type 2) expressing offers and requests: If you would lend me the book I would be grateful to you.6. you wouldn’t. It has present time reference and it is always stressed: You 'will have your way. It has present time reference: I won’t do it (= I refuse to do it). He will go out without an overcoat although the weather is cold (He obstinately insists on going out…) d) in negative sentences will not (usually contracted to won’t) expresses absence of willingness.e. 6. would. more persuasive). positive b) adverbs: probably c) nouns: probability. (= if you are willing to help me….2. 6. oughtn’t to. It is unlikely that you would understand it perhaps because it is too difficult or perhaps because you’re too stupid. likelihood d) verbal expressions: expect. Will has present time reference: it is used to express a polite request or invitation: If you will help me we can finish in time. I daresay (= You must be tired).’) Would + perfect infinitive expresses supposition with reference to past time: I met a charming girl at your party last night’ ‘Ah. please? Will you help me? Won’t you come in and sit down? (the negative form won’t expects a positive answer and is. by any chance? ‘I don’t understand the article in the newspaper.Would your name be Brown. probable. chance. determination is stressed and cannot be contracted to ’ll. ii. We would be delighted if you would accept our invitation. c) with a 2nd and 3rd person subject will expresses obstinate determination.’ I will lend you the book if you need it. will expresses volition in: i. insistence (strong volition). He won’t take any notice (= He refuses to take…) They won’t accept our offer. shall. 6. ii. i. It has present time reference and occurs in: i. refusal.6.2. to that extent. conditional clauses (Type I). There shouldn’t be any difficulties. He is probably the best chess-player in the country.2. daresay. Take an umbrella. You’re tired. or it is improbable / unlikely that: It is unlikely that there will be any difficulties. be going to: It’s quite probable / likely that they didn’t receive the letter.2. that would have been my cousin Mary. It can be used with all persons: a) With a 1st person subject.’ (‘I didn’t expect you would. suppose. more tentative willingness than will.
Children will be children. 6.2.7. We all tried to stop him but he wouldn’t listen to us. determination on the part of the speaker: She shall get her money. The speech act of request can be realized by can/could. which denotes a customary. With this value used to is synonymous with would: 62 . mind: Would you kindly hold this. When nobody’s looking she’ll go into the kitchen and steal cookies.e. will/would. When pressed for an answer he would say it was none of his business. Will + present infinitive has present time reference. repeated action in the past which has now ended. Unlike would. used to implies strong contrast with the present (it contrasts a past state of affairs with the present). Would + present infinitive has past time reference: it expresses habitual. 6. As the construction with will is normal for the 3rd person. It expresses a customary.6.3. i. He shall finish his work no matter what he says. It has past time reference: He was angry because I wouldn’t give him the book (= I refused) When I asked them to help they wouldn’t lift a finger. When he had a problem to solve he would work at it until he found an answer. A lion will attack a man only when hungry. would.3. be good enough to.2. Primitive men would grind cereal grain with the help of two stones. kindly. when I was a child. It has past time reference: She would come though we warned her it would be rough. 6.e. Oil will float on water. HABIT The concept of habit. refusal.Would you come to dinner tomorrow? Sometimes the request does not sound polite enough and must be supplemented with other polite expressions like please. be so kind as to. used to. In these sentences we could use the simple past tense or used to instead of would with little change except for a loss of emphasis: When he had a problem to solve he worked (or: used to work) at it until he found an answer. Shall used in the 2nd and 3rd persons expresses volition.1. Past tense simple is often used for repetition stated merely as a fact: He often wrote to his parents. repeated action or state (i. habitual actions or characteristic. It expresses present repeated. we would get up early and go fishing. please? Would you be good enough to post this letter for me? Would you be so kind as to help me with these parcels? Would you mind typing this letter? b) With a 2nd and 3rd person subject would indicates obstinate determination.7.7.2. 6. what is characteristic under certain circumstances) is expressed by will. would you like. The construction is used when we wish to emphasize the characteristics of the performer rather than the action performed. the present tense simple is used when reference is made to the other persons: I often sit for hours… The present simple is also used when repetition is stated merely as a fact: He often writes to his parents. With this value will is used especially in the 3rd person: He’s so strange: he’ll sit for hours without saying anything.2. Used to + present infinitive has only past time reference.2. Used to expresses: a) an action that was repeated regularly in the past (past routine).2. predictable behaviour. (= She insisted on coming…) c) In negative sentences would not expresses absence of willingness. Accidents will happen. repeated actions in the past or predictable behaviour in the past: On Sundays. or repetition. would you mind in interrogatives: Will you get me a glass of water? Would you take this letter to the post for me? 6.7.
The modal verb used to should not be confused with be used to in which used is an adjective (= accustomed to) after a link verb: be / get / become. He used to walk to his office every morning but now he goes by car. A mixture of the two constructions (lexical and modal) is sometimes found in the case of dare: it is formed with the auxiliary do but followed by the short infinitive: Don’t you dare tell lies. This adjectival construction can be used in the present.The adjectival construction be / get used to should not be confused with the passive form of the lexical verb to use. I could never get used to living in the country. it forms questions and negations without do. He didn’t dare to leave the house in case they phoned. it is used only in interrogative and negative sentences: How dare you say such a thing? Dare he come without an invitation? I feel afraid up here. 6. As a lexical transitive verb dare occurs with the meaning of ‘challenge’: He dared me to compete with him. since it behaves like a lexical verb or like a modal verb: a) As a lexical verb. Tom used to play football regularly (but now he doesn’t) b) a state that existed in the past (to contrast a past and present state). This pattern is common in spoken.2.the pattern of a modal verb which forms the interrogative and negative without do (did): Used you to play tennis at school? I used not to like opera but now I’m getting interested (or contracted form: usedn’t [ju:snt]) . past or future and can be followed by a noun or a gerund: He is not used to hard work. It forms questions and negations with the auxiliary verb do / did. No one in the house would have dared to question my father’s statements. he did. dare is used without –s in the 3rd person singular. it is used in all types of sentences (affirmative. dare + perfect infinitive: He dare not have come if you hadn’t asked him. (= was accustomed to…) The spade was used to dig a hole in the ground. Past time reference is expressed by: i.’ You used to live here. b) As a modal auxiliary. 63 . colloquial English: Did you use to play tennis at school? I didn’t use to like opera but now I’m getting interested. dare takes an –s in the 3rd person singular. to be used: He was used to digging so he did not find it hard work. it is conjugated in all tenses and moods. I dare not even look out. ‘Did he use to live in Cardiff?’ ‘Yes. . I used to think that all Belgians spoke French but I know better now. I dared Tom to jump the fence but he didn’t dare.the pattern of a lexical verb which forms the interrogative and negative with the auxiliary do (did). interrogative. it is followed by the long infinitive of another verb. i. Dare is a semi-modal verb.e. negative): He dared to criticize the Prime Minister. it is followed by the short infinitive of another verb. didn’t you? Notes: . ii.8. In interrogative and negative sentences used to displays both patterns (of a modal verb and a lexical one): .When I was a child my mother used to read me a story every night before bedtime. Would may not be used as an alternative: There used to be a house here. I didn’t dare say anything to them. He is not used to working hard. /…mother would read me a story… When we were children we used to go skating every winter. dared + present infinitive: He dared not tell his father what he had done.
MODAL VERBS Ability Permission Obligation Possibility MODAL Deduction Volition CAN COULD MAY MIGHT MUST SHALL SHOULD OUGHT WILL WOULD X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X 64 .Nobody would dare predict.
mood. make): They saw him leave. would sooner. They determined to die rather than surrender. . b) The split infinitive refers to the use of an adverb or other item between the particle to and the infinitive form of the verb: I want you to seriously consider his resignation. for example.THE NON-FINITE FORMS OF THE VERB (VERBALS) The non-finite forms of the verb do not express the grammatical categories of person. syntactically. the –ing forms (gerund and present participle). An –ing form: Coming round the corner. i. that it made me cry.Auxiliary and modal verbs (do. object in a sentence). without reference to person. will. The book was so sad.): I don’t know him. rather/ sooner than): We’d better wait for him. the particle to is placed before the first infinitive only: I want to write and post the letter today. The infinitive occurs in two forms: i. Non-finite clauses contain a verb which does not indicate tense. they cannot be used as predicates in a sentence. Do you want to have lunch now or wait till later? But the particle to is repeated if emphasis or contrast is intended: To be or not to be – that is the question. e. object. 65 . or. would rather. an infinitive: How can faculty improve their teaching so as to encourage creativity? An -ed participle: You should read the parts highlighted in yellow. . . adverbial modifier.they have the categories of aspect (continuous and perfective) and voice. ii. When these verbs are in the passive. b) nominal characteristics: the infinitive and gerund have traits in common with the noun. The short / bare infinitive (the verbal form without the particle to) is generally used after verbs either totally or partly devoid of lexical meaning: . number. tense.e. they are followed by the to-infinitive: He was seen to leave. may. the past participle (-ed participle).1. hear. they may have syntactic functions typical of the noun (they can function as subject. they can have their own subject. just as the finite forms. 7. having the same function. the participle can have adjectival traits. tense or mood. shall. object. THE INFINITIVE 7.syntactically. some verbs of permission (let. number. names the action or the state expressed by it.In two infinitive structures joined by the conjunctions and. The to-infinitive usually has nominal and adverbial functions in the sentence (it can have the function of a subject. adverbial modifier): To know him is to love him. can. etc. The non-finite forms combine the characteristics of a verb with those of other parts of speech: a) verb characteristics: . the base form of the verb. I want to study. have).g. see). we spotted the old house. The non-finite forms of the English verb are the infinitive. but.Modal phrases (had better. some causative verbs (have.After some classes of verbs in the accusative + infinitive construction: verbs of physical perception (feel. The forms of the infinitive: a) The infinitive. . I’d sooner stay at home. The long infinitive / the to-infinitive (the verbal form preceded by the particle to) is generally used after verbs of full lexical meaning.
tell. The perfect infinitive is used after: . I wanted to. c) The implicit infinitive: the particle to is used alone. can. (But he didn’t) . must etc). would like: He seems to have been a great writer. but there wasn’t time. the split infinitive is absolutely necessary in order to avoid ambiguity or for the sake of clarity. expect. = I am sorry that I was of so little assistance. happy. want. I was glad I will be glad Perfect infinitive: indicates that the action expressed by the infinitive is anterior to the action expressed by the finite verb. the construction is quite common in informal style: e. Nevertheless. represented by the following forms: 7. . ‘Did you visit the British Museum when you were in London?’ ‘No. the perfect infinitive: Present infinitive: indicates that the action expressed by the infinitive is simultaneous with that of the finite verb: I am glad to meet you. b) The simple infinitive vs. to clearly understand. pretend. He bought the book although I had told him not to. The grammatical categories of the infinitive The infinitive has the grammatical categories of aspect and voice. could.2. pleased. to flatly refuse. I’d love to (= I’d love to come with you). The category of aspect is represented by: a) The present infinitive vs. pretend.after the verbs seem. appear. happen. might. (Really intensifies the meaning of the infinitive make) While in: *Your job is to make really the plan a success (the sentence is incorrect because of wrong word order) in: Your job is really to make the plan a success. I should have liked to see it. etc.Some people have objections to this usage on stylistic grounds. (the sentence would mean: The real purpose of your job is. The modal verbs + perfect infinitive express an unfulfilled action: He should have helped her. shall. to fully realize.’ The particle to is not expressed when like.2.1. (= He pretended that he was reading) The perfect progressive infinitive: It is used chiefly after auxiliary (modal) verbs and after seem. hope: He seems to be following us. mean. the progressive infinitive: The present progressive infinitive indicates an action in progress going on at the same time as the action of the main / finite verb. (Perhaps he is waiting) . wish as well as after some modal verbs such as ought to. sorry: I am sorry to have been of so little assistance. Consider the following sentence: Your job is to really make the plan a success. (= It seems that he is following us) He pretended to be reading. 7.adjectives: glad.) He was too miserable to really care about anything at all. without the verb if the latter is clearly understood from the preceding context. He decided to flatly refuse the invitation.seem. may. happen. appear. used to: ‘Would you like to come with us?’ ‘Yes. The implicit infinitive is used in colloquial English to avoid the unnecessary repetition of the verb. hope.some auxiliary and modal verbs: He may be waiting at the station. This is chiefly done after such verbs as hope.g. The present progressive infinitive is used after: .auxiliary and modal verbs (will. With to like both patterns are possible to express an unfulfilled wish: I should like to have seen it. want are used in subordinate clauses: Come when you want. In Standard English. happen. (= It seems that he was a great writer). pretend: 66 . appear.
The forms of the present / perfect passive infinitive are used when the action denoted by the infinitive is undergone by the subject of the finite verb. 67 . but in contemporary English it is usually moved to the end of the sentence and the sentence begins with the pronoun it (called preparatory or introductory-anticipatory it). b) Perfect passive infinitive: The poem seems to have been written in the 18th c. To have made the same mistake again was unforgivable.2. The for to-infinitive construction: the construction contains an infinitive which is in predicate relation to a noun / pronoun preceded by the preposition for: It is necessary for him to go there. The subject of the infinitive: The subject of the infinitive may be deleted (i. It takes skill to play tennis.4. Some transitive verbs: require.e. The passive infinitive may vary with the active infinitive after certain constructions with be: i. It remains to choose the method. remain: To obey the laws is everyone’s duty. Some intransitive verbs: be. The syntactic functions of the infinitive 7. He is thrilled to have been chosen for the tennis team 7. There is / was + NP + long infinitive: There was no time to lose / to be lost. Be + long infinitive: The house is to let (= to be let).3.4. brave etc. (1) The subject of the infinitive is deleted when: a) the subject is co-referential with some NP in the sentence: I tried (I) to read. take (‘need’. omitted. not expressed) or may be expressed. a) Indefinite / present passive infinitive: He hopes to be elected chairman. after adjectives like nice. iii. 7. The infinitive can be placed first in the sentence (as in the examples above). The category of voice The infinitive (present and perfect infinitive) has distinct forms for both active and passive voice. ‘require’): To play tennis takes skill. The accusative + infinitive construction: I want him to study English. The of to-infinitive construction. It was unusual for him to write such a long letter. Be + adjective + long infinitive: The food is not fit to eat (= fit to be eaten). ii. There was a lot of work to do / to be done. ii. foolish. Nobody was to blame for the accident (= to be blamed). kind.: It was kind of him to invite her.He seems to have been waiting for you (= It seems that he has been waiting for us) 7. The transformation is called extraposition of the infinitive.2. It is everyone’s duty to obey the laws. The infinitive (complement) as subject The infinitive is used as the subject of: i.1. ii. The question is too difficult to answer (=to be answered) iii. b) the subject is indefinite or generic: To see is to believe (the underlying subject is the indefinite pronoun one) (2) The subject of the infinitive is expressed / retained in two forms: a) As a NP in the nominative (the nominative + infinitive construction): The Romanian sportsmen / They are said to have won the competition b) As a NP in the accusative: i. He didn’t expect to be invited to the party.
being equivalent to a subject clause. fail to.S Eliot is one of the greatest English contemporary poets. S. one clause. know. The manuscript is believed to have been written in the16th c. declare.Complex constructions (complex subject): The infinitive as subject of the sentence may have its own subject expressed by a NP in the nominative or accusative. The children were allowed to stay up late. Eliot is considered to be one of the greatest English contemporary poets. rumour. say. . Do you happen to know Suzie’s phone number? I just happened to be passing so I dropped in. The catenative verbs express modal meanings. suppose. These verbs have meanings similar to some of the modal verbs or meanings similar to those indicated by aspect choices. She was made to do the exercise again.infinitive has the syntactic function of complex subject. hear. transitive verbs in the passive voice (i. Eliot – and an Infinitive . (= It so happened that I was passing…) Verbs such as appear to.’ she said. The old man was reported to have disappeared. the nominative and the infinitive make up one semantic unit. chance. Thus: He is said to have been a great leader. see: They were heard to have a heated argument. expect. . followed by a lexical verb make up catenative verb phrases. imagine. notice.e. . understand: T. which can be paraphrased using an indicative that-clause: Tom appears to speak fluent English. However. report. be and have. The most common verbs that trigger this pattern (that can have a complex subject expressed by a NP nom. (could also be expressed with a modal adverb such as: You are probably a man of many parts. and in no way depends on the main clause verb. observe. a) a NP in the nominative (the nominative with infinitive): The construction expressed by a NP in the nominative + to. happen. Intransitive verbs (in the active voice): appear. allege: He is said to be a miser (=It is said that he is…) These lands are said to have been discovered as early as the 12th century. He seems to have left. The nominative is semantically related only to the infinitive verb. In this sentence the relation between the NP in the Nominative and the Infinitive is that of logical subject and logical predicate). or aspectual meanings. It is said that he was a great leader. – It appears that Tom speaks fluent English. most verbs which in the active voice are followed by an accusative + infinitive): .to be = It is considered that T. order: He was ordered to come at once. = It is believed that the manuscript was written in the16th c.verbs of physical perception: feel.verbs of mental activity: believe.verbs of command. they behave like lexical verbs in that they construct their complex forms with auxiliary do. It has been noted that this is a class of verbs which do not accept the accusative + infinitive construction. consider. make. *They say him to have been a great leader. think. but nevertheless accept a nominative + infinitive structure as well as a that-clause construction. unlike modal and auxiliary verbs. get to. indicating whether something is probable or certain. happen to. come to. (The subject of the predicate is considered is a complex construction expressed by a NP in the Nominative .T. S. seem. permission as well as causative verbs: allow. seem to. Birds are sometimes seen to fly in flocks. prove. (= It seems he has left). ii.declarative verbs: announce. indicating whether something is achieved or completed: ‘You appear to be a man of many parts. turn out: Tom appears to speak fluent English. tend to.) 68 . In the case of nominative + infinitive construction. + infinitive) are: i.
John is not an easy person to get on with. sensible. interesting. pleasant. c) A special construction is represented by the infinitive as subject of a predicate expressed by be + adjective (difficult. Such sentences may undergo a transformation according to which the object of the infinitive becomes the new subject of the sentence: . For + NP acc.The quasi-modal meanings of catenative verbs may be illustrated by the fact that they can be removed without any major change to the meaning: Do you happen to know Tom’s phone number? (or: Do you know Tom’s phone number?) iii. important. Relativity theory is not easy to understand. It is not easy to get on with John. Her goal is to get good marks. + to-infinitive (the subject of the infinitive is expressed by a NP in the accusative preceded by the preposition for): For me to believe such a thing is difficult / It is difficult for me to believe such a thing. hard. With the introductory pronoun it and extraposition of the infinitive: It is difficult to learn the poem. clever. The infinitive as attribute (noun modifier): Many nouns have their meaning completed by means of an infinitive. silly.The indirect/prepositional object becomes the subject (the infinitive retains the preposition): She is a nice person to talk to. kind.4. Of + NP acc + to-infinitive (the subject of the infinitive is expressed by a NP in the accusative preceded by the preposition of). necessary) It is advisable for him to learn foreign languages. foolish. easy.2. tough.3. impossible. The infinitive as predicative (complement): The infinitive is the nominal part of a predicate expressed by the link verb be: His wish is to become a pilot. difficult. prepositional object). unlikely): He is certain to carry out his intentions (= It is certain he will carry out his intentions) We are unlikely to get there in time. It is important for a witness to speak the truth. likely. This construction alternates with a that-clause with should: The best thing is that he should agree. These adjectives can be used in two related patterns: i.The direct object becomes the subject: The poem is difficult to learn. It is very nice to talk to her. indirect. easy. The subject of the infinitive can be expressed through the construction for to-infinitive: The best thing is for him to agree. stupid.4. 7. Nominal predicates expressed by the link verb be + adjective (certain. wise): It was nice of him to help her. preceded by prepositions: i. nice. What these sentences have in common is the fact that the infinitive as subject is followed by an object (direct. ii. The tendency is for instruction to be more specialized. nice. The complex subject for + NP acc + to-infinitive occurs when the predicate of the sentence is expressed by a link verb (be) + adjective (advisable. essential. The infinitive can function as an attribute after the following classes of nouns (NP antecedents): 69 . This complex subject occurs when the predicate is expressed by a link verb (be) + adjective (which denotes human qualities: brave. 7. etc). It was foolish of her to drive without a licence. sure. It is not easy to understand relativity theory. ii. (= It is unlikely that we will get there in time) b) a NP in the accusative. (In either case – with or without extraposition – the subject of the predicate is difficult is a complex construction expressed by the infinitive to believe + its own subject me preceded by the preposition for: for me to believe). .
where. tell are followed by a wh-clause (introduced by an interrogative pronoun or adverb when. He is the second man to be killed in this way.infinitive: She knows how to captivate her audience. decide. We have more important things to worry about. pretend. know. fail. c) Transitive verbs followed by an infinitive or a wh-clause Verbs such as explain.). 7. promise. (= which I must answer) There were so many problems to settle..4. I arranged to meet John. There are plenty of toys for the children to play with.) I promised to wait. A serious attempt is made to remedy the situation. show.a) The infinitive as an appositive complement. etc. The ticking of the clock was the only sound to be heard. swear: He claimed to be the owner of the land. manage. difficulty. many) or expressed by indefinite pronouns. wish. teach are followed by how to. (= He claimed that he was the owner. The subject of the infinitive can be expressed through the construction for to-infinitive: The first thing for him to do is to ring them up. (= that had to be settled) The infinitive retains the preposition which would have occurred in the relative clause: One of the problems in some areas is that children have no parks to play in (= no parks in which they can play) I need a pen to write with. The verbs know. order. This is the coldest winter to have occurred within living memory. There was a chance for her to turn over a new leaf. the second. intention. should): I have a lot of letters to answer.4. The Infinitive as object Infinitives often function as direct objects after some transitive verbs: a) Transitive verbs followed by an infinitive only: afford. some. He taught me how to catch butterflies. b) The infinitive is a reduction of a relative clause after the following classes of NP antecedents: i. The infinitive is a reduction of a relative clause which. decision. I arranged that John should meet the delegation. if expressed. NPs determined by indefinite determiners (a. an ordinal numeral (the first. prepare. forget. what. why. 70 . ii. They have decided that the experiment should be repeated. attempt. etc: He announced his decision to resign. learn. ii. who. threaten: I can’t afford to buy the car. b) Transitive verbs followed by an infinitive or a that-clause: i. (= I promised that I would wait) He swore to have his revenge. how). He managed to finish his work early. His ambition to be an actor was never fulfilled. Tom told me where I could find it. verbs of communication: claim. the only: Amundsen was the first man to reach the South Pole (…the first man who reached). after some abstract nouns (derived from verbs or adjectives): ambition. But in: I don’t know what you should do – the wh-clause can’t be reduced to an infinitive because the subject of the clause is not co-referential with any NP in the main clause. I need a sheet of paper to write on. Such a clause is reduced to an infinitive provided the subject of the wh-clause is co-referential with some NP in the main clause: I don’t know what I should do. must.. The best place to go to is the Danube Delta. the last. reason. → I don’t know what to do. (The infinitive may be separated from its noun by a verb). desire. NPs determined by a superlative. verbs such as agree. would contain a modal verb (can. hope are followed by an infinitive if the subjects are co-referential or by a that-clause if there are different subjects: They have decided to repeat the experiment. arrange. → Tom told me where to find it.
make (the long infinitive is used except after have and make): What makes you think so? I’ll have him answer for his carelessness. pleased.Verbs expressing mental activity: assume. The captain ordered his soldiers to advance. have. and the infinitive is similar to that of subject and predicate. determine. Be + adjective (anxious. provide. suppose. let. happy.d) Certain adjectives: afraid. want. force. a that-clause or a prepositional object: I am glad to hear the news. Would you like me to wait till he comes? I don’t want there to be any mistakes. ii. consider.The infinitive has its own subject expressed by a NP in the accusative preceded by for + toinfinitive construction. permit) They don’t allow people to smoke in the library. see. (colloquial) . . The construction has the syntactic function of complex object and it occurs after the following classes of transitive verbs: . believe. have. Note: When the verbs see. sorry): They were anxious for him to begin the experiment. understand (the verbs are followed by the long infinitive): They didn’t expect his poems to be such a success. f) Complex constructions (the accusative + infinitive construction: the complex object) Some transitive verbs are followed by a NP in the accusative + infinitive. I would be sorry for you to think that. permit. The same meaning can be expressed by a that-clause: They were anxious that he should begin the experiment. feel indicate mental not physical perceptions they cannot be followed by an accusative + infinitive but take an object clause: I see (that) you don’t understand me. glad. order: allow. I heard the bomb explode. while a that-clause is preferred in spoken English: They consider him to be the best candidate (formal) They consider that he is the best candidate. I am glad that you have succeeded. watch (the verbs are followed by the short infinitive): I saw him get off the bus (= I saw that he got off She felt her hands tremble. feelings (verbs of liking and disliking): like. love. order (the long infinitive is used except after have and let): Some people let their children stay up late. In this case the relation between the NP acc. prefer. . Let there be an end of this misunderstanding. think.Verbs expressing wishes. He tried to get me to sign an agreement but I refused. They believed his intentions to have been misrepresented by his enemies. observe. imagine.Verbs expressing physical perception: feel. pleased. With most of these verbs the accusative + infinitive construction is found in the formal style. I am glad of your success. hear. . I had my friend drive me to the station. I won’t have you speak like this (have = allow. get. sorry.Causative verbs: cause. know. . expect. wait): 71 . notice. is the grammatical object of the finite verb and at the same time the logical subject of the infinitive. wish (the verbs are followed by the long infinitive): I don’t want him to go there. Verbs + the obligatory preposition for (arrange. I expect there to be no argument about this. It occurs after: i. delighted. surprised can be followed by an infinitive. The NP acc.Verbs expressing permission. I felt that he disliked it. long.
Adverbial modifier of purpose The to-infinitive qualifies a verb expressing the function of adverbial modifier of purpose: He ran to get to school in time. The policeman blew his whistle for the cars to stop. = The light was so weak that one / we couldn’t read by it. He spoke slowly enough to be understood. We can comment on a sentence as Ann passed the test yesterday in two ways: Ann was too clever to fail the test. the infinitive is frequently used in adverbial clauses that express potential rather than real action. in this case. Too + adj. = The coffee is so hot that it can’t be drunk. It is thus used in adverbial clauses of purpose.4.5. Adverbial modifier of result There are several patterns in which the infinitive has this function: a) The subject of the finite verb is also the subject of the infinitive (the infinitive has an active meaning): i. His demeanour was so cold as to be almost inhuman. in questions expressing a polite request: Would you be kind enough to open the window? Or: Would you be so kind as to open the window? b) The subject of the finite verb is the object of the infinitive (the infinitive has a passive meaning): The coffee is too hot to drink. Ann was clever enough to pass the test. The news is too good to be true. She longed for him to say something. ii.) The light was too weak to read by. The last two patterns (ii.5. We cannot wait for the weather to change.1. for instance. =The box was so light that I was able to carry it. Adj. He came in quietly so as not to wake the child. c) The subject of the finite verb is (at the same time) the prepositional object of the infinitive: The grass was too wet to sit on. conditionals. so as not to are preferred to the long infinitive alone: You’d better repeat the words every day in order not to forget them. unreal comparative clauses.They arranged for him to come. In negative sentences in order not to. I left early so as to catch the train. + as + infinitive: The rain was so heavy as to make our picnic impossible. + infinitive (the adverb too implies a negative result): He is too young to understand (= He is so young that he can’t understand) Grannie is too old to travel. / The coffee is so hot that one/we can’t drink it. 72 . In writing and formal style the idea of purpose may be emphasized by in order to or so as placed before the long infinitive: He ran in order to get to school in time.4. d) The complex construction for + to-infinitive is used when the infinitive has a subject of its own: The box was light enough for me to carry. So + adj. The infinitive as adverbial modifier As will be seen. The infinitive may qualify a whole sentence and.4. / adv. the treatment must be repeated daily. 7. and iii. 7. it usually has initial (front) position: To obtain good results./ adv. She closed the window for the children not to catch a cold. clauses of exception. adverbial clauses of result. He bought a book to read on the train.5./ adv.) are also quite common as a request form i. The complex construction for+ to-infinitive is used when the action expressed by the infinitive has its own subject different from that of the finite verb: He bought a book for me to read on the train.e. (= The grass was so wet that we / one couldn’t sit on it. He was not so stupid as to give you the money. iii.2. as well as in a few other cases.+ enough+ infinitive (enough implies a positive result): I am strong enough to lift that box. 7.
Adverbial modifier of comparison i. the infinitive emphasizes unpleasant consequences. If preceded by only.6. see.The teacher spoke slowly enough for everyone to understand. learn. These constructions modify the whole sentence: to be honest. 7. = When he awoke he found the whole house on fire. to begin with. e) The infinitive can express unexpected consequences. He spoke too quickly for them to understand.4. I don’t like her.4. where is the money to come from? 73 . = coordination: The pilot survived the crash but died in the desert. There are too many difficulties: to begin with. a disappointing sequel: The pilot survived the crash only to die in the desert.5. as: He liked nothing better than to be the first with bad news. to be (quite) frank. to tell the truth. Adverbial modifier of exception He did nothing but laugh. to put it mildly: To tell the truth. unreal comparison.5. mainly with such verbs as find. The finite verb and the infinitive are in relation of coordination or subordination (temporal clause): He awoke with a start to find the whole house on fire. The book was too difficult for me to read. 7. 7. to be sure.5. you’d think he knows all about the subject. after as though: She opened her lips as though to speak. Adverbial modifier of condition: To hear him talk. To be honest. I hate the man.3. He returned home to learn that his daughter had just become engaged. to make a long story short. hear. The infinitive in parenthetic constructions.4.4. 7.4. after than.5. ii. to be honest.
Smoking is hazardous to health.1. 8. The gerund has the grammatical categories of aspect (perfective) and voice. adverbial phrase. Active: He enjoys reading novels. a sleeping pill. I object to being treated like a child. an oil painting.e. The perfect gerund (active or passive) denotes an action anterior to that of the finite verb: He admitted having read very little about the subject. iii. a. i. The indefinite gerund (whether active or passive) denotes an action simultaneous with the finite verb (which may be in the present. 8. e. Nominal characteristics: A gerund has most of the syntactic properties of a noun: i. THE GERUND In some grammar books (see Carter & McCarthy. i. a child who sleeps (participle). The –ing nouns often have plural forms: feeling (s).g. a sleeping child. nouns in the synthetic genitive: Her / Ann’s coming in interrupted our discussion ii.e. Perfect gerund: having been helped. e. it has the following forms: Active: Indefinite gerund: helping. the gerund has nominal functions. ii. they have different functions according to the contexts in which they occur. The –ing adjectives are often determined by adverbs of degree such as very.THE –ING FORMS The –ing forms are derived from a base form of a verb by means of the suffix –ing. The grammatical categories of the gerund. so. 2006: 905). too: very / quite surprising. Although identical in form. i. Perfect gerund: having helped Passive: Indefinite gerund: being helped. they can be determined by the definite/indefinite articles (the/a). It may be accompanied. No eating or drinking in the library). A gerund may be determined by an adverb. quite. Thus.e. a pill for sleeping (gerund). It is used after prepositions: There are two ways of solving the problem.g. future). while the participle serves as a verb or an adjective. and in the case of transitive verbs it may take an object: I’d suggest leaving earlier (adverb) Reading books is a useful pastime (object) ii. remember.2. b. Thus. (= that he had read very little …) He denied having taken the book. forgive. It may have a subject of its own: He insists on your seeing him. modified by some noun determiners: possessive or demonstrative adjectives. the term ‘gerund’ refers only to the verb form ending in –ing which functions as a noun (also termed verbal noun or –ing noun. Verbal characteristics: i. thank – anteriority may be expressed by means of the indefinite gerund: 74 . building(s). 8. so charming. Passive: He insisted on being admitted. The characteristic feature of the gerund is its double function: nominal and verbal. Note: The –ing forms of the verb should not be confused with the –ing nouns and –ing adjectives. There are two homonymous –ing forms: the gerund and the present participle. It has the grammatical categories of aspect and voice. Thus: i. iii. The gerund can perform the syntactic functions of subject or object in the sentence. After some verbs – excuse. The safe showed no signs of having been touched. past. by an adjective or a noun: the / her beautiful singing.
b) It is indefinite. compound constructions. Reading poetry improves the mind. The gerund as subject: a) The gerund has an unspecified. b) The subject of the gerund is expressed by means of a NP in the possessive case: His/John’s arriving so late must have worried you. The verbs can be followed by an active -ing form structure although the grammatical subject is the affected participant of the process denoted by the verb. require. The subject of the gerund may be deleted (i. c) Comparison between the gerund and the infinitive: i. indefinite subject one: Smoking is not allowed in the lecture hall. the formal subject there etc: He couldn’t bear the idea of the house being sold. The possessive form is used particularly when the gerund is the subject of the sentence: Tom’s / His coming home so late must have worried you b) a NP in the objective case: a personal pronoun in the accusative or a noun without ‘s. It needs restoring (= it should be restored) Your jacket wants cleaning (= it should be cleaned) My shoes need / want mending. Your trying to convince him was obvious. 8. From the syntactic point of view the NP in the possessive case + gerund construction has the function of a complex subject.e.in colloquial. 8. Finding a job is difficult. (2) The subject of the gerund is retained (i. (1) The subject of the gerund is deleted: a) When it is co-referential with some NP in the sentence: He insists on seeing you. 8. The construction is used only with animate nouns. The distribution of the gerund (The syntactic functions of the gerund): The gerund may occur in all the functions of the ordinary noun. want (= require).I can’t remember doing / having done this exercise before. His opinions won’t bear repeating in public. The subject of the gerund takes the form of: a) a NP in the possessive case: a possessive determiner or a noun in the synthetic genitive. demonstrative pronouns. informal English. I thanked him for helping / having helped me. I am glad of having met you. I don’t remember any of them saying that. That book isn’t worth reading. deserve. if the gerund functions as the grammatical object of the sentence: Do you mind my / me making a suggestion? (formal / informal English). Gerunds as subject often acquire a factive interpretation: they can be paraphrased by the construction: the fact that…= The fact that he / Tom refused to help his friend amazed us.4. With some verbs – won’t / doesn’t bear.e.4. Since both the gerund and the infinitive can act as subject in a large number of cases either form is used: Reading French is easier than speaking it. This form occurs: .3.1. Beating a child will do more harm than good. omitted) or may be retained.with certain types of NPs which can’t take the ‘s: inanimate nouns. thus creating a meaning similar to a passive voice structure: The picture’s dark. I remember a friend of mine going on such a trip. very dark. It is easier to read French than to speak it. 75 . be worth – the active gerund is used with a passive meaning. His/Tom’s refusing to help his friend amazed us. . need. generic (the underlying subject is the indefinite pronoun one): Playing with fire is dangerous. it is expressed) if it is different from that of the finite verb. It all depends on John’s / John coming in time.
He narrowly escaped being run over. the infinitive refers to something restricted to a particular moment. swimming pool.It is difficult to find a job. (=They suggested that he (should) apply for the job) c) Verbs followed by either the gerund or the infinitive. b) Some transitive verbs such as admit. walking stick. enjoy. (particular) ii. Forgive my interrupting you. forgive) are followed by a complex object (NP in the possessive + gerund)) or by an objective case + prep.4. use. Fancy meeting you here. Some transitive verbs (excuse. imagine. sleeping car. blotting paper. It is difficult to formulate hard and fast rules of choice between the two forms. Her favourite pastime is reading magazines. deny. It’s no use asking her: she doesn’t know anything It’s no good worrying. No one enjoys being disturbed in the middle of the night. The gerund as premodifier: dining room. Nevertheless. escape. Extraposition of the gerund: Most infinitives having the function of a subject are usually extraposed. The gerund as predicative (complement): The gerund is used as the nominal part of a predicate (the link verb be): Our aim is mastering English. can’t help (=have no control over). (general) To lie about it would only make matters worse. 8.4. situation: Lying is a vice. useless. they can be divided into the following classes: a) Transitive verbs followed by the gerund only: avoid. The gerund is introduced by the introductory anticipatory it: It was nice seeing you. It’s not worth mentioning. 8. can’t bear / stand: You must avoid being late in the future. I can’t stand being interrupted in my work. suggest are followed by a gerund or a that-clause: He admitted having read very little about the subject. Seeing is believing. I can’t help laughing at his jokes. excuse.2. These verbs constitute an interesting class since this syntactic difference sometimes correlates with a difference in the meaning of the two constructions: 76 . 0r: Please excuse me for being / coming late. It’s been a pleasure meeting you. abstract character than the infinitive. keep (=continue). The gerund as object: The gerund is used as a direct object after a large number of transitive verbs. + gerund: Please excuse my being / coming late. Extraposition of gerunds is not applied due to the high degree of nouniness of gerunds: the gerund evinces features characteristic of a noun in a higher degree than the Infinitive: It isn’t easy to learn a foreign language / Learning a foreign language isn’t easy.4. forgive. 8.3. pleasure). worth (while). (= He admitted that he had read very little about the subject ) They suggested his applying for the job. Since some of these transitive verbs also accept the infinitive as object or a that-clause. but it is often suggested that the gerund is of a more general. My parents kept encouraging me. extraposition of the gerund is allowed with certain constructions: be + adjective / noun (nice.4. good. fancy. mind. Forgive me for interrupting you. risk.
I hate to say it but I don’t like your plan. the infinitive is preferred (to avoid the repetition of –ing): It’s beginning to rain. want (= need) can be followed by an active gerund or by a passive infinitive. start the gerund and the infinitive are interchangeable in a large number of contexts: It started raining / to rain. (deliberate action).After verbs denoting likes and dislikes (adore. . (the infinitive indicates that he stopped whatever he was doing in order to smoke a cigarette) He stopped smoking on his doctor’s advice. prefer). that: He had never really meant to write that letter. it may be paraphrased by ‘the fact that’. Nevertheless. I ran into an old friend. . the gerund is preferred when we refer to a deliberate action.to try is followed by an infinitive when it means ‘to make an attempt/effort’. remember. ‘signify’. The gerund has a factive interpretation. The infinitive points to the future: it refers to an action that happens after the action of the finite verb: I remember giving him the book. to make an experiment’: I once tried to learn Japanese. I stopped to talk to him. (the gerund after stop indicates the cessation of an action: he didn’t smoke any more) While I walked down the street. It is used with an impersonal subject such as it.to mean is followed by an infinitive when it means ‘intend’. hate. When begin.After the verbs forget. like.After the aspectual verbs begin. I regret saying it wasn’t true. I like reading novels when I have time. I prefer to stay at home’. I’d like to read a novel now. understand): He began writing / studying. Our business has continued expanding / to expand during the last two years. require. need.’ ‘No. (= I stopped walking in order to talk to him) When the teacher entered the room the pupils stopped talking. like. regret the gerund points to the past (it refers to an action anterior to that of the finite verb). the infinitive indicates an action referring to a particular occasion.deserve. ‘entail’. i. start are used in the progressive forms. He started giving / to give a long explanation to the police officer. Try cleaning the stain with petrol. ‘Come and see a film tonight. The gerund is the more usual construction. thanks. I shall never forget attending the performance. continue. When love. . realize. He began to understand / to realize his mistake. Try putting in some vinegar – that might make the salad taste better.. (= I remember that I gave him the book) I must remember to give him the book. (involuntary action) . (= I regret that I’ve said it) I regret to say that it wasn’t true (= I’m sorry but I must now say…) . while the Infinitive refers to an involuntary action (with verbs of mental activity: know. I prefer staying quietly at home to going out. I want to stop smoking even if it means gaining weight. d) Verbs followed by the gerund or the infinitive but in different patterns: . love. in this case. ‘result in’. cease. prefer are used in the conditional (would love / like / prefer) the verbs are followed by the infinitive. it is followed by the gerund when it means ‘to test’. it is followed by a gerund when it means ‘involve’. a single event while the gerund indicates a general action (the gerund is more general in meaning): I hate saying good-bye.e. Don’t forget to phone him tonight. it is followed by a gerund when it means ‘to cease’: He stopped to smoke a cigarette.to stop is followed by an infinitive when it means ‘to halt’ (it indicates the purpose of the action). the grammatical subject of the finite verb is at the same time the logical object of the gerund: 77 .
The gerund as adverbial modifier: a) Adverbial modifier of time: The gerund is preceded by the prepositions after.4. sorry for. ashamed of. delighted at. 8.The car needs repairing. Are you looking forward to going on holiday? Some verbs . objection to. forbid. The book aims at giving a description of the structure of present-day English. thought of: Some students have difficulty in spelling English words. gerunds behave like NPs with respect to prepositions. A few adjectives like afraid of. allow. 8. permit. The gerund as prepositional object. apologize for. / I was surprised to see him.aim at. Does anyone object to his / him being appointed chairman? These measures contribute to strengthening peace.6. congratulate on. the preposition is not deleted (omitted) before gerunds and NPs: I was surprised at his excellent knowledge of the subject. There is no harm in working hard. pleased at. The grass wants cutting. . object to. / The book aims to give a description of the structure of present-day English. consent to. approve of. My father forbids me to smoke in the house /… forbids smoking. cause /reason for. capable of. before. The manager approved of the problem being discussed in detail. opportunity of. I was surprised at there being no one to meet me/I was surprised that there was no one to meet me He felt ashamed of having done so little / He felt ashamed that he had done so little. used to etc: He was angry at being kept waiting. surprised at. look forward to. / In the end she decided to buy…. He did not explain his reason for leaving earlier. pleasure of. decide on. being the only context that they do not share with infinitives or that-clauses. He has a lot of experience in teaching. The gerund occurs after nouns with preposition: difficulty in. The Gerund occurs after: a) Verbs with obligatory preposition: abstain from.advise. good at. interested in. / She had no intention to go. I was surprised at his knowing the subject so well. long for – can be followed by either a preposition + gerund or by an infinitive: In the end she decided on buying the green coat. b) Adjectives with obligatory preposition: angry at. I have no objection to his coming a little later. I was surprised (to see) that he knew the subject so well.7.4. astonished at. recommend can be followed by an accusative + infinitive or a gerund: When an object (noun / personal pronoun) is present these verbs take an infinitive.4. She is used to working at night. i. The prepositional context is the most characteristic environment for gerund complements.e. succeed in etc: You should apologize for not having sent the book. The gerund as prepositional attribute. fond of. tired of. I had the pleasure of travelling with them. He was afraid of making mistakes (= that he might make) He was afraid to jump (= He was too frightened to perform the action). if the object is not mentioned the gerund is used: The librarian didn’t allow us to talk /…didn’t allow talking. doubt about.5. / The grass wants to be cut. 8. Unlike other types of complements (infinitives or that-clauses). surprised at etc can be followed by a preposition + gerund or by an infinitive / that-cause: I was surprised at seeing him there. / The car needs to be repaired. on: 78 . prevent from. Some verbs such as insist on can be followed by a preposition + gerund or by a that-clause: I insist on his coming with us/I insist that he should come. keen on. honour can be followed either by preposition + gerund or by infinitive: She had no intention of going. A few nouns like intention.
According to Carter & McCarthy (2006: 31). On leaving the house he asked me to look after the child. for. d) Adverbial modifier of concession: The gerund is preceded by the prepositions in spite of. I’m still thirsty in spite of having drunk a cup of tea. the verb in the –ing form is many times more frequent in writing than in speech. preceded by the preposition for is used to express the general purpose of things: A corkscrew is a tool for taking corks out of bottles A knife is a tool for cutting with. He left the room without being seen. in. This is a case for keeping records in. But when we are considering a particular purpose we use the infinitive: I want a knife to cut bread with. 79 . without: He turned off the tape-recorder by pushing the top button He ended his speech by thanking everybody. c) Adverbial modifier of cause: The gerund is preceded by the prepositions because of. On waking up he found himself in a hospital ward. The gerund. he arrived in good time.The police claim he died after falling and hitting his head. He resembles you in spending his spare time reading. with: The little boy was scolded for going out in the rain. In informal speech there is a strong preference for a full finite clause. despite: In spite of starting late. b) Adverbial modifier of manner: The gerund is preceded by the prepositions by. New drugs are usually tested on animals before being tried on human beings. I’m looking for a corkscrew to open this bottle with I want a case to keep my records in. He soon got out of breath with running. e) Adverbial modifier of purpose. After being rubbed amber obtains the ability of attracting light objects.
the (present) participle has verbal features exclusively. it usually refers to a characteristic feature of the thing referred to by the noun: rising temperature = temperature that rises. Two men were trapped in the blazing house. THE –ING PARTICIPLE Unlike the gerund. 9. Voice distinctions are made between the active and passive participle. (perfect aspect and passive voice) 9. an amusing story Unlike the gerund. the –ing participle is used for the progressive forms of the verb: I am working. improving conditions = conditions that improve. The distribution of the participle (the syntactic functions of the participle): (1) With the auxiliary be. 9. The grammatical categories of the participle: The participle has the grammatical categories of aspect and voice. When the present participle is used as an attribute. Running across the park he heard someone call his name The perfect participle (active. object or adverbial) it is placed before the noun. passive) expresses an action simultaneous with that expressed by the finite verb: Turning the corner. Passive voice: Indefinite / present participle: being asked. The indefinite / present participle (active. 80 . the participle determining a noun can be expanded into a relative attributive clause. the participle can be placed either before or after the noun it determines: a) Before the noun (premodifier): If the participle has no other determination (e. Perfect participle: having been asked.g. Thus it has the following forms: Active voice: Indefinite / present participle: asking. THE PARTICIPLE There are two participle forms in English: the –ing participle which denotes a continuous action or state (it has an active meaning) and the past participle which denotes an action as a result (it has a passive meaning).1. b) After the noun (postmodifier). a charming lady. He was reading (2) The participle is used as a noun modifier: As a noun modifier (attribute). when the participle modifies a noun both words are stressed.1. All sleeping babies are beautiful. an insulting remark. Aspectual distinctions are made between the present and perfect participle. passive) expresses an action anterior to that denoted by the finite verb: Not having read the book he did not know what it was about (= As he hadn’t read the book he did not know what it was about) Having finished the book he went to bed. if the participle has its own determiners: Do you know the girl talking to Tom? (= who is talking) He looked at the children playing in the garden (= who were playing) The teams playing in the Olympics wear special uniforms.1. made every effort to do so. Compare: a 'sleeping car(riage) = a (railway) car(riage) for sleeping (gerund) a 'sleeping 'child = a child who is sleeping (participle) Note the difference in pronunciation (stress): When a gerund modifies a noun only the gerund is stressed. equivalent to a relative attributive clause.2. Some present participles have become mere adjectives: an interesting book.9.1. Perfect participle: having asked. The phone was answered by someone speaking with a Scottish accent. The patient having been advised by his doctor to stop eating sweets. he ran into an old friend of his.
keep. observe. Could you help me to get it moving? In five minutes the comedian had them all laughing. leave. see.The causative verbs get. He felt his heart beating wildly. smell. He watched the sun rising from behind the hill.The verbs catch. keep. . Have in negative sentences has the meaning of ‘allow’ (this use is restricted to the 1st person): I won’t have him cleaning his bicycle in the kitchen (= I won’t allow him to clean). A telephone was heard ringing in the next office. Don’t leave the water running. watch: I saw flames rising and heard people shouting. present or future: When you enter please hand your tickets to the man standing at the door = …who is standing / …who will be standing). the difference between them being one of aspect. The instructor will have her driving after a couple of lessons (= as a result of his lessons she’ll be driving). I saw Tom waiting for his bus – the participle suggests that the speaker saw part of it (an incomplete action). – the infinitive suggests that the speaker saw the whole action. see (used in the passive voice): The baby was heard crying. leave: We were left waiting outside. set: The teacher caught the pupil cheating. send. hear. Also: I saw him cross the street (complete action: from one side to another).Verbs denoting physical perception: feel. notice.As the participle clause does not have tense. The –ing participle clause need not carry the meaning of the progressive aspect: All articles belonging to the institute must be returned = All articles that belong to… Children needing medical attention = Children who need medical attention (3) Complex constructions: a) The nominative + participle construction: The nominative with the participle consists of a NP (noun / pronoun) in the nominative case and a participle. . find. The participle implies an action in progress. I could smell the wood burning. I won’t have you smoking at your age. The search party found the climbers clinging to a rock. the accusative with participle has the function of a complex object after transitive verbs: . The infinitive suggests a completed action or merely states the fact of an action. It is basically a passive construction. .The verbs catch. Since the verbs of perception can also be followed by a short infinitive. The ship was found drifting in the North Sea. notice. therefore an incomplete action. Syntactically. find. the accusative + participle construction is anologous to the accusative + infinitive construction. I saw him crossing the street (incomplete action: on the way to the other side). The absolute participial construction contains a participle which stands in predicate relation to a noun / 81 . the construction has the function of a complex subject. Compare: I saw Tom get into his car and drive away.Verbs of physical perception: hear. it can be interpreted according to the context as past. The nominative with the participle is used after: . have: My car is stuck in the mud. Syntactically. The ship was seen sailing out of the harbour. b) The accusative + participle construction: The accusative with the participle represents a combination of a noun / pronoun in the accusative and a participle. (4) The –ing participle as adverbial modifier: This function is expressed by the participle alone or by an absolute participial construction. analogous to the nominative with the infinitive construction from which it differs in that it generally implies a continuous (incomplete) action/ state. They kept me waiting for half an hour.
pronoun in the nominative case, but the noun / pronoun is not the subject of the sentence. The absolute participial construction is quite frequent in literary English. Participial constructions may express the following adverbial values: a) Adverbial modifier of time: Participial constructions may reduce adverbial clauses of time. The present participle can express actions performed at the same time as the finite verb (actions simultaneous with the finite verb): Arriving at the station he started looking for his friend (= when he arrived at the station he started looking for his friend). Passing the shop he saw his friend inside. The perfect participle expresses an action performed before that of the finite verb. The perfect participle can replace the present perfect or past perfect in adverbial clauses of time and emphasizes that the action is completed before the second one starts: Having received their final medical check-up the astronauts boarded their spacecraft. (= When they had received their final medical check-up the astronauts boarded...) Having eaten his dinner he rushed out of the house (or: After eating his dinner …). Absolute participial constructions: Dinner being ready, the family sat down round the big table (= When dinner was ready, the family sat down round the big table.); The authorities having arrived the ceremony began. (= When the authorities had arrived the ceremony began) The participle may be preceded by the conjunction it used to introduce the adverbial clause of time: when, while (the temporal value of the participle may often be defined by the preceding conjunction): While I was walking down the street I ran into an old friend. or: While walking down the street I ran into an old friend. or: Walking down the street I ran into an old friend. He doesn’t feel quite well when travelling by plane. He wrote his greatest novels while working as an ordinary seaman. He always sings while shaving. b) Adverbial modifier of reason: Being thirsty, the boy asked for a glass of water = As he was thirsty Feeling unwell, he went to bed early. Being a man of strong views he resigned. Not knowing the language and having no friends in the country he found it impossible to get a job. Having read the book he was able to comment on it = As he had read the book he was able to comment on it. Not having read the book he did not know what it was about. Having failed twice he did not want to try again. Having been weakened by successive storms, the bridge was no longer safe. Absolute participial constructions: The lift being out of order, I had to walk upstairs. The day being fine we decided to go swimming. The weather being unsettled, we had to postpone our trip. There being no further business, the meeting was concluded. He felt exhausted, his self-control having been strained to breaking-point = As his self-control had been strained to breaking-point he felt exhausted. All the money having been spent, he started looking for work. c) Adverbial modifier of manner / means: Using a sharp axe, he broke down the door. (= By using) The participle can express means or manner with respect to the subject: He went out slamming the door. The children came into the room laughing loudly. The manager greeted us smiling politely. The participle is sometimes interpreted as a predicative after the verbs lie, sit, stand: They stood there for an hour discussing what to do.
He stood gazing at the brightly lit shop windows. The participle is often equivalent to a coordinate clause: Opening the drawer he took out a pen = He opened a drawer and took out a pen. Part of an aircraft fell on to a Somerset village today narrowly missing a group of pupils = Part of an aircraft fell on to a Somerset village today and narrowly missed a group of... The participle can be introduced by as: He is sometimes portrayed as belonging to another century. Absolute participial constructions. The subject of the participle is often introduced by with: A car roared past with smoke pouring from the exhaust. d) Adverbial modifier of concession: Even admitting his explanation, his behaviour cannot be excused. e) Adverbial modifier of condition: Absolute participial constructions: Weather permitting we shall go to the beach tomorrow =If the weather permits we shall go f) Adverbial modifier of comparison: He behaved as if seeking encouragement. g) The participle is equivalent to a coordinate clause: When two actions immediately follow one another, the first action is often expressed by a participle: He opened the drawer and took out a pen → Opening the drawer he took out a pen. 9.1.3. Related and unrelated participial constructions. a) Related participial constructions: Normally, the participle relates to a noun / pronoun which is subject or object of the sentence: Holding his drill, the dentist examined the patient. The typist looked at the man dictating the report. b) Unrelated participial constructions: In a number of expressions, the participle does not refer to any particular word in the sentence (as related participles do). Such a construction is called an unrelated participial construction or a parenthetic construction. An unrelated participle is often found in the following contexts: - With certain verbs, when the subject of the participle is understood to be the indefinite pronoun one: He did quite well, taking everything into consideration (= He did quite well, when / if one takes everything into consideration). Judging from recent events the government appears to be gaining in popularity (= If one judges from recent events the government appears to be gaining in popularity). Considering his abilities, he should have done better. - In certain stereotyped phrases: roughly speaking, generally speaking, strictly speaking, judging by appearances: Judging by appearances, nobody is to blame. Strictly speaking, the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom. c) Misrelated Participles: A participle linked to the wrong noun / pronoun is said to be misrelated (it may occur in careless writing): Waiting for the bus, a brick fell on my head. The sentence makes it appear that the brick was waiting for the bus, which is nonsense. The sentence should be rewritten: As I was waiting for the bus, a brick fell on my head Conclusions: Comparison between the participle and the gerund a) If the –ing form determining a noun can be expanded into a relative clause, it is a participle, if it can’t, it is a gerund: a sleeping child = a child who is sleeping (participle) a sleeping car =a car for sleeping (gerund) b) The action denoted by the participle is carried out by the subject of the sentence, while the gerund is itself the subject of the sentence: Driving around, I met John (participle) Driving at night is tiresome (gerund). 9.2. THE PAST PARTICIPLE
The term past participle is confusing since it does not always refer to past time. For this reason modern grammarians prefer the term –en participle. Compared with the –ing participle, its meaning is (relatively) passive: it is resultative in meaning (it denotes an action as a result). The past participle has verbal and adjectival characteristics. 9.2.1. The form of the past participle: i. The past participle of regular verbs is formed by adding –(e)d to the base form of the verb: asked. ii. The past participle of irregular verbs is the 3rd form of the verb. 9.2.2. The uses of the past participle: 18.104.22.168. Together with a form of the auxiliary verb have, the past participle is used to form the perfective aspect, i.e. the perfective forms of the verb (present perfect, past perfect, future perfect, perfect infinitive, perfect gerund, perfect participle: has written, had written, will have written, to have written, having written). 22.214.171.124. Together with a form of the auxiliary verb be, the past participle is used to form the passive voice: is written etc. 126.96.36.199. The past participle as noun modifier: The past participle is equivalent to an attribute/attributive clause: i. The past participle as premodifier (placed before the noun): fallen leaves, a written report, a deserted village. A few old past participles survive as adjectives (attributes) in a form different from that of the verbal use: drink, melt, rot, shave, shrink, sink. When used as attributes, the past participle of these verbs ends in –en: drunken, molten, rotten, shaven, shrunken, sunken. Drink: adjective (attribute) A drunken man is not pleasant to look at. verbal use (predicate) He has drunk too much wine. Melt: adj. molten lava / steel; pred. The steel has melted. Rot: adj. rotten wood; pred. The wood has rotted. Shave: adj. (clean) shaven cheeks; pred. He has shaved. Shrink: adj. shrunken linen/cheeks; pred. The shirt has shrunk. Sink: adj. sunken eyes / cheeks; The sunken wreck of a ship blocked the entrance to the harbour; pred. the ship has sunk. The past participle of some regular verbs aged, beloved, blessed, cursed, dogged, learned is pronounced with a syllabic [id] when the past participle is adjectival: He is an aged ['eidзid] man. He has aged ['eidзd] considerably. Dogged ['dogid] determination. He is dogged [dogd] by misfortune. He is a learned [['lə:nid] man. He has learned [lə:nt] ii. The past participle as postmodifier (after a noun): The past participle is a postmodifer similar in meaning to a passive relative clause: Most of the people invited to the party didn’t turn up = Most of the people who had been invited to the party didn’t turn up. The man injured by a bullet was taken to a hospital = The man who had been injured… 188.8.131.52. The past participle as part of a complex object: The construction made up of a NP in the accusative and a past participle has the syntactic function of a complex object. The construction is used after the following verbs: a) Verbs of physical perception see, hear, feel: We could see towns destroyed by bombing. I heard his name called. b) The verbs find, keep, leave, like, make, order, want: He found the house deserted. I shall keep you informed.
He left his bicycle propped against the wall. They made their influence felt. I want this work finished quickly. This is a shorter construction instead of the accusative + passive infinitive which also occurs after some of these verbs like, order, want: I want it done at once = I want it to be done at once. c) The verbs have, get followed by accusative + past participle can have two meanings: i. A causative meaning = ‘to cause sb./sth. to be’, ‘to employ sb. to do sth’. The construction expresses that something is done by someone else for the benefit of the person denoted by the subject of the sentence. The person performing the action denoted by the past participle is either not mentioned or is indicated by a by-phrase: I had my hair cut = I employed someone to do it. I had my flat painted last year. I must have these shoes repaired. If he won’t behave I’ll have him locked up by the police. When have is used in this construction, the negative and interrogative of the present and past tense are formed with do/did: ‘Do you have your windows cleaned every month?’ ‘I don’t have them cleaned, I clean them myself. Did you have your car repaired? Have can be used in the progressive forms: I can’t ask you to dinner this week as I’m having my house painted at the moment and everything is upside down. Get can be used in the same way as have but is more colloquial: Get the prescription made at the chemist. I’m getting my bike repaired tomorrow. ii. Experience, suffer (usually some accident or misfortune): Have/get + NP acc. + past participle can be used colloquially to replace a passive verb (usually one concerning some accident or misfortune): His fruit was stolen before he had the chance to pick it. The sentence can be replaced by: He had his fruit stolen before he had the chance to pick it. He had his licence suspended for reckless driving. The cat got her tail singed through sitting too near the fire. It will be seen that whereas in i. the subject is the person who orders the things to be done, in ii. the subject is the person who suffers as the result of the action. 184.108.40.206. Adverbial modifier: The past participle construction is a reduction of an adverbial clause. This function can be expressed by a past participle alone or by an absolute participial construction (the past participle is preceded by a NP functioning as its subject). a) Adverbial modifier of time: Cleared, the site will be very valuable = When it is cleared the site will be very valuable The past participle is usually preceded by the conjunctions when, until, once: When asked about it, he refuses to speak. Once taken, the drug has a deadly effect. Once deprived of oxygen, the brain dies. Absolute participial construction: Both sides signed the agreement. That done, the chairman brought the meeting to an end = After that was done, the chairman brought the meeting to an end. This done, he locked the door and went to bed. This task performed, he left the office. The shopping done, they returned home. b) Adverbial modifier of condition: Given time, he’ll make a first class tennis player = Provided he is given time, he’ll make a first
the bridge was no longer safe. If firmly planted in rich soil. d) Adverbial modifier of cause/reason: Weakened by successive storms. e) Adverbial modifier of manner: There are three forms of adverbial modifiers of manner: i. sometimes introduced by the preposition with. the minister decided to resign. Absolute participial construction: He stood still. it is not such a bad bargain. iii. of comparison. as if puzzled by my words. this site would be very valuable = If it were cleared. of comparison introduced by the conjunctions as if. proper. students should answer all questions on the examination paper. ii. Absolute participial construction: All things considered. this site would be very valuable. the tree will grow quickly. with his face bathed in tears. Participial constructions are not very much used in speech. c) Adverbial modifier of concession: The past participle is usually introduced by the conjunction though: Though unmasked he refused to recognize the facts. Accused of dishonesty by the media. in writing: they allow us to express the same ideas as a finite subordinate clause. his eyes fixed on the ground. water becomes quite tasteless. of attending circumstances. The past participle is sometimes preceded by the conjunctions if. iii. The child ran up to his mother. Cleared. Unless told otherwise. ii. proper: He bought the house unrepaired and unpainted.class tennis player. but with fewer words. They are preferred in formal style. as though: He kept silent. 86 . attending circumstances i. unless: If distilled. Used economically. this tin will last for at least 6 weeks.
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