The Morphology of the English Lexical Verbs

The morphology of lexical verbs simply means the different forms of lexical verbs. Lexical verbs have five forms: 
  • The base form of the verb (e.g. eat).
  • The -s form of the verb (e.g. eats).
  • The -d/past form of the verb (e.g. ate).
  • The -ing/continuous form of the verb (e.g. eating).
  • The -n/past participle form of the verb (e.g. eaten).
The x+o /base form of the verb
Forget the mathematics there! It is called English Maths. 'X + 0' simply means the base form of the verb, that is, the natural state of the verb. It has not undergone any changes at all.

The base form of the verb has two variants from the point of view of finiteness. In other words, it can be finite and non finite. When it is in its finite form, it occurs alone, e.g. I eat rice every day.

When it is non finite, it occurs with an auxiliary verb, e.g. I can eat rice daily.

It can also occur with a preposition if it is not finite, e.g. To eat rice every day can be tiring.

The x+ s form of the lexical verb
Every lexical verb manifests this form. The x + s form of the lexical verb goes with a singular noun and the third person singular pronoun.
Emeka eats rice every day.
He eats rice every day.

Orthographically, the -s morpheme is realized as 's' and 'es.'
He eats rice every day.
He teaches English Language in school.

Phonologically, the -s morpheme is realized as:
  • /s/- it is a voiceless non sibilant, e.g. eats
  • /z/- it is a voiced non sibilant, e.g. goes, calls etc.
  • /iz/ - sibilant sound, e.g. finishes, brushes, tries etc.
The x+s form is finite, that is, it always occurs alone and reflect for numbers.
Eze goes to school.
He eats bread every day.
He drives recklessly.

There is a form of relationship between the x+o and x+s forms. They mark tense (the present tense form).
They come home late.
He comes home late.

The x+g/-ing/continuous form of the verb
The x+g form is assumed by every lexical verb. It is formed by the addition of -ing to the base form of the verb, e.g., eat/eating.

The only variation is that, in some verbs that end in '-e', as in 'write,' you delete the 'e' before adding 'ing.' In verbs like 'traffic,' you add 'k' to it before adding 'ing.' Verbs like 'lie,' you change the 'ie' to 'y' before adding 'ing.'

The x + d/past form of the verb
The x+d form is the finite form of a verb. It always occurs alone, that is, without an auxiliary verb.
He went out of the class.
The baby cried at night.
Everybody laughed at him.

The x+d form is formed by the addition of the 'd' morpheme. The -d morpheme has the following allomorphs used according to phonological environment. It is realized as:
  • /d/ after voiced consonants or vowels, e.g., play --- played/pleid/.
  • /t/ after voiceless consonants except if the consonant ends in 't,' e.g. like - liked/laikt/, place - placed/pleist/, pass - passed/pa:st/etc.
  • /id/ e.g., hate - hated/heitid/, want -wanted/wantid/.
The x+n/past participle form of the verb.
The x+n form is formed by the addition of 'n' or 'en' or 'ed' to the base form of the verb.
Know + n = known.
Eat + en = eaten.
Travel + ed = travelled.

There are instances where the x+n form takes the base form of the verb.
Burst etc.

Tamuno Reuben

Those who seek knowledge seek power because the pen is mightier than the sword.

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form