Update: 2012-11-24 05:29 PM +0630

TIL

TIL Grammar Glossary

V01.htm

Compiled by U Kyaw Tun (UKT), M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.), and staff of TIL (Tun Institute of Learning, http://www.tuninst.net ), from various sources. Prepared for students of TIL Computing and Language Center, Yangon, Myanmar. Not for sale.

index.htm | |Top
GramGloss-indx.htm

Contents of this page
Grammar Glossary - V

valency (linguistic) • varietyverbverb formsverb groupverb phraseverb to beverbalverbal adjectiveverbal nounverbal phrasevoicevowel

UKT Notes
• valency (linguistic) • verb to be 

Contents of this page

valency (linguistic)

See valency in my notes.

Excerpt from Wikipedia
In linguistics, verb valency or valence refers to the number of arguments controlled by a verbal predicate. It is related, though not identical, to verb transitivity, which counts only object arguments of the verbal predicate. Verb valency, on the other hand, includes all arguments, including the subject of the verb.

The linguistic meaning of valence is derived from the definition of valency in chemistry. This metaphor is due to Lucien Tesnière.

Contents of this page

variety 

From LBH
Among connected sentences, changes in length, structure, and word order that help readers see the importance and complexity of ideas. (See Chapter 26.)

Contents of this page

verb 

See: • noun • nominal • verb • verbal • dynamic verb • stative verb

From LBH
A word or group of words indicating the action or state of being of a subject. The inflection of a verb and the use of helping verbs with it indicate its tense, mood, voice, number, and sometimes person.
See separate listings for each aspect and predicate. (See Chapter 14.)

From UseE
Verbs are one of the major grammatical groups, and all sentences must contain one. Verbs refer to an action (do, break, walk, etc.) or a state (be, like, own).
     The verb tense shows the time of the action or state. Aspect shows whether the action or state is completed or not. Voice is used to show relationships between the action and the people affected by it. Mood shows the attitude of the speaker about the verb, whether it is a declaration or an order. Verbs can be affected by person and number to show agreement with the subject [in a sentence].

From AHTD
1. a. The part of speech that expresses existence, action, or occurrence in most languages.
    b. Any of the words within this part of speech, as be, run, or conceive.
2. A phrase or other construction used as a verb. [Middle English verbe from Old French from Latin verbum word, verb; See wer- 5 in Indo-European Roots.]

From HG (080719)
Using Verbs: The verb is perhaps the most important part of the sentence. A verb or compound verb asserts something about the subject of the sentence and expresses actions, events, or states of being.

In each of the following sentences, the verb or compound verb appears underlined [changed from <highlighted>]:

Dracula bites his victims on the neck.
-- The verb "bites" describes the action Dracula takes.

In early October, Giselle will plant twenty tulip bulbs.
-- Here the compound verb "will plant" describes an action that will take place in the future.
[UKT: This website is from Univ. of Ottawa located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. In October the weather is beginning to cool and soon the ground will be frozen. When Spring comes around in April, and when the ground starts to thaw, tulips will flower. Tulip is a spring flower.]

My first teacher was Miss Crawford, but I remember the janitor Mr. Weatherbee more vividly.
-- In this sentence, the verb "was" (the simple past tense of "is") identifies a particular person and the verb "remembered" describes a mental action.

 

Contents of this page

verb forms 

From LBH
Verbs have five distinctive forms. The first three are the verb's principal parts:

• The plain form is the dictionary form:
     live / swim  

• The past-tense form adds -d or -ed to the plain form if the verb is regular:
     live / lived  
If the verb is irregular, the plain form changes in some other way, such as:
     swim / swam  

• The past participle is the same as the past-tense form for regular verbs.
For irregular verbs, the past participle may differ:
     swum  

• The present participle adds -ing to the plain form:
     living / swimming  

• The -s form adds -s or -es to the plain form:
     lives / swims  

Contents of this page

verb group

From UseE
A verb group consists of a verb and an auxiliary verb or a modal verb:

She shouldn't do that.
(Modal + verb) [UKT: underline is mine.]

I haven't seen her.
(Auxiliary + verb) [UKT: underline is mine.]

Contents of this page

verb phrase 

From LBH
A verb consisting of a helping verb and a main verb:
[E.g.] • has started • will have been invited.

A verb phrase can serve as the predicate of a clause:

The movie has started.

From UseE
The verb phrase is the main verb plus the complement, object, and/or adverbial:

She sent me a lovely birthday card.
Everything except the subject she  is the verb phrase.

Contents of this page

verb to be

From WNet

See • Verb to be in my notes

The verb “To be” is said to be the most protean of the English language, constantly changing form, sometimes without much of a discernible pattern. Considering that we use it so often, it is really too bad that the verb “To be” has to be the most irregular, slippery verb in the language.
     Present tense
I am // We are
You are // You are
He/She/It is // They are
     Past tense
I was // We were
You were // You were
He/She/It was // They were
     Perfect Form (past participle)
I have been, etc.
     Progressive Form (present participle)
I am being, etc.
     Unnecessary Uses of “To Be”
Even a casual review of your writing can reveal uses of the verb “To be” that are unnecessary and that can be removed to good effect. In a way, the “To be” verb doesn't do much for you — it just sits there — and text that is too heavily sprinkled with “To be” verbs can feel sodden, static. This is especially true of “To be” verbs tucked into dependent clauses (particularly dependent clauses using a passive construction) and expletive constructions (“There is,” “There were,” “it is,” etc.). Note that the relative pronoun frequently disappears as well when we revise these sentences.
• He wanted a medication that was prescribed by a physician.
• She recognized the officer who was chasing the crook.
• Anyone who is willing to work hard will succeed in this program.
It was Alberto who told the principal about the students' prank.
   (Notice that the “it was” brought special emphasis to “Alberto,” an emphasis that is somewhat lost by this change.)
• A customer who is pleased is sure to return. A pleased customer is sure to return.
   (When we eliminate the “To be” and the relative pronoun, we will also have to reposition the predicate adjective to a pre-noun position.)
- WNet

Contents of this page

verbal

See • nominal

From LBH  
Verbals are verb forms used as:
     adjectives
          swimming children  
     adverbs
          designed to succeed 
     nouns -- Compare with gerund.
          addicted to running  
The verbals in the preceding examples are a participle, an infinitive, and a gerund, respectively. (See separate entries for each type.)
A verbal is a nonfinite verb: it cannot serve as the only verb in the predicate of a sentence. For that, it requires a helping verb. (See p. 270.)

From AHTD
1. Relating to, having the nature or function of, or derived from a verb.
2. Used to form verbs: a verbal suffix.

Contents of this page

verbal adjective

From AHTD
An adjective that is derived from a verb and that in some constructions, participial phrases for example, preserves the verb's syntactic features, such as transitivity and the capability of taking nominal or verbal complements.

Contents of this page

verbal noun (gerund)

See • gerund

From AHTD
1. A noun that is derived from a verb and usually preserves the verb's syntactic features, such as transitivity or the capability of taking nominal or verbal complements.

UKT:  
To state that "a gerund is a verb" is very misleading. A gerund is a noun derived from a verb.

Contents of this page

verbal phrase

From LBH
Verbal phrases consist of verbals plus objects or modifiers:

Swimming fast, the children reached the raft.
Willem tried to unlatch the gate.
Running in the park is his only recreation.

(See pp. 269–72.)

Contents of this page

voice 

From LBH
The form of a verb that tells whether the sentence subject performs the action or is acted upon.

In the active voice the subject acts:
     We made the decision.

In the passive voice the subject is acted upon:
     The decision was made by us.

(See pp. 329–31.)

From UseE
Voice shows the relationship between the verb [V] and the noun phrases [subject S and/or object O] connected to it. There are two voices in English; the passive and the active.

Contents of this page

vowel

From UseE
A
; E; I; O; U; & Y are the English vowels, although Y can also behave as a consonant when it is at the beginning of a word.
     A vowel is a sound where air coming from the lungs is not blocked by the mouth or throat.
     All normal English words contain at least one vowel.

UKT: Statements such as the above from UseE are very misleading. A E I O U are graphemes. The vowels are sounds represented by IPA alphabets such as /a/ /e/ /i/ /o/ /ʌ/ /ʊ/. Refer to a pronouncing dictionary such as DJPD16.

Contents of this page

UKT notes

valency (linguistic)

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valency_(linguistics) 080718

In linguistics, verb valency or valence refers to the number of arguments controlled by a verbal predicate. It is related, though not identical, to verb transitivity, which counts only object arguments of the verbal predicate. Verb valency, on the other hand, includes all arguments, including the subject of the verb.

The linguistic meaning of valence is derived from the definition of valency in chemistry. This metaphor is due to Lucien Tesnière.

Types of valency
There are several types of valency:

The verb requires all of these arguments in a well-formed sentence, although they can sometimes undergo valency reduction or expansion.

For instance, to eat is naturally divalent, as in he is eating an apple, but may be reduced to monovalency in he is eating. This is called valency reduction.

Verbs that are usually monovalent, like to sleep, cannot take a direct object. However, there are cases where the valency of such verbs can be expanded, for instance in He sleeps the sleep of death. This is called valency expansion.

Verb valence can also be described in terms of syntactic versus semantic criteria. The syntactic valence of a verb refers to the number of dependent arguments that the verb can have, while semantic valence describes the thematic relations associated with a verb.

Lexical valency
The term valence has a related technical meaning in lexical semantics that elaborates on the role of argument structure - it refers to the capacity of other lexical units to combine with the given word. For instance, valence is one of the elements defining a construction in some Construction Grammars. This sense of the term, sometimes called Lexical Valency, is related to the above, but is far richer than the numerical notion inherited from chemistry.

Go back valency-ling-note-b

Contents of this page

Verb "To Be"

From:
WNet http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/to_be.htm (download date uncertain - no longer active
Commnet http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/to_be.htm 080615
- pix on right: Eugène Delacroix's lithograph of Hamlet with the gravediggers (1846) from http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/to_be.htm 080615


The Forms of “To Be”

The Greek sea god, Proteus, was (like the sea) capable of changing form in an instant. In order to get any decent information out of him, you had to grab him and hold on tight while he went through his various forms — lion, wild boar, snake, tree, running stream — it wasn't easy. The verb “To be” is said to be the most protean of the English language, constantly changing form, sometimes without much of a discernible pattern. Considering that we use it so often, it is really too bad that the verb “To be” has to be the most irregular, slippery verb in the language.

Present Tense

I am  -  We are
You are  -  You are
He/She/It is - They are

Past Tense

I was - We were
You were - You were
He/She/It was - They were

Perfect Form (past participle)

I have been , etc.

Progressive Form (present participle)

I am being , etc.

We must choose carefully among these various forms when selecting the proper verb to go with our subject. Singular subjects require singular verbs; plural subjects require plural verbs. That's usually an easy matter. We wouldn't write “The troops was moving to the border.” But some sentences require closer attention. Do we write “The majority of students is (or are) voting against the referendum"? Review carefully the material in our section on Subject-Verb Agreement, and notice how often the choices we make require a familiarity with these forms of the “To be” verb.


Simple Questions

We create simple yes/no questions by inverting the order of subject and the “To be” verb.

Is your brother taller than you?
Am I bothering you?
Were they embarrassed by the comedian?

UKT: Though there is no problem with the question " Is your brother taller than you?" the answer can be tricky. Should it be: "My brother is taller than I" or "My brother is taller than me" ? I was advised to think of "My brother is taller than I am" from which I can write "My brother is taller than I". However, I have come across many native speakers using "My brother is taller than me". -- UKT 080615.

The same inversion takes place when “To be” is combined with verbs in the progressive:

Am I working with you today?
Is it snowing in the mountains?
Were your children driving home this weekend?

The Linking and Existential 'To Be'
The verb “To be” most frequently works in conjunction with another verb: “He is playing the piano,” “She will be arriving this afternoon.” Occasionally, though, the verb will stand by itself, alone, in a sentence. This is especially true in simple, brief answers to questions.

“Who's going to the movies with me?”
“I am”.

“Who's responsible for this mess in the bathroom?”
“She is.”

In sentences such as these, the subject usually receives the intonation stress and the voice falls off on the verb.

An auxiliary can be combined with the base form of “To be” to provide simple answers to questions that use forms of “to be.”

“Is Heitor in class this morning?”
“Well, he might be.”

“Is anyone helping Heitor with his homework?”
“I'm not sure. Suzanne could be.”

The verb “To be” also acts as a linking verb, joining the sentence subject with a subject complement or adjective complement. A linking verb provides no action to a sentence: the subject complement re-identifies the subject; the adjective complement modifies it. (For further information and additional vocabulary in dealing with linking verbs, visit the hyperlinks in this paragraph.)

Professor Moriber is the Director of Online Learning.
Our trip to Yellowstone was fantastic!


In Passive Constructions

A form of the verb “To be” is combined with a past participle to form the passive. Passive verb constructions are useful when the subject of an action is not as important as what the subject did (the action of the sentence) or when the subject is unknown. For instance, the police might report that “The professor was assaulted in the hallways” because they do not know the perpetrator of this heinous crime. In technical writing, where the process is more important than who is doing the activity, we might report that “Three liters of fluid is filtered through porous glass beads.” Regardless of the verb's purpose, only the auxiliary form of “To be” changes; the participle stays the same. The “To be” will change form to indicate whether the subject is singular or plural:

• The foundation is supported by enormous floating caissons that keep it from sinking into the swamp.
• They were constructed by workers half submerged in the murky waters.

Notice how the information about who did the action is frequently found in a prepositional phrase beginning with “by.” Passive constructions do not always include this information:

• Wooden caissons were used until fiberglass structures were developed in the 1950s.
• Caissons were also designed to function under water in the construction of bridges.

The “To be” will also change to indicate the time of the action and the aspect of the verb (simple, progressive, perfect).

• Water is pumped out of the caisson to create an underwater work chamber. (simple present)
• Some caissons were moved to other construction sites. (simple past)
• While the water was being pumped out, workers would enter the top of the waterproof chamber. (past progressive)
• Many other uses of caisson construction have been explored. (present perfect)
• Caissons had been used by the ancient Romans. (past perfect)
• Other uses will be found. (future)

The “To be” verb can be combined with other modal forms (along with the past participle of the main verb) to convey other kinds of information. See the section on modals for the various kinds of information conveyed by modals (advisability, predictability, guessing, necessity, possibility, etc.).

• The wall joints may be weakened if the caissons can't be rebuilt.
• Perhaps the caissons should be replaced; I think they ought to be.
• These ancient, sturdy structures might have been rotted by constant exposure to water.

Visit our section on the passive for advice on when to use the passive and when to substitute more active verb forms.

When “To be” verbs are combined with modal forms in this manner, the construction is called a phrasal modal. Here are some more examples:

• Rosario was able to finish her degree by taking online courses.
• She wasn't supposed to graduate until next year.
• She will be allowed to participate in commencement, though.
• She is about to apply to several graduate programs.
• She is going to attend the state university next fall.

Sometimes it is difficult to say whether a “To be” verb is linking a subject to a participle or if the verb and participle are part of a passive construction. In “Certain behaviors are allowed,” is "are” linking “behaviors” to "allowed" (a participle acting as a predicate adjective) or is “are allowed” a passive verb? In the final analysis, it probably doesn't matter, but the distinction leads to some interesting variations. Consider the difference between

• "The jurists were welcomed."
and  • "The jurists were welcome."

In the first sentence, the participle “welcomed” (in this passive construction) emphasizes the action of welcoming: the smiles, the hearty greetings, the slaps on the back. In the second sentence, the predicate adjective “welcome” describes the feeling that the jurists must have had upon being so welcomed.


Progressive Forms
Click HERE for a thorough discussion of the progressive verb forms. Progressive forms include a form of “To be” plus a present participle (an -ing ending). Frodesen and Eyring** categorize progressive verbs according to the following functions:

• to describe actions already in progress at the moment "in focus" within the sentence, as in “I was doing my homework when my brother broke into my room, crying.” or “I will be graduating from college about the same time that you enter high school.”
• to describe actions at the moment of focus in contrast to habitual actions, as in “We usually buy the most inexpensive car we can find, but this time we're buying a luxury sedan.”
• to express repeated actions, as in “My grandfather is forever retelling the same story about his adventures in Rangoon.”
• to describe temporary situations in contrast to permanent states, as in “Jeffrey goes to the University of Connecticut, but this summer he is taking courses at the community college.”
• to express uncompleted actions, as in “Harvey and Mark are working on their deck.”


Tag Questions with “To Be”
Click HERE for a description of tag questions, a device by which a statement is turned into a question. When we use “To be” verbs in a tag question, the basic formula follows: the verb is combined with a pronoun and sometimes with not (usually in a contracted form). Positive statements are followed by negative tags; negative statements by positive tags.

• Robert Frost was America's favorite poet, wasn't he?
• He wasn't widely accepted in this country at first, was he?
• You were going to skip this poem, weren't you?
• There were several typographical errors in this anthology, weren't there? (Be careful here. It's not “weren't they.”)
• I am not a very good reader, am I?
• I'm a better reader than you, aren't I?

(Don't try to make sense of this last construction. It is acceptable. In very formal text, you might write “am I not” instead. “Ain't” is not regarded as acceptable except in text attempting to duplicate substandard speech.)


Order with Adverbs
Notice that adverbs of frequency normally appear after forms of the verb “To be”:

• As a student, he was seldom happy.
• Arturo is always first in line.
• They were never on time.

Notice that the adverb still appears after “To be” verbs but before other main verbs:

• My brother-in-law still works for the bank.
• He is still a teller after twenty years.

An adverb can be interposed between the infinitive “To be” and a participle, as in the following sentences. The fear of splitting an infinitive is without grounds in this construction.

• This medicine has to be carefully administered.
• She turned out to be secretly married to her childhood sweetheart.


Unnecessary Uses of “To Be”
Even a casual review of your writing can reveal uses of the verb “To be” that are unnecessary and that can be removed to good effect. In a way, the “To be” verb doesn't do much for you — it just sits there — and text that is too heavily sprinkled with “To be” verbs can feel sodden, static. This is especially true of “To be” verbs tucked into dependent clauses (particularly dependent clauses using a passive construction) and expletive constructions (“There is,” “There were,” “it is,” etc.). Note that the relative pronoun frequently disappears as well when we revise these sentences.

• He wanted a medication that was prescribed by a physician.
• She recognized the officer who was chasing the crook.
• Anyone who is willing to work hard will succeed in this program.
It was Alberto who told the principal about the students' prank. (Notice that the “it was” brought special emphasis to “Alberto,” an emphasis that is somewhat lost by this change.)
• A customer who is pleased is sure to return. A pleased customer is sure to return. (When we eliminate the “To be” and the relative pronoun, we will also have to reposition the predicate adjective to a pre-noun position.)

An expletive construction, along with its attendant “To be” verb, can often be eliminated to good effect. Simply omit the construction, find the real subject of the sentence, and allow it to do some real work with a real verb.

There were some excellent results to this experiment in social work.
(Change to . . . .) This experiment in social work resulted in . . . .

There is one explanation for this story's ending in Faulkner's diary.
(Change to . . . .) Faulkner's diary gives us one explanation for this story's ending.

On the other hand, expletive constructions do give us an interesting means of setting out or organizing the work of a subsequent paragraph:

• There were four underlying causes of World War I. First, . . . .


Fuzzy Verb phrases with "Be"
UKT: This section is added on 080615. Commnet stated that the section was taken from Garner's Modern American Usage by Bryan Garner, 2003. Oxford Univ. Press.

Verb phrases containing "be" verbs are often merely roundabout ways of saying something better said with a simple verb. Thus "be supportive of "  for  "support" is verbose.

The following circumlocutory uses of "be" verbs are common in stuffy writing. The simple verb (in parentheses) is usually better:

• be abusive of (abuse) • be applicable to (apply to) • be benefited by (benefit from)
• be derived from (derive from) • be desirous of (desire or want) • be determinative of (determine)
• be in agreement (agree) • be in attendance (attend) • be indicative of (indicate)
• be in error (err) • be in existence (exist) • be influential on (influence) • be in possession of (possess)
• be in receipt of (have received) • be in violation of (violate) • be operative (operate)
• be productive of (produce) • be promotive of (promote) • be supportive of (support)

Many such wordy constructions are more naturally phrased in the present-tense singular: "is able to" ("can"), "is authorized to" ("may"), "is binding upon" ("binds"), "is empowered to" ("may"), "is unable to" ("cannot").


Stative and Dynamic Forms
Martha Kolln* suggests that we think of the difference between stative and dynamic in terms of “willed” and “nonwilled” qualities. Consider the difference between a so-called dynamic adjective (or subject complement) and a stative adjective (or subject complement): “I am silly” OR “I am being silly” versus “I am tall.” I have chosen to be silly; I have no choice about being tall. Thus “Tall” is said to be a stative (or an “inert”) quality, and we cannot say “I am being tall”; “silly,” on the other hand, is dynamic so we can use progressive verb forms in conjunction with that quality.

Two plus two equals four. Equals is inert, stative, and cannot take the progressive; there is no choice, no volition in the matter. (We would not say, “Two plus two is equaling four.”) In the same way, nouns and pronouns can be said to exhibit willed and unwilled characteristics. Thus, “She is being a good worker” (because she chooses to be so), but we would say “She is (not is being) an Olympic athlete” (because once she becomes an athlete she no longer “wills it”). For further definition of this interesting distinction, click HERE.

*Understanding English Grammar by Martha Kolln. 4rth Edition. MacMillan Publishing Company: New York. 1994.

**The section on uses of “To be” in passive constructions is based on information in Grammar Dimensions: Form, Meaning, and Use, #3 2nd Ed. by Jan Frodesen and Janet Eyring. Heinle & Heinle: Boston. 1997. Examples are our own.

Go back verb-to-be-note-b

Contents of this page

End of TIL file