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Verbs and Writing August 17, 2015

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
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This is the written submission I made. Don’t to under any illusion that I know anything about the grammar relating to verbs, or writing. The 300 word limit imposed discipline on extraneous observations, but I made dreadful mistakes, including of word order , which I have corrected here. I just wanted to be done.

This quote, from The Nelson Mail, caught my attention:

“Kids play sport for three reasons: It’s to have some fun, to be with their mates and to learn some new skills. Being abused from the sideline or having an over-zealous parent doesn’t fit into any of those.”

 My task is to concentrate on how verbs perform in both sentences. Verbs describe what a person or thing does, or what happens, or refer to a state of being.

Children are active and so are the verbs used. Play is a finite verb because it is limited in tense in number, person and time. It can work as a transitive verb with an object of the action. Thus “Kids play sport”. The preposition phrase immediately following may be another object of the verb.

The colon introduces the three reasons which are consecutively; to have, to be with, and to learn. These are states of being that may or may not be attained. “It’s” indicates “it is”, a state of being. These are auxiliary verbs taking the characteristic form of the infinitive verb “to speak”. This represents a linguistic innovation from the Old English form of the infinitive, sprechan. In passing note that present particles can perform as noun phrases or Gerunds. Common examples include talking and playing.

That second sentence is arresting too. “Being abused”, “having a . . . parent” are sets of verb-like phases working as nouns. Verbs have diverse descriptions, which may confuse us. “Doesn’t fit into” when unpacked as “does not fit into” reveals that it is a phrasal verb.  What is stated in the first sentence by the auxiliary verb sets given as reasons is implied in this following sentence.

Paying attention to verbs may help, absence of a grammar magician, more careful reading and better writing.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(300 words)

Extra References:

G S Humphrey, English Grammar, (The English Universities Press, 1945)

P46: “In Old English and in some modern languages the infinitive is one word: e.g. Old English, sprecan; German, sprechen; French, parler: Modern English, to speak.

P42: “[The Subjunctive Mood] as a separate form is disappearing in Modern English”.

Kate Grenville, Writing from Start to Finish – a six step guide (Allen & Unwin, 2001).

Plainly written English showing what could be done.
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I like this presentation by Pat Pattison. I share his view of the role of verbs:

 

 

 

 

Hans P Guth, Words and Ideas (Wadsworth Publishing Inc, 1969)

This includes a section dealing with grammar.

Internet Sources:

Oxford Dictionaries – Language Matters – Verbs: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/verbs

 

Comments»

1. wmmbb - August 19, 2015

I should mention that The Nelson Mail, as are a host of local newspapers here and in New Zealand is part of the Fairfax stable.


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