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The category of finitude: finite and non-finite forms of the verb (finites and verbids). Problematic status of the non-finite forms of the verb in the classification of parts of speech. Verbids as phenomena of mixed (hybrid, intermediary) nature; their verbal and non-verbal features. The infinitive as a verbal form of mixed processual-substantive nature and the basic form of verbal paradigms. Semi-predicative in­finitive constructions. The infinitive as a constituent of modal action representation. The gerund as a verbal form of mixed processual-substantive natu­re. The infinitive, the gerund and the verbal noun: their correlation in exp­ressing processual semantics (the lexico-grammatical category of processual representation). Semi-predicative gerundial construc­tions. The participle as a verbal form of mixed processual-qualitative nature. The distinctions between two types of participles: parti­ciple I (present participle) and participle II (past participle). Semi-predicative participial constructions. Functional differences between participle I and the gerund. The problem of ver­bal “ing-form”; “half-gerund” ( gerundial participle).


As was mentioned in the previous unit, on the upper level all verbal forms fall into two major sets: finite and non-finite. The term “finite” is derived from the Latin term “verbum finitum”, which shows that these words denote actions developing in time.

Non-finite forms of the verb, the infinitive, the gerund, participle I (present participle) and participle II (past participle), are otherwise called verbals”, or “verbids”. The term, introduced by O. Jespersen, implies that they are not verbs in the proper sense of the word, because they combine features of the verb with features of other notional parts of speech. Their mixed, hybrid nature is revealed in all the spheres of the parts-of-speech characterization: meaning, formal features, and functions. The non-verbal features of verbids are as follows: they do not denote pure processes, but present them as specific kinds of substances and properties; they are not conjugated according to the categories of person and number, have no tense or mood forms; in some contexts they are combined with the verbs like non-verbal parts of speech; they never function as independent predicates; their functions are those characteristic for other notional parts of speech. The verbal features of verbids are as follows: their grammatical meaning is basically processual; like finites, they do have (at least, most of them have) aspect and voice forms and verbal combinability with direct objects and adverbial modifiers; they can express predication in specific semi-predicative constructions. Thus, verbids can be characterized as intermediary phenomena between verbs and other non-verbal parts of speech.

The opposition between finite and non-finite forms of verbs expresses the category of “finitude”. The grammatical meaning, the content of this category is the expression of verbal predication: the finite forms of the verb render full (primary, complete, genuine) predication, the non-finite forms render semi-predication, or secondary (potential) predication. The formal differential feature is constituted by the expression of verbal time and mood, which underlie the predicative function: having no immediate means of expressing time-mood categorial semantics, the verbids are the weak member of the opposition.

It is interesting to note that historically verbids in English were at first separate non-verbal nominative forms, but later they were drawn into the class of verbs by acquiring aspect and voice forms, verbal combinability, etc.

The Infinitive is the most generalized, the most abstract form of the verb, serving as the verbal name of a process; it is used as the derivation base for all the other verbal forms. That is why the infinitive is traditionally used as the head word for the lexicographic entry of the verb in dictionaries.

The infinitive combines verbal features with features of the noun; it is a phenomenon of hybrid processual-substantive nature, intermediary between the verb and the noun. It has voice and aspect forms, e.g.: to write, to be writing, to have written, to be written, to have been written; it can be combined with nouns and pronouns denoting the subject or the object of the action, and with the adverbial modifiers, e.g.: for him to write a letter; to write a letter to someone; to write a letter very carefully. The non-verbal properties of the infinitive are displayed in its syntactic functions and its combinability. The infinitive performs all the functions characteristic of the noun – that of a subject, e.g.: To write a letter was the main thing he had planned for the day; of a predicative, e.g.: The main thing he had planned for the day was to write a letter; of an object, e.g.: He wanted to write a letter to her; of an attribute, e.g.: It was the main thing to do; of an adverbial modifier, e.g.: He stood on a chair in order to reach for the top shelf. In these functions the infinitive displays substantive combinability with finite verbs.

If the subject of the action denoted by the infinitive is named, in the sentence it forms a secondary predicative line with the infinitive. Syntactically, semi-predicative infinitive constructions may be free or bound to the primary predicative part of the sentence. The “for + to infinitive” construction in free use (either as a subject or as any other substantive notional part of the sentence) includes the infinitive and its own, inner subject, e.g.: For him to be late for the presentation was unthinkable; I sent the papers in order for you to study them carefully before the meeting. The constructions known as “complex object with the infinitive” and “complex subject with the infinitive” (the passive transformation of the complex object constructions) intersect with the primary predicative part of the sentence: the inner subject of the secondary predicative part forms either the object or the subject of the primary predicative part, e.g.: I saw her enter the room; She was seen to enter the room. The predicative character of the secondary sentence-situation can be manifested in the transformation of the whole sentence into a composite syntactic construction, e.g.: I sent the papers in order for you to study them carefully before the meeting. à I sent the papers so that you could study them carefully before the meeting; I saw her enter the room. à I saw her when she was entering the room.

In most cases the infinitive is used with the particle “to”, which is its formal mark; it is called a “marked infinitive” and can be treated as an analytical form of the verb. In certain contexts, enumerated in detail in practical grammar text-books, the infinitive is used without the particle “to” and is called a “bare infinitive”, or “unmarked infinitive”; the “bare infinitive” is used when it is combined with functional and semi-functional predicator-verbs to build the analytical forms of the finite verbs (the “bound” use of the infinitive) in some fixed constructions, etc., e.g.: Will you go there? Why not go there? I’d rather stay at home; etc. The particle, just like any other auxiliary component of analytical forms, can be separated from the infinitive by an adverbial modifier, e.g.: to thoroughly think something over. These cases are usually stylistically marked and are known as the “split infinitive”.

The gerund is another verbid that serves as the verbal name of a process and combines verbal features with those of a noun; the gerund, like the infinitive, can be characterized as a phenomenon of hybrid processual-substantive nature, intermediary between the verb and the noun. It is even closer to the noun, because besides performing the substantive functions in a sentence like the infinitive, it can also be modified by an attribute and can be used with a preposition, which the infinitive can not do, e.g.: Thank you for listening to me; Your careful listening to me is very much appreciated. The functions of the gerund in the sentence are as follows - that of a subject, e.g.: Your listening to me is very much appreciated; It’s no use crying over spilt milk; of a predicative, e.g.: The only remedy for such headache is going to bed; of an object, e.g.: I love reading; of an attribute, e.g.: He had a gift of listening; of an adverbial modifier, e.g.: On entering the house I said “hello”. In these functions the gerund displays nounal combinability with verbs, adjectives, and nouns, especially in cases of prepositional connections. As for the verbal features of the gerund, first of all, there is no denying the fact, that its meaning is basically processual, which is evident when the gerund is compared with the nouns, cf.: Thank you for helping me. – Thank you for your help; in addition, the gerund distinguishes some aspect and voice forms, e.g.: writing, being written, having written, having been written. Like the finites, it can be combined with nouns and pronouns denoting the subject and the object of the action, and with modifying adverbs, e.g.: I have made good progress in understanding English; She burst out crying bitterly; Her crying irritated me.

The verbal features distinguish the gerund from the verbal noun, which may be homonymous with the indefinite active form of the gerund, but, first, it has no other verbal forms (passive or perfect); second, cannot take a direct object, but only prepositional objects like all other nouns, cf.: reading the letters (gerund) – the reading of the letters (verbal noun); and, third, like most nouns can be used with an article and in the plural, cf.: my coming (gerund) – his comings and goings (verbal noun). In the correlation of the three processual-substantive phenomena, which constitute a continuum of transitions between the verb and the noun – the infinitive, the gerund, and the verbal noun, the infinitive is the closest to the verb, as it is more dynamic and possesses fewer substantive features, the gerund is somewhere in between the two, semantically semi-dynamic, and the verbal noun is the closest to the noun, semantically static, possessing practically all the features of normal nouns. They can be treated as the three stages of a lexico-grammatical category of processual representation which underlies various situation-naming constructions in the sphere of syntactic nominalization (see Unit 24), cf.: He helped us. à for him to help us à his helping us à his help to us.

Another difference between the gerund and the infinitive involves the category of so-called ‘modal representation’: the infinitive, unlike the gerund, has a certain modal force, especially in the attributive function, e.g.: There was no one to tell him the truth (= There was no one who could tell him the truth).

The gerund can express secondary predication, when the gerundial sentence-part, or the semi-predicative gerundial construction has its own, separate subject. The subject of the secondary predicative part of the sentence can be expressed either by a possessive pronoun or by a noun in the genitive case, if it denotes an animate referent, e.g.: Mike’s coming back was a total surprise to us; Do you mind my smoking?; it can also be expressed by a noun in the common case form or an objective pronoun, e.g.: She said something about my watch being slow. The gerundial semi-predicative constructions can be used as different notional parts of a sentence, cf.: Mike’s coming back was a total surprise to us (the subject); Do you mind my smoking? (object); I couldn’t sleep because of his snoring (adverbial modifier); The thought of him being in Paris now was frustrating (attribute).

Participle I (present participle) is fully homonymous with the gerund: it is also an ing-form’ (or, rather, four ‘ing-forms’, cf.: writing, being written, having written, having been written). But its semantics is different: it denotes processual quality, combining verbal features with features of the adjective and the adverb; participle I can be characterized as a phenomenon of hybrid processual-qualifying nature, intermediary between the verb and the adjective/adverb. The triple nature of participle I finds its expression in its mixed valency and syntactic functions. The verb-type combinability of participle I is revealed in its combinations with nouns denoting the subject and the object of the action, e.g.: her entering the room, with modifying adverbs and with auxiliary verbs in the analytical forms of the verb; the adjective-type combinability of participle I is manifested in its combinations with modified nouns and modifying adverbs of degree, e.g.: an extremely maddening presence; the adverb-type combinability of the participle is revealed in its combinations with modified verbs, e.g.: to speak stuttering at every word. In its free use, participle I can function as a predicative, e.g.: Her presence is extremely maddening to me; as an attribute, e.g.: The fence surrounding the garden was newly painted; and as an adverbial modifier, e.g.: While waiting he whistled.

Like any other verbid, participle I can form semi-predicative constructions if it is combined with the noun or the pronoun denoting the subject of the action; for example, complex object with participle I, e.g.: I saw her entering the room; complex subject with participle I (the passive transformation of the complex object constructions), e.g.: She was seen entering the room. In addition, participle I can form a detached semi-predicative construction, known as the absolute participial construction, which does not intersect in any of its components with the primary sentence part, e.g.: The weather being fine, we decided to take a walk; I won’t speak with him staring at me like that.

In complex object and complex subject constructions the difference between the infinitive and participle I lies in the aspective presentation of the process: participle I presents the process as developing, cf.: I often heard her sing in the backyard. – I hear her singing in the backyard.

The absolute homonymy of the gerund and participle I has made some linguists, among them American descriptivists, the Russian linguists V. Y.Plotkin, L. S. Barkhudarov, and some others, treat them not as two different verbids, but as generalized cases of substantive and qualitative functioning of one and the same “ing-form” verbid. Particularly disputable is the status of the semi-predicative construction, traditionally defined as the “half-gerund” construction, in which the semantics of the “ing-form” is neither clearly processual-substantive nor processual-qualifying and it is combined with the noun in the common case form, e.g.: I remember the boy singing in the backyard.

The dubious cases can be clarified if the gerund and the participle are distinctly opposed as polar phenomena. In gerundial constructions the semantic accent is on the substantivized process itself; the nominal character of the verbid can be shown by a number of tests, for example, by a question-forming test, cf.: I remember the boy’s singing (his singing). - What do you remember?; the noun denoting the subject of the action semantically and syntactically modifies the gerund – Whose singing do you remember? In participial constructions the semantic emphasis is on the doer of the action, e.g.: I remember him singing. - Whom do you remember?; the present participle modifies its subject, denoting processual quality. In half-gerund constructions the semantic accent is on the event described, on the situational content with the processual substance as its core, cf.: I remember the boy singing in the backyard.What do you remember about the boy? This case can be treated as the neutralization of the opposition, as a transferred participle, or a gerundial participle.

In the attributive function, the semantic differences between participle I and the gerund are unquestionable: the noun modified by participle I denotes the actual doer of the action, and the participle denotes its processual qualification; the meaning of the gerund in the attributive function is non-dynamic; the difference can be demonstrated in the following tests, cf.: a sleeping girl à a girl who is sleeping (participle I); a sleeping pill à a pill taken to induce sleep (the gerund).

Participle II, like participle I, denotes processual quality and can be characterized as a phenomenon of hybrid processual-qualifying nature. It has only one form, traditionally treated in practical grammar as the verbal “third form”, used to build the analytical forms of the passive and the perfect of finites, e.g.: is taken; has taken. The categorial meanings of the perfect and the passive are implicitly conveyed by participle II in its free use, for example, when it functions as a predicative or an attribute, e.g.: He answered through a firmly locked door (participle II as an attribute); The room was big and brightly lit (participle II as a predicative). The functioning of participle II is often seen as adverbial in cases like the following: When asked directly about the purpose of her visit she answered vaguely. But such constructions present cases of syntactic compression rather than an independent participle II used adverbially, cf.: When asked directly ß When she was asked directly… Thus, participle II can be characterized as a verbid combining verbal features (processual semantics and combinability) with the features of the adjective.

Like any other verbid, participle II can form semi-predicative constructions if combined with the inner subject of its own; they include complex object with participle II, e.g.: I’d like to have my hair cut; We found the door locked; complex subject with participle II (the passive transformation of the complex object constructions), e.g.: The door was found firmly locked; and absolute participial construction with participle II, e.g.: She approached us, head half turned; He couldn’t walk far with his leg broken.

The meaning of the perfect is rendered by participle II in correlation with the aspective lexico-grammatical character of the verb: with limitive verbs participle II denotes priority (“relative past”) while participle I denotes simultaneity (“relative present”), cf.: burnt leaves (‘the leaves have already been burnt’; relative past) – burning leaves (‘the leaves are burning now’; relative present); hence the alternative terms: participle I – present participle, participle II – past participle. With unlimitive verbs this difference is neutralized and participle II denotes simultaneity, e.g.: a brightly lit room. In addition, participle I and participle II are sometimes opposed as the active participle and the passive participle, cf.: the person asked (passive) – the person asking the question (active); though participle II also participates in the structural formation of the passive and the perfect of participle I, e.g.: being asked, having asked. This, together with the other differential properties, supports the status of participle II as a separate verbid.


Key terms: non-finite forms of the verbs (verbids), the category of finitude, full predication (primary, genuine, or complete predication) vs. semi-predication (secondary, or potential predication), infinitive, ‘to-infinitive’ (‘marked infinitive’), ‘bare infinitive’, ‘split infinitive’, gerund, half-gerund (fused participle, gerundial participle), verbal noun, participle I (present participle, active participle), participle II (past participle, passive participle), complex subject constructions, complex object constructions, absolute participial constructions



Rivlina А.А.



Conjugation of the finite forms of verbs. The category of number; the category of person. Their reflective nature (substanti­ve correspondence). The blending of their morphemic expression. The forms of per­son and number of different groups of verbs. The oppositional pre­sentation of the category. The “notional concord” cases. The cases of contextual neutralization of the category.

Traditionally, the category of number is treated as the correlation of the plural and the singular, and the category of person as the correlation of three deictic functions, reflecting the relations of the referents to the participants of speech communication: the first person – the speaker, the second person – the person spoken to, and the third person – the person or thing spoken about. But in the system of the verb in English these two categories are so closely interconnected, both semantically and formally, that they are often referred to as one single category: the category of person and number.

First, the semantics of both person and number categories is not inherently “verbal”, these two categories are reflective: the verbal form reflects the person and number characteristics of the subject, denoted by the noun (or pronoun) with which the verb is combined in the sentence. And in the meaning of the subject the expression of number semantics is blended with the expression of person semantics; for example, in the paradigm of personal pronouns the following six members are distinguished by person and number characteristics combined: first person singular - I, first person plural - we, second person singular – you (or, archaic thou), second person plural - you, third person singular - he/she/it, third person plural - they. Second, formally, the categories of person and number are also fused, being expressed by one and the same verbal form, e.g.: he speaks; this fact supports the unity of the two categories in the system of the verb.

In Old English the verb agreed with the subject in almost every person and number, like in Russian and other inflectional languages, cf.: singular, 1st person - telle, 2nd person - tellest, 3d person - telleð, plural - tellað. There were special person and number forms in the past tense, too. Nowadays most of these forms are extinct.

In modern English all verbs can be divided according to the expression of this category into three groups. Modal verbs distinguish no person or number forms at all. The verb ‘to be’, on the contrary, has preserved more person-number forms than any other verb in modern English, cf.: I am; we are; you are; he/she/it is; they are; in the past tense the verb to be distinguishes two number forms in the first person and the third person: I, he/she/it was (sing.) – we, they were (pl.); in the second person the form were is used in the singular and in the plural. The bulk of the verbs in English have a distinctive form only for the third person singular of the present tense indicative mood. Thus, the category of person and number in modern English is fragmental and asymmetrical, realized in the present tense indicative mood by the opposition of two forms: the strong, marked member in this opposition is the third person singular (speaks) and the weak member embraces all the other person and number forms, so, it can be called “a common form” (speak).

Some archaic person and number verbal forms are preserved in high flown style, in elevated speech, especially the archaic second person singular forms of all the verbs, including the modal verbs and the verb ‘to be’, e.g.: Thou shalt not kill; Thou comest to the needy; Thou art omniscient.

Some older grammar textbooks state that the category of person is also expressed in the future and future-in-the-past tenses by the opposition of analytical verbal forms with auxiliary verbs shall/should for the first person and will/would for the rest. But, first of all, this distinction has practically disappeared in American English, especially in colloquial speech, and, second, in British English it is interconnected with certain modal differences, expressing voluntary or non-voluntary future for the first person and mere future or modal future for the second and third persons together. Thus, the analytical verbal forms with the auxiliary verbs shall/should - will/would cannot be treated only on the basis of the category of person. (This issue will be discussed further in connection with the tense category; see Unit 13.)

The deficient person-number paradigm of the verb in English makes syntagmatic relations between the verbal lexeme and the lexeme denoting the subject obligatory for the expression of this category. This fact is reflected by practical grammar textbooks where the conjugation of the verb is presented through specific semi-analytical pronoun-verb combinations, e.g.: I speak, you speak, he/she/it speaks, we speak, you speak, they speak. One can say that the category of person and number is expressed “natively” by the third person singular present indicative form of the verb, and “junctionally”, though the obligatory reference to the form of the subject, in all the other person and number forms.

Deficient as it is, the system of person and number forms of the verb in English plays an important semantic role in contexts in which the immediate forms of the noun do not distinguish the category of number, e.g., singularia tantum nouns or pluralia tantum nouns, or nouns modified by numerical attributes, or collective nouns, when we wish to stress either their single-unit quality or plural composition, cf.: The family was gathered round the table – The family were gathered round the table; Ten dollars is a huge sum of money for me. – There are ten dollars in my pocket. In these cases, traditionally described in terms of “notional concord” or “agreement in sense”, the form of the verb reflects not the categorial form of the subject morphemically expressed, but the actual personal-numerical interpretation of the referent denoted.

The category of person and number can be neutralized in colloquial speech or in some regional and social variants and dialects of English, cf.: Here’s your keys; It ain’t nobody’s business.

Key terms: category of number (the singular vs. the plural), dexis, category of person (1st person, 2nd person, 3d person), notional concord (‘agreement in sense’), fragmental (asymmetrical, deficient) category, archaic form, dialectal and colloquial person-number neutralization



A.A. Rivlina




The general notion of time and lingual temporality; lexical and grammatical means of time expression. Absolutive and non-absolutive time; relative and factual time. The problem of the two future forms of the verb. The system of two verbal tense categories in English: the category of “absolutive”, “retrospective”, or “primary” time (past vs. non-past) and the category of “relative”, or “prospective” time (future vs. non-future). Oppositional presentation of the two tense categories in interaction. Oppositional reductions of the tense categories. The problem of the auxiliary verbs “shall/will” – “should/would”: the “modal future” vs. the “pure future”; the “voluntary future” vs. the “non-voluntary” future.

The verbal category of tense in the most general sense expresses the time characteristics of the process denoted by the verb.

It is necessary to distinguish between time as a general category and time as a linguistic category. Time in the general philosophical presentation along with space is the form of existence of matter; it is independent of human perception and is constantly changing. Time is reflected by human beings through their perception and intellect and finds its expression in language, in the meaning of various lexical and grammatical lingual units. The moment of immediate perception and reflection of actual reality, linguistically fixed as “the moment of speech”, makes the so-called “present moment” and serves as the demarcation line between the past and the future. Linguistic expression of time may be either oriented toward the moment of speech, present-oriented”, “absolutive, or it may be non-present-oriented”, “non-absolutive. The “absolutive time denotation embraces three spheres: the past, the present and the future. The sphere of the present includes the moment of speech and can be expressed lexically by such words and word-combinations as this moment, today, this week, this millennium, etc. The sphere of the past precedes the sphere of the present by way of retrospect and can be expressed lexically by such words and word-combinations as last week, yesterday, many years ago, etc. The sphere of the future follows the sphere of the present by way of prospect and can be expressed lexically by such words and word-combinations as soon, in two days, next week, etc. The “non-present-oriented” time denotation may be either “relative” or “factual”. The “relative time” denotation shows the correlation of two or more events and embraces the priority (the relative past), the simultaneity (the relative present) and the posteriority (the relative future) of one event in relation to another. Relative time is lexically expressed by such words and word-combinations as after that, before that, at the same time with, some time later, soon after, etc. The factual expression of time denotes real astronomical time or historical landmarks unrelated with either the moment of speech or any other time center; it can be expressed lexically by such words and word-combinations as in the morning, in 1999, during World War II, etc.

Factual time can be expressed only lexically (as shown above), while absolutive and relative expressions of time in English can be not only lexical, but also grammatical. The grammatical expression of verbal time through morphological forms of the verbs constitutes the grammatical category of tense (from the Latin word “tempus” – “time”).

The tense category in English differs a lot from the verbal categories of tense in other languages, for example, in Russian. The tense category in Russian renders absolutive time semantics; the three Russian verbal tense forms present the events as developing in time in a linear way from the past to the future, cf.: Он работал вчера ; Он сегодня работает; Он будет работать завтра. In English there are four verbal tense forms: the present (work), the past (worked), the future (shall/will work), and the future-in-the-past (should/would work). The two future tense forms of the verb express the future in two separate ways: as an after-event in relation to the present, e.g.: He will work tomorrow (not right not), and as an after-event in relation to the past, e.g.: He said he would work the next day. The future forms of the verb in English express relative time – posteriority in relation to either the present or the past. The present and the past forms of the verb render absolutive time semantics, referring the events to either the plane of the present or to the plane of the past; this involves all the finite verb forms, including the perfect, the continuous, and the future forms. Thus, there is not just one verbal category of tense in English but two interconnected tense categories, one of them rendering absolutive time semantics by way of retrospect (past vs. present) and the other rendering relative time semantics by way of prospect (after-action vs. non-after-action).

This approach is vindicated by the fact, that logically one and the same category cannot be expressed twice in one and the same form: the members of the paradigm should be mutually exclusive; the existence of a specific future-in-the-past form shows that there are two tense categories in English.

The first verbal tense category, which can be called “primary time”, “absolutive time, or retrospective time, is expressed by the opposition of the past and the present forms. The suffix “-ed” of the regular verbs is the formal feature which marks the past as the strong member of the opposition. Besides this productive form, there are some unproductive past forms of verbs, such as suppletive forms (e.g.: eat – ate), or past forms homonymous with the present (cut – cut). The marked forms denote past actions which receive retrospective evaluation from the point of view of the moment of speech. The present, like any other weak member of an opposition, has a much wider range of meanings than its strong counterpart: the present denotes actions taking place in the sphere of the present, during the period of time including the moment of speech, e.g.: What are you doing?; Terrorism is the major threat of the twenty first century; it may denote repeated actions, e.g.: We go out every Friday night; actions unchanged in the course of time, e.g.: Two plus two makes four; universal truths, e.g.: He who laughs last laughs best; instantaneous actions which begin and end approximately at the moment of speech (as in sports commentaries), e.g.: Smith passes to Brown; etc. To stress its weak oppositional characteristics the present is also referred to as “non-past”.


The opposition of the past and the present can be reduced in certain contexts. For example, the present tense form of the verb can be used to describe past events in order to create a vivid picture of the past, as if to make one’s interlocutor the eyewitness of the past events, e.g.: I stopped to greet him and what do you think he does? He pretends he doesn’t know me! This type of transposition is known as “historic present” (or, “preterite present”). It is one of the rare cases when the use of the weak member of the opposition instead of the strong member results in transposition and is stylistically colored. The transposition of past tense forms into the context of the present is used to express various degrees of politeness, e.g.: Could you help me, please? These cases are known as “preterite of modesty”, or “attitudinal past”.


The second verbal tense category, which may be called “prospective”, or “relative”, is formed by the opposition of the future and the non-future separately in relation to the present or to the past. The strong member of the opposition is the future, marked by the auxiliary verbs shall/will (the future in relation to the present) or should/would (the future in relation to the past). It is used to denote posterior actions, after-actions in relation to some other actions or to a certain point of time in the present or in the past.

The two tense categories interact in the lingual presentation of time: any action in English is at first evaluated retrospectively as belonging to the sphere of the past or to the sphere of the present, and then it is evaluated prospectively as an after-action or a non-after-action to either the past or the present. In terms of oppositional presentation, the interaction of the two tense categories, which results in the four verbal tense forms, can be presented in the form of a table showing the strong and the weak members and the characteristics of each form in the two oppositions combined:

  retrospective  (absolutive) time prospective  (relative) time
the present - -
the past + -
the future - +
the future in the past + +

The opposition of the prospective time category can be reduced. Present forms are regularly used to denote future actions planned, arranged or anticipated in the near future: We go to London tomorrow; or in subordinate clauses of time and condition: If you stay, you will learn a lot of interesting things about yourself. These two examples can be treated as cases of neutralization: the weak member of the opposition is used instead of the strong one with no stylistic coloring involved. Transposition takes place when the future forms are used to express insistence, e.g.: When he needs something, he will talk and talk about it for days on end.


One more problem is to be tackled in analyzing the English future tenses: the status of the verbs shall/will and should/would. Some linguists, O. Jespersen and L. S. Barkhudarov among them, argue that these verbs are not the auxiliary verbs of the analytical future tense forms, but modal verbs denoting intention, command, request, promise, etc. in a weakened form, e.g.: I’ll go there by train. = I intend (want, plan) to go there by train. On this basis they deny the existence of the verbal future tense in English.

As a matter of fact, shall/will and should/would are in their immediate etymology modal verbs: verbs of obligation (shall) and volition (will). But nowadays they preserve their modal meanings in no higher degree than the future tense forms in other languages: the future differs in this respect from the past and the present, because no one can be positively sure about events that have not yet taken place or are not taking place now. A certain modal coloring is inherent to the future tense semantics in any language as future actions are always either anticipated, or foreseen, or planned, or desired, or necessary, etc. On the other hand, modal verbs are treated as able to convey certain future implication in many contexts, cf.: I may/might/ could travel by bus.

This does not constitute sufficient grounds to refuse shall/will and should/would the status of auxiliary verbs of the future. The homonymous, though cognate, verbs shall/will and should/would are to be distinguished in contexts, in which they function as purely modal verbs, e.g.: Payment shall be made by cheque; Why are you asking him? He wouldn’t know anything about it, and in contexts in which they function as the auxiliary verbs of the future tense forms with subdued modal semantics, e.g.: I will be forty next month.

Older grammar textbooks distinguish the auxiliary verbs shall/will and should/would from their modal homonyms in connection with the category of person in the following way: the auxiliary shall/should are used with first person verbal forms, while the auxiliary will/would - with second and third persons verbal forms to denote pure future; when used otherwise, they express pure modal meanings, the most typical of which are intention or desire for I will and promise or command on the part of the speaker for you shall, he shall. It is admitted, though, that in American English will is used as functionally equal for all persons to denote pure future and shall is used only as a modal verb. The contracted form -‘ll further levels the difference between the two auxiliary verbs in colloquial speech.

In British English the matter is more complicated: in refined British English both verbs are used with the first person forms to denote the future. Some linguists treat them as functionally equal “grammatical doublets”, as free variants of the future tense auxiliary. Still, there is certain semantic difference between shall/should and will/would in the first person verbal forms, which can be traced to their etymological origin: will/would expresses an action which is to be performed of the doer’s free choice, voluntarily, and shall/should expresses an action which will take place irrespective of the doer’s will, cf.: I will come to you. = I want to come to you and I will do that; Shall I open the window? = Do you want me to open the window? The almost exclusive use of the auxiliary shall in interrogative constructions in British English is logically determined by the difference outlined: it is quite natural that a genuine question shows some doubt or speculation rather than the speaker’s wish concerning the prospective action. The difference between the two auxiliary verbs of the future in British English is further supported by the use of the contracted negative forms won’t and shan’t. Thus, in British English will + infinitive and shall + infinitive denote, respectively, the voluntary future and the non-voluntary future and can be treated as a minor category within the system of the English future tense, relevant only for first person forms.


Key terms: absolutive time (the past, the present, the future), relative time (priority – “relative past”, simultaneity – “relative present”, posteriority – “relative future”), factual time, tense, “primary, absolutive, or retrospective time” (past vs. non-past), “historic present”, “preterite of modesty”, “relative, or prospective time” (future vs. non-future), modal colouring, obligation, volition



А . А . Rivlina



The categorial meaning of aspect. Lexical and grammatical me­ans of expressing aspective meaning; their interdependence. Various approaches to the aspective verbal forms. The system of verbal aspective categories in English: the category of development (continuous vs. non-continuous) and the category of ret­rospective coordination (perfect vs. non-perfect); purely aspective semantics of the continuous and the mixed tense-aspective semantics of the perfect. Oppositional presentation of the category. Oppositional reductions of the category. Aspective representation in verbids.

The general meaning of the category of aspect is the inherent mode of realization of the process. Aspect is closely connected with time semantics, showing, as A. M. Peshkovsky puts it, “the distribution of the action in time”, or the “temporal structure” of the action.

Like time, aspect can be expressed both by lexical and grammatical means. This is one more grammatical domain in which English differs dramatically from Russian: in Russian, aspect is rendered by lexical means only, through the subdivision of verbs into perfective and imperfective, делать – сделать ; видеть – увидеть; etc. In Russian the aspective classification of verbs is constant and very strict; it presents one of the most typical characteristics of the grammatical system of the verb and governs its tense system formally and semantically. In English, as shown in Unit 10, the aspective meaning is manifested in the lexical subdivision of verbs into limitive and unlimitive, e.g.: to go – to come, to sit – sit down, etc. But most verbs in English migrate easily from one subclass to the other and their aspective meaning is primarily rendered by grammatical means through special variable verbal forms.

The expression of aspective semantics in English verbal forms is interconnected with the expression of temporal semantics; that is why in practical grammar they are treated not as separate tense and aspect forms but as specific tense-aspect forms, cf.: the present continuous – I am working; the past continuous – I was working; the past perfect and the past indefinite – I had done my work before he came, etc. This fusion of temporal and aspectual semantics and the blend in their formal expression have generated a lot of controversies in dealing with the category of aspect and the tense-aspect forms of the verb. The analysis of aspect has proven to be one of the most complex areas of English linguistics: the four correlated forms, the indefinite, the continuous, the perfect, and the perfect continuous, have been treated by different scholars as tense forms, as aspect forms, as forms of mixed tense-aspect status, and as neither tense nor aspect forms, but as forms of a separate grammatical category.

One of the most controversial points in considering the category of aspect is exactly the same logical contradiction that we had to tackle when studying the category of time: the category cannot be expressed twice in one and the same grammatical form; the members of one paradigm should be mutually exclusive; but there is a double aspective verbal form known as the perfect continuous form. The contradiction can be solved in exactly the same way that was employed with the tense category: the category of aspect, just like the category of tense, is not a unique grammatical category in English, but a system of two categories.

The first category is realized through the paradigmatic opposition of the continuous (progressive) forms and the non-continuous (indefinite, simple) forms of the verb; this category can be called the category of development. The marked member of the opposition, the continuous, is formed by means of the auxiliary verb to be and participle I of the notional verb, e.g.: I am working. The grammatical meaning of the continuous has been treated traditionally as denoting a process going on simultaneously with another process; this temporal interpretation of the continuous was developed by H. Sweet, O. Jespersen and others. I. P. Ivanova treated the continuous as rendering a blend of temporal and aspective semantics, as denoting an action in progress, simultaneous with another action or time point. The majority of linguists today support the point of view developed by A. I. Smirnitsky, B. A. Ilyish, L. S. Barkhudarov, and others, that the meaning of the continuous is purely aspective - “action in progress, developing action”. The weak, unfeatured member of the opposition, the indefinite, stresses the mere fact of the performance of the action The main argument against the idea that relative time meaning, simultaneity, is expressed by the continuous, is as follows: simultaneous actions can be shown with or without the help of continuous verbal forms, cf.: While I worked, they were speaking with each other. – While I worked, they spoke with each other. The second action, simultaneous with the first in both sentences, is described as durative, or developing in time in the first sentence and as a mere fact in the second sentence. The simutaneity is actually rendered by either the syntactic construction or the broader semantic context, since it is quite natural for the developing action to be connected with a certain time point. Besides, as we mentioned, the aspective meaning of the continuous can be used in combination with the perfect (the perfect continuous form), and the very idea of perfect excludes any possibility of simultaneity.

As with any category, the category of development can be reduced and in most cases the contextual reduction is dependent on the lexico-semantic aspective characteristics of the verbs. The neutralization of the category regularly takes place with unlimitive verbs, especially statal verbs like to be, to have, verbs of sense perception, relation, etc., e.g.: I have a problem; I love you. Their indefinite forms are used instead of the continuous for semantic reasons: statal verbs denote developing processes by their own meaning, Since such cases are systemically fixed in English grammar (as the “never-used-in-the-continuous” verbs), the use of the statal verbs in the continuous can be treated as “reverse transposition (“de-neutralization” of the opposition): their meaning is transformed, they become actional for the nonce, and most of such cases are stylistically colored, cf.: You are being naughty!; I’m loving it! No continuous forms are used with purely limitive verbs whose own meaning excludes any possibility of development, except for contexts which specifically demand the expression of an action in progress, e.g.: The train was arriving when we reached the station. The use of the continuous with limitive verbs neutralizes the expression of their lexical aspect, turning them for the nonce, vice versa, into unlimitive verbs.

The neutralization of the category of development can take place for a purely formal reason: to avoid the use of two ing-forms together; for example, no continuous forms are used if there is a participial construction to follow, e.g.: He stood there staring at me.

The classic example of stylistically colored transposition within the category of development is the use of the continuous instead of the indefinite to denote habitual, repeated actions in emphatic speech with strong negative connotations, e.g.: You are constantly grumbling!

The second aspective category is formed by the opposition of the perfect and the non-perfect forms of the verb; this category can be called “the category of retrospective coordination”. The strong member of the opposition, the perfect, is formed with the help of the auxiliary verb to have and participle II of the notional verb, e.g.: I have done this work.

The status of this category, as well as the status of the category of development, has given rise to much dispute in grammar. All the four approaches mentioned above can be traced in the interpretation of this category. The traditional treatment of the perfect as the tense form denoting the priority of one action in relation to another (“the perfect tense”) was developed by H. Sweet, G. Curme, and other linguists. M. Deutchbein, G. N. Vorontsova and other linguists consider the perfect to be a purely aspective form, laying the main emphasis on the fact that the perfect forms denote some result, some transmission of the pre-event to the post-event. I. P. Ivanova treats the perfect, as well as the continuous, as the verbal form expressing temporal and aspective functions in a blend, contrasted with the indefinite form of neutralized aspective properties. A. I. Smirnitsky was the first to put forward the idea that the perfect forms its own category, which is neither a tense category, nor an aspect category; he suggested the name “the category of time correlation”. The main argument which led to the interpretation of the perfect outside the aspect system of the verb was the combination of the meaning of the perfect with the meaning of development in the perfect continuous forms, which is logically impossible within the same category. Still, if we admit that there are two aspective categories in English, this combination becomes possible.

Thus, summarizing all the peculiarities of the perfect outlined within different approaches, we can characterize the opposition of the perfect and the non-perfect as a separate verbal category, semantically intermediate between aspective and temporal. The perfect forms denote a preceding action successively, or transmissively connected with a certain time limit or another action; the following situation is included in the sphere of influence of the preceding situation. So, the two semantic components constituting the hybrid semantics of the perfect are as follows: priority (relative time) and coordination, transmission, or result (aspective meaning). Hence the general name for the category is “the category of retrospective coordination”. In different contexts prominence may be given to either of these semantic components of the perfect; for example, in the sentence I haven’t seen you for ages prominence is given to priority, while in the sentence I haven’t seen you since we passed our last exam prominence is given to succession or coordination. When the perfect is used in combination with the continuous, the action is treated as prior, transmitted to the posterior situation and developing at the same time, e.g.: I have been thinking about you since we passed our last exam.

Within the system of verbal aspect in English, two categories are interconnected: any action is evaluated as developing or non-developing, and then, it is evaluated as retrospectively coordinated or not coordinated with another action or time limit, which results in the four aspectual verbal forms. The interaction of the two aspect categories can be presented in the form of a table showing the strong and the weak members’ characteristics of the two oppositions in combination with each other:

  The category of development The category of retrospective coordination
the indefinite - -
the continuous + -
the perfect (the perfect indefinite) - +
the perfect continuous + +

As with any other grammatical category, the category of retrospective coordination can be reduced. Limitive verbs, which imply the idea of a certain result by themselves, are regularly used in the indefinite form instead of the perfect, e.g.: Sorry, I left my book at home. Colloquial neutralization of the category of retrospective coordination is also characteristic of verbs of physical and mental perception, cf.: Sorry, I forget your name. The neutralization of the category of retrospective coordination is particularly active in the American variant of English, where the use of the perfect is restricted compared with British English.

Unlimitive verbs used in the perfect form are turned into “limitive for the nonce”, e.g.: He has never loved anyone like this before.

Both aspective categories have a verbid representation, the continuous expressing the same categorial meaning of development and the perfect expressing the meaning of retrospective coordination, cf.: It was pleasant to be driving the car again; Having finished their coffee, they went out to the porch; She was believed to have been feeling unwell for some time. Additionally, both continuous and perfect forms of the infinitive acquire a special meaning of probability in combination with modal verbs, cf.: She must be waiting for you outside; The experiment must have been carried out by now. The perfect infinitive after the modal verbs ought and should is used to denote a failed action, together with a strong negative connotation of reprimand, e.g.: You should have waited for me! (but you didn’t).  

Key terms: aspect, aspective meaning, mode of realization,“temporal structure”, tense-aspect blend, the category of development (the continuous, progressive vs. the non-continuous, indefinite, simple), “action in progress”, “developing action”, reverse transposition (de-neutralization of the opposition), “time correlation”, the category of retrospective coordination (the perfect vs. the non-perfect), “preceding action”, “action transmissively connected with a certain time limit or another action”, for the nonce





The categorial meaning of voice. The peculiarities of voice as a category. Opposition of active and passive forms of the verb. Non-passivized verbs. The problem of “medial” voice types: reflexive, reciprocal and middle voice mea­nings. Homonymy of the passive constructions and the predicative use of participle II with link verbs; categorial and functional differences between them.

The verbal category of voice shows the direction of the process as regards the participants of the situation reflected in the syntactic structure of the sentence. Voice is a very specific verbal category: first, it does not reflect the actual properties of the process denoted, but the speaker’s appraisal of it; the speaker chooses which of the participants in the situation – the agent (the subject, the doer of the action) or the patient (the object, the receiver of the action, the experiencer) – should be presented as the subject of the syntactic construction. Second, though it is expressed through the morphological forms of the verb, voice is closely connected with the structural organization of the syntactic construction: the use of passive or active forms of the verb involves the use of the passive or active syntactic construction.

The category of voice is expressed by the opposition of the passive and active forms of the verb; the active form of the verb is the unmarked, weak member of the opposition, and the passive is the strong member marked by the combination of the auxiliary verb to be (or the verbs to get, to become in colloquial speech) and participle II of the notional verb. It denotes the action received or a state experienced by the referent of the subject of the syntactic construction; in other words, the syntactic subject of the sentence denotes the patient, the receiver of the action in the situation described, while the syntactic object, if any, denotes the doer, or the agent of the action, e.g.: The cup was broken by his daughter. Passive constructions are used when the agent is unknown or irrelevant, e.g.: He was killed during the war; The cup has been broken.

In the active syntactic construction the subject and the object both in the situation described and in the syntactic structure of the sentence coincide, cf.: His daughter broke the cup. One can say that in most cases the active and passive syntactic constructions actually depict the same situation presented differently by the speaker: in the passive construction the semantic emphasis is laid on the experience of the object, while in the active construction prominence is given to the actions of the doer; in many cases active and passive constructions are mutually transformative, cf.: His daughter broke the cup. - The cup was broken by his daughter. Besides the immediate “active” meaning as such, the active forms of verbs denote a wide range of various non-passive meanings, for example, processes which do not imply any objects at all, e.g.: The child cried; It rained; etc.

As was mentioned in Unit 10, the passive is more widely used in English than in Russian: not only transitive verbs, but almost all objective complementive verbs can be passivized, e.g.: The doctor was sent for. There is a small group of verbs, most of them statal, which are not used in the passive in English: to be, to have, to belong, to cost, to resemble, to consist, and some other.

Besides passive and active constructions, there are also the so-called medial” voice types, whose status is problematic: semantically, they are neither strictly passive nor active, though the verb used is formally active. There are three “medial” voice types distinguished in English: “reflexive”, “reciprocal”, and “middle”. In reflexive constructions the action performed by the referent of the subject is not passed to any outer object, but to the referent itself, i.e. the subject of the action is the object of the action at the same time, e.g.: He dressed quickly. This meaning can be rendered explicitly by the reflexive “-self” pronouns, e.g.: He dressed himself; He washed himself; etc. In reciprocal constructions the subject denotes a group of doers whose actions are directed towards each other; again, the subject of the action is its object at the same time, e.g.: They struggled; They quarreled; etc. This meaning can be rendered explicitly with the help of the reciprocal pronouns one another, each other, with one another, e.g.: They quarreled with each other. In middle constructions the subject combined with the otherwise transitive verb is neither the doer of the action nor its immediate object, the action is as if of its own accord, e.g.: The door opened; The concert began; The book reads easily; The book sells like hot cakes. The same applies to the use of the active infinitive in the function of an attribute, cf.: She is pleasant to look at; The first thing to do is to write a letter. These constructions can be treated as a specific case of neutralization: the weak member of the opposition, the active voice form, when used instead of the strong member, the passive form, does not fully coincide with it in meaning, but denotes something intermediary - the state or the capacity of the referent as a result of some action. Some of these construction are closer in their meaning to the passive voice meaning (The book sells… = The book is sold…; The first thing to do… = The first thing to be done…); others are closer to the active voice meaning (The concert began), but in general their meaning is between the two.

The problem is whether the “medial” voice functions can be treated as rendered by separate voice forms of the verbs (the reflexive, reciprocal, or middle verbal forms). In Russian the “medial” voice meanings (up to fifteen types) are rendered lexically by a special group of “reflexive” verbs, derived with the help of the suffix – ся / сь, e.g.: брить – бриться, ругать – ругаться, начинать – начинаться, etc. In English the “medial” voice types can be seen as specific reflexive, reciprocal, and middle uses of the active voice, verbal forms which constitute the non-objective (intransitive) lexico-semantic variants of regularly objective verbs.

There is a problem of distinction between the homonymous use of participle II with the link verb to be in a compound nominal predicate and participle II with the auxiliary verb to be as a passive voice form, e.g.: She is upset; The letter is written. In German there is a clear formal distinction between the two cases as two different functional verbs are used; werden and sein, cf.: Der Brief ist geschriben (the compound nominal predicate); Der Brief wird geschriben (the passive form). In English, the verb to be is used both as a link verb and as an auxiliary verb, which makes the two constructions homonymous.

The two cases can be distinguished on the basis of the categorial and functional properties of the participle: if processual passivity is meant (the participle denotes the action produced), the construction is passive; if the participle turns into an adjective (is adjectivized) and is used to describe the subject, it is a sentence with a compound nominal predicate. This can be stimulated or suppressed by the context; adverbial modifiers of degree or homogeneous predicatives can function as contextual “voice-suppressing”, “statalizing” stimulators, e.g.: She was very much upset; I was cold but too excited to mind it; action-modifying adverbials and specific categorial forms of the verb in the passive (the future, the continuous, the perfect) function as “processualizing” voice stimulators, e.g.: Do what she wants, or she’ll be upset (you will upset her by your refusal); The door has been closed by the wind with a loud bang. Still, some cases remain ambiguous, with the status of the participle wholly neutralized, especially the past participle of limitive verbs, which combines the semantics of processual passive and resultative perfect, cf.: I was impressed by his fluency; The job was finished at two o’clock; such constructions are sometimes defined as “semi-passive” or “pseudo-passive”.


Key terms: voice, the agent (the subject, the doer of the action), the patient (the object, the receiver of the action, the experiencer), deep semantic structure, surface syntactic structure, active voice, passive voice, semantic emphasis, speaker's perception (subjective evaluation), (non-)passivized verbs,“medial” voice types, reflexive voice meaning, reciprocal voice meaning, middle voice meaning, contextual stimulators, “semi-passive” (“pseudo-passive”)






The categorial meaning of mood. The complexity of this catego­ry due to the intricacy of modal meanings and the scarcity of inflectional verbal forms in English. The correlation of direct (indicative) and oblique mood forms. The types of the oblique moods; their formal and functional features. The four types of the subjunctive: subjunctive I – the pure spective, subjunctive II – the stipulative conditional, subjunctive III – the consective conditional, subjunctive IV – the modal spective. The problem of the imperative mood. The problem of rendering time in oblique moods; time-retrospect shift as the formal mark of the oblique moods.

The category of mood in English is the most controversial verbal category and has given rise to much dispute. There is no universally accepted classification of moods, their number varies from as many as sixteen (M. Deutschbein) to practically no mood at all (L. S. Barkhudarov).

The category of mood expresses the character of connections between the process denoted by the verb and actual reality, in other words, it shows whether the action is real or unreal. This category is realized through the opposition of the direct (indicative) mood forms of the verb and the oblique mood forms: the indicative mood shows that the process is real, i.e. that it took place in the past, takes place in the present, or will take place in the future, e.g.: She helped me; She helps me; She will help me; the oblique mood shows that the process is unreal, imaginary (hypothetical, possible or impossible, desired, etc.), e.g.: If only she helped me! In this respect the category of mood resembles the category of voice: it shows the speaker’s subjective interpretation of the event as either actual or imaginary.

The nomenclature of the oblique mood types presents a great problem due to its meaningful intricacy in contrast to the scarcity of English word inflexion: the oblique mood has no morphological forms of its own; most of its forms are homonymous with the forms of the indicative. Different classifications of the oblique mood types are based either on formal criteria or on functional criteria: different scholars distinguish synthetical and analytical moods, past and present moods; different types of unreality are used as the basis for distinguishing the so-called imperative, subjunctive, conditional and suppositional moods. The combination of the two approaches is also very often misleading, since within the category of mood different meanings may be rendered by one and the same form and, vice versa, different verbal forms may render the same meaning. 

 Since all the oblique mood types share a common functional basis, the meaning of unreality, they may be terminologically united as subjunctive[3][1]; and then several types of the subjunctive can be distinguished according to the form of expression and the various shades of unreality expressed.

The mood which is traditionally called subjunctive I, expresses various attitudes of the speaker: desire, consideration (supposition, suggestion, hypothesis), inducement (recommendation, request, command, order), etc. On the functional basis subjunctive I can be defined as the mood of attitudes, or the spective mood (to use the Latin word for “attitude”). The form of subjunctive I is homonymous with the bare infinitive: no morpheme –s is added in the 3d person singular, and the verb to be is used in the form “be” in all persons and numbers, e.g.: Long live the king! Whatever your mother say, I won’t give up; I demand that the case be investigated thoroughly; It is imperative there be no more delays in our plans. The form of subjunctive I remains unchanged in the description of past events, e.g.: It was imperative there be no more delays in our plans. There is no distinction between the absolutive past and the absolutive present in subjunctive I; the unreality of the process makes the expression of absolutive time irrelevant.

In traditional grammar, besides the direct and oblique moods, the so-called imperative mood is distinguished, as in Open the door!; Keep quiet, please. The analysis of these examples shows that there is basically no difference between what is traditionally called the imperative and subjunctive I: the form is homonymous with the bare infinitive in both cases, and the meaning rendered is that of a hypothetical action appraised as an object of desire, recommendation, supposition, etc. The two can be substituted for each other in similar contexts, cf.: Be careful! – I recommend you be careful; Come here! – I demand that you come here. Thus, the imperative mood can be treated as a subtype of subjunctive I[4][2]. It must be admitted though, that in British English subjunctive I has a certain formal, and even archaic stylistic flavor that the imperative does not have. In American English subjunctive I is less restricted stylistically and is more widely used than in British English.

Subjunctive II in form is homonymous with the past tense forms of the verbs in the indicative mood, except for the verb to be, which, according to standard grammar, in all persons and numbers is used in the form were. Subjunctive II is used mostly in the subordinate clauses of complex sentences with causal-conditional relations, such as the clauses of unreal condition, e.g.: If she tried, (she would manage it); If I were you…; of concession, e.g.: Even if she tried, (she wouldn’t manage it); of unreal comparison, e.g.: (She behaved,) as if she tried very hard, but failed; of urgency, e.g.: (It’s high time) she tried to change the situation; of unreal wish, e.g.: (I wish) she tried harder; If only she tried! So, the generalized meaning of subjunctive II can be defined as that of unreal condition: all the meanings outlined imply unreal conditions of some sort, cf.: She behaved as if she tried à She behaved as she would behave if she tried; It’s high time she tried to change the situation. à Her trying is the condition under which the situation would change; etc.; concession implies the condition, which is overcome or neglected: Even if she tried… à She didn’t try, but if she tried, nevertheless,… Since subjunctive II is used in syntactic constructions denoting conditional relations, it can be functionally defined as the “conditional mood”; additionally, since it denotes the unreality of an action which constitutes the condition for the corresponding consequence, or stipulates the consequence, it can be defined as “stipulative”. Thus, the appropriate explanatory functional term for subjunctive II is “the stipulative conditional mood”.

The form of the verb which denotes the corresponding consequence of an unreal condition in the principal part of the causal-conditional sentences is homonymous with the analytical future in the past tense forms (the past posterior) of verbs in the indicative mood, e.g.: (If she tried), she would manage it; Without you she wouldn’t manage it; (Even if she tried), she wouldn’t manage it. This type of the oblique mood is called, in traditional grammar, the “conditional”. It is possible to preserve the term and to specify it additionally as the “consective conditional” (to use the Latin word for “consequence”), in order to distinguish it from the “stipulative” conditional described previously. Thus, the stipulative conditional forms, denoting some unreal, imaginary condition, and the consective conditional forms, denoting some unreal, imaginary consequence, complement each other within the syntactic construction. To observe consistency with the simplified and unified numerical terminology, the consective conditional can be called subjunctive III.

Of major importance for the category of mood description is the question of time expression in the oblique mood. As was mentioned at the beginning, verbal time proper is neutralized with the oblique mood forms; their subdivision into present subjunctive and past subjunctive (past posterior and past unposterior) reflects only their structural features. As for the actual expression of time, they render time relatively, by means of the aspective category of retrospective coordination: the non-perfect forms of the verbs in the subjunctive (past indefinite for subjunctive II and future-indefinite-in-the-past for subjunctive III) express the relative present - the simultaneity or posteriority of unreal actions, while the perfect forms (past perfect for subjunctive II and future-perfect-in-the-past for subjunctive III) are used to express relative past - the priority of unreal actions, stressing their actual failure. Cf.: I am sure that if she tried she would manage it (the simultaneity or posteriority in the present). – I was sure that if she tried she would manage it (the simultaneity or posteriority in the past). – I am sure that if she had tried she would have managed it (the priority and failure of the action in the present). – I was sure that if she had tried she would have managed it (the priority and failure of the action in the past). The regular expression of relative time through aspect forms (perfect vs. imperfect) peculiar to the subjunctive is defined as “time-retrospect shift”; it is the formal feature of the subjunctive which marks it in opposition to the indicative.

One more type of the oblique mood, traditionally referred to as “modal suppositional” is built with the help of modal verbs, and expresses the same semantic types of unreality as subjunctive I, cf.: may/might + infinitive – is used to denote wish, desire, hope, and supposition in some contexts (with the words “whatever, however, though”, etc.), e.g.: May it be so! (cf. with subjunctive I: Be it so!); I hoped he might come soon (cf.: I hoped that he come soon); Whatever he might say I am not afraid of him (cf.: Whatever he say, I am not afraid of him); should + infinitive – is used to express supposition, suggestion, speculation, recommendation, inducements of various types and degrees of intensity, e.g.: Whatever my mother should say about him, we’ll marry one day (cf. with subjunctive I: Whatever my mother say about him, we’ll marry one day); It is obligatory that she should be present at the meeting (cf.: It is obligatory that she be present at the meeting). We can add one more type of modal construction to this, constructions with the semi-notional verb “to let” expressing inducement, because, as stated earlier in the analysis of subjunctive I, inducement can be treated as a specific type of unreality, e.g.: Let’s agree to differ; Let him do it his own way! These constructions are in complementary distribution with the imperative mood constructions of subjunctive I, which means that they are semantically identical, but used in grammatically different environments: subjunctive I inducements are used only with the second person, while let + infinitive inducements are used in all other cases, cf.: Do it your own way. – Let me do it my own way. - Let us do it our own way. – Let him do it his own way, etc.

This type of the oblique mood can be called, in accord with the accepted numerical terminology, subjunctive IV; the appropriate explanatory functional term for it is “spective mood”, and additionally, since it is formed with the help of modal verbs, it can be specified as the “modal spective”, to distinguish it from subjunctive I, which is specified as the “pure spective”.

Subjunctive IV complements subjunctive I not only by expressing inducement in different persons. Since subjunctive I has only one form (homonymous with the bare infinitive or the present imperfect), it cannot render priority or express negation; subjunctive IV in accord with the general time-retrospect shift rule can express relative present, simultaneity or posteriority, through its imperfect forms (the present imperfect), or it can render the relative past, the failure of some imaginary action in priority through its perfect forms (the present perfect), cf.: I wish it be so/ might be so (simultaneity or posteriority in the present; subjunctive I or subjunctive IV). – I wished it be so/ might be so (simultaneity or posteriority in the past; subjunctive I or subjunctive IV). -  I wish that it might not be so (simultaneity or posteriority in the present + negation; subjunctive IV). – I wished that it might not be so (simultaneity or posteriority in the past + negation; subjunctive IV). - I wish that it might have been so (failure in the present priority; subjunctive IV). – I wished that it might have been so (failure in the past priority; subjunctive IV).


The system of the oblique moods can be summarized in the following way: the subjunctive, the integral mood of unreality, marked by time-retrospect shift, presents the two sets of forms: the present forms expressing the mood of attitudes, the spective mood, and the past forms expressing the mood of reasoning, of appraising causal-conditional relations of processes. The two types of the spective mood, the pure spective and the modal spective, complement each other in different syntactic and stylistic environments; the two types of the conditional mood, the stipulative conditional and the consective conditional, complement each other within syntactic constructions reflecting the causal-conditional relations of events. The system of the oblique moods can be presented in the following table:


Subjunctive I (spective) Form: bare infinitive (imperfect) Meaning: attitudes Example: Be it so! Subjunctive II (stipulative conditional) Form: the past (imperfect or perfect) Meaning: unreal condition Example: If she tried…
Subjunctive IV (modal spective) Form: modal verbs + bare infinitive (imperfect or perfect) Meaning: attitudes Example: May it be so! Subjunctive III (consective conditional) Form: future-in-the-past (imperfect or perfect) Meaning: consequence of unreal condition Example: … she would manage it.

In conclusion, it must be mentioned that the whole system of the English subjunctive mood is not stable; it is still developing and the use of forms fluctuates a lot: for example, the form was is often used instead of were in the third person singular in subjunctive II (If he was here…), the auxiliaries should and would are often interchangeable, etc. In colloquial speech the semantic and formal contrasts between the indicative, the past subjunctive and the modal subjunctive are often neutralized, e.g.: It is impossible that he is right/ that he should be right/ that he be right; neutralization is also natural in reported speech in the past, e.g.: She thought that if she tried harder she would get the job.

Key terms: direct (indicative) mood forms, oblique (subjunctive) mood forms, imperative mood, time-retrospect shift, causal-conditional sentences, subjunctive I (pure spective), subjunctive II (stipulative conditional), subjunctive III (consective conditional), subjunctive IV (modal spective)

[5][1] Some authors, I. B. Khlebnikova among them, suggest another unifying term for the oblique moods, conjunctive, as in other Germanic languages

[6][2] L. S. Barkhudarov, who denied the existence of the oblique moods in English, treated subjunctive I forms as a subtype of the imperative.





The adjective as a word denoting the property of a substance. Its formal and functional characteristics. The category of comparison. Synthetical and analytical forms of the degrees of comparison; the problem of their grammatical sta­tus. Absolute and elative superiority. Direct and reverse com­parison. Grammatically relevant semantic subclasses of adjectives: qua­litative and relative adjectives. Functional subdivision of adjec­tives: evaluative and specificative adjectives. The correlation of the two subdivisions. The problem of “category of state” words. The problem of substantivized adjectives; full and partial substantivation (adjectivids).


The adjective expresses the categorial meaning of property of a substance, e.g.: hard work. That means that semantically the adjective is a bound word of partial nominative value: it can not be used without a word denoting the substance which it characterizes[7][1]. Even in contexts where no substance is named, it is presupposed (implied) or denoted by a substitutive word “one”, e.g.: Red is my favourite colour; The blouse is a bit small. Have you got a bigger one? When the adjective is used independently it is substantivized, i.e. it acquires certain features of a noun (this issue will be addressed later in the Unit).

Adjectives are distinguished by a specific combinability with the nouns which they modify, with link verbs and with modifying adverbs. The functions performed by the adjective correlate with their combinability: when combined with nouns, adjectives perform the function of an attribute (either in preposition to the noun modified or in post-position if accompanied by adjuncts), e.g.: a suspicious man; a man suspicious of his wife; when combined with link verbs they perform the function of a predicative (part of a compound nominal predicate), e.g.: The man was very suspicious of his wife. Usually, constructions with the attributive and predicative use of the adjective are easily transformed into each other, as in the examples given. But there are adjectives that can be used only attributively, e.g.: joint (venture), main (point), lone (wolf), live (music), daily (magazine), etc.; there are adjectives that are used only predicatively (usually adjectives denoting states and relations), e.g.: glad, fond, concerned, etc.; in addition, the predicative or attributive use may differentiate homonymous adjectives or different lexico-semantic variants of the same adjective, cf.: a certain man - I’m certain that the report is ready; ill manners – I’m ill.

Formally, adjectives are characterized by a specific set of word-building affixes, e.g.: hopeful, flawless, bluish, famous, decorative, accurate, inaccurate, basic, etc. As for word-changing categories, the adjective had a number of reflective categories in Old English: it agreed with the noun in number, case and gender; all these forms were lost in the course of historical development and today the only morphological category of the adjective is the immanent category of comparison.


The category of comparison expresses the quantitative characteristics of the quality rendered by the adjective, in other words, it expresses the relative evaluation of the amount of the quality of some referent in comparison with other referents possessing the same quality. Three forms constitute this category: the positive degree, the comparative degree, and the superlative degree forms of the adjective. The basic form, known as the positive degree, has no special formal mark, e.g.: tall, beautiful; the comparative degree is marked by two kinds of forms; synthetical forms with the suffix “-er” and analytical forms with the auxiliary word more, e.g.: taller, more beautiful; the superlative degree is also formed either synthetically with the help of the grammatical suffix “-est”, or analytically with the help of the auxiliary word most, e.g.: tallest, most beautiful. The synthetic and analytical degrees stand in complementary distribution to each other, their choice is determined by syllabo-phonetic forms of adjectives and is covered in detail in practical grammar textbooks. Also, there are suppletive forms of the degrees of comparison, e.g.: bad – worse – worst.

In the plane of content the category of comparison constitutes a gradual ternary opposition (see Unit 3). To be consistent with the oppositional approach, the category of comparison can be reduced to two binary oppositions correlated with each other in a hierarchy of two levels in the following way:

Degrees of comparison

-                                                                                    +

positive degree                       comparative + superlative degrees

(absence of comparison,                                    (superiority)

equality/ absence of equality)               taller, tallest; more, most beautiful

tall; beautiful; bad                                             worse, wors

-                                       +

comparative degree          superlative degree

(relative, restricted superiority) (absolute, unrestricted superiority)

taller; more beautiful; worse      tallest; most beautiful; worst


On the upper level the positive degree, as the unmarked member, is opposed to the comparative and superlative degrees, as the marked forms of the opposition, denoting the superiority of a certain referent in the property named by the adjective[8][2].The weak member, the positive degree, has a wider range of meanings: it denotes either the absence of comparison, or equality/inequality in special constructions of comparison, e.g.: He is tall; He is as tall as my brother; He is not so tall as my brother. On the lower level the comparative degree is opposed to the superlative degree. The comparative degree denotes relative, or restricted superiority, involving a restricted number of referents compared, normally two, e.g.: He is taller than my brother. The superlative degree denotes absolute, or unrestricted superiority, implying that all the members of a certain class of referents are compared and the referent of the word modified by the adjective possesses the property in question to the highest possible degree, e.g.: He is the tallest man I’ve ever seen. The superlative degree at this level of the opposition is the strong member, being more concrete in its semantics


The opposition can be contextually reduced: the superlative degree can be used instead of the positive degree in contexts where no comparison is meant, to denote a very high degree of a certain quality intensely presented, cf.: She is a most unusual woman (She is an extremely unusual woman); It was most generous of you (It was very generous of you). This kind of grammatical transposition is known as “the elative superlative. Thus, the superlative degree is used in two senses: the absolute superiority (unrestricted superiority) and the elative superiority (a very high degree of a certain quality). The formal mark of the difference between the two cases is the possibility of indefinite article determination or the use of the zero article with the noun modified by the adjective in the superlative degree, e.g.: It was a most generous gesture; a sensation of deepest regret.

The same grammatical metaphor is used in Russian, cf.: умнейший человек , с огромнейшим удовольствием, etc.; it must be noted, though, that the Russian elative superlative is usually expressed by synthetic forms of adjectives, while in English analytical forms are most often used.

The quantitative evaluation of a quality involves not only an increase in its amount or its intensity, but also the reverse, its reduction, rendered by the combination of the adjective with the words less and least, e.g.: important, less important, least important. These combinations can be treated as specific analytical forms of the category of comparison: they denote what can be called “negative comparison”, or “reverse comparison” and are formed with the help of the auxiliary words less and least; the regular synthetic and analytical forms denoting an increase in the amount of a quality may be specified as “direct comparison”, or “positive comparison” forms. Thus, the whole category of comparison is constituted not by three forms, but by five forms: one positive degree form (important), two comparative degree forms, direct and reverse (more important, less important), and two superlative degree forms: direct and reverse (most important, least important).

The reverse forms of comparison are rarely studied within the category of comparison; this can be explained, besides purely semantic reasons, by the fact that reverse comparison has no synthetical forms of expression, and by the fact that the grammatical meaning of its forms is not idiomatic: the auxiliary word retains its own lexical meaning. Still, if the analytical means of direct comparison, whose idiomatism is also weak, are considered to be grammatical forms of the adjectives, there is no reason to consider the forms of reverse comparison free word-combination[9][3].

Adjectives are traditionally divided on the basis of their semantics into two grammatically relevant subclasses: qualitative and relative adjectives. Qualitative adjectives denote the qualities of objects as such, e.g.: red, long, beautiful, etc. Relative adjectives denote qualities of objects in relation to other objects; such adjectives are usually derived from nouns, e.g.: wood – wooden, ice – icy, etc. The ability to form degrees of comparison is usually treated as the formal sign of qualitative adjectives, because they denote qualities which admit of quantitative estimation, e.g.: very long, rather long, not so long, long – longer - longest. But this is not exactly the case. First, there are a number of qualitative adjectives which have no forms of comparison because their own semantics is either inherently comparative or superlative, or incompatible with the idea of comparison at all (non-gradable), e.g.: excellent, semi-final, extinct, deaf, etc. Second, some relative adjectives, when used figuratively, perform the same semantic function of qualitative evaluation as qualitative adjectives proper and in such contexts acquire the ability to change their form according to the category of comparison, cf.: a golden crown: a relative adjective ‘golden’ is used in its primary meaning – a crown made of gold; golden hair: a relative adjective ‘golden’ is used in its figurative meaning – hair of the colour of gold; one can say: Her hair is even more golden than her mother’s hair. On the other hand, a qualitative adjective may be used in the specificative function as a relative adjective, specifying the property of some objects in their relations to the other objects, e.g.: a hard disk – the basically qualitative adjective ‘hard’ in this context specifies the type of the disk in relation to other types: hard disks - floppy disks. In such cases qualitative adjectives do not form the degrees of comparison. Thus, the grammatically relevant subdivision of adjectives should actually be based not on their general semantics, but on their semantic function: the basic semantic function of qualitative adjectives is evaluation, and they normally form the degrees of comparison; the basic semantic function of relative adjectives is specification, and they normally do not form the degrees of comparison. Still, when used in the evaluative function, both qualitative and relative adjectives form the degrees of comparison; when used in the specificative function, neither qualitative, nor relative adjectives form the degrees of comparison.


Among the words denoting substantive properties there is a set of words denoting states, mostly temporary states, that are used predominantly in the predicative function and are united by a common formal mark, the prefix ‘a-’, e.g.: afraid, afire, alike, etc. (cf.: the suffix ‘-o’ in Russian - холодно , тепло , весело, etc.) Their part of speech status is rather problematic. Traditionally they are referred to as “predicative adjectives” or a subtype of adverbs. In Russian linguistics such linguists as L. V. Scherba, V. V.Vinogradov and others state that these words constitute a separate class of words, a part of speech called “the category of state words”, or “statives”; their status as a separate part of speech in English is supported by B. Ilyish. There are some arguments, though, which may challenge this point of view.

· Semantically the statives have no categorial meaning of their own: adjectives denote not just qualities but, as was shown above, properties of substances, and that includes stative properties too; the statives are not at all unique semantically, the same meaning can be rendered by regular adjectives, e.g.: cases alike = similar cases.

· They have the same adverbial combinability and combinability with link verbs as regular adjectives, e.g.: The cases are absolutely alike.

· The similarity of functions can be demonstrated in coordinative groups of homogeneous notional sentence parts expressed by statives and regular adjectives, e.g.: Both cases are very much alike and highly suspicious.

· As with regular adjectives, they can be used in an evaluative function in a limited number of contexts and can even form the degrees of comparison, e.g.: These cases are more alike than the others.

· The prefix ‘a-’ can not serve as sufficient grounds for singling out this group of words in English, because in English there are statives which have no such prefix, e.g.: sorry, glad, ill, worth, etc. (The suffix ‘-o’ is not a unifying property of the statives in Russian either, cf.: жаль, лень, etc.)

· Besides, it is a closed set of words and rather a restricted one: there are no more than 50-80 words in this group; it is not characterized by openness, like all the other notional parts of speech.

Thus, we can infer that words denoting states, though possessing important structural and functional peculiarities, are not a separate part of speech, but a specific subset within the general class of adjectives.

At the beginning of this Unit the possibility of substantivation of adjectives was mentioned: some adjectives can transgress the border between the two classes and can acquire some features of the noun. Strictly speaking, substantivation is a type of conversion - a lexical word-building process of zero-derivation. When adjectives are fully substantivized, they make a new word, a noun, which is connected with the adjective only etymologically. Conversion of this type often takes place in cases of one-word ellipsis in stable attributive word-combinations, e.g.: a private ß a private soldier, a native ß a native resident. These nouns acquire all the forms of constitutive substantive categories: number, case, article determination, e.g.: privates, natives, private’s, native’s, a private, the private, etc. (Cf.: similar substantivation cases in Russian: рядовой, больной, etc.) There is also a group of partially substantivized adjectives which are characterized by mixed (hybrid) lexico-grammatical features: they convey the mixed adjectival-nounal semantics of property; in a sentence they perform functions characteristic of nouns; and they have deficient paradigms of number and article determination (they are not changed according to the category of number and are combined only with the definite article). They include words denoting groups of people sharing the same feature – the rich, the beautiful, the English, and words denoting abstract notions – the unforgettable, the invisible, etc. The former resemble the pluralia tantum nouns, and the latter the singularia tantum nouns. They make up a specific group of adjectives marginal to the nouns and can be called “adjectivids” by analogy with “verbids”. This type of word-building has become particularly productive in modern English, involving adjectivized past participles, which exhibit “triply” mixed meanings, e.g.: the newly wed, the unemployed, etc. And these tend to acquire more and more substantive features in the course of time, e.g., one can say the newly-weds, or an unemployed.

Key terms: property of a substance, category of comparison, degrees of comparison, positive degree, comparative degree, superlative degree, relative (restricted) superiority, absolute (unrestricted) superiority, absolute and elative superiority, direct (positive) and reverse (negative) comparison, qualitative and relative adjectives, evaluative and specificative semantic functions, ‘category of state’ words (statives), substantivation (full and partial)


[10][1] Historically, adjectives were once called noun adjectives because they named attributes which could be added (from Lat. adjicere to add) to a noun substantive to describe it in more detail, the two being regarded as varieties of the class noun or ‘name’.

[11][2] A. I. Smirnitsky points out that the suppletive forms of the comparative and superlative degrees share the same root, cf.: bad – worse, worst, which also supports the contention that on the upper level they together oppose the positive degree form.

[12][3] Some linguists, V. Y. Plotkin among them, consider that there is no category of comparison of English adjectives at all, the semantics of comparison being expressed lexically, through free word-combinations and word-building affixes of comparatives and superlatives.




The adverb as a word denoting non-substantive property. Its formal and functional characteristics. The producti­ve model of adverbial derivation (the suffix -ly): the problem of its lexical and grammatical status. Other structural types of adverbs. The problem of adverbs derivationally connected with words of other classes by conversion. Grammatically relevant semantic subdivision of adverbs: quali­tative, quantitative and circumstantial adverbs. Their subdivision into notional and functional (pronominal) adverbs. The degrees of comparison of adverbs in their correlation with the degrees of comparison of adjectives.

The adverb is a notional part of speech denoting, like the adjective, property; the adjective, as has been outlined in the previous unit, denotes properties of a substance, and the adverb denotes non-substantive properties: in most cases the properties of actions (to walk quickly), or the properties of other properties (very quick), or the properties of the situations in which the processes occur (to walk again). In other words, the adverb can be defined as a qualifying word of the secondary qualifying order, while the adjective is a primary qualifying word.

The adverb is the least numerous and the least independent of all the notional parts of speech; it has a great number of semantically weakened words intermediary between notional and functional words; this is why its notional part of speech status was doubted for a long time: the first grammarians listed adverbs among the particles.

Adverbs are characterized by their combinability with verbs, adjectives and other adverbs, which they modify. They perform the functions of various adverbial modifiers: of time (yesterday), place (there), of manner (secretly), etc. The adverbs which refer to whole situations are defined as situation-“determinants”, e.g.: They quarreled again.

There are certain contexts in which adverbs combine with nouns and perform a peculiar function of mixed adverbial-attributive character, e.g.: the trip abroad, his return home, the then President of the US, etc. This is the result of the nominalization of syntactic constructions (see Unit 20) in which the correspondent adverb functions as a regular adverbial modifier, cf.: his return home ß he returned home; the then President of the US ß the person who was the president of the US then.

In accordance with their form, adverbs are divided into simple and derived. There are few simple adverbs, most of them are of a functional or semi-functional character, e.g.: more, very, there, then, here, etc. The characteristic adverbial word-building affixes are the following: simply, clockwise, backward, ahead, etc. The most productive derivational model of adverbs is the one with the suffix ‘-ly’. It is so highly productive that practically every adjective has its adverbial counterpart, e.g.: simple - simply, soft – softly, etc.; some linguists, for example, A. I. Smirnitsky, consider them to be not adverbs but specific forms of adjectives.

The other structural types are compound adverbs, e.g.: sometimes, downstairs, etc., and stable adverbial phrases or composite phrasal adverbs, e.g.: upside down, at least, a great deal of, from time to time, etc.

There are certain controversies among linguists about the status of phrases like from above, before now, until then, etc. They are sometimes treated as stable adverbial phrases (phrasal adverbs), but this approach can be challenged, because the members of such word combinations are not semantically blended into an indivisible idiomatic unity. More plausible is the following approach: some adverbs are freely combined with prepositions and, since combinability with prepositions is characteristic of nouns, they make a peculiar set of partially substantivized adverbs (“adverbids”), i.e. their lexico-grammatical status is intermediary between adverbs and nouns.

There is a large group of adverbs homonymous with words of other parts of speech, both notional and functional. Some adverbs are adjective-stem conversives (zero-derived adverbs), cf.: a hard work – to work hard, a flat roof – to fall flat into the water, etc. Among the adjective-stem converted adverbs there are a few words with the non-specific –ly originally inbuilt in the adjective, cf.: a kindly man – to talk kindly. Since there are no other differential features except for their positions, these words can be defined as “fluctuant conversives”.

Some of the zero-derived adverbs coexist with the ‘-ly’-derived adverbs; the two adverbs are in most cases different in meaning, cf.: to work hard – to work hardly at all. If their meanings are similar, the two adverbs differ from the point of view of functional stylistics: adverbs without ‘-ly’ are characteristic for the American variant of the English language; additionally, there is some research showing that adverbs without ‘-ly’ are more often used by men than by women, cf.: He talks real quick - He talks really quickly.

Some adverbs of weakened pronominal semantics are connected by fluctuant (positional) conversion with functional words; for example, some adverbs are positionally interchangeable with prepositions and conjunctions, e.g.: before, since, after, besides, instead, etc. Cf.: We haven’t met since 1996. – We haven’t met since we passed our final exams. - We met in 1996, and haven’t seen each other ever since.

Adverbs should not be confused with adverb-like elements, which are interchangeable with prepositions (and sometimes prefixes) and when placed after the verb form a semantic blend with it, e.g.: to give – to give up, to give in, to give away, etc.; to go down the hill - to download, to downplay - to sit down, to bring down, to bend down, etc.  These functional words make a special set of particles; they are intermediary between the word and the morpheme and can be called “postpositives”.

Traditionally, adverbs are divided on the basis of their general semantics into qualitative, quantitative, and circumstantial. The qualitative adverbs denote the inherent qualities of actions and other qualities; most of them are derived from qualitative adjectives, e.g.: bitterly, hard, beautifully, well, etc. The quantitative adverbs show quantity measure; genuine quantitative adverbs are usually derived from numerals, e.g.: twice, three times, tenfold, manifold, etc. The circumstantial adverbs denote mainly the circumstances of time and place (they can also be defined as “orientative”), e.g.: today, here, when, far, ashore, abroad, often, etc.

Taking into consideration various hybrid types of adverbs of weakened nominative force, it is important to subdivide adverbs on the basis of their semantic value into the following groups: genuine”, or notional (nominal) adverbs of full semantic value and semi-functional (pronominal) adverbs of partial semantic value. Quantitative adverbs belong to the group of semi-functional adverbs by their own pronominal (numerical) semantics. Qualitative adverbs include, on the one hand, genuine qualitative adverbs, e.g.: bitterly, hard, beautifully, well, etc. and on the other hand, a group of semi-functional words of degree, quality evaluators of intermediary qualitative-quantitative semantics. The latter include adverbs of high degree (intensifiers), e.g.: very, greatly, absolutely, pretty, etc.; adverbs of excessive degree, e.g.: too, awfully, tremendously, etc.; adverbs of unexpected degree, e.g.: surprisingly, astonishingly, etc.; adverbs of moderate degree, e.g.: fairly, relatively, rather, etc.; and some other groups. Circumstantial adverbs are also divided into notional and functional. Notional (genuine) circumstantial adverbs are self-dependent words denoting time and space orientation, e.g.: tomorrow, never, recently, late; homeward, ashore, outside, far, etc. The functional circumstantial adverbs, besides the quantitative (numerical) adverbs mentioned above, include pronominal adverbs of time, place, manner, cause, consequence, e.g.: here, when, where, so, thus, nevertheless, otherwise, etc. They substitute notional adverbs or other words used in the function of adverbial modifiers in a sentence, cf.: He stayed at school. – He stayed there; many of them are used as syntactic connectives and question-forming functionals, e.g.: Where is he? I do not know where he is now.

Thus, the whole class of adverbs can be divided, first, into nominal and pronominal, then the nominal adverbs can be subdivided into qualitative and orientative, the former including genuine qualitative adverbs and degree adverbs, the latter divided into temporal and local adverbs, with further possible subdivisions of each group.

Like adjectives, adverbs are also subdivided functionally into evaluative and specificative. When used in their evaluative function, adverbs (qualitative adverbs, predominantly) distinguish the category of comparison and have five morphological forms: one positive, two comparative (direct and reverse) and two superlative (direct and reverse), e.g.: bitterly – more bitterly, less bitterly – most bitterly, least bitterly. Their superlative degree form can also be used either in the absolute sense (to denote absolute superiority) or in the elative sense, denoting a high degree of the property, e.g.: The youngest kid cried most bitterly of all. – The kid cried most bitterly. When used in the specificative function, adverbs are unchangeable, e.g.: We meet today; We came ashore.  

Key terms: non-substantive property, simple adverbs, derived adverbs, compound adverbs, stable adverbial phrases (composite phrasal adverbs), partially substantivized adverbs, “fluctuant conversives”, qualitative, quantitative and circumstantial (orientative) adverbs, “genuine”, or notional (nominal) adverbs and (semi-) functional (pronominal) adverbs, connective (conjunctive) adverbs, degree adverbs





Дата: 2019-12-22, просмотров: 199.