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Topic 1

Theoretical Grammar as part of Linguistics.

1 .Introduction.

In the course of the Foundations of Theoretical Grammar our task will be to give an analysis of English grammatical structure in the light of general principles of Linguistics. We'll consider the main arguments put forward to sustain the various views, to weigh each of them, and to find out the most convincing way of solving the particular problem involved. As a result of your studies you are to acquire an insight into the structure of the language and an ability to form your own ideas on this or that question. This would appear to be a necessary accomplishmentfor a teacher of English, who is apt to find differing, and occasionally contradictory, treatment of the grammatical phenomena he has to mention in his teaching.

Such are, for example,the system of parts of speech, the continuous forms of the verb, the asyndetic composite sentences, etc.

In the course of the history of Linguistics many different views of language and languages have been put forward. Beginning from the 17th century grammarians stated that a language at a given period was a system and could be treated as such. Suffice it to mention here the name of suchSwiss scholar as Ferdinand de Saussure, who laid the foundations of a new linguistic theory acknowledging the study of a system of a given language as such. De Saussure's views were then developed and modified by various schools of modern linguistic thinking. It is on the basis of this view that a theoretical investigation of the grammatical system of a language at a definite point of its history, becomes possible and fruitful. A peculiarity of the modern trend of Linguistics is the desire to arrive at results independent of the view of a particular scholar. There can hardly be any doubt that the ability to arrive at such results would mark a significant advance in Linguistics, which has far too long been suffering from conflicts btw. contradictory views put forward by various authors and disputed by others.

It needs hardly be emphasized thata language is a whole, consisting of parts, closely united.

The linguist's task is, accordingly, to point out the demarcation line separating those aspects or levels from one another, on the one hand, and the connections btw. them, on the other. This is by no means an easy task, as well more than once have occasion to observe.

Our subject is the grammatical structure of English, and we shall have to delineate the boundaries and connections btw. grammatical structure, on the one hand, and phonology and the vocabulary, on the other.

2. Language and Speech.

The distinction btw. Language and Speech, which was first introduced by Ferdinand de Saussure, has since become one of the cornerstones of modern Linguistics.

Language is the system, phonological, lexical and grammatical which lies at the base of all speaking.

It is the source, which every speaker and writer has to draw upon if he is to be understood by other speakers of the language.

Speech,on the other hand, is the manifestation of language, or its use by various speakers and writers of the given language.

Thus, what we have before us in oral or in written form, as material for analysis, is always a product of speech, namely something either pronounced or written by some individual speaker or writer or occasionally a group of speakers or writers. There's no other way for a scholar to get at language than through its manifestations in speech. Thus, in stating that English nouns have a distinction of two numbers, singular and plural, and that there are several ways of expressing the category of plural number in nouns, we are stating facts of language, that is, elements of that system on which a speaker or writer of English has to draw.

Similarly, the statement that in English there are phrases of the pattern "adverb+adjective+noun" is certainly a statement about the syntactical system of English,on the phrase level.

For instance, the concrete phrasestrikingly inadequate reply - is a fact of speech, created by the individual speaker for his own purposes, and founded on the knowledge, a) of the syntactical pattern in question, and b) of the words which he arranges according to the pattern.

So it appears that the material which a scholar takes up for investigation is always a fact of speech. It is the scholar's task, then, to analyze the speech facts which are at his disposal in such a manner as to get through them to the understanding language system, without which they could not have been produced.

3. Some chief features characterizing English as an analytical language.

  1. Comparatively few grammatical inflections (case inflections in nouns, adjectives and pronouns and personal inflections in verbs).
  2. A sparing use of sound alternations to denote grammatical forms.
  3. A wide use of prepositions to denote relations btw. objects and to connect words in the sentence.
  4. Prominent use of word order to denote grammatical relations: a more or less fixed word order.


  1. What is Theoretical Grammar aimed at as a branch of Linguistics?
  2. Why is it necessary for a teacher of English to know the Foundations of the Theoretical Grammar of English?
  3. Where does the boundary btw. language and speech lie?

Topic 2

Grammatical classes of words. Parts of speech.

The words of language depending on various formal and semantic features are divided into grammatically relevant sets or classes. The traditional grammatical classes of words are called"parts of speech ".

The problem of parts of speech is one that causes great controversies both in general linguistic theory and in the analysis of separate languages.

The term"parts of speech"though firmly established is not a very happy one. What is meant by a"part of speech "is a type of word differing from other types in some grammatical point or points.

The principleson which the classification is based are three in number:

1. meaning

  1. form
  2. function.

Bymeaning we do not mean the individual meaning of each separate word (its lexical meaning) but the meaning common to all the words of the given class and constituting its essence. Thus,the meaning of the substantive (noun) is "thingness". This applies equally to all and every noun and constitutes the structural meaning of the noun as a type of word. Similarly,the meaning of the verb, as a type of word, is that of "process", whatever the individual meaning of a separate verb may happen to be.

Byform we mean the morphological characteristics of a type of word. Thus, the noun is characterized by the category of number (singular & plural), the verb by tense & mood.

Byfunction we mean the syntactical properties of a type of word. These are subdivided into two:

  1. its method of combining with other words;
  2. its function in the sentence.

"a" has to deal with phrases; "b" - with sentence structures. For example, as to the verb, we can state that a verb combines with a following noun("write letters ") and also with a following adverb ("write quickly "); as to the syntactical function of a verb in a sentence, it is that ofa predicate.

The system of parts of speech.

❖ Proceeding in the usual order, we start with the noun, or substantive. Its characteristic features are the following:

  1. Meaning -" thingness".Thus, nouns include not only"chair" and"iron ", but also"beauty, peace, necessity, journey" and everything else presented as a thing or object.
  2. Form.Nouns have the category of number (sg. & pl.), though some individual nouns may lack either a singular or a plural form. They also, in the accepted view, have the category of case.

3. Function.a) combining with words to form phrases. A noun combines with a preceding adjective("large room ")or occasionally with a following adjective ("times

immemorial");,with a preceding noun in either the common case("iron bar") or the genitive case (possessive case)("father's room")-, with a verb following it("children play ")or preceding it("play games ").

It is typical of a noun to be preceded by the definite or indefinite article("a room ", " the room ").

b)function in the sentence. A noun may be the subject or the predicative of a sentence, or an object, an attribute, and adverbial modifier. It can also make part of each when preceded by a preposition.



  1. Meaning. The adjective expresses property.
  2. Form.Adjectives in Modern English are invariable. Some adjectives form degrees of comparison("long, longer, the longest").
  3. Function,a) Adjectives combine with nouns, both preceding and (occasionally) following them,("large room"). They also combine with a preceding adverb("very large").Adjectives can be followed by the phrase "preposition + noun " ("freefrom danger").

b) In the sentence an adjective can be either an attribute("large room ")or a predicative("is large"). It can also be an"objectivepredicative" ("painted the door green ").

The Pronoun

1. Meaning.The meaning of thepronoun as a separate part of speech is somewhat difficult to define. In fact, some pronouns share essentials of nouns("he"),while others have much in common withadjectives (e.g."which ").

This made some scholars think thatpronouns were not a separate part of speech at all and should be distributed btw.nouns andadjectives. But practice proved necessary to find a definition of the specific meaning ofpronouns, distinguishing them from bothnouns andadjectives. From this angle the meaning of pronouns as part of speech can be stated as follows:pronouns point to the things and properties without naming them. Thus, for example, the pronoun"it" points to a thing without being the name of any particular class of things. The pronoun"its "points to the property of a thing by referring it to another thing. The pronoun"what" can point both to a thing and a property.

2. Form. As far as form goes, pronouns fall into different types. Some of them have the category of number (sg. or pl.) (e.g."this-these"), while others have no such category(e.g. "somebody"). Again, some pronouns have the category of case("he - him "), ("somebody - somebody's ")while others have none ("something ").

3. Function.

a) Some pronouns combine with verbs("he speaks ", "find him ") while others can also combine with a following noun("this room ");

b) In the sentence some pronouns may bethe subject ("he, what")orthe object, while others arethe attribute("my ").Pronouns can bepredicatives.



The treatment of numerals presents some difficulties, too. The so-called cardinal numerals("one, two) are somewhat different from the so-called ordinal numerals

("first, second").

  1. Meaning. Numerals denote either number or place in a series.
  2. Form.Numerals are invariable.
  3. Function.

a) As far as phrases go, both cardinal and ordinal numerals combine with a following noun("three rooms ", "third room "); occasionally, a numeral follows a noun ("soldier three ", "George the third" ).

b) In a sentence a numeral most usually isan attribute("three rooms, the third room "), but it can also besubject, predicative and object.

E.g." Three of them came in time.

"We are Seven" (the title of a poem by H. Wordsworth).

"I found only four".

The Stative

Such words as"asleep, ablaze, afraid, etc." have been often named adjectives, though they cannot be attributes in a sentence, and though their meaning does not seem to be that of property. Some linguists (Ilyish, Webster's New International Dictionary) consider that words of the"asleep " typeconstitute a separate part of speech, and stick to the term"stative".

  1. Meaning.The meaning of the words of this typeis that of a passing state a person or a thing happens to be in.
  2. Form.Statives are invariable.
  3. Function.

a) Statives most usually follow a link verb("was asleep, feel asleep"); occasionally they can follow a noun{"man alive"). They can also sometimes be preceded by an adverb("fast asleep ");

b) in the sentence a stative is most usuallya predicative("he fell asleep ").They can also beobjective predicatives ("Ifound him asleep"),andattributes almost always following the noun they modify("a man asleep in his chair ").



The Verb

1.Meaning. The verb as apart of speech expresses a process.

2. Form.It is characterized by an elaborate system of morphological categories, some of which are, however, controversial. These are: tense, aspect, mood, voice, person & number.

3. Function.

a) Verbs are connected with a preceding noun ("childrenplay")and with a following noun("play games "). They are also connected with adverbs ("write quickly"). Occasionally a verb may combine with an adjective ("married young ").

b) In a sentence a verb (in its finite form) is always thepredicate orpart of it (link verb). The functions of theverbals (infinitive, participle & gerund) must be dealt with separately.
The Adverb

1.Meaning.The meaning of the adverb as a part of speech is hard to define. Indeed, some adverbs indicate time or place of an action ("yesterday, here"), others indicate its property("quickly") and others again the degree of a property ("very"). And it seems best to formulatethe meaning of the adverb as "property of an action or of a property

2.Form.  Adverbs are invariable. Some of them, however, have degrees of comparison ("fast - faster - fastest").


a) An adverb combines with a verb("run quickly"), with an adjective ("very long"), occasionally with a noun("the then president"), and with a phrase ("so out of things"); an adverb can sometimes follow a preposition("from there ");

b) In a sentence an adverb is almost alwaysan adverbial modifier, or part of it, but it may occasionally bean attribute.



Modal Words

Modal words have only recently been separated from adverbs, with which they were traditionally taken together. By modal words we mean such words as "perhaps, possibly, certainly ".

  1. Meaning. Modal words express the speaker's evaluation of the relation btw. an action & reality.
  2. Form.Modal words are invariable.
  3. Function,a) Modal words usually do not enter any phrases but stand outside them, b) The function of modal words in a sentence is a matter of controversy. Some assume, that modal words perform the function of a parenthesis. They may also be a sentence in themselves.


  1. Meaning.The meaning of prepositions is obviously that of relations btw. things and phenomena.
  2. Form.Prepositions are invariable.
  3. Function.

a) Prepositions enter into phrases in which they are preceded by a noun, adjective, numeral, stative, verb or adverb, and followed by a noun, adjective, numeral or pronoun.

b) In a sentence a preposition never is a separate part of it.It goes together with the following word to form an object, adverbial modifier, predicative or attribute, and in extremely rare cases a subject.

("There were about a hundred people in the hall").



  1. Meaning.Conjunctionsexpress connections btw. things and phenomena.
  2. Form.Conjunctions are invariable.
  3. Function.

a) They connect any two words, phrases or clauses.

b) In a sentence conjunctions are never a special part of it. They either connect homogeneous parts of a sentence or homogeneous clauses or they join a subordinate clause to its head clause.

Byparticles we mean such words as"only, solely, even, exclusively, just, etc. " These were traditionally classed with adverbs, from which they, however, differ in more than one respect.

  1. Meaning.The meaning of particles is very hard to define. Approximately, theydenote subjective shades of meaning introduced by the speaker or writer and serving to emphasize or limit some point in what he says.
  2. Form.Particles are invariable.
  3. Function,a) Particles may combine with practically every part of speech, more usually preceding it("only three"), but occasionally following it("for advanced students only"); b) Particles are never a separate part of a sentence.



  1. Meaning. Interjections express feelings("ah, alas").They are not names of feelings but the immediate expression of them. Some interjections represent noises, etc. with a strong emotional colouring("bang!")
  2. Form.Interjections are invariable.
  3. Function.

a) Interjections usually do not enter into phrases. Only in a few cases do they combine with a preposition and noun and pronoun. E.g."alas for him ".

b) In a sentence an interjection forms a kind of parenthesis. An interjection

may also be a sentence in itself. E.g."Alas!" as an answer to a question.

The problem of notional and formal words.

In giving a list of parts of speech we have not mentioned the terms"notional" and "formal". Words should be divided into two categories on the following principle:

  • Some words denote things, actions and other extralinguistic phenomena

(these then should be"notional words ").

  • Whereas other words denote relations and connections btw. the notional words and thus have no direct bearing or anything extralinguistic

(these then would be"the formal words " or "form words "). However, this view appears to be very shaky.


  1. What principles is the classification of parts of speech based on?
  2. How many parts of speech does this classification comprise?
  3. Speak on controversial parts of speech.



Topic 3.

The Noun. Categories of Number, Gender and Case.

The Noun in Modern English has only two grammatical categories, Number and Case.

The Modern English Noun certainly has not got the category of grammatical Gender, which is to be found, for example, in Russian, French, German & Latin. Number. Modern English, as most other languages distinguishes btw. two numbers:singular & plural.

The singular numbershows that one object is meantand the pluralshows that more than one object is meant.

table – tables

pupil - pupils, etc.

However, language facts are not always so simple as that. The category of Number in English nouns gives rise to several problems which claim special attention. First of all, it is to be noted that there is some difference btw. say,"three houses " and "three hours",whereas"three houses" are three separate objects existing side by side, "three hours "is a continuous period of time measured by a certain agreed unit of duration.

If we turn to such plurals as"waters " (of the Atlantic)or"snows " we shall see that we are drifting further away from the original meaning of the plural number. Firstly, Ao numeral can be used with nouns of this kind. We could not possibly say "three waters or three snows ". We cannot say how manywaters we mean, when we use this noun in the plural number.

It is fairly obvious that the plural form in every case serves to denote a vast stretch of"water" (e.g. an ocean) or of"snow", or ratherof ground covered by snow. So we see that betweenthe singular & thepluralan additional difference of meaning has developed.

Now, the difference btw. the two numbers may increase to such a degree that the plural form develops a completely new meaning which the singular has not got at all. Thus, for example, the plural form"colours" has the meaning of "banner" which is restricted to the plural(e.g. to serve under the colours of liberty"). Since, in this case, a difference in lexical meaning develops btw. the plural and the singular, it is natural to say that the plural form has beenlexicalized. What is essential from the grammatical point of view is the very fact that a difference in meaning, which is purely grammatical in its origin, is apt, under certain conditions, to be overshadowed by a lexical difference.

Pluralia Tantum and Singularia Tantum.

We must also consider here two types of nouns differing from all others in the way of number: they have not got the usual two number forms, but only one form. The nouns which have only a plural and no singular are usually termed "pluralia tantum"(which is the Latin for"plural only"), and those which have only a singular and no plural are termed"singularia tantum"("from Latin"singularia only").

Amongthe pluralia tantum are the nouns"trousers, scissors, tongs, pincers, breeches, outskirts ".As it is obvious from these examples, they include nouns of two types? On the one hand,

- these are the nouns which denote material objects consisting of two halves (trousers, scissors),on the other hand,

- there are those which denote a more or less indefinite plurality(environs - "areas surrounding some place on all sides " — окрестности; dregs - "various small things remaining at the bottom of a vessel after the liquid has been poured out of it", etc.)

If we compare the Englishpluralia tantum with the Russian, we shall find that in some cases they correspond to each other (e.g. trousers - брюки, scissors - ножницы), while in others they do not (e.g. деньги- money). This seems to depend on a different view of the objects in question reflected by the English and the Russian language respectively. The reason why a given object is denoted by a pluralia tantum noun in this or that language is not always quite clear. Close to this group pf pluralia tantum nouns are also some names of sciences, e.g. "mathematics, physics, phonetics, alsopolitics "and some names of diseases, e.g. "measles, mumps ".The reason for this seems to be that, for. ex.,"mathematics " embraces a whole of various scientific disciplines.

Amongthe singularia tantum nouns we must first note some nouns denoting material substance, such as"milk, butter", names of abstract notions, such as "peace, usefulness, incongruity,etc. Nouns of this kind express notions which are, strictly speaking, outside the sphere of number (e.g."milk, fluency"). But in the morphological and syntactical system of the English language a noun cannot stand outside the category of number. If the noun is the subject of a sentence, the predicate verb (if it is the present tense) will have to be eithersg. or pl With the nouns just mentioned the predicate verb is alwayssingular.

Collective Nouns and Nouns of Multitude.

Certain Nouns denoting groups of human beings("family, government, party, etc. ")and also animals("cattle, poultry, etc. ")can be used in two different ways: either they are taken to denote the group as a whole, and in that case they are treated as singulars and usually termed"collective nouns"or else they are taken to denote the group as consisting of a certain numberof individual human beings or animals, and in that case they are usually termed"nouns of multitude".

E.g.My family is small.

My family are good speakers, "small"applies to the family as a whole,( while in the other sentence the characteristic"good speakers " applies to every single member of the family. Recently a peculiar view of the category of number was put forward by A. Isachenko (A.B. Исаченко, «О грамматическом значении». Вопросы языкознания №1,1961.) According to this view, the essential meaning of the category (in nouns) is not that of quantity, but of discreteness (расчлененность).

The plural in this view, expresses fundamentally, the notion of something consisting of distinguishable parts, and the meaning of quantity in the usual sense

would then appear to be a result of combining the fundamental meaning of the category as such with its lexical meaning of the noun used in the plural. Thus, in"scissors" the category of plural number, which in Isachenko's view, expresses discreteness, combines with the lexical meaning of the consisting of two halves, whereas in"houses" the same meaning of the grammatical category combines with the lexical meaning of the noun, which denotes separate objects not coalescing together, as in the case of"scissors ".

Accordingly, the resulting meaning is that of a number of separate objects, i.e. the plural number in the usual sense of the term. This view throws a new light on the problem of number of nouns and certainly deserves close attention.

Case.The problem of Case in Modern English nouns is one of the most vexed problems in English Grammar.

The most usual view is that English nouns have two cases:

A common case(e.g. "father")and a genitive caseor possessive case

(e.g. "father's").

Side by side with this view there are other views, which can be roughly classified into 2 main groups:

  1. the number of cases in English is more than two;
  2. there are no cases in English nouns at all.

Case is the category of a noun expressing relations btw. the thing denoted by the noun and other things, or properties, or actions, and manifested by some formal sign in the noun itself.

This sign is almost always an inflection, and it may also be a "zero" sign, i.e. absence of any sign may be significant. It is obvious that the minimum number of cases in a given language system is two, since the existence of two correlated elements at least is needed to establish a category. Thus,case is part of the morphological system of a language. Approaching the problem of case in English nouns from this angle, we won't recognize any cases expressed by non-morphological means. It will be therefore impossible to accept the theories of those who hold that case may also be expressed by prepositions (i.e. by the phrase"preposition+noun ")or by word order. It should be recognized that once we admit prepositions, or word order, or indeed any non-morphological means of expressing case, the number of cases is bound to grow indefinitely. Thus, if we admit that"of the pen "is a genitive case, and"to the pen "- a dative, there would seem no reason to deny that"with the pen "is an instrumental case,"in the pen " -locative case, etc. Thus, the number of cases in Modern English nouns would become indefinitely large.So it seems obvious that the number of cases in Modern English nouns cannot be more than two ("father, father's").

Of course it must be born in mind, that the possibility of formingthe genitive (possessive) is mainly limited to a certain class of English nouns: those which denote living beings(my father's room, George's sister, the dog's head) and a few others, notably those denoting units of time (a week's absence, this year's elections)and also some substantivized adverbs (today's newspapers, yesterday's news.It should be noted, that this limitation does not appear to be too strict and there even seems to be some tendency at work to use the -'s-forms more extensively. Thus, we can come across such phrases as"a work's popularity", the engineer's overhaul life",which certainly are not stock phrases, like"at his fingers' ends "or"at the water's edge ",but freely formed phrases, and they would seem to prove that it is not absolutely necessary for a noun to denote a living being in order to be capable of having an -'s - form.

Different views have also been expressed concerning the scope of meaning of the -'s. Besides phrases implying possession in the strict sense of the term(my father's boots, etc.), the -'s- is also found in other contexts, such as"my father's friends, my father's arrival, etc. The question now arises how wide this scope may be. From this point of view it has been customary to point out that the relation expressed by the collocation"noun+-'s + noun"is often a subjective relation, as in"my father's arrival":my father's expresses the subject of the action,cf my father arrives ".This would then correspond to the so-called subjective genitive of inflected languages, such as Russian or Latin. It would, however, not do to say that the noun having -'s- could never indicate the object of the action: cf. "Doughty's famous trial & execution ",where the implied meaning of course is"Doughty was tried & executed".This would correspond to the so-called objective genitive of inflected languages, though this particular use would seem to be far less frequent than the subjective.

The -'s - form can also sometimes be used in a sense which may be termed "qualitative", ( officer's cap ). Only the context will show which is meant here(" a cap belonging to an officer, a cap of the type worn by officers "). A special use of the -'s-forms has also to be mentioned, which may be illustrated by such examples as"I went to the baker's; We spent a week at my uncle's ".Here we see - 's- form as an attribute to some noun supposed to be "understood".


  1. Give the definition of the Noun. Speak on the category of case.
  2. Explain such phenomena as Pluralia Tantum & Singularia Tantum.
  3. What is understood by Collective Nouns and Nouns of Multitude?
  4. Speak on the category of Case & Gender.


Topic 4

The Verb. The Category of Aspect, Tense and Mood.

1. Aspect.

In analyzing the morphological structure of the English Verb it is essential to distinguish btw. the morphological categories of the verb as such, and the syntactic features of the sentence (or clause) in which a form of the verb may happen to be used. This applies especially to the category of voice and to a certain extent, to the categories of aspect and tense as well. The order in which we'll consider the categories of the verb may be to a certain degree arbitrary. However, we should bear in mind that certain categories are more closely linked together. Thus, it stands to reason that the categories of aspect and tense are linked together more closely than either of them is with the category of voice. It is also plain, that there is a close connection btw. the categories of tense & mood.

We'll begin the analysis of each verbal category by examining two forms or two sets of forms differing from each other according to that category only. There are two sets of forms in the Modern English Verb which are contrasted with each other on the principle of use or non-use of the pattern "be+Part.I"

"writes - is writing"

"is writing"denotes an action proceeding continuously at a definite period of time, within certain time limits. On the other hand,"writes" denotes an action not thus limited but either occurring repeatedly or everlasting, without any notion of lasting duration at a given moment.

The basic difference btw. the two sets of forms, then, appears to be this:

An action going on continuously during a given period of time and an action not thus limited and not described by the very form of the verb as proceeding in such a manner. The best way to describe this difference would be this:it is grammatical notion described as the category of Aspect with reference to the Slavonic languages (Russian, Polish, Chech, etc.) and also to ancient Greek, in which this category is clearly expressed. Each of the two aspects must be given some name which should of course be as adequate as possible to the basic meaning of the Aspect.

Thus, we'll use the termscontinuous aspect and common aspect to denote the two aspects of the Modern English Verb. But the interpretation of the opposition "writes - is writing"is not the only one to be found in works dealing with the English language. For example, O. Jespersen treated the type"is writing" as a means of expressing limited duration. A somewhat similar view had been put forward by prof. N. Irtenyeva, who considered that the basic meaning of the type"is writing" is that of simultaneity of an action with another action (sometimes with the act of speech).

Another view is held by prof. I. Ivanova who recognized the existence of the aspect category in English, but treated it in a peculiar way. According to her view"is writing" is an aspect form, namely, that of continuous aspect, but "writes " is not an aspect form at all,because its meaning is vague and cannot be clearly defined. Thus she concluded that some finite forms of the Modern English verb have the category of aspect, and are in so far"aspect - tense forms"while others have no aspect and therefore "purely tense forms".Prof. Ivanova denied the existence of"common aspect".

Besides different scholars used different terms. H. Sweet used the term "definite tenses", for what we call"the continuous aspect".This term cannot be said to be a happy one, as the word"tense" disguises the fact that we find here a peculiar grammatical category different from that of tense. Another term which had been used was"expanded form "or"progressive form ".The word is less suitable here as in this respect we might as well speak aboutthe past form, passive form, etc. So we'll stick to the term"continuous aspect".

A final note is necessary here on the relation btw. the aspects of the English verb and those of the Russian verb. Without going into details, we may assume that the Russian verb has two aspects -the perfective and the imperfective.It is obvious at once, that there is no direct correspondence btw. English & Russian aspects, for. ex., the English continuous aspect is not identical with the Russian imperfective. The relation btw. the two systems is not so simple as all that. On the one hand, the Englishcommon aspect may correspond not only to the Russian perfective but also to the Russian imperfective aspect. Thus,"he wrote" may correspond both to «написал, писал».On the other hand, the Russianimperfective aspect may correspond not onlyto the continuous but also tothe common aspect in English. It follows that the relation btw. the English and the Russian aspects may be represented by the following diagram:








2. The Category of Tense.

While the existence of the aspect category in English is a disputed matter,the tense category is universally recognized. Thus, our task will be to define this category as such and to find the distinctions within the category of tense, i.e. to find out how many tenses there are in English and what each of them means, & what are the relations btw. tense & other categories of the English verb.

The category of tense may be defined asa verbal category which reflects the objective category of time & expresses on this background the relations btw. the time of the action and the time of the utterance.

In English there are three tenses(past, present & future)represented by the forms "wrote, writes, will write", "lived, lives, will live". Strangely enough, some doubts have been expressed about the existence ofa Future Tense in English.

The reason why O. Jespersen denied the existence ofa Future Tense in English was that the English Future is expressed by the phrase"shall / will + Infinitive"and the verbs"shall & will"preserve according to O.Jespersen some of their original meaning$("shall" - an element of obligation, and "will" - an element of volition).

Thus, he thought that English has no way of expressing"pure futurity"free from modal shades of meaning, i.e. it has no form standing on the same grammatical level as the forms of the past and present tenses. However, this reasoning is not convincing. As a rule, these verbs are free from these shades of meaning and express "pure futurity".This is especially clear in sentences where the verb"will" is used as an auxiliary of the Future Tense & where the meaning of volition is excluded by the context and it can have only one meaning - that of "grammatical futurity ".

It is well-known, thatthe Present Tense form may also be used when the action belongs to the future. This also applies to thePresent Continuous.

So the three main divisions of time are represented in the English verbal system by the three tenses. Each of them may appear in the common and in the continuous aspect. Thus,we get six tense - aspect forms.Besides these six, however, there are two more, namely,Future - in the Past & Future Continuous - in the Past.

They do not easily fit into a system of tenses represented by a straight line running out of the Past into the Future. They are a deviation from this straight line; Their starting point is not the Present, from which the Past & the Future are reckoned, but the Past itself.With reference to these tenses it may be said that the Past is a new centre of the system.

The Modern English Perfect forms have been the subject of a lengthy discussion which has not so far brought about a definite result. Among the various views in Modern English the following three main trends should be mentioned:

  1. The category of Perfect is a peculiar tense category (O. Jespersen).
  2. The category of Perfect is a peculiar aspect category (prof. G. Vorontsova).
  3. The category of Perfect is neither one of tense, nor one of aspect, but a specific category different from both (prof. A. Smirnitsky).

We've accepted the definition of the basic meaning of the"perfect forms" as that of "precedence".However, this definition can only be the starting point for a study of the various uses of the Perfect forms.

3. The Category of Mood.

The category of Mood in the present English verb has given rise to so many discussions and has been treated in so many different ways, that it seems hardly possible to arrive at any more or less convincing & universally acceptable conclusion.

As to the number of the Moods besides the Indicative, and as to their meanings and the names they ought to be given, opinions today are as far apart as ever. Various definitions have been given of the category of Mood. One of them (by Academician V. Vinogradov) is this:"Mood expresses the relation of the action to reality, as stated by the speaker". What is meant here is that different moods express different degrees of reality of an action: one mood represents it as actually taking (or having taken) place, while another represents it as merely conditional or desired, etc.

It should be noted at once that there are other ways of indicating the reality or possibility of an action, besides the verbal category of Mood:modal verbs and modal words (perhaps, probably).

Indicative Moodshows that the speaker represents the action as real. The point here is that grammar does not deal with the ultimate truth or untruth of a statement with its predicate verb in the Indicative Mood (or, for that matter, in any other Mood); what is essential from the grammatical point of view is the meaning of the category as used by the author of this or that sentence.

Imperative Moodin English is represented by one form only:"come!"(without any suffix or ending). It differs from all other Moods in several important points. It has no person, number, tense or aspect distinctions, and which is the main thing, it is limited in its use to one type of sentence only:imperative sentence.

The other Moods.Now we come to a very difficult set of problems, namely, those, connected with theSubjunctive, Conditionalor whatever other name we may choose to give these moods.

The chief difficulty analysis has to face here is the absence of a straight-forward mutual relation btw. meaning and form. Owing to the difference of approach to Moods, grammarians have been vacillating btw. two extremes - three Moods (indicative, subjunctive & imperative) put forward by many grammarians, and sixteen Moods as proposed by M.Deutschbein. Between these two extremes there are intermediate views, such as that of prof. A.Smirnitsky, who proposed a system of six Moods(Indicative, Imperative, Subjunctive I, Subjunctive II, Suppositional and Conditional). These six Moods will comprise the following meanings:

  1. Inducement
  2. Possibility
  3. Unreal condition
  4. Unlikely condition
  5. Consequence of unreal condition
  6. Wish or purpose.

4. The Category of Voice.

As to the definition of the category of Voice, there are two main views. According to one of themthis category expresses the relation btw.the subject & the action.Only these two are mentioned in the definition. According to the other view, the category of Voiceexpresses the relations btw. the subject and the object of the action. In this case the object is introduced into the definition of Voice.

Due to these relations there come into beingtwo Voices: Active & Passive.

It is evident that the problem of Voice is very intimately connected with that of transitive & intransitive verbs which has also been variously treated by different scholars. Other problems in this respect are thoseof a Reflexive Voice (verb + self- pronoun), a Reciprocal voice ("greeted each other, loved each other"), a Middle Voice (" the door opened").These problems are not clearified yet and seem to be very ambitious.


  1. How many Aspect forms do we differentiate in Modern English?
  2. Speak on the category of Tense in Modern English Verb?
  3. Speak on different approaches to the problem of Mood in Modern English?

Lecture 9. The Verbals (Non-Finite forms of the Verb)


The Verbals

In so far as the Verbals (Infinitive, Gerund and Participle) make up a part of the English verb system, they have some features in common with the finite forms, and in so far as they are singled out amid the forms of the verb, they must have some peculiarities of their own. The English Verbals have no category of person, mood, or number. But they have such categories as Aspect, Tense Correlation & Voice. With reference of Aspect we shall have to examine each of the Verbals separately. In the Infinitive we find an opposition btw. two sets of forms:

(to) speak           - (to) be speaking

(to) have spoken - (to) have been speaking,

which is obviously the same as the opposition in the sphere of finite forms btw.:

speak - am speaking spoke - was speaking

The conclusion here is quite obvious:the infinitive has the category of Aspect, viz. there is a distinction btw.the common and the continuous aspect. The continuous infinitive gives more prominence to the idea of the continuity. With the Gerund and the Participle, on the other hand, things are different. Generally speaking, they exhibit no such distinction. Neither in the one nor in the other do we find continuous forms. The problem of the category of Tense and that of Correlation should be also considered in this connection. In the Infinitive, we find the following oppositions:

(to) speak - (to) have spoken (to) be speaking - (to) have been speaking,

and in the Gerund and the Participle the oppositions:

speaking — having spoken being spoken - having been spoken

We see that in each pair one item is unmarked both in meaning and in form whereas the other(the perfect) is marked both in meaning (expressing precedence) and in form (consisting of the pattern "have + second participle").

If this view is accepted it follows that thecategory of Correlation is much more universal in the Modern English verb than thatof Tense: con-elation appears in all forms of the English verb, both finite and non-finite, except the imperative, while tense is only found in the indicative mood and nowhere else. Since the Verbals are hardly ever the predicate of a sentence, they do not expressthe category of Tense in the way the finite verb forms do.

We will therefore endorse the view that the opposition btw.(to) speak and(to) have spoken, and that btw.speaking andhaving spoken is based onthe category of correlation.

Voice.Like the finite forms of the verb, the Verbals have a distinction btw.Active and Passive. As will be seen from the following oppositions:

(to) read - (to) be read (to) have read - (to) have been read reading - being read having read - having been read

As to the other possible voices (reflexive, reciprocal, and middle) there is no reason whatever to treat the Verbals in a different way from the finite forms. Thus, if we deny the existence of these voices in the finite forms, we must also deny it in the Verbals.

To sum up, then, what we have found out concerning the categories in the Verbals, we can say that all of them havethe category of Correlation and Voice; the infinitive, in addition, hasthe category of Aspect. None of the Verbals has the categories of tense, mood, person or number.

Speaking about the Second Participle, we must say that the only category which is expressed in it is that of Voice (namely the Passive Voice); the other categories, namely, Aspect, Tense, and Correlation ( and of course, Mood, Person, and Number) find no expression in it. Owing to these peculiarities, the second participle occupies a unique position in the verbal system.

So far we have spoken of the "-ing-forms"as of two different sets of homonymous forms:the Gerund and the Participle. But the difference btw. the Geiund and the Participle is basically this. The gerund, along with its verbal qualities, has substantial qualities as well; the participle, along with its verbal qualities, has adjectival qualities. This of course brings about a corresponding difference in theirsyntactical functions', the gerund may be the subject or the object in a sentence, and onlyrarely an attribute, whereasthe participle is an attribute first and foremost.


  1. What is referred to non-finite forms of the verb?
  2. What are Verbals characterized by?
  3. Speak on Tense and Correlation?

A.What is the difference btw. the Gerund and First Participle?