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Chapter 1.

The Verb as a Lexical Class

THE VERB AS A LEXICAL CLASS
Main issues:
1. Introduction and definition;
2. Verb classification criteria:
 the criterion of lexical interpretation;
 the criterion of formal interpretation;
 the criterion of functional interpretation;
 the criterion of structural interpretation;
 the criterion of semantic interpretation.
Learning objectives
When you have studied this presentation you will be able:
- to distinguish between various kinds of verbs (applying various criteria)
- to analyze English verbs and characterize them from various perspectives
1. Introduction and definition
This approach consists of two major directions, (a) a modest inquiry regarding the types
of definitions provided for the English verb, and (b) the criteria according to which verbs are
more easily described in terms of common features (be they formal or semantic).
The definitions given to the verb as a lexical class vary not only from one school of
grammar to another but very often from one linguist to another also. Starting from didactical
purposes, if some definitions given to the verb are interpreted in point of the criterion they are
based on, one could distinguish the ontology, the form or the function to have been used as
primary criteria.
Grammarians very often say that “it is practically impossible to give the exact and
exhaustive definitions of the parts of speech” (Jespersen 1966: 66). In an attempt to exemplify
several types of definitions, we shall begin with a special version provided by Jespersen
(1966:67), who does not explicitly define verbs, but exemplifies them using the terms ‘activity’,
‘state’ and ‘process’:
[I] go, take, fight, surprise, eat, breathe, speak, walk, clean, play, call
([I am in] activity)
[I] sleep, remain, wait, live, suffer ([I am in] a state)
[I] become, grow, lose, die, dry, rise, turn ([I am in] a process)
Palmer (1971:59) critically quotes Nesfield’s definition of the verb which is ‘even worse
[than that of the noun] because it is utterly uninformative ‘A verb is a word used for saying
something about something else’.1
Considering simplicity as a feature of the definitions given to the English verb, we shall
quote Alexander’s version (1988:159) ‘A verb is a word (run) or a phrase (run out of) which
expresses the existence of a state (love, seem) or the doing of an action (take, play)’. This is a late
20th century example of how simply a verb could be defined.
Nevertheless, there also exist complex definitions to combine two criteria, which is the
case of the following one which is based on a contrast between the noun group and the verb
group: ‘a clause which is used to make a statement contains a noun group, which refers to the
person or thing that you are talking about, and a verb group, which indicates what sort of
action, process, or state you are talking about.’ (CollinsCobuild 1994:137)
Schibsbye (1970:1) defined the English verb taking into consideration the function and
the content of the verb. In his system of reference the verb is functionally defined as ‘the
sentence-forming element of a word-group’. Semantically, a definition of the verb in terms of its
1

J.C. Nesfield’s “Manual of English Grammar and Composition” was published in 1898.
1

Latin or Greek origin.(antedate). Although defining the English verb is a complex task. or electrocution  to electrocute. Very frequently used in pop music. events. The prefixes of O. vaporize. 2. blood-transfusion  to blood-transfuse. out. black – to black and slow – to slow. oversimplify. they represent the larger group of verbs in English and they were denominated differently by the authors dealing with them. Very numerous. Verb Classification Criteria The classification of English verbs may prove difficult because of the numerous criteria to consider.(collaborate. a state.(enlarge. organise).. -ify (purify. suffixes or both. The Verb as a Lexical Class content ‘is the most comprehensive. modernise. c) The criterion of functional interpretation If the function verbs play at sentence level represents the criterion of interpretation. encourage). out – to out. Since English is known to be a very flexible language. contraction and back-formation. while those of Latin origin could be exemplified by ante.(concentrate) or col. enrich. such as ain’t (isn’t or hasn’t).1. the past participle and the indefinite participle according to several spelling and pronunciation rules) or irregular (where such rules are not applicable).E.(outlive. paper – to paper.E. outnumber). as in the following examples baby-sitter  to baby-sit. English verbs divide into: full meaning (main or notional) verbs and (semi-)auxiliary verbs. con.(foresee. the English verbs may be the result of affixation. undo).(anticipate) and en. The combination of the above mentioned affixes may act to produce parasynthetic formations. we suggest a simple version: the verb is the lexical class which includes words expressing actions. Affixation is carried out either by means of prefixes. Thus. main. where nouns are reduced to verbs. Thus. when a prefix and a suffix added to one and the same word results in parasynthetic formations. are the contracted forms of verbs. humidify). but also the vaguest’. too (. forego). especially American pop music. The most frequently used verb forming suffixes are –en (strengthen. shorten). verbs may have a full meaning and play the key role to the whole sentence. Main verbs The English verbs are defined in terms of form and function. this flexibility may account for the use of various parts of speech as verbs. and un-(uncover.Chapter 1. c. they form the past tense. civilise. states. a) The criterion of lexical interpretation Lexicologically. principal or full verbs) have an independent meaning and function in the sentence. the English verbs are regular (i. and processes. etc. such as simple  simplify. -ise / -ize (oxidize. Most frequently used verb-forming suffixes are those of O. lemme (let me). The spelling rules for the basic forms of the regular verbs are included in the great majority of the volumes dedicated to the English verb and that is why we encourage the possible readers of this volume to look for further information in more popular grammars. lexical. origin include fore. The verb/forming prefixes of Greek origin are usually exemplified by anti. which is the case with the lexical. as a result of conversion not only nouns may be used as verbs (hand – to hand. Palmer (1979:24) asserts that ‘both modals and main verbs are basically verbs and both 2 . These notional (main. an event of or about the person or the thing denoted by the subject. b) The criterion of formal interpretation Formally. A very small number of verbs result from back-formation. iron – to iron) but adjectives and adverbs. conversion. collocate). principal or full verbs. face – to face. They are used to form the simple verbal predicate and express an action.e. respectively).

passive or 3 . SHOULD.they may be used in different positions within tense and aspect patterns. c. they are simply instruments by means of which grammatical or stylistic shades of meaning are implied. (1985:120.21): He might Subject aux1 have been being questioned Verb phrase aux2 aux3 aux4 main verb by the police. no matter whether expressed by primary or secondary or modal auxiliaries. to remain. . link verbs actually represent the tense and they preserve some of their lexical value. HAVE. Does she not know the answer? Had they not finished that job before noon? Auxiliarity may join together up to four components. Primary Auxiliaries Most of the auxiliaries have no lexical meaning.ask questions or to give negative answers.underlie the chronological order of events in a narration. figure 3. catenative verbs or as parts of compound predicates. As link verbs (to be. The Verb as a Lexical Class can. and quite often as modals.Chapter 1. . They build up the analytical forms of the English verb and may be marks of grammatical specifications. Unlike the primary auxiliaries. This group of verbs is mostly subdivided into ‘primary auxiliaries’ (BE.underline who is doing something for someone else.a syntactical category which connects the subject with the predicative. MIGHT.2. She cannot play computer games. in theory. the auxiliary verbs share one common syntactic feature: they may act as operators when holding the first position within a verbal phrase.2.a morphological category similar to but not identical with that of the auxiliary verbs. conditional and imperative). Auxiliary verbs AUXILIARITY is a grammatical function which complements the verb phrase in various ways (to suggest tense/aspect/interrogative/negative/imperative/modal) meanings. . As marks of grammatical categories they: . SHALL. aspect (the progressive). as below: Is she working on our project or on her paper? Have they been building houses or blocks of flats? They won’t do that job. to appear. . It is expressed by the ‘auxiliary’ or ‘helping’ verbs.they are basically used as marks of grammatical categories. as exemplified by Quirk et al. DO) and ‘modal auxiliaries’ (CAN.describe the phase of a process/activity or even a state. COULD. voice (active. share the same grammatical features’. c. Our purpose is that of spotlighting those features or details not very frequently presented in the specialist literature. depending on their grammatical context.followed by a predicative to make up the nominal predicate. by-phrase Auxiliary verbs reveal these basic features: . A special category of verbs which partially play the part of an auxiliary are the catenative verbs which may be either main or auxiliary verbs. such as: tense (perfect tenses). WOULD and MUST). Thus. MAY. . operators will help building the interrogative and negative verb forms. Nevertheless. mood (subjunctive. The main verbs are thoroughly described in various grammars and because of this reason they will not be insisted on in what follows. . to become. and to grow) auxiliaries may be: . WILL. Despite this classification. link verbs.1. to get. tempo-aspectuality (perfective and imperfective progressivity). things are different with the two groups of verbs.

have may be: ► statively used it expresses possession and may be replaced by the verbs to own and to possess or by the informal construction to have got: They have (got)/possess an impressive house. That is the Empire State Building. i. Unlike the rest of the auxiliaries BE has a very high frequency of occurrence due to its flexibility in being both a mark of aspectual forms as well as an auxiliary for passive constructions. ► or to express agentivity. negative and interrogative negative). they may frequently play the part of the verbal predicate of any sentence. which characterizes the English language. He does not have (own/possess) a ship but a fleet.Chapter 1. etc. It is intended to facilitate the understanding of the flexibility. Her behaviour has been improving lately. when it is emphatically used. which may carry different meanings and may play different roles. Mary is a beautiful girl. and displays a copular function: Jimmy is in his room. with a main verb in the past participle: Madonna has been awarded lots and lots of prizes. TO HAVE Have displays two different functions in the grammar of the English language. Dynamically used the verb to HAVE normally expresses the interrogative and the negative with the help of the verb to DO: Does she have eggs with her breakfast? Did you have a good time on your holidays? With the same meaning. progressivity or perfective progressivity: Miriam is learning Arabian. The causal meaning of the verb to have is obvious in a context as: They had their house redecorated last year. 4 . ⇩ subject ⇩ ‘causal have’ ⇩ object ⇩ past participle ⇩ time adverbial Quirk et al. which may result from the combination have + eventive object as in to have a shower/dream/walk/talk/chat. I have (got) a splitting headache. Even if mainly described for their use as labels for the grammatical categories of tense. TO BE This is the first of a long list of verbs. to experience and of many other verbs. BE expresses existence. aspect and voice. the verb may be followed by an object and a past participle in order to express the fact that the grammatical subject of a sentence causes someone else to carry out an action for him/her. to take. The Verb as a Lexical Class causative patterns) and verbal forms (interrogative. acting either as a main/full verb or as an auxiliary. In its full meaning value. As an auxiliary it can occur in two different patterns: ► with the present participle of the full verbs to express aspectuality. (1985:132) include this pattern among the uses of the verb to HAVE as a main verb.e. As a main verb. ► dynamically used to subsume the senses of the verbs to receive.. The auxiliary carrying out a stylistic function is TO DO.

The Verb as a Lexical Class As an auxiliary the verb to HAVE is the mark of perfectivity (either simply used or in combination with progressivity or modality): She has just finished the translation. do these potatoes. I did not watch TV but my sister did. does he? He stole his parents’ savings. don’t they? Thomas does not understand Italian. ► intransitively. didn’t he? ► in reduced clauses where DO is the dummy operator preceding the ellipsis of a predication: Emily runs faster than I do. with its auxiliary role it is used in: ► yes/no – questions: Do they work hard? ► special questions (in the present or past tense simple): How did they start their business? When do they usually meet to discuss the further steps of their business? ► in negations (in the present or past tense simple): They don’t earn as much as they dreamt they would.” ► as a pro-predication: I cannot work as hard as I did when I was younger. as a verbal predicate: “What have you been doing lately?” “Nothing of importance. DO may also acquire various meanings depending on the object following it: The boys will have to do the dishes: Mike will wash and Fred will dry them.Chapter 1. TO DO As a main verb DO may be used: ► transitively She has done her homework and now she will go out for a walk. the mark of the negative. by all means. (to write) Have you done the silver. Tim had already translated the poem when the teacher came in the lab. do”. ► unlike the other verbs DO is used emphatically (when the verb to be emphasized is in the present or past tense simple): In emphatic positive constructions: I do love my children. Thus. (to repair) Bernadette has done really good essays this term. will you? (to peel or to cook) As an auxiliary. ► in question tags (when the verb in the assertive is in the present or past tense simple): They know the poem. You must have been working very long hours. 5 . Maureen? (to polish) Betsy. You didn’t meet John yesterday. you look exhausted. DO is the mark of the interrogative and in association with the negation not. Ben has always done my old alarm clock. didn’t she? ► in ‘persuasive’ imperative: Do come and have a coffee with us tomorrow! “May I use your phone?” “Yes. Miriam did say she would help you. I’m afraid. He will have been working in this shop for two years by tomorrow. She may have said the truth but I doubt it.

The main lexical meaning is comprised in the second element of the predicate which is expressed by a noun. The Verb as a Lexical Class The dual character of some verbs should be well remembered.2. They are used as part of a (verbal or nominal) predicate. SHOULD This is considered an auxiliary by those authors who admit the existence of the conditional mood in English. The combination I/we + should + present infinitive suggests present conditional: I should go to the theatre on condition we went Dutch.Chapter 1. Syntactically. SHALL Shall behaves as an auxiliary in declarative sentences. they are used in a finite form and express the predicative categories of person. MODAL AUXILIARIES The last group of verbs is represented by the modals or semi-auxiliaries (the pseudoauxiliaries. will and would. (compound verbal predicate) They must be working very hard now. According to them. c. WILL This verb behaves as an auxiliary in declarative sentences having a second or third person subject to suggest (perfect) futurity related to present reference: You/She/They will go on a packing tour next month. As part of compound predicates these auxiliaries may equally accompany verbal and nominal predicates: They can go immediately. WOULD As an auxiliary it is always preceded by a second or third person subject (singular or plural) 6 .2. (compound nominal predicate) Modal verbs with a double status The modal verbs which may display the two functions are shall. and the rest of them already mentioned in the foregoing. Should is also considered as an auxiliary to express (perfect) futurity related to a past reference: I/we admitted I/we should go on a packing tour the next week. in combination with the first person subject (both in the singular and in the plural) to express futurity related to a present reference: I/we shall go on a packing tour on 1 July. should. (compound verbal predicate) They may be happy with Lucy’s success. SHOULD combines with a first person subject and the bare infinitive of a main verb to suggest condition either seen from a present or past perspective. The pattern I/we + should + have + past participle suggests the idea of past conditional: I should have gone to the theatre on condition we had gone Dutch. an adjective or verbal. I promised I should have copied the text in less than an hour. It particularizes one feature of the English verbs which arises from their flexibility in usage and which will be mentioned again in the case of other verbs (catenatives or marginal modals). or the quasi-auxiliaries) which have no independent meaning and consequently no independent function in the sentence. Aş merge cu tine la teatru cu condiţia ca fiecare să-şi plătească biletul. You/She/They will have made up their minds by this time tomorrow.

to manage. 1970: 97) Used as catenatives. This group includes examples as to grow (tired). b) simple futurity related to a past reference: They told us they would set out on a cruise on the Mediterranean next year. to fail. to tend. 69-70) ‘Why. As catenatives. to start out. James. – W.” ( H. c. to seem (restless. successful businessman). as well as interrogative and negative patterns.S.Chapter 1. indeed. (Quirk et al. They seem supportive and trustworthy. Austen. to carry on. as you will hear. he does seem to have had some filial scruples on that head. aspectual meanings. which I have proceeded to do. Some grammarians include among the catenatives to appear. to come. to keep (on) and to start out may be followed by the present participle (in progressive constructions) or by the past participle (in passive constructions): The gardener started out / kept (on) /went on working in the garden. to turn (sour). to carry (on). 1985: 147) Auxiliaries represent a special class of verbs whose main purpose is that of helping the full meaning verbs to express tenses. HAVE. to remain (uncertain. 7 . to get (nervous). to taste (bitter). agentivity. The former group of link verbs represents the current linking verbs whose purpose is that of indicating a state and they include to appear (happy). to seem.. a mindful/thoughtful person. the linking verbs expressing result indicate that the role of the verb complement is a result of the event or process described in the verb. but facts will prove what they are like.e. Our team got beaten by the visitors. CATENATIVES They represent a special group of verbs. to turn out and to keep (on). which also have a dual character sharing the position of auxiliaries but the morpho-syntactical patterns of the main verbs.’ (J. to go on. b) perfect futurity related to a past reference: The children promised their parents they would have done their homework before 5 p. The Verb as a Lexical Class and followed by an infinitive to suggest condition: ► the pattern You /she/ they + would + infinitive suggests a) a present conditional (in subordinate clauses expressing a condition): She would join him to the theatre on condition they went Dutch. and I wish to find out what sort of a young man he is. to stay (young). She is getting mad by the minute. LINK/COPULATIVE VERBS The link(ing) verbs link together the subject and the complement of one sentence to express qualities or features regarding the subject. perplexed. DO) which are marks of progressivity. ► the pattern you / she / they + would + have + past participle suggests: a) a past conditional: She would have accepted his invitation on condition they had gone Dutch. a bachelor). Auxiliaries may be further subclassified into: ►primary auxiliaries (BE. “Your brother wishes to marry my daughter. The latter group i.3. to get. A good way to do so seemed to be to come and ask you.4.2. to become (old-fashioned). They may be used to convey two different meanings: (1) to indicate a state or (2) to indicate a result.2.m. perfectivity. an efficient secretary. to smell (sweet). their main feature is that they are always followed by the infinitive. to lie (scattered). to run (wild). to sound (surprised). to happen. to fall (sick). c.

in turn. also called the completive intensives are those complex verbs where the particle does not change the meaning of the verb but it is used to suggest that the action described by the verb is performed thoroughly. to spotlight ► adjective + noun/verb: to highlight. HAVE. This label accounts for the so-called complex verbs. Some English verbs may have a double status: (1) they overlap meanings of full verbs and auxiliary verbs (BE. completely or continuously. to outcast. pragmatic and wellcalculated native speaker of English. which like the ‘simple-word’ verbs may be further classified into four different subgroups.) and compound. They are part of the compound verbal predicates and express the speaker’s personal opinion or attitude. DO). to overestimate. to lowrate ► preposition + verb: to understand. and interrogation and negation constructing patterns. etc. the element which is common to the two examples adds an idea of continuousness to the idea of hard work. verbs are divided into single-word verbs and multi-word verbs. grouped into: .Chapter 1. SHOULD.central modals (which share a set of morpho-syntactic features) . take. they still share one common trait: they behave as operators (to switch their position with the subject to build the interrogative or to accept the enclitic negation NOT to build the negative).marginal modals (which share only some of the generally accepted morphosyntactic features of the modals) In spite of various particular features. ► adverb + verb: to broadcast. ►secondary (modal) auxiliaries which are. WILL. to undertake. 2. go. as follows: ► type A combinations. For example. but there is overwhelming evidence that they (may) occur together: to fight back. ask. The multi-word verbs are not so numerous but they are very frequently used due to their simple structure which makes them more practical for the economic. the particle up adds the suggestion of completeness to the initial meaning of connection and finally. which are marks of grammatical categories. in the case of to slave away and to slog away. in the case of to link up. to undergo. the secondary/modal auxiliaries add various shades of meaning to the verb they accompany. 1. ► type B combinations. Unlike the primary auxiliaries. of tempo-aspectuality. . also known as literal phrasal verbs are the combinations where the verb and the particle both have meanings which may be found in other combinations and uses. in the case of spread out to the basic meaning of the verb to spread the ideas of direction and thoroughness are added.e. The considerable majority of the English verbs is represented by this first category. to sing 8 . look. (2) they develop characteristics of both primary and modal auxiliaries (SHALL. WOULD) (3) they display meanings and characteristics of both full verbs and modal auxiliaries (NEED and DARE) d) The criterion of structural interpretation Structurally. The Verb as a Lexical Class i. The compounding elements are parts of speech belonging to the same or to different sets: ► adjective + verb: to whitewash ► noun+ noun/verb: to pinpoint. The single-word verbs are simple (do.

nouns or adjectives: If someone makes a getaway.e. We shall sustain the preceding statement with the example of the verbs to look after and to fall: A – verb with compulsory preposition B – phrasal verb TO LOOK AFTER ● I’m looking after the dog chasing the ● They look after their son’s children.they may consist of more than two elements. The Verb as a Lexical Class back.they may produce derived forms. to interfere with but their more comprehensive list may be found in Annex 1. the identical pattern is turned into the derived nouns or adjective but the newly formed derivative may also have the reversed order. . that is to begin suddenly: A fire broke out on the 4th floor. An outbreak is a sudden occurrence of something unpleasant: a severe outbreak of food poisoning. to put up with. to aim at. i. to strike back.) grijă de…) TO FALL ON ● to be/set on: ● to attack suddenly: My birthday falls on a Thursday this Terrorist groups were falling indiscriminately year. An off-putting person is s/he who puts you off or causes you to dislike him. This case may be exemplified by the phrasal to break out. perhaps after committing a crime. (…se îmbrăţişau…) ► verb + adverb the meaning of the phrasal verbs cannot be inferred from its compounding 9 . (… cade pe…) on men and women in the street. to phone back. (mă uit după. (…atacau fără discriminare…) ● to hug eagerly with happiness and excitement: People were falling on each other in delight and tears. Unlike the verbs with compulsory preposition. to debate on/upon. to look down on..Chapter 1. as to look forward to. ► type C combinations. to decide on/upon. but rarely used in formal or technical contexts. The two examples illustrate individual situations where the derived form may or may not reverse the order of the compounding elements.they accept a direct object between the verb proper and the particle: To take off one’s hat may also be expressed as a) Take your hat off! and b) Take it off! . (ei au cat. Complex verbs may be made up of: ► verb + preposition this structure accounts both for verbs with compulsory preposition and for the phrasal verbs. ► type D combinations or phrasal verbs are more common in spoken or informal English. A break-out is an act of escaping from a place: we debated whether to make our break-out on Christmas Eve. Some of the verbs with compulsory preposition are to allude to. traditionally these are the verbs with compulsory preposition these are the combinations where the verbs are always accompanied by a particular preposition and they are not normally found without it. War broke out in Europe on 4th of August. there are cases where one combination may produce these two derived forms. etc. they get away from a place in a hurry. phrasal verbs share the following features: ..

say. announce. know. The airline had opened the route on the basis that it would be the first of many. communication. hear). work. mental. love. examine. The cognitive states: We all believe that. receipt of communication (read. ► verb + adverb + preposition this pattern will be exemplified with: . want). Thus.to fall in wih: to accept (a plan. More stative in meaning (describing cognitive states) believe. learn. take. suspect. Many mental verbs describe cognitive activities that are relatively dynamic in meaning. suggest. know). run. solve. carry. Activity verbs: denote actions and events that could be associated with choice: bring. and emotional meanings expressing attitudes or desires (love. the ‘core meaning’ (the meaning the speakers tend to think of when they first hear the word as a part of the communication process) and the non-core meanings. like. idea. You said you didn’t have it. they do not involve physical action and do not necessarily entail volition. discuss. 1. leave. ► verb + adjective this structure is not so very actively used. go. move. write. The Verb as a Lexical Class elements. for instance. A verb is most coming with a non-core meaning. explain. She succeeded in living up to her extraordinary reputation. there are some verbs which are accompanied by meaningfully opposite particles but their new patterns do not convey the sum of the meanings of the compounding elements. feel. causative. want). state. shout. prefer. . hate. remember. consider. speak. discover. This is the case of the verb to lead: to lead in means to start a formal discussion or meeting by making a short speech and to lead out means to connect directly (used about buildings/ rooms. perception (see. fear. (1999) distinguish two kinds of meanings. come. decide. Mental verbs denote a wide range of activities and states experienced by humans. 10 .to fall flat (to produce/have no response/result): His joke fell flat. This category includes: cognitive meanings (think.to hedge around with: to cause something to be very difficult or complicated : Her freedom was hedged around with duties and restrictions. taste).to lead up to – to gradually guide the conversation to a point when they can introduce the subject . 3. They can be used transitively (for example: Even the smallest boys bought little pieces of wood and threw them in) or intransitively (From Haworth they went to Holyhead and to Dublin) 2. Some other examples of patterns of this kind are included in Annex 2.Chapter 1. I would shout my love to you. open. etc) Two tiny rooms led off the living room. so he felt a bit embarrassed. The film didn’t live up to my expectations. . it is convenient for the Romanian learner to have them classified into seven major semantic domains: activity. for example calculate. understand and emotional and attitudinal states (enjoy. call. buy. doubt. tell. aspectual. e) The criterion of semantic interpretation Although most of the English verbs bear more than one meaning. system) and not to try to change it: I didn’t know whether to fall in with this management . talk.to live up to/ match up to = to be as (good as ) the subject expects you to be. Biber et al. Many verbs have multiple meanings which derive from different semantic domains. of simple occurrence and of existence or relationship. give. Communication verbs: they are a special category of activity verbs that involve communication activities: ask. study.

The Verb as a Lexical Class I somehow doubt it. attitude of the subject. stay) or a particular relationship between entities (contain. ► or by complement clauses: Police and council leaders agreed to let a court decide the fate of the trees. The word of adults has once again became law. to enter. 4. The durative verbs which express actions. They indicate that some person or inanimate entity brings about a new state of affairs. and involve special constables and traffic wardens. to exist. He couldn’t stop talking about me. change. The stage of progress of some other event or activity. The time-point or momentary verbs. 11 . expressing actions and states spanning a very short interval of time): to come across. The lights changed. The state of existence is illustrated by: I go and stay with them. enable. namely stage. event or process. cause. She kept running out of the garden. 6. which is the case of be. seem and appear. Verbs of facilitation/causation are exemplified by allow. happen. to win. After another day he began to recover. these verbs often occur together with a nominalized direct object or complement clause which reports the action that was facilitated. Relationship will be expressed by: The exercise will include random stop checks by police. to run into. etc. finish. She had gone to live there during this summer holiday. grow. keep. to get out. help. This law enables the volume of gas to be calculated. duration. to contemplate. 7. The verbs expressing involuntary actions/inert perception are to see and to hear. to start. involve. Some of them report a particular state of existence (exist. to fly. Emotional or attitudinal states: I feel very sorry for you. live. volition thus becoming a selecting feature for these aspectual verbs. Verbs of simple occurrence primarily report events (typically physical events) that occur apart from any volitional activity. represent). include. require. last but not least the natural end or limit of a process or an activity. increase. to sleep. typically reported in a complement clause following the verb phrase. to run. As a child he hated his weekly ritual of bathing. The duration of an activity or a process or even a state is the feature according to which verbs may be considered durative and time-point verbs. to listen to. to read. From a distributional point of view. Examples of aspectual verbs should include: begin. permit. to look at. continue. force. the causatives are followed by ► a nominalized direct object: Still other rules cause the deletion of elements from the structure. develop. He was permitted to leave the country. to study. The attitude of the subject group of aspectual verbs denominate in/voluntary actions. processes and states which last in time may be illustrated by examples as to work. Verbs of existence/relationship report a state that exists between entities (most of these verbs are link or copular verbs). Distributionally. Voluntary actions are expressed by verbs of active perception as to watch. they are also called occurrence verbs and are exemplified through become. let. 5. occur. Aspectual verbs characterize the aspectual features related to an activity.Chapter 1. This information enables the formulation of precise questions. the (non)repeated character of an activity or event and.

.Chapter 1. interrogations and negations. 12 . Conclusions This course aimed at offering a wide range of criteria useful in the understanding of the English verb system. to cough. . . or limit/boundary) distinguishes between telic and atelic verbs. i. interrogations and negations. The Verb as a Lexical Class The iteration/frequency divides the aspectual verbs of this group into semelfactives. . He is making a chair. to jump.modals verbs represent a high degree of difficulty verbal class. to knock. such as to hit.e. Telicity. By and large.the semantic classification of verbs is helpful in the learning of aspectual distinctions. which are difficult to understand for Romanian learners since aspect is not a fullyrepresented grammatical category in the Romanian verb system. features of English verbs indicate that: .main and auxiliary verbs behave differently in statements. and iteratives whose meaning is that of underlying the fact that the activity expressed by any of the semelfactives and many other verbs keeps repeating for a specified moment or interval. The former group is represented by the verbs whose activity or process reaches a natural end: She is smoking a cigarette. distinguishes between the uses of progressive or common verb forms in the correct production of an English sentence. requires not only grammatical knowledge and experience but a clear understanding of its concepts and implicatures.regular and irregular verbs show different grammatical patterns in statements. due to both their morphological features and to their semantics which relies mainly on the context they are part of. The latter group of verbs is outlined by those verbs whose contextual meaning shows that no end will ever be reached: She smokes (implicature she belongs to the category of smokers) They make chairs (possible meaning – to earn their living) This is a controversial criterion because there may also exist situations where the sentence subject is an inanimate entity which cannot be said to intervene and produce a natural end to the action expressed by the verb: The stone was rolling to the river bank. therefore. also. Telicity (or the reaching of a natural end. those verbs expressing an event or activity which lasts an extremely short time interval. as an issue peculiar to the English language.modality.