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I. Verb

A. Participles -ing, -ed / -en

1. Describing what is happening

or what was happening...

2. Describing what has happened

or what had happened.

3. Describing what often happens

  • See I.B.4 et I.B.4a
  • for generic present and pasts the simple present and simple past are used. (in those days, what often happened was...)

4. As nouns

  • See II.A.1.C.4

B. Verbal base.

1. Commands / Imperative (Order the pizza.)

2. Following modal verbs (We could order a pizza.)

3. Following "to" (I want you to order the pizza.)

4. Describing what often happens (I often order a pizza for lunch on Thursdays.)

a. the 3rd person s / z / iz

C. (Conjugated) Auxiliaries

Unlike Modal auxiliaries, conjugated auxiliaires take an -s for the third person singular for the present tense. They can be followed by different forms.

  • do (as an auxiliary) is only followed by V
  • be, have and get can all be an auxiliary to the present (-ing) or past (-ed / -en) participle

Like all auxiliaries, the relationship between these "helping verbs" and the main verb is a close one. Only negation, frequency adverbs (often, never, ... ), and focalizing adverbs (only, just, hardly... ) tend to intervene between helping verb and main verb in affirmations or negations. In yes-no, as with wh- questions, the subject intervenes between the two verbs: Did you hear about it? How did you hear about it? Subject-Auxiliary inversion is widespread in languages of the world.

1. do

a. interaction with the negative adverb not. No, I (don't / do not) want to do more work.

b. asking questions about states of mind... (do you know, do you like, do you think, do you want to...)

c. contrastive / emphasis. (I do want to read it, but I just don't have time!)

2. be

a. be + -ing (present imperfect)

b. be + -en (passive voice)

3. have

a. present perfect. (Have you finished the painting?) past + present: summing up (faire le bilan)

b. causative/medio-passive

  • Have them come down to my office when they get here.
  • She had us smiling again in a few minutes.

4. get (semi-auxiliary)

  • Get requires do-support for inversion and negation. It is for this formal reason that it cannot be considered a "full" auxiliary syntactically. It is the fifth most common verb in English, and enters into an auxiliary relationship with both past and (more rarely) present participles.

a. get + -ed: dynamic (middle) voice (The BNP is getting fined.)

b. get + -ing: inceptive (They got the ball rolling.)

D. Modal auxiliaries

The modal auxiliaries here defined are those that have at least two important formal characteristics:

  • they cannot be immediately followed by to V, instead they can precede a bare V (and not a participle)
  • they are not marked for the 3rd person singular with an -s. (She can / he should / it will... etc.)
They come in pairs, with the exception of must:

will / would

shall / should

can / could

may / might


E. -ed past tense marker

  • pronounced d, t, or ɪd

punctual aspect

  • role in narrative
  • compare to generic present

modal aspect

  • modal distancing (condition): Had I known / realized (-ed + -en / -ed), I wouldn't have waited. (will + ed, VB, + en / ed
  • modal distancing (authority of statement): alleged (adj.) ... is said to have ...
  • modal distancing (politeness): could(n't) you (just)... would(n't) you (rather)...

II. Substantive

A. Nominals

1. Nouns

a. singular / plural, no gender, duals

  • s / z / iz
  • pair of

b. countability

c. determination

1. zero determination (no article)

proper nouns, generic plurals, present participles

2. definite determination (the, this, that, ...)

demonstrative determiners / pronouns: these / those ; situative pronouns: this / that

3. indefinite determination (a, some, any, ...)

d. deverbal nouns (-ing, -ed/-en, verbal base)

e. noun endings

  • -ness
  • -hood
  • -dom
  • -ty

f. pronouns (one, -one, -body, -thing, -where)

B. Adjectivals

1. Quality vs. Quantity

In a sentence like "I would like to order four pizzas", or "I would like to order a pizza", for that matter, one says nothing about the desired qualities of the pizza (at least not yet). Such information can be added, of course, by adding an adjective or an adjectival: "I would like to order four four-cheese pizzas with extra jalapeno" Modern linguists separate the class "adjective" from the class "determiner", roughly along these lines: what in traditional grammar were "indeterminate" adjectives (some, any, (a) few, etc.) are now thought of as "determiners" because they circumscribe the ensemble of objects spoken about, without conferring qualities upon the objects themselves.

2. Scale / Degree

a. resultatives

the cat licked the saucer clean.

b. comparatives

(not) as ... as
same / different
-er / more and less

c. superlative particles

-est, most and least

3. Qualification in the complex noun phrase. (Germanic language)

e.g. city planners (Eng.) v. stadtplaner (Ger.) v. urbanistes (Fr.)

4. Adjective endings

  • -ful / -less
  • -y
  • -ing / -ed (participles)
  • -like

III. Jongleurs / Junction words

Words that serve to connect ideas.

A. owners and classes (inside the NP)

1. of

2. 's

B. Coordinating Conjunctions

C. Subordinating conjunctions / Complementizers

1. relative pronouns

introduce a content clause, which modifies or further determines a previously introduced noun or clause.

  • He wasn't aware that she would be waiting.

2. interrogative pronouns

  • She didn't know when he was arriving, so she couldn't figure out which gate to go to.

3. adverbial subordination

  • time clauses. (when, while, before, until) In Chaucer, there are many occurences of whan that, ere that, etc. At that time, adverbs preceded the complementizer that.
  • cause / consequence clauses. (because, for, so that, to, since)
  • concessive clauses. (while, although, even though, despite)

IV. Adverbs

A. -wise, -ly, direction, manner

B. negation

C. degree

D. focalizing

even, only, hardly,

E. aspectual / temporal

again, yet, still, already

F. situatives / deictics

Where does it stop in calling nouns adverbs? (now, today, yesterday, Monday, last month, the year we bought the house) Cf. enough