Thursday, July 23, 2009

to-infinitives and their uses

Dear readers

I have already explained non-finite verbs in my previous post. Now I will discuss infinitives which is the most frequently used non-finite verb form in E nglish .Infinitives are found in two forms , to-infinitives and bare infinitives According to scholars the particle to originally had a directional sense , but it continued to be used even after the directional sense got dropped.Traditional grammarians look upon to as an integral part of the infinitive , and so they regard split infinitive as a mistake .But split infinitive is no longer regarded as a mistake

uses of to-infinitive

1 Infinitive is a concept borrowed from Latin grammar . In Latin it is a kind of verbal noun .In English too this Latin sense is retained when to-infinitive is used as subject of a verb and as the object of a verb . Example:

To err is human (subject of the verb )
She likes to dance (object of the verb)

Please note the use of to-infinitive as subject is somewhat rare in modern English Its use as object is very frequent indeed.

2 to-infinitive is often used as an adjective which post -modifies a noun .Examples

I had no work to do
The next guest to arrive was the District Collector

t3 To -nfinitives are often used for adjective complementation . Look at thesre sentences

She was happy to come
To-come complements the adjective by stating the cause .

She is hard to please

This kind of complementation is possible only when the object of the transitive verb ,please, is the same as the subject , she . Other examples

English is easy to learn
Sita is difficult to convince .

4 To-infinitive is used as adverbial clause of purpose

We eat to live
She is working hard to get a promotion

5 To-infinitive is also used for object complementation Example

I asked him to leave

She invited me to attend the party .

This construction , Subject +transitive verb + direct object+to-infinitive , is a frequent one in English

I Will continue the discussion in my next post

Thank you

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Non-finite Verbs

Dear readers,

In my previous post I discussed finite verbs .In this post I propose to discuss non-finite verbs .Finite verbs . as you have seen , provide information about the number and person of the subject and the tense of the sentence .Non-finite verbs ,on the contrary, merely give idea of the action Look at these sentences :

1Little Johnny wants to play .

2I let her go .

3She has written a poem .

4They are playing tennis .

Thus non-finite verbs come in various forms In sentence1 it comes in the form of to-infinitive In sentence2 it comes in the form of bare infinitive .in sentence3 it comes in the form of past participle and in sentence 4 it comes in the form of present participle .

I will discuss to- infinitive in detail in my next post

Thank you

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finite Verbs

Dear Readers,

In this post I wish to discuss the concept of finite verbs .A finite verb is a verb which shows a particular tense, person or number. Look at the verb -form goes.It shows a particular tense , doesn't it ? Simple Present Tense . It shows a particular number, too. The Singular Number. Similarly, the verb-form am indicates a particular person --first person singular . ,and a particular tense as well .

Please remember that the concept of finite verbs is borrowed from Latin grammar .It has only limited application in English grammar . It lacks explicitness when applied to English .

In Latin there are no compound verb-forms as in English . In English ,except simple present tense and simple past tense , all other tenses make use of compound verb-forms .The firsr element of a verb expression may be taken as the finite verb . Example

I am writing a letter.

In this sentence the verb expression am writing has two elements The first element am is the finite verb .because it shows a particulat person and tense . Writing , on the contrary , shows no particular person or tense . It is ,therefore. called a non-finite verb .

As I have said the concept of finite verbs has only limited application in English grammar . It is highly relevant in Latin grammar.because theLatin finite verb provides a lot of information. . In English grammar it is still useful from the point of view of concord . Finite verbs change their forms according to the number and person of the subject . In compound verb-forms there may be two ,or sometimes more than two, auxiliary verbs . The first auxiliary is the finite verb and it agrees with the subject in number and person . Look at the following sentences

*I am writing a letter .

*He is writing a letter.

* They are writing letters .

*She was writing a letter.(past tense )

*I was writing a letter(. past tense)

*They were writing letters .(past tense )

The finite verbs indicate number and person of the bubject . and also the tense .The use of was in in fourth and fifth sentences may be noted -was shows no particular person!

When lexical verbs are used without auxiliaries they behave like finite verbs . --They inflect for number and tense .Past tense forms of lexical verbs, however, do not inflect for number and person The only exception is the verb beIt alone has two separate forms according to number --was and were.

It is clear that the concept of finite verbs does not fit well into English grammar . The concept of operator has far greater application in English grammar .

Dear readers , I will discuss infinitives in my next post

Thank you