As I understand it, verbals are nouns,adjectives and adverbs which are derived from verbs.

I don't understand if a verbal is indeed one of the three parts of speeches mentioned or a part of speech of itself.

However, the main confusion is whether verbal is a specific term for a practical English grammar or a linguistic term denoting universal characteristics across different languages.

If there are indeed other verbals in other languages how do they differ with the aid of a few examples from different languages?

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    French also has them in abundance, e.g. in pairs like "Je veux parler" ("I want to talk" — parler is a verb) and "Parler est difficile" ("Talking is difficult" — parler is a verbal noun), as well as "Il est tombé" ("He fell" — tomber is a verb) and "Il est mort" ("He died / He is dead" — mort could be analyzed as verb or verbal adjective). Mar 13, 2017 at 19:02
  • verbal is a term of classical grammar not a scientific term within linguistics Mar 14, 2017 at 14:53
  • Like many of these words, it has technical and non-technical meanings. I'd agree that it's too vague for applications in linguistics, but it's a handy way to talk about words of other parts of speech that are derived from verbs, as you mentioned. What I meant to get across by the above was that other languages also have such forms and traditional grammars call them "verbals" (compare French: "adjectif verbal"). At the end of the day, "verbal" is not itself a part of speech. A verbal __ is whatever part of speech the __ is. Mar 14, 2017 at 14:58

1 Answer 1


At least, other Indogermanic languages have the ability to derive nouns from verbs, too. In Latin, there is a suffix -tio, -tionis that forms abstract nouns (like derivatio "derivation" from derivare), there is a suffix -or (applied to the supine stem) that derives agents (like actor "actor" from agere, ago, egi, actum).

The process of derivation is part of the morphology of a language; but it is usually kept separate from the inflection part. Drawing the line between derivation and inflection is to some degree arbitrary and may by controversial for some boundary cases.

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