Syntactic Connections between the Words

The Development of the Syntactic System

Lecture 19



Continuous Forms

Sometimes they were found in OE:

bēon + Participle 1

2.In OEit denoted a quality or a lasting state and was characterising a person or a thing indicated by the Subject of the sentence. The continuance was not limited in time (as it is in the ModE Continuous forms) and resembled more present-day Indefinite Tense forms, e.g.:

Sēō eorðe is berende missenlīcra fuζela This land bears many birds.

3.In MEContinuous forms fell into disuse.

4.In NE these forms reappeared together with a synonymous form:

be + Participle 1 = be + on/in + Gerund (indicated a process of limited duration)


He was on huntinge He was hunting (literally, He was on hunting).

5. 18th c. Continuous forms became well-established.

6. 19th c. Continuous forms in the Passivewere accepted as a norm (e.g. The house is being built previously such forms were considered clumsy and non-grammatical).

1.In NEdo-periphrasis was used in the Past and Present of the Indicative Mood.

2. 16th c. Do was used in negative, affirmative and interrogative sentences and was freely interchangeable with the simple forms (without do), e.g.:

Heard you all this? = Did you hear all this?

I know not why he cries. = I dont know why he cries.

He knew it. = He did know it (without any meaning of emphasis).

3. 17th c. do was left only in negative and interrogative sentences to keep the word-order S + P + O (e.g. I (S) pity (P) him (O). Do you (S) pity (P) him (O)?). In affirmative sentences do acquired an emphatic meaning (e.g. Did you really see him? I didsee him, I swear!).


1. After reading the material of the lecture, use the glossary of A Reader in the History of English by .. and analyse the following verbs: clypode, þystrodon, mihte, ζeseon, cwæd, ζesihst. Plan of analysis:

initial form;

type of conjugation/type of the verb;

class of the verb;

a non-finite form (Infinitive, Participle 1, 2, Gerund) or a finite form (Tense, Number, Person if there are);

Modern English equivalent;


2. Find all the verbs in the abstract from Beowulf on p. 8 in A Reader in the History of English by .. and analyse them according to the plan given above.

3. Find the Perfect, Passive and Infinitive forms in the abstract from the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (lines 1-14) on p. 33-34 in A Reader in the History of English by .. and analyse them.

Old English was a synthetic language, i.e. there were a lot of inflections that showed the relations between the words in a sentence.

1. Agreement a correspondence between 2 or more words in Gender, Number, Case, Person:

relation correspondence between the Subject and the Predicate in Number and Person;

correlation agreement of an adjective, a demonstrative pronoun, a possessive pronoun, Participle 1, 2 with noun in Gender, Number, Case.

2. Government a type of correspondence when one word (mainly a verb, less frequently an adjective, a pronoun or a numeral) determines the Case of another word:

e.g.: OE niman (to take) à noun in Acc;

OE secζan (to say) à noun in Dat (to whom?), noun in Acc (what?);

OE hlusten (to listen) à noun in Gen.



  2. Analyze the meanings of the italicized words. Identify the result of the changes of the connotational aspect of lexical meaning in the given words.
  3. Archaic, obsolete and historic words
  5. Combine the following words into sentences.
  6. Compare the meanings of the given words. Define what semantic features are shared by all the members of the group and what semantic properties distinguish them from each other.
  7. Divergences in the semantic structure of words
  8. Exercise 1. Translate the following sentences paying attention to Participle Constructions in different syntactic functions.
  9. Free Word-Groups Versus Phraseological Units Versus Words
  10. Identify the period of borrowing of the French, Greek, Russian and German words given in task 6.
  11. International Words
  12. Interrelation of Etymological and Stylistic Characteristics of Words.

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