The Category of Person

Classification into terminative and durative verbs.

According to their lexical character verbs in English may be classified into two groups: terminative (предельные) and durative (непредельные). A terminative verb express an action which has a final aim in view, a certain limit beyond which the action can not be continued. For instance, the final aim of the action expressed by the verb to close is to have something closed; after you have closed it you can’t go on closing – this is the limit beyond which the action of the verb to close doesn’t go. To the class of terminative verbs belong such verbs as to close, to open, to come, to build, to settle, to find, to lose and compound verbs such as to sit down, to stand up, to speak up, to throw, to jump up, to drop and etc. A terminative verb may be used in both aspects common and continuous. A durative verb expresses an action the action of which cannot be continued. To the class of durative verbs belong such verbs as: to like, to love, to hate, to detest (ненавидеть), to move, to work, to wish, to watch, to shine, to smoke.

Eg: “Mr Grath lived in a noisy narrow road of cracked terrace houses”.

Besides the two main groups there exist an extensive group of verbs of a mixed (or double) character (terminative and durative).

Verbs of a mixed (or double) lexical character are such verbs which may have durative meaning in one context and terminative meaning in another.

To this class belong such verbs as: to sit, to stand, to kneel, to know, to remember and etc.

Eg: He had never particularly known him.

The category of person in the Indo-European languages serves to present an action as associated by the speaking person with himself (or a group of persons including the speaker), the person or persons addressed, and the person or thing (person or things) not participating in the process of speech. As in Russian: читаю – читаешь – читает; читаем – читаете – читают; in English – I Speak, he speaks.

In Modern English the category of person is weekly expressed. In the present tense the suffixes – s-z-iz single out the third person singular. In the past tense there are no person distinctions. In the future tense we have auxiliaries “shall” and “will”. And in the conditional mood the auxiliaries “should” and “would”. It’s necessary to note that in speech there is a certain tendency at present to use “will” and “would” for all persons. The only exception is the verb “to be” which has the following person forms: am, is, are. The forms of the verb are not enough to show whether the agent of the action is supposed to be the person speaking, the person addressed, or the third person. Consequently, the English verb is dependent on the personal pronoun.

Eg: Will you join us? Yes, I shall.


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