Building Blocks of English IX: Verbs

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I haven’t continued this series for a while because I had the sense that I was jumping around too much and wasn’t being very systematic, but since I tackled nouns last time, I guess I should tackle verbs this time.  After all, every independent clause must have a noun (or its evil twin, the pronoun) and a verb.

Saving tenses and voices for another discussion, let’s look at the three main types of nouns in English–transitive, intransitive and linking.

A transitive verb takes an object after it–it does something to something or someone else.  "Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs that year."  In this sentence, hit is the transitive verb and home runs is the direct object.

An intransitive verb does not take an object.  "He pouts a lot."  Pouts is the verb and a lot is an adverb, not an object.  If you just said, "He pouts," that would be fine also for this intransitive verb usage.

Finally, a linking verb merely connects a subject with a complement (not a direct object).  Linking verbs are often, but not exclusively, variations of the state-of-being verb to be.  "I am Gary" is an example of this type of state-of-being linking verb.  Other verbs take complements as well and link the subject with the complement.  "I feel fine" is an example of a linking verb being complemented (connecting to) the adjective I. 

The point to remember here is that linking verbs connect to adjectives, not adverbs.  If you’re not feeling well, therefore, you must say, "I feel bad."  If you said instead, "I feel badly," it would mean that your sense of touch or feeling is bad and would have nothing to do with your physical or psychological state as in the first example.

Do you feel confused–or bad–after reading all this?  Not to worry, just come back later and read it a couple more times for comprehension.  Repetition is the secret to success in any endeavor in life.


Categories: Grammar Sucks

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