The given article tackles certain peculiarities in the use of some parts of speech of the English language which are hardly fixed, if at all, in the grammar textbooks by the Russian authors. The research is based on the review of the manual “A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language” (2000 pages) compiled by the four English authors: R.Quirk, S.Greenbaum, G.Leech, J.Svartic. Some stated cases are illustrated by the examples selected from authentic literature. The information is supposed to be useful for those who are eager to enrich their knowledge of the English morphology.
Key words: tendency, grammar, parts of speech, research.
Данная статья рассматривает особенности употребления отдельных частей речи в английском языке, которые мало или совсем не отражены в отечественных учебниках по грамматике. Анализ проведён на основе научного труда «Комплексная грамматика английского языка» (2000 стр.), авторами которого являются Рандольф Квирк, Сидни Гринбаум, Джеффи Лич, Ян Свартик. Отдельные примеры, иллюстрирующие те или иные положения, взяты из аутентичной литературы. Предполагается, что информация может быть полезной для тех, кто желает узнать «тонкости» английской морфологии.
Ключевые слова:тенденция, грамматика, части речи, исследование.
The authors of the research selected some cases of using English parts of speech which can present points of peculiar interest for the language-learners.
The beginning tackles sense-differentiating examples of commonly used prepositions.
In modern English, which has lost almost all case-forms, prepositions have become a most important means of indicating various relations of nouns to the other words in the sentence.
In the most general terms a preposition expresses a relation between two entities: one being that represented by the prepositional complement, the other by another part of the sentence. It is generally accepted that the preposition “of” is used to form the genitive case of the nouns denoting lifeless things, but G.Leech in his chapter allotted to the preposition includes the following note: whereas the car of the lady is unacceptable when unmodified, it becomes acceptable when there is postmodification of the whole noun phrase, or part of it:
e.g. He crashed into the car of the lady in front of him.
e.g. He crashed into the car of the girl he hoped to marry.
The usage of the preposition with the noun “night” is worth interpreting as it is not always clear which one to use. When we want to refer to a period of the night, we use in.
e.g. “I want to sleep out here so that I could answer the urgent telephone call in the night.”
At night is used as opposed to “in the evening”, “in the day-time.”
e.g. At night everything is peaceful.
e.g. My father was in the habit of teaching our puppy tricks at night.
By occurs in the idioms by night and by day which replace “during the night/ during the day” with some activities such as travelling:
e.g. “We preferred travelling by night.” [7, P. 68]
The prepositions ‘by’, ‘on’, ‘in’ and some others can be used in the idiomatic expressions like: to look in the eye, to be red in the face, to have spies on the brain.
A characteristic feature of these expressions is the use of the definite article instead of possessive pronouns with nouns denoting parts of a human body, also determine the use of the article in nonidiomatic expressions.
e.g. He kicked me on the shin.
e.g. He seized him by the beard / the throat.
Outside the above-mentioned conditions, the is sometimes used instead of possessive in a masculine style of speech.
e.g. How’s the back? (referring to an injury)
e.g. Let’s have a look at the arm. (This is also what a doctor, of either sex, might say to a patient)
e.g. “White Fang snarled no warning, but rushed to the sheep-dog snatching her by the bristled hair.” [4, P. 253]
Related to this usage is the habit of some men to refer to their wives or children by the. (informal)
e.g. How’s the wife? (normally your wife)
e.g. Wait till I tell the wife about it. (normally my wife)
There can be a slight difference between the constructions illustrated by:
e.g. Ishook him by the hand. (Я потряс его за руку, чтобы вправить вывих).
e.g. Ishook his hand. (To shake one’s hand — обменяться рукопожатием).
Sense-differentiating are the prepositions “of” and “about” used after the verb “to think”.
e.g. He thought about the problem.
“Thought” here presupposes the process of pondering, considering the problem and it is rendered into Russian as “думал”.
e.g. He thought of the problem. (A momentary action is implied — Он подумал о проблеме — He brought the problem to his mind).
e.g. “It was large for a wolf, Buck thought of his ancestors, its gaunt frame advertising the lines of an animal that was among the largest of its kind.” [5, P. 112]
e.g. “Sometimes he thought about that big house in the sun-kissed valley.” [5, P. 52]
The same sense-differentiating are the prepositions “by” and “with” in the following examples:
e.g. My car had been damaged (1) by the branch of a tree.
e.g. My car had been damaged (2) with the branch of a tree.
“By” in (1) would exclude a human agency: a storm may have caused the branch to cause the damage.
By contrast, “with” in (2) would exclude the natural cause and would suggest that human agents had used the branch broken from a tree to inflict the damage.
When a verb contains, within its own meaning, the meaning of a following preposition, it is often possible to omit the preposition. The verb then becomes transitive, and the prepositional complement becomes a direct, locative object. The following examples have mainly spatial meaning, but other examples are included to show that this process is not restricted to spatial uses of prepositions:
pass (by) a house
flee (from) the country
turn (around) a corner
In many cases there is a difference in meaning between the two constructions. The construction with the preposition draws attention to the process, whereas the direct object construction has perfective meaning indicating that the objective is achieved. Compare:
e.g. Let’s swim across the river.
e.g. She was the first woman to swim the Channel.
One should mind the difference between:
above — on a higher level.
over indicates spatial proximity or direct vertical relationship.
e.g. “What is it, Sue?” “He looked up at her on the bank above him.” “What caused it?” [2, P. 70]
e.g. “The doctor and the policemen were leaning over the body when he arrived.” [2, P. 45]
The next part of speech selected for the comment is the adverb because sometimes it presents difficulty as to its place in the sentence and semantic choice.
There are a number of adverbs in English concerned with expressing the semantic role of modality which intensify the truth value of the clause or part of the clause to which they apply. They take on the force of intensifiers.
Compare the use of really in the following:
e.g. He really may have injured innocent people. (1)
e.g. He may really have injured innocent people. (2)
e.g. He may have really injured innocent people. (3)
In (1) and (2) we have a pure emphasizer and we might paraphrase it as follows:
e.g. It is really possible that he has injured… (1a).
e.g. It is possible that it is really true that he has injured … (2a).
With (3), however, the implication is of a high degree of injury as well as the assertion of certainty; i.e. both (3a) and (3b):
e.g. It is possible that he has really (i.e. actually, indeed, certainly) injured … (3a).
e.g. It is possible that he has really (i.e. seriously, to a sever extent) injured innocent people. (3b).
Thus, individual speakers will hesitate as to how the emphasis may be grammatically realized, as in:
e.g. He is in a real corner. He’s really in a corner.
e.g. He is in real difficulties. He’s really in difficulties.
When exploring the manual of the English authors we discovered the new terms for ourselves: maximizers and boosters, the terms referring to the adverbials used as emphasizers.
To maximizers belong such words as: absolutely, altogether, completely, extremely, perfectly, thoroughly, totally, utterly, in all respects, the intensifying use of most.
e.g. They fully appreciate our problems.
e.g. I quite forgot about her birthday.
e.g. He paid for the damage fully.
To boosters belong such words as: badly, deeply, far, enormously, violently, greatly, highly, so, strongly, terribly, well, a great deal, a good deal, a lot, by far, exclamatory how; the intensifying use of more.
e.g. Ineed a drink badly.
e.g. They resent him deeply.
e.g. We all know him very well.
e.g. They annoy me a great deal.
Maximizers denote the upper extreme of scale and boosters denote a high point on the scale. The difference between maximizers and boosters is very subtle. It is considered that if a maximizer is used in the middle of the sentence it expresses less intensity of the action than at its end conveying its absolutely highest emphasis. We observe hardly any difference between the intensifiers in this respect in the following sentences.
e.g. They utterly detested him.
e.g. They violently detested him.
In some cases, the mentioned above adverbs co-occur with a semantic class of verbs, e.g., greatly with verbs having a favourable implication and utterly with verbs having an unfavourable implication. Some intensifiers, such as deeply, tend to occur with attitudinal verbs:
e.g. They wounded him deeply. (wound usually refers to emotional wounding)
e.g. They wounded him badly. (wound usually refers to physical wounding)
As a result of the research we can draw the following conclusion concerning the peculiar usage of the verbs, namely of the verb “want” followed by an infinitive. S. Greenbaum states the usage of the verb “want” as a pure modal verb with all characteristics typical of the defective verbs: no singular ending “s” in the third person, Present Simple, no particle “to” after it. “Want” comes into use as a modal verb in the meaning of “obligation” (instead of: must, should, ought to). Some examples taken from the book “Midnight” by E.James illustrate the information above.
e.g. “You want sail down the coast-leaving tonight,” he replied. [3, P. 187]
e.g. “Sophie stared at him in dumb frustration. Then she steadied her voice: “you want leave the town, for God’s sake do it.” [3, P. 267]
e.g. “One want give the Bush handlers high fives for having so very nimbly exploited a ploy first used at the time of the presidential candidates’ debates.”
[10, P. 9]
The Passive forms with the verb “to be” differ from the forms with the verb “to get”. The forms with the verb “to get” are widely used when the speaker wants to evade responsibility for what had happened, because when “get” is used the speaker draws more attention to the results of the actions, but not to the doer.
e.g. The dishes got broken. Посуда разбита. (But who did it — is neither clear nor known)
The passive form with the verbs “to be” and “to get” differ also by the degree of activity of the doer of the action. If we say: “He got acquitted,” it suggests that the doer of the action had taken great pains to be acquitted. (“by” is usually missing)
Another degree of the activity is presented in the forms with “get” which reflect reflexive meaning of the type: get dressed/washed/lost/confused. Here the subject is the doer of the action.
e.g. Tom and Alice are going to get married.
The passive form with the verb “to be” renders the state of mind of the subject.
e.g. He is married to his work. (He is crazy about his work)
e.g. “He got taught to drive dogs and to train dogs.” [5, P. 184]
e.g. “The dogs were so constituted in their mental ways, that the sight of him running away gave desire to run after him and a feeling that he ran away from them.” [5, P. 185]
e.g. “White Fang’s muscles got strengthened, he got accustomed to bites and scratches.” [4, P. 224]
To sum it all up, it is worth mentioning that the authors of the article selected only a few parts of speech to illustrate by the examples what is either little known or not reflected at all in our native textbooks in Grammar.
The article is supposed to be relevant for the language — learners of the English language due to asymmetry and the need for a more complete description of trends in modern unauthentic textbooks.
- Alexander L. G. Longman. English Grammar, 1996.
- Duffy C., Mahnke K. TOEFL, Practice Tests. — Heinemann, 1996.
- James E. Midnight. — Delacorte Press, 2001.
- London J. White Fang. M.: 1976.
- London J. The Call of the Wild. M.: 1976.
- Murphy R. English Grammar in Use. — Cambridge University Press, 1998.
- Quirk R., Greenbaum S., Leech G., Svartvik J. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. — Longman. — London and New York, 1990.
- Time. The Weekly News Magazine. USA, 2001.