Questions tagged [verbs]

Part of speech whose members indicate an action or a state of being.

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28
votes
4answers
7k views

Why do English verbs inflect so little, especially in regard to “person”?

Most Indo-European languages have verbs which endings change according to the person. I made a table with the most common (and close) languages and focussed on the category of person and the present ...
25
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2answers
1k views

Are there any non-Indo-European languages with go-periphrasis?

Some Indo-European languages have a construction called go-periphrasis, by which some form of the verb go is used in conjunction with the main verb to mark tense. Most languages that have this feature ...
18
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6answers
6k views

What's the global difference between nouns and verbs?

Is there a way to distinguish nouns and verbs that applies to all languages? This problem has been occupying my mind for some time now. I'm not quite sure how to approach this question, so I'll just ...
16
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1answer
889 views

Is it possible to analyse Māori grammar without contrasting nouns and verbs?

In order to prepare myself for a glorious sports event this weekend, I've bought and read a book about Māori. If my sources are to be believed, Māori is relatively close to other Polynesian languages, ...
16
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1answer
1k views

How much is known about verb regularization rates?

According to this abstract, published in 2007, "the half-life of an irregular verb scales as the square root of its usage frequency: a verb that is 100 times less frequent regularizes 10 times as fast....
15
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6answers
997 views

Is there a term for the syntax difference between English “I like you” and Spanish “Tú me gustas”?

English and Spanish each have one main verb for "to like". In English "to like", the grammatical subject must be the one doing the appreciating: I like her. But with Spanish "gustar", the person ...
13
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3answers
586 views

Do Spanish speakers prefer certain words for certain aspects, like in Russian?

In an effort to clearly delineate durar and tardar to my Spanish students, I have been searching for some usage notes and I was not satisfied with anything I found. Instead, I was wondering if these ...
13
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0answers
284 views

Are there any studies on some English passive verb constructions currently being replaced by new intransitive senses?

In the past couple of years I've noticed a new trend in younger generations of native English speakers, at least in American English and Australian English. But I can't find it discussed anywhere on ...
12
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14answers
3k views

Languages with multiple forms of the verb “to be”

Many languages have multiple forms of the verb "to be". For example, Spanish has ser and estar, while Nepali has हो and छ. Some other examples are given in this nice blog post. My question is: what ...
12
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3answers
2k views

The origin of the term 'verb'

References tell me that the term 'verb' originally means 'word'. This is easily understood by usages such as 'verbal abuse', 'verbal agreement', 'he's very verbal', etc. That said, of all the various ...
11
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4answers
617 views

Hierarchy of morphology, auxiliaries, and suppletion of verbal accidents?

I would like to make a hierarchy of verbal accidents that would have the following features. For any two accidents in the hierarchy, if a language marks only one of them by lexical suppletion, it ...
11
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9answers
4k views

Are there languages with a totally regular conjugation for “to be” outside Quechua?

I recently noticed that most languages have an irregular conjugation for the verb To be. I say almost because I don't know all languages, but the ones I've seen all have some irregularity sooner or ...
11
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3answers
477 views

Do any languages have verbal inflection with a plural object?

The verb in a language like English can inflect for person, for example: I see the cat > he sees the cat and the verb can inflect for tense: I see the cat > I saw the cat But do any languages ...
10
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5answers
14k views

What is the past tense of 'yeet'?

Yeet (/ji:t/) is a recently coined verb in English that seems to have taken on the characteristics of a strong verb, as seen in this hilarious urban dictionary definition. In English, the strong ...
10
votes
2answers
890 views

Do most languages have the same basic verb tenses?

I am a student learning languages who is interested in linguistics! In trying to keep myself organized with my own study sheets, I wanted to know, do all languages have the same basic verb tenses? I'm ...
10
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5answers
7k views

Why do stem-changing verbs have a vowel change in Spanish?

It may just be that I'm demonstrating my gross ignorance, but I can't seem to find a 'why' for stem-changing verbs in Spanish. I understand that there is some sort of perceived weakness in the vowel ...
10
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2answers
487 views

Is there a strong case for the existence of languages that lack a clear morpho-syntactic distinction between nouns and verbs?

Is there a strong case for the existence of languages that lack a clear morpho-syntactic distinction between nouns and verbs? If so, what would be an example of a phrase structure for a uniclausal ...
10
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1answer
314 views

Origin of -s verbs in Norwegian and Swedish

(Disclaimer: I am not a linguist.) I am learning Norwegian now, and they have some verb form when you attach -s to the end. It is often called passive voice (used in Present tense and in infinitive ...
9
votes
5answers
7k views

What is the difference between a copula and a transitive verb?

I can only speak from an English perspective. Be seems to me to be a transitive verb, when joining a subject and an object, yet it is described as a copula. What I mean is The bullseye is the ...
9
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4answers
6k views

Is a language possible without verbs or without nouns?

Is a language without nouns possible? And another one without verbs? And other ones without adjectives or adverbs? Is there some real examples? (In preference: non-constructed languages, because ...
9
votes
2answers
562 views

Do languages besides the Kartvelian family have a property of verbs called “version”?

I'm currently studying the Georgian language and it has quite a few interesting properties not common in more well known languages. One property of the verb is called "version", "version markers" or "...
9
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2answers
485 views

What is the historical basis for the use of this type of phrasal verb in English but less so in Spanish?

For example, English uses phrases like to look for and to look at, which (I believe) are considered phrasal verbs. Spanish, however, would under normal circumstances use some derivation of buscar and ...
9
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2answers
701 views

Is there something deeper behind the “verb classes swapping” of the subjunctive endings in Romance languages?

I first asked this question in https://spanish.stackexchange.com/q/15929/11155 However the Spanish community has not found any answer yet and the phenomenon is observable in many Romance languages. I ...
9
votes
1answer
228 views

Is there an automatic way of identifying transitive verbs in Computational Linguistics?

Is there any straightforward way of identifying transitive verbs (or sentences containing transitive constructions) in an BrE English text? I've looked into semantic shallow parsers, such as Semafor, ...
8
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2answers
132 views

Name for a verb form meaning “feign or pretend to do sth”

Is there an accepted name for a derivational process applied to a verb which conveys the meaning "feign or pretend to do sth". As a corollary, is anyone aware of any languages (especially ...
8
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7answers
398 views

Do other languages distinguish the verbs “to drink” when talking about alcohol?

It's interesting that English uses the verb "to drink" intransitively exclusively when talking about alcohol, as in: I drink a lot. But transitively when talking about anything else, as in: I ...
8
votes
1answer
547 views

How do SOV languages develop agreement affixes on verb?

According to WALS, most languages using SOV as basic order of subject, object and verb have some kind of personal agreement markers. As far as I know, these affixes rise by grammaticalization of ...
7
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4answers
2k views

Is there a difference between a preterite and an aorist?

I am reading about aorist and preterite verb forms. It seems that they are both forms which express perfective aspect and past tense. Is the difference between them simply in differing terminology or ...
7
votes
3answers
188 views

Is there a language where another verb form is simpler/more basic than the imperative?

Imperative tends to be the simplest verb form, cf. Latin dic, fac. English is not very inflecting, so other verb forms can be just as simple as the imperative. Nevertheless, is there a language, where ...
7
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4answers
543 views

Unaugmented contract imperfect in Ancient Greek?

Since unaugmented forms are ancient verbal forms (found by example in Homer), older than the augmented ones, and since vowels contraction is still a "work in progress" at homeric times and will be ...
7
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3answers
853 views

Why does French use “be” as the auxiliary for a few verbs? [duplicate]

In French, there are a set of 17 verbs lovingly called the Vandertramps: Devenir (to become) Revenir (to come back) . & Monter (to climb) Rentrer (to reenter) Sortir (to exit) ...
7
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1answer
469 views

Why are the plural and singular first person forms of the verb “go” so different in the Romance languages?

In many Romance languages, the first person plural and singular forms are completely different: French (aller): je vais, nous allons Italian (andare): io vado, noi andiamo Catalan (anar): jo vaig, ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there any difference between imperfect and imperfective aspect?

For those who came in late, "perfect" and "perfective" aspects are not the same. Perfect aspect pertains to actions that have been completed at the time referenced by the tense. So English past ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Difference Phrasal Verb, Prepositional Verb and Prepositional Phrasal Verb

I am not sure how one can see the difference between these three. I can give an example of the three - respectively come in, went into and got along without - but I don't know why these are what they ...
7
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2answers
167 views

Is it normal for only one verb class to be productive in Indo-European languages?

In another question on this site, there is some discussion on the view that the so-called "strong verb" class in English is no longer "productive" - that is, newly formed or coined words (neologisms) ...
7
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1answer
275 views

Why is the verb “to need” and “to observe” always imperfective in Slavic languages?

I have been reading into Balto-Slavic languages and come across a problem. "To need" is always imperfective. If I use the imperfective past verb, "to need," I am going to be still, presently needing ...
7
votes
1answer
359 views

Why do PIE verbs have suffixes -m-, -s-, -t-, while personal pronouns have m-, t-, s-?

Usually it is assumed that in PIE the verb forms for the singular first, second, and third person are respectively -m-, -s-, -t- (cfr. Latin). The personal pronouns, instead, have the second and ...
7
votes
2answers
525 views

Why can verbal roots in PIE only contain the vowel e?

Verbal roots of PIE are generally reconstructed as (C5) (C3) C1 e C2 (C4) (C6); with certain phonetical restrictions, especially on the outmost consonants. I wonder why only "e" should be allowed as ...
7
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3answers
483 views

Are there any languages with minimal distinctions between the noun and verb categories?

Are there any languages in which the, largely Indo-European/PIE, and more compartmentalized parts-of-speech system don't work very well? In particular, I am wondering if there are any languages in ...
6
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2answers
3k views

need to understand infinitive

What is the easiest way to understand what an infinitive is? How do I know which verb in which sentence is an infinitive? For example, let us take this website: Infinitive This is the example I am ...
6
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5answers
3k views

Does any linguist honestly believe that nouns and verbs are not universals?

Does any serious scholar really believe that some languages have no distinction between verbs and nouns? Wikipedia pages suggest this. I studied physics, so linguistics is not my field at all. ...
6
votes
1answer
980 views

History of the verb positioning in German

In German, the word order is SVO (or V2, to be precise) in main clauses, while in subordinate clauses have the finite verb in final position; there is some discussion of the word order in "German is ...
6
votes
1answer
273 views

Origin of *-k- “extension” in (aorist of) some IE verbs?

In Greek, the PIE verbal roots *dheh1 'put' or 'do', *Hieh1 'throw', and *deh3 'give' show up with an unexpected -k- in some aorist forms: ἔθηκα, ἧκα, ἔδωκα. In Latin, the reflexes of the first two ...
6
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0answers
212 views

Are there any languages that either effectively don't have verbs or that somehow get around using a “standard” verb system?

By this, I'm asking whether there are languages (natural or constructed) which somehow function without verbs, relying instead upon other types of words like prepositions or something like that. ...
6
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0answers
103 views

What currency does the term “flip sense verb” have in linguistics?

In a recent comment on the question Ergative Verbs and some discussion about them, jlawler introduced a term I had not previously encountered: The rose smells good is completely different; this ...
5
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6answers
2k views

Why does English have progressive aspect but German does not?

In english there are two ways to express a present action: I go I am going However, In German there is really only one way to express a present action: Ich gehe If English is a ...
5
votes
2answers
530 views

Why are irregular verbs usually common words?

Whilst searching for the origin of irregular verbs, I came across this forum, which points out, among other things, that irregular verbs are more often than not common words. Is there a reason for ...
5
votes
1answer
175 views

What is the concept of verb agreement with passive-active level in Hebrew?

In this Duolingo discussion, 'S.Liebermann' mentions that in Hebrew and Arabic, "the verb needs to agree with the level of passive/active" and "Hebrew has 7 degrees of passive/active, while Arabic has ...
5
votes
3answers
290 views

Is there any language where the past tense is the base form of a verb?

The fictional language Flaidish has this feature. But I recently found out about a natural language (Mixtec) where the present isn't the base form of a verb, its the future tense. I found this ...
5
votes
1answer
170 views

Different kinds of do's

At first I thought that there was only such a thing as lexical do and periphrastic, but recently I stumbled upon something else (unfortunately I do not recall what it was called). Whatever be the case,...

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