• major subclasses of verbs:
1. full verbs: eat, sleep, play
2. primary (auxiliary) verbs: be, have, do
3. modal auxiliaries: can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, must
• full verbs
• have only lexical (dictionary) meaning; are an “open” class (i.e. new full verbs frequently come into existence)
• can be classified, semantically as stative (state) verbs or dynamic (event) verbs. And dynamic verbs have many subcategories.
• can be classified, syntactically as transitive, intransitive or copular
• five syntactic forms: the base form (eat), the -s form (eats), the -ing particle (eating), the past form (ate) and the -ed participle (eaten).
• “Irregular verbs” such as “eat“ have irregular past forms and -ed participles. “Regular verbs” have past forms and -ed participles ending in “-ed.“
• primary verbs
• function both as lexical verbs and as auxiliaries; when used as auxiliaries, they have no lexical meaning.
• a “closed class” (i.e. no new members are likely to come into existence.)
• have the same five syntactic forms that full verbs have (both when used as auxiliaries and when used as full verbs)
• modal auxiliaries
• always used as auxiliaries; form a “closed class”
• although auxiliaries, all have lexical meaning (contribute to full verbs by indicating degrees of obligation or necessity)
• other classes: marginal modals, modal idioms, semi-auxiliaries, catenative verbs
• verb (word class) contrasted with verb phrase (clause element)
• For pedagogical purposes, it is important to keep in mind the difference between the use of the term “verb” to refer to a word class and the (frequent but easily misleading) use of the same term to refer to the clause element which is more accurately called a verb phrase. The possibility of confusion is increased by the fact that a verb phrase can often have a single member of the verb word class as its “unitary constituent.”