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The History of English (методичка).doc
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The verb System in Old English

The number of grammatical categories of the verb in Old English was not great (four categories), but its paradigm had a complicated structure: verbs fell into numerous morphological classes and employed a variety of form-building means. All the forms of the verb were synthetic, as analytical forms were only beginning to appear.

Old English Verb Categories

The OE verb was characterized by 4 grammatical categories:

Number: sg., pl. Tense: Pr., Past

wrīte – wrīt wrīte – wrāt

Gr. categories

of the finite verb

Person: 1,2,3 Mood

sg.1. ic wrīte Indic. Imperative Subjunctive

2. þū wrītest sg. pl. Present Past

3. hē wrīteþ wrīt wrītaþ sg. pl. sg. pl.

pl. hı¯e wrītaþ wrīte wrīten write writen

Number – was made up of singular and plural,

Person – was made up of 3 forms,

Tense – comprised the Present and Past (in the Indicative as well as in the Subjunctive. The meanings of the Tense forms were very general, as compared with the present-day English.

The forms of the Present Tense were used to indicate present and future actions. With verbs of perfective meaning, with adverbs of future time or with modal verbs the Pr. Tense acquired the meaning of futurity.

The Past Tense was used to indicate various events in the past (including those which are nowadays expressed by the forms of the Past Continuous, Present Perfect, Past Perfect and other analytical forms).

Mood – was constituted by the Indicative, Imperative and Subjunctive with singular and plural forms in all of them.

The use of the Subjunctive Mood in OE was in many respects different from its use in later ages. Subjunctive forms conveyed a very general meaning of unreality or supposition in conditional sentences. Besides that Subjunctive was common in other types of constructions: in subordinate clauses of time, result and in clauses presenting reported speech.

The non-finite forms included the Infinitive, Participle1, Participle 2.

dēman dēmende dēmed

Inf. Part.1 Part.2

Morphological classification of the verb

VERB

strong (7 classes) weak (3 classes) minor groups (3 groups)

4 basic forms 3 basic forms 1. suppletive

vowel gradation dental suffixation 2. anomalous

3. preterite-present

wrītan–wrāt–writon–writen cēpan–cēpte–cēped

Inf. Past sg Past pl Part.2 Inf. Past Part.2

-an -Ø -on -en

As the language distinguished the category of person, the verbs were conjugated.

Conjugation (strong verb class 1 Inf. Wrītan)

Present Imper. Past Part. 1 Part.2

Indicative Subj. Indic. Subj.

sg. 1.wrīte wrāt

2.wrītest wrīte wrīt write write wrītende writen

3.wrīteþ wrāt

pl. wrītaþ wrīten wrītaþ writon

Verbs in oe

Strong Verbs (7 classes, 4 basis forms, vowel gradation)

1 cl.

rīsan

- rās

- rison

- risen

2 cl.

ce̅osan

- ce̅as

- curon

- coren

3 cl.

drincan

- dranc

- druncon

- druncen

4 cl.

beran

- bær

- bǣron

- boren

5 cl

cweðan

- cwæð

- cwǣdon

- cweden

6 cl.

faran

- fōr

- fōron

- faren

7 cl.

hātan

- hēt(heht)

- hēton

- hāten

Weak Verbs (3 classes, 3 basis forms, suffixation)

1 class regular

dēman dēmde dēmed

styrian styrede styred

irregular

þyncan þūhte þūht

tellan tealde teald

2 class lōcian lōcode lōcod

3 class libban lifde lifd

habban hæfde hæfd

Minor groups of verbs

1. preterite – present: witan, cunnan, maʒan (12 verbs)

2. anomalous: willan, dōn, būan

3. suppletive: bēon, wesan; ʒān

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