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A study on english transitive verbs in comparision with vietnamese ones

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A Thesis

A STUDY ON ENGLISH TRANSITIVE VERBS
IN COMPARISON WITH VIETNAMESE ONES
(SO SÁNH ĐỘNG TỪ NGOẠI ĐỘNG TIẾNG ANH VÀ TIẾNG VIỆT)

BÙI VĂN TUẤN

Field of study: English Language
Code: 60220201
Supervisor: DR. ĐANG NGOC HUONG

Hanoi, 2018


TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS........................................................................................
ABSTRACT .................................................................................................................

CHAPTER 1...............................................................................................................1
INTRODUCTION .....................................................................................................1
1.1 Rationale .................................................................................................. 1
1.2 Aim and objectives................................................................................... 3
1.2.1 Aims of the study .............................................................................. 3
1.2.2 Objectives of the study ..................................................................... 4
1.3.3 Research questions ............................................................................. 5
1.3 Methods of study...................................................................................... 5
1.4. Scope of the study ................................................................................... 6
1.5. Significance of the study ......................................................................... 7
1.6 Structure of the thesis............................................................................... 8
CHAPTER 2.............................................................................................................10
LITERATURE REVIEW .......................................................................................10
2.1 Review of previous studies .................................................................... 10
2.2 Review of theoretical background ......................................................... 11
2.2.1 Concepts of syntax ........................................................................... 11
2.2.2. Concept of semantics ...................................................................... 14
2.2.3. An overview of the verb ................................................................. 16
2.3 Summary of the chapter ........................................................................ 23
CHAPTER 3.............................................................................................................24
TRANSITIVE VERBS IN ENGLISH IN COMPARISON WITH
VIETNAMESE ........................................................................................................24
3.1. Syntactic and semantic features of English transitive verbs ................ 24
3.2 The comparison between English and Vietnamese transitive verbs ........... 41
3.2.1. One-object transitive verb patterns ................................................. 42
3.2.2.Two-object transitive verb patterns ................................................. 43
3.2.3. Mixed-type transitive verb patterns ................................................ 46
3.3 Summary of the chapter ........................................................................ 43


CHAPTER 4 .........................................................Error! Bookmark not defined.
APPLICATIONS IN LEARNING AND TEACHING ENGLISH
TRANSITIVE VERBS FOR VIETAMESE LEARERS .....................................51
4.1. Subjects of the survey ........................................................................... 51
4.2 Survey test description ........................................................................... 51
4.3 Survey results and discussion ................................................................ 53
4.4. Some suggested strategies relating to learning and teaching
English transitive verbs to Vietnamese learners of English ........................ 56
4.5 Summary ............................................................................................... 62
CHAPTER 5.............................................................................................................63


CONCLUSION........................................................................................................63
5.1 Recapitulation ........................................................................................ 63
5.2 Concluding remarks ............................................................................... 64
5.3. Limitations of the study ........................................................................ 66
5.4 Recommendations for further study ...................................................... 67
REFERENCES ........................................................................................................69
APPENDIX 1 ...........................................................................................................72
APPENDIX 2 .....................................................................................65
APPENDIX 3 ...........................................................................................................76


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
First and foremost, I sincerely thank all the lecturers of the Hanoi Open
University, especially the lecturers in the Faculty of Post Graduate Studies
who have been teaching and conveying to me the valuable knowledge and
skills in the learning process.
Secondly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my supervisor,
Mr. Dang Ngoc Huong who guided me throughout my study. Without his
valuable supervision my thesis could hardly be completed.
I also wish to extend my deep thankfulness to my friends, colleagues and
students who assisted me in collecting the data and provided valuable
resources to help me complete my thesis.
Last but not least, I am greatly indebted to my family for their
encouragement and the sacrifice they have devoted to the fulfillment of my
academic work.


ABSTRACT
Among all the word classes of a language in general and English in
particular, the verb could be considered the most important one. Many areas
of the verbs in English have been investigated so far and some are prioritized.
In the same vein, English dynamic verbs in English may have been
concentrated on by many experts in the field of linguistics and language
teaching over the last decades. Two reasons have been put forward for this
phenomenon: the importance of dynamic verbs and the difficulty of mastering
this group of verbs.
It is clear that dynamic verbs in general, and transitive verbs in
particular are not totally similar between English and Vietnamese in many
aspects. By investigating deeply into English transitive verbs in terms of their
syntactic and semantic features, the thesis expects to go on to compare
transitive verbs in the two languages. In language learning, because of some
discrepancy in transitive verbs in English and Vietnamese, there is a
likelihood of committing errors on the part of learners of English-as-a-second
or any foreign language. The thesis is hoped to make contributions to the
mastery of a high-frequency transitive verbs in English of the learners.


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
1.1 Rationale
Verbs in the English language which are always regarded as essential
elements in creating sentences which are basic units of communication of
humans. In grammar, verbs have become one of the subjects that receive
special attention of linguists. It is not doubtful that there is almost no
scientific work of grammar that ignores researching into verbs and their
relating aspects. However, it is also the issue of disagreement among
language researchers.
As far as verb classification is concerned, one set of terms used to
describe verbs is transitive and intransitive. Transitive verbs convey a sense of
action and the sentence identifies whom or what the subject addresses.
Research on English transitive verbs which shows this part of speech
has been approached from so many aspects. Each of the approaches led to
different findings. Even in one approach, the characteristics and usages of
transitive verbs are clarified differently by different authors.
So far a lot of linguistic research has based itself on different concepts
and approaches when discussing grammar matters and verbs particularly.
Many authors have tried to define the criteria for identifying transitive verbs
as well as proposing direction of describing and classifying them. However,
to date, very few authors have focused their attention on the survey of
transitive verbs - an important category in the English language.
So far, there have been a great number of works written about English
verbs. Almost every grammar book in English discusses the verb, the most
essential element of English sentences. Everyone who learns English has got
familiar with the grammatical terms: subject, verb, complement, adverb, etc.
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In Longman English Grammar (1992,pp.4-5), the author claims that in
English there are five simple sentence patterns: 1) subject-verb: My head
aches, 2) subject-verb-complement: Frank is clever, 3) subject-verb-direct
object: My sister enjoyed the play, 4) subject-verb-indirect object-direct
object: The firm gave Sam a watch, 5) subject-verb-object-complement: They
made Sam redundant. According to the author, out of the five sentence
patterns there are three patterns which include the transitive verbs going with
objects: example 3, 4, and 5. In A Comprehensive Grammar of the English
Language, Randolph Quirk et al. (1985, pp.) is famous for categorizing seven
clause types: 1) SV: Someone was laughing, 2) SVO: My mother enjoys
parties, 3) SVC: The country became totally independent, 4) SVA: I have
been in the garden, 5) SVOO: Mary gave the visitor a glass of milk, 6)
SVOC: Most people consider these books rather expensive, 7) SVOA: You
must put all the toys upstairs. In other words, in this grammar book, out of the
seven types of clause structure, there are up to four clause structures which
contain verbs and objects: structure number 2, 5, 6, and 7.
In reference to the number of elements of sentence structure, there
might be the question about the number of clause structures in English which
contain verb patterns composed of verbs and noun phrases as objects, three as
Alexander or four as Quirk et al. claimed or more than that.
Also, in everyday communication in English, some Vietnamese people
who have learned English for a long time or even have got a good English
proficiency, sometimes speak or write in English, using such expressions as:
basing on …, contact with…, or discuss about… This carelessness in diction
may result from the inadequate awareness of the structure of transitive verbs
used in sentences.
As with language learning, in Vietnam, there is an undeniable fact that
English is taught in many places, but people learn it mainly for language
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competence, not for performance; learners learn English mainly to pass the
tests, not to communicate themselves in the language. Therefore, a good
knowledge of English grammar, especially of sentence structures could be
considered to be most essential for the learners to understand and develop
different skills in learning and using the language.
In the context as mentioned above, the thesis A study on English
transitive verbs in comparison with Vietnamese ones is implemented for
several purposes: to identify how transitive verbs in English combine with
other elements in the sentence syntactically and semantically and also to make
a comparison with their equivalents in Vietnamese to find out whether
English transitive verbs are similar or different from Vietnamese ones. By
doing this, the study is hoped to offer some strategies for learning transitive
verbs in English for Vietnamese learners of English effectively.
1.2 Aim and objectives
1.2.1 Aims of the study
As the title indicates, the thesis aims to analyze the transitive verbs in
English. Since there are a great number of aspects relating to verbs of this
type, the thesis will confines itself to the study English transitive verb patterns
based on the basic sentence structure SVO. During the process of study the
thesis will employ the constituent analysis method to point out the syntactic
and semantic features of transitive verbs structures in English. On the basis of
the research into English transitive verbs, the thesis embarks on comparing
them with transitive verbs in Vietnamese to find out if the transitive verb
structures in two languages have something in common. Because English and
Vietnamese belong to two different types of language, English being a
synthetic language whereas Vietnamese is an analytic language, the thesis
will compare English verb patterns with their translational equivalents in
Vietnamese, not English verb patterns with Vietnamese verbs patterns. In
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Vietnamese grammar, in spite of many differences, as in English, Vietnamese
words are also classified as verb, nouns, adjective, adverb…. However, so far
in Vietnamese there has not yet been a clear classification of preposition in
the aspect of word class and of object and complement in the aspect of
grammatical function. Hence, the thesis follows the assumption that in
English the terms: verb / verb phrase, noun and noun phrase, preposition and
prepositional phrase, adverbial, object and complement correspond to the
Vietnamese terms: động từ / cụm động từ, danh từ / danh ngữ, giới từ / giới
ngữ, trạng ngữ, tân ngữ, bổ ngữ respectively. In the process of describing the
features of transitive verb patterns in English, the thesis will focus on the
elements which stand after the verb: object, complement and adverbial in the
sentence structure in the aspects of their syntax and grammatical meanings.
Aimed at the practical side of the study, on the foundation of the results in
comparing the verb patterns in the two languages, the thesis is expected to
offer some implications for learning and teaching transitive verbs for
Vietnamese learners of English.
1.2.2 Objectives of the study
In order to achieve the aims of study above, the thesis sets up its
specific objectives as follows:
(i)

To investigate the syntactic and semantic features of English transitive
verbs.

(ii)

To compare English transitive verbs with their equivalents in
Vietnamese.

(iii)

To find out the challenges which Vietnamese learners have to
encounter when learning transitive verbs in English and suggest
strategies for overcoming them.

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1.3.3 Research questions
In order to implement the objectives established as above, the thesis find it
as its tasks to answer the following research questions
(i)

What are the syntactic and semantic features of English transitive
verbs?

(ii)

What are the syntactic and semantic similarities and differences
between English transitive verbs and their equivalents in
Vietnamese?

(iii)

What could be the applications in learning and teaching English
transitive verbs for Vietnamese learners?

1.3 Methods of study
This study aims to investigate the transitive verbs in English and their
equivalents in Vietnamese equivalents in the aspects of syntax and semantics;
therefore it adopts both qualitative and quantitative research approaches.
With qualitative research, the thesis primarily conduct exploratory to
understand how transitive verbs have been and could be described
syntactically and semantically in grammar books. With quantitative
research, the thesis quantifies the problems Vietnamese learners of English
may face and the mistakes they may make with English transitive verbs by
means of survey tests.
Following the two research approaches above, the thesis adopts as main
methods of study the methods below:
1.

The componential analysis method is utilized to define the number of
elements and the patterns of element combination of transitive verbs in
English and their Vietnamese equivalents.

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2.

The descriptive method is employed to describe the linguistic features
of verb patterns qualitatively and to describe the test results
quantitatively.

3.

The comparative method is adopted to uncover the similarities and
dissimilarities between English verb patterns with their Vietnamese
equivalents.
In order to support the above methods, the synthetic method is

employed to synthesize the secondary information for categorization of verb
patterns and for generalization of the syntactic and semantic similarities and
differences between English transitive verbs and their equivalents in English.
The analytical method is also applied to analyze the number of constituents of
each transitive verb pattern in English and Vietnamese in terms of syntax and
semantics. The method is also helpful in analyzing survey results statistically
as a foundation to find out specific ways to avoid making errors in using
English transitive verbs for Vietnamese learners. In addition, throughout the
process of study, setting up a regular consultancy with the supervisor for
guidance and academic exchange is a constant activity the writer undertakes
to find out the right way to fulfilling the research successfully.
1.4. Scope of the study
Understanding the special importance of verbs in general and transitive
verbs in particular in sentence building, the writer bases himself on the theory
and studies of transitive verbs mainly through grammar books. The English
books which serve as sources of reference are not so up-to date, such as
Longman English Grammar (1992), A Comprehensive Grammar of the
English Language (1985), Reference Guide to English (1992), etc; however,
they still appear to provide a large amount of useful information. In order to
obtain English transitive verb equivalence in Vietnamese, the thesis relies
mainly on the English-Vietnamese Dictionary (1993) by the Institute of
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Linguistics and Raymond Murphy’s English Grammar in Use (bilingual)
(2010) by Hai Phong Publishing House. The reason for this choice of
reference material is that the thesis attempts to uncover the structural and
semantic aspects of verbs in comparison with their equivalents in Vietnamese
which are derived from translated sentences. These translated sentences prove
to be helpful and reliable sources to get information.
Transitive verbs in English are quite a big topic for study. However, the
thesis just focuses on a limited aspect of the topic, studying the syntactic
features of English transitive verb patterns to see how the elements of the verb
patterns are combined, with a focus on the elements following not preceding
the verb in the sentence. The study of the semantic features of English
transitive verbs is confined to that of grammatical meanings only. Also,
because of its limited size and because of too many typological differences
between English and Vietnamese, the thesis can only compare English
transitive verbs with their Vietnamese equivalents syntactically and
semantically since the thesis assumes that their comparison can be conducted
through word order and basic concepts of sentence elements: S, V, O, A based
on general linguistics. It also occurs that although transitive verbs can be used
in active and passive form, the thesis only under takes as its focus the
investigation of their active form. As for its practical side, the thesis can just
select a small group in an institution, Ha Dong Medical College, where the
thesis writer is working to investigate the problems the learners of English
may encounter when learning English transitive verbs.
1.5. Significance of the study
The thesis A contrastive study of transitive verbs in English and
Vietnamese ones is expected to make several contributions when it is
completed.

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In terms of its theoretical significance, within his accessibility to the
topic-related literature, the writer finds that English transitive verbs are very
commonly used in English, but a thorough description of their linguistic
features in comparison with Vietnamese ones have not been discussed so far.
The study will probably highlight a certain description of the syntactic and
semantic features of English transitive verbs from which some similarities and
differences between English and Vietnamese transitive verbs are drawn out. It
is somewhat useful for linguistic researchers or theorists to shape a certain
rules or principles in the field of syntactic and semantic studies relating to
English transitive verbs. The results of the study may make the understanding
about verbs in English in general and transitive verbs in particular in greater
detail. In regard to its practical significance, by conducting the survey with a
group of learners of English in a college in Hanoi, the thesis aims to explore
the challenges which may face the learners when learning English transitive
verbs under the influence of the Vietnamese language. The comparison
between the transitive verb patterns in English and their Vietnamese
equivalents may uncover some links between the two languages in the aspects
of syntax and semantics. It is believed that the findings would be a practical
source of material for both teachers and learners of English transitive verbs. If
they take it seriously to explore these features, they could not only gain a
good knowledge of English transitive verbs in the light of structures and
meanings but also have a better capability of using them in a natural and
authentic ways.
1.6 Structure of the thesis
The thesis is divided into five main chapters:
After the preliminary pages, Chapter one is the introduction which
contains the rationale, aims and specific objectives of the study, research
questions, methods, scope of study and proposed organization of the thesis.
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Chapter two is the literature review which includes a review of
previous studies and of theoretical background with an overview of English
verbs, transitive verbs, their usage and other related concepts. This chapter
sets out the general theoretical issues as the basis for understanding the
different transitive verb structures.
Chapter three presents the study results which includes the findings on
syntactic and semantic features of English transitive verbs and their
Vietnamese equivalents from the data collection analysis.
Chapter 4 focuses on a survey which is meant to point out some
difficulties Vietnamese learners may face when learning transitive verbs in
English and suggest possible solutions to overcome the challenges.
Chapter five includes the conclusions, limitations of the study and some
recommendations for further research.
The five chapters above are followed by a number of supplementary parts
such as:
- References
- The appendix which includes the survey tests and answer keys for the
exercises.

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CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Review of previous studies
Verb sub-categorization frequencies (verb biases) have been widely
studied in psycholinguistics and play an important role in human sentence
processing. Yet available resources on sub-categorization frequencies suffer
from limited coverage, limited ecological validity, and divergent coding
criteria. Prior estimates of verb transitivity, for example, vary widely with
corpus size, coverage, and coding criteria. This category is often associated
with the classification of works from classical grammar. The author of the
grammar schools of ancient Greece (as Aristotle, Thrax, Dyscolus, etc.),
schools of ancient Rome (as Donatus, Priscian, etc.), the ancient Indian
grammar (as Panini, etc.) did not only refer to the issue of classification but
also determine to divide verbs into intransitive and transitive verbs.
From the 30s of the twentieth century, associated with the trend of
structural grammar, intransitive and transitive verbs have been considered
purely grammatical categories.
Later, the linguists of generative grammar schools identified
intransitive and transitive verbs based on domination and hierarchical order
components.
An important milestone in the study of categories of intransitive and
transitive verbs is the work of P. Hopper and S. Thompson published in the
journal "Language" (Language) No.2 in 1980. In this article, the authors gave
a bunch of ten criteria to identify categories of intransitive and transitive
verbs. Depending upon the satisfaction of specified criteria, review the status
of transitive verbs need to be determined. The author believed that the

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category of intransitive and transitive verbs ties to the sentence and it is
driven significantly by using context factors.
Verbs can be so tricky things that even the best grammar students and
writers are often confounded by the difference between transitive and
intransitive verbs. The confusion with the use of the transitive and intransitive
verbs can be resolved as a grammar point becomes clear with an
understanding of objects. Greenbaum & Nelson (2002), Rozakis (2003),
Williams (2005), Downing & Locke (2006), Leech (2006), DeCapua (2008),
and Altenberg & Vago (2010) claim that it is the object of any given
sentences that makes the difference, a clear grammatical point that may serve
as a clue to determine if the sentences have a transitive verb or intransitive
verb. They all agreed that transitive verbs express an action and are followed
by an object.
The learners of English language should know the difference between
transitive and intransitive verbs. Understanding the different functions of
those two verbs can help any students, dealing with the use of those two types
of verbs, avoid grammatical mistakes, such as incomplete sentences that may
result in misleading sentences that lose its exact meaning. Students,
particularly the learners of English, often have difficulty determining which
verbs require an object, and which do not.
2.2 Review of theoretical background
2.2.1 Concepts of syntax
2.2.1.1. An overview of syntax
Firstly, syntax is defined as a set of rules in language. It dictates how
words from different parts of speech are put together in order to covey a
complete thought. In other words, its main targets are said to be the set of
rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of sentences in a
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given language. Dixon, R.M.W. (1991) defines that syntax deals with the way
in which words are combined together. Syntax seeks to describe the way
words fit together to form sentences or utterances. In this way of definition,
syntax can be understood as sentence structure which concerns itself with the
way words from different parts of speech to combine together in a language to
form sentences to convey complete thoughts. It is also said that syntax is a
form of grammar and it is concerned primarily with word order in a sentence
and with the agreement of words when they are used simultaneously. Every
language has a limited number of syntactic relations. However, subject and
object are probably universal of syntactic relations which apply to every
language. Because languages are different from each other, the criteria for
classifying word classes may differ from language to language, so do the
ways in which syntactic relations are marked. However, it is also true that
every language has developed a specific mechanism that is similar to syntax
to make a boundless number of sentences. This is a common feature that can
be witnessed in all languages.
2.2.1.2. Sentence and elements of the sentence
Concept of sentence
So far, there have been numerous definitions of the sentence in English
since different grammarians look at the sentence from different perspectives.
For example, A sentence is defined as a group of words that are put together
to mean something. A sentence is the basic unit of language which expresses
a complete thought. It does this by following the grammatical rules of syntax.
A sentence is the largest independent unit of grammar: it begins with a capital
letter and ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation point. Through
the definition of the sentence, it can be understood that the sentence comes
first and then comes grammar and words as its elements are not categorized
according to their word classes or the role they play in the sentence.
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The thesis follows the definition in the dictionary in which the sentence
is said to be a group of words that usually contains a subject and a verb and
expresses a complete idea; in writing the sentence begins with a capital letter
and ends with a stop or question mark (Dictionary of Contemporary English,
p.1587).
Elements of the sentence
Traditional grammar describes the sentence with two parts. For
example, Hopper, V. (2000) claims that the sentence has two parts. The topic
of the sentence is the subject. What is said about the subject is the predicate.
In line with this definition, a verb phrase can be the predicate of the clause or
sentence which contains both the verb and either a direct or indirect object
(the verb’s dependents). We’re going to take a look at what verb phrases are,
and then view some verb phrase examples.
Sentence
Subject

predicate
Auxiliary and operator

Example:

He

had

predication

given the girl an apple.

In modern theories of grammar, grammarians look at the sentence in
structural and functional the aspects of its constituents. Modern grammarians
(Quirk 1985, Eastwood 1994,…) relate the structure of the simple sentence to
that of the single independent clause with central elements as subject (S), verb
(V), object (O), complement (C) and adverbial (A) and categorize the
constituents which function as elements of clause structure are phrases. As a
result, the five formal categories of phrase are defined as verb phrases (VP),
noun phrases (NP), adjective phrases (AdjP), adverb phrases (AdvP) and
prepositional phrases (PP). Overall, based on the form, the internal structure
and function (S, O...): of the constituents as the elements of sentence
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structure, not on parts of the structure of the clause or simple sentence in
English modern grammarians formulate 7 clause types as follows:
Type 1. SV (e.g. The car has stopped)
Type 2. SVO (e.g. The dog ate the bone.)
Type 3. SVC (e.g. The dog is dead.)
Type 4. SVA (e.g. The dog is over there.)
Type 5. SVOO (e.g. She bought him a dog.)
Type 6. SVOC (e.g. He kept the dog clean.)
Type 7. SVOA (e.g. He kept the dog carefully.)
2.2.2. Concept of semantics
Semantics contrasts with syntax, the study of the combinations of units
of a language (without reference to their meaning), and pragmatics, the study
of the relationships between the symbols of a language, their meaning, and the
users of the language. According to Dictionary of Contemporary English
(2010), semantics has two meanings, one being the study of the meaning of
words and phrases and the other the meaning of a word. In the study of
language by George Yule, semantics is defined as the study of the meaning of
words, phrases and sentences. In semantic analysis, there is always an attempt
to focus on what the words conventionally mean, rather than on what a
speaker might want the words to mean on a particular occasion. Also,
linguistic semantics deals with the conventional meaning conveyed by the use
of words and sentences of a language.
As with meaning, there could be two ways of looking at the meaning of
meaning. For example, from a linguistic perspective, a distinction should be
made to distinguish between lexical and grammatical meaning. Lexical
meaning refers to the meaning of words that belong to one of the lexical word
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classes: verb, noun, adjective and adverb. Lexical meanings of words are
usually found in a dictionaries. When describing lexical meaning, people have
to consider the linear or structural relations of one word after another in the
sentence; for example, when we use the word speak, for example, the next
word which may combine could be a noun, e.g. English (speak English) or an
adverb, e.g. loudly, (speak loudly), but not e.g. table (*speak table) or heavily
(*speak heavily). People have to take into consideration the functional
relations of lexical words, in the same function or position in the sentence.
For example, both the word red and blue are adjectives; they can replace each
other to describe the color of an object and in the same function other words
can be used, e.g. a red / blue / cotton / nice… scarf in a sentence. In contrast,
grammatical meaning includes the meaning of grammatical items, for
example, the meaning of function words: preposition, article, particle… and
inflectional affixes: -s ending, prefixes…, grammatical functions: e.g. subject,
verb, object… and different clause or sentence types: e.g. nominal, non-finite,
subordinate, declarative, interrogative….
Taking into account certain non-linguistic aspects of meaning Geoffrey
Leech (1981) lists seven different types of meaning. Denotative meaning
which is also called referential, descriptive , conceptual meaning or sense,
refers to the logical, cognitive aspect of words, e.g. bread, rose…,. In contrast,
connotative meaning which is called associative meaning denotes the
associations and secondary meanings the word implies: e.g. slim, thin, skinny.
Words can have social meaning; for example, the same thing can bear
different names depending different locations. One example of this is that
Vietnamese people call the bowl for rice eating differently in different
regions. While the emotive or affective meaning together are sometimes
realized through the use of denotative or connotative meaning of words
people can understand the emotion or attitude of the word users. The term
reflective meaning refers to that of collocations which is conveyed by
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characteristic word combinations, e.g. fast food (not *quick food) indicating
one kind of food. Finally, thematic meaning denotes the organization of a
message in terms of information structure. For example, three sentences: I
like this food, This food I like, and It is this food that I like which have
different position of subjects mean differently
2.2.3 An overview of the verb
2.2.3.1. Definition of the verb
The opening short definition of a verb from Longman English
Grammar states that “a verb is a word (run) or a phrase (run out of) which
expresses the existence of a state (love), seem) or the doing of an action (take,
play) (Alexander 1998, p.159). A very general division of verbs is provided
by Quirk et al. (1985), who divides verbs as a class of words into three
principal categories. They classify them according to their function within the
verb phrase and label them full or lexical verbs such as leave, primary verbs
consisting of be, have and do, and modal auxiliary verbs such as will, might,
etc. Primary and modal auxiliary verbs form closed classes (it is not possible
to easily add new words in such groups) whereas the class full verbs is an
open class. Full verbs function in sentences as main verbs, and the primary
verbs can act either as main verbs or as auxiliary verbs.
Verbs are usually defined as part of a speech (or class) that describes an
action or occurrence or indicates a state of being. In English, the verb often
has a predicate function in the sentence. They are usually written next to the
subject (following the S + V + O principle from left to right). Verbs play an
important role in sentence structure because they allow language users to
articulate human physiological actions clearly.
In general, it is more meaningful to define a verb by what it does than
by what it is. Like the word similar (rain or snow, for example) can serve as a

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noun or a verb, the same verb can play different roles depending on how it is
used. To put it simply, verbs will move our sentences in different ways.
It is a well-known fact that the verb is considered to be the king of all
parts of speech in English. At the heart of every sentence is a verb, an action
word that is generally indicated what someone or something is doing or
perhaps merely indicates being. The shortest sentence can be formed with one
word such as Stop! or Go. According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s
Dictionary (2005, p.1636), the verb is “a group or a group of words that
expresses an action, an event, or a state”. According to Jack C. Richards et al
(1992, p.398), in English, a word is a verb when it satisfies these following
criteria:
- Occurs as part of the predicate of a sentence
- Carries makers of grammatical categories such as tense, aspect, person,
number and mood
- Refers to an action or state
From the description of its features above, the verb could be said to be a
word or group of words that describe an action, experience or state. When
used in English sentences, verb usage follows certain grammar rules.
2.2.3.2 Classifications of verbs
So far there have been numerous ways of classifying English verbs.
Depending on different criteria of classification, verbs could be categorized
differently. For example, verbs could also be grouped into stative and
dynamic classes based on aspectual contrast of ‘progressive’ and nonprogressive’. Stative verbs usually refer to a state, situation or condition
which is not changing or likely to change, for example: love, hate, like….
Meanwhile, dynamic verbs (sometimes referred to as ‘ action verb’) usually
describe actions we can take, or activities that happen such as run, sleep, eat,
17


work…. Verbs could also be classified, based on their patterns of conjugation,
into regular or irregular. For example, action verbs might be divided into
regular or irregular verbs. One example of this division is the verb work as a
regular one since the word requires the ending –ed in the past tense form like
other verbs such as work-worked, learn-learned, etc. However, the verb, for
example, come is an irregular verb because in the past tense form, the verb
needs to change its base form: come–came, sleep-slept. There are a great
number of irregular verbs in English: have, get, go, teach, etc. Based on the
ability to combine with other elements in verb phrase, verbs could be
classified into main verbs such as live, buy,…; auxiliary verbs which are
sometimes called helping verbs: can, may, should, … and linking verbs like
be, smell, feel,...according to their functions in the sentence. For this reason,
Quirk and Greenbaum (1973) categorized English verbs as lexical and
auxiliary when relating them to their function in the verb phrase (p.26). In
addition, based on their ability to combine with other elements in the sentence
verbs could be classified into intensive verbs, requiring complements and
extensive verbs, requiring objects in the sentences. For example, in the
sentence She is a student the verb be is an intensive and in I gave him a book
the verb give (gave, given) is a transitive verb. Another type of classification
is whether or not the verb requires complementation. In this way, verbs can be
classified into transitive verbs (the ones which cannot stand alone, they need
objects) such as buy, give, tell,... and intransitive verbs (ones can stand alone
without objects) like sleep, cry, rain, On this basis of classification, if a verb
indicating actions relates to one person or object, in other words, the subject
performs that action, verbs of this kind belong to intransitive verbs. Sentences
with intransitive verbs are complete in meaning even though the verbs stand
alone or followed by adverbials of manner, place or time as in the following
examples:
- She suddenly stopped. (SVi)
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- She wept bitterly on hearing this news. (SViA1-how?A2-when?)
Unlike intransitive verbs, transitive verbs are used in the sentence pattern:
Subject + Verb + Object in which transitive verbs are not only related to the
subject but also to the object following them. Sentences with transitive verbs
are not complete in meaning if they lack objects.
Examples:
-

I love my country/*I love. (SVO)

- She is watching TV in the next room /*She is watching in the next
room. (SVOA)
However, it is noticeable that in English there are a great number of
verbs which can be used either as intransitive or transitive verbs, depending
on the meanings they convey in particular contexts of situations. For example,
in the sentence I asked him to come in, but he did not enter, the verb enter is
used as an intransitive verb but in the sentence, for example, He did
not enter the room the word enter is a transitive verb. It requires the object
the room, without which the sentence does not make sense * He enter.
From what has been discussed above, English verbs could be grouped
into different classes, depending on different principles of classification.
Different types of English verbs could be summarized in the table below:

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Table 2.1: Different types of English verbs
Criteria

Classification of verbs

1. Based on the role Helping verbs
in a verb phrase

Main verbs

(Determining the mood or (Conveying

a

real

tense of the verb in the verb meaning
phrase)

and not depending on
another verb)

2.Based on lexical

Dynamic verbs

Stative verbs

meaning

(Indicating an action)

(Indicating a state,
situation or condition)

3. Based on ability

Extensive verbs

Intensive verbs

to combine with

(Followed by objects)

(Followed by

other words

complements)

4.Based on tense

Finite verbs

Non-finite verbs

form

(Expressing tense)

(No

distinctive

tense

form in a clause)
5. based on the rule

Regular verbs

Irregular verbs

of conjugation of

(To form its past tense

(Not to form the past

verbs

and past participle

tense by adding -d or –

by adding -d or -ed

ed)

(or in some cases -t) to
the base form)
6.based on

Transitive verbs

Intransitive verbs

complementation

(followed by a direct object)

(Not followed by a
direct object)

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