V. V. Vinogradov characterizes the verb as “the most complex and capacious part of speech” due to its pivotal role in performing the predicative function in the sentence, i.e. establishing a connection between the situation described and reality. The complexity of the verb manifests itself in the system of its grammatical categories and in the structure of its lexical/ grammatical subclasses.
The categorial meaningof the verb is that of the process presented dynamically, i.e. developing in time. This general meaning can be traced in verbs denoting physical states,existential states, attitudes, evaluative properties.
2. LEXICAL / GRAMMATICAL SUBCLASSES OF ENGLISH VERBS
According to their nominative potential, English verbs are divided into two major lexical/grammatical subclasses: notional and semi-notional+functional verbs. Notional verbs are those which have a full nominative value, i.e. they specify the nature of the action or state of the entity named by the noun with they are linked predicatively. Semi-notional verbs possess partial nominative value, i.e. they do not specify the nature of respective actions or states. Functional verbs do not have any nominative value at all: they express purely grammatical meanings. The subclass of notional verbs is an open one, while the subclass of semi-notional and functional verbs is closed.
2.1. Notional Verbs
English notional verbs undergo three main grammatically relevant categorizations based on the following criteria: the nature of the entity that performs the role of the subject, the aspect features of verbal semantics, and the combinatory potential of verbs.
2.1.1. The subjectcan correspond to an active doer or an inactive experiencer of the action expressed by the verb. This distinction is reflected in the verbal semantics.
denote the state of the inactive experiencer
denote the action of the active doer
e.g. to thaw, to ripen, to deteriorate
e.g. to write, to fight, to help
e.g. to understand, to forget
e.g. to calculate, to compare
e.g. to see, to hear, to smell
e.g. to look, to listen, to smell
The subdivision of notional verbs into statal/actional is grammatically relevant since the two subclasses differ in their grammatical behavior (Continuous vs. Non-Continuous verbs).
2.1.2. The aspect features of verbal semantics reflect inherent properties of the action/process denoted by the verb. According to their aspect characteristics, English verbs can be divided into the following groups:
- durative (continual): e.g. continue, linger, last, live, exist;
- iterative (repeated): e.g. reconsider, return;
- terminate (concluded): e.g. terminate, finish, end, conclude, close, solve;
- interminate (non-concluded): e.g. live, study, think;
- instantaneous (momentary): e.g. burst, click, drop, fall;
- ingressive (starting): e.g. begin, start, resume, set out;
- supercompleted: e.g. oversimplify, outdo;
- undercompleted: e.g. underestimate, underpay.
The examples given above demonstrate that lexical aspect meanings of English verbs can be rendered by:
- verbal collocations (e.g. to begin/start/continue/finish/used to/would + a verbid).
Such aspect groups of verbs as limitive/terminative (e.g. arrive, start, come, find) and unlimitive/non-terminative/durative/cursive (e.g. move, continue, live, sleep, work, behave) subsume the above listed minor aspect groups of English notional verbs. This division is based on the criterion of a process limit.
Lexical/semantic variants of some English verbs may belong to different aspect groups, e.g. They walked in the park (unlimitive). – They walked the whole way to the station (limitive).
English verbs differ from Ukrainian ones in their aspect semantics. In English the latter relates to a potentially limited or unlimited action, while in Ukrainian it reflects the actual conclusion of the action.
2.1.3. The combinatory potential of the verbis determined by its ability to combine with other notional words in a sentence. According to this principle, English verbs can be divided into transitive/intransitive and objective/subjective.
take a prepositionless complement
(the direct object)
as a rule cannot take the direct object (though sometimes they do)
combine both with the subject and the object