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Verbal Relations in English Grammar

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Пособие детально описывает наиболее сложные вопросы грамматики английского языка: глагол и его функционирование в предложении. Пособие состоит из двух частей — «Отношения в предложении» и «Личные формы глагола». Книга предназначена для широкого круга читателей: для студентов и преподавателей языковых учебных заведений, а также для всех, кто изучает английский язык самостоятельно. Печатается по рекомендации кафедры иностранных языков УрФУ.
Обвинцева, Н. В. Verbal Relations in English Grammar : учебное пособие / Н. В. Обвинцева. - Екатеринбург : Изд-во Уральского ун-та, 2016. - 84 с. - ISBN 978-5-7996-1704-2. - Текст : электронный. - URL: https://znanium.com/catalog/product/1927192 (дата обращения: 02.03.2024). – Режим доступа: по подписке.
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Министерство образования и науки Российской Федерации

Уральский федеральный университет

имени первого Президента России Б. Н. Ельцина

Н. В. Обвинцева 

VERBAL RELATIONS IN ENGLISH GRAMMAR

Учебное пособие 

Рекомендовано методическим советом УрФУ 

для студентов языковых специальностей 

Екатеринбург 

Издательство Уральского университета 

2016 

УДК 81′367/625:811/111(075.8)
ББК 81.432.1-213я73
          О-13

Р е ц е н з е н т ы :

Т. Г. Точилкина, канд. филол. наук, доц. Челябинского 

государственного педагогического университета;

Г. А. Наседкина, канд. педаг. наук, доц. Челябинской 

государственной академии культуры и искусств 

Научный редактор — канд. филол. наук, доц. А. С. Поршнева

О-13

Обвинцева, Н. В.
Verbal Relations in English Grammar : учебное пособие 

/ Н. В. Обвинцева. — Екатеринбург : Изд-во Урал. ун-
та, 2016. — 84 с.

ISBN 978-5-7996-1704-2

Пособие детально описывает наиболее сложные вопросы грамма-

тики английского языка: глагол и его функционирование в предложе-
нии. Пособие состоит из двух частей — «Отношения в предложении» 
и «Личные формы глагола». Книга предназначена для широкого круга 
читателей: для студентов и преподавателей языковых учебных заведе-
ний, а также для всех, кто изучает английский язык самостоятельно.

Печатается по рекомендации кафедры иностранных языков УрФУ 

УДК 81′367/625:811/111(075.8)
ББК 81.432.1-213я73

ISBN 978-5-7996-1704-2
© Уральский федеральный  
      университет, 2016

INTRODUCTION

Effective English language communication usually requires that each 

sentence contains a subject and a predicate. The subject is sometimes 
defined as a person, a place, or a thing. The predicate conveys an 
understanding of the action expressed, or the state of the subject.

Subject and predicate are the functions of the words or phrases, 

they are usually expressed by the parts of speech or phrases which they 
form. Function is a relational concept. For example: A lot of people 
have visited this event. When we say that a lot of people is subject we 
are describing the relation between it and have visited, or between it 
and the whole clause. It is the subject of the clause, not simply a 
subject. It is expressed by the Noun phrase. And the predicate in this 
sentence is expressed by the verb. [1] 

The traditional term ‘parts of speech’ applies to what we call 

categories of words and lexemes.

We recognise nine categories [1] (Table 1).

Table 1 

NOUN
The dog 
barked

That is Sue
We saw you

VERB 
The dog 
barked

I have a 
headache

It is 
impossible

ADJECTIVE 
He’s very 
old

It looks empty
I’ve got a new 
car

DETERMINATIVE 
The dog 
barked

I need some 
nails

All things 
change

|  VERBAL RELATIONS IN ENGLISH GRAMMAR  |

ADVERB 
She spoke 
clearly

He ‘s very old
I almost died

PREPOSITION 
It’s in the 
car

I gave it to Sam
Here ‘s a list 
of them

COORDINATOR 
I got up and 
left

Ed or Jo took it
It’s cheap but 
strong

SUBORDINATOR 
It’s odd that 
they were 
late

I wonder 
whether

it ‘s still 
available

They don ‘t 
know if

you ‘re 
serious

INTERJECTION
oh, hello, 
wow, ouch

The two largest and most important categories are the noun and 

the verb, the two that we have already introduced. The most basic kind of 
clause contains at least one noun and one verb. The first six categories in 
list can function as the head of corresponding phrases (noun phrase, 
verb phrase, adjective phrase, etc.). The other three can’t [1].

The verb plays an essential role in English language. Its form and 

place bear the main information in the sentence. Verbs convey a 
sense of action or they convey the state of an entity. Verbs may also 
convey a sense of time. A verb is a kind of word (part of speech) that 
tells about an action or a state. It is the main part of a sentence: every 
sentence has a verb. In English, verbs are the only kind of word that 
changes to show past or present tense [1].

English has two main kinds of verbs: normal verbs (called 

lexical verbs) and auxiliary verbs. The difference between them is 
mainly in where they can go in a sentence. Some verbs are in both 
groups, but there are very few auxiliary verbs in English. There are 
also two kinds of auxiliary verbs: modal verbs and non-modal verbs.

In this textbook we consider lexical verbs in all their categories 

and observe the place of them in the sentence.

UNIT I   

RELATIONS IN THE SENTENCE 

WORD ORDER 

Sentence is a linguistic unit consisting of one or more words that 

are grammatically linked. A sentence can include words grouped 
meaningfully to express a statement, question, exclamation, request, 
command or suggestion [2].

Sentence — conceived, explicitly or implicitly, as the largest unit 

of grammar, or the largest unit over which a rule of grammar can 
operate (P. H. Matthews).

Word order — used widely of the order of elements within the 

sentence, whether words or, more commonly, phrases. E. g. the ‘basic 
word order’ in English is ‘SVO’: i. e. a subject phrase (S), whether 
one word or many, precedes the verb (V), and an object phrase (O), 
again whether one word or many, follows it.

Due to the absence of case distinctions word order is practically 

the only means of distinguishing between the subject and the direct 
object. The word order in English is direct. The basic pattern of a 
simple sentence in English is one subject-predicate unit, that is, it 
has two main (principal) positions: those of the subject and of the 
predicate. It is the pattern of a two-member sentence. The verb in 
the predicate position may be intransitive, transitive, ditransitive or 
a link verb. The structure of the common sentence comprises the 
members in the following order [2]:

|  VERBAL RELATIONS IN ENGLISH GRAMMAR  |

1. The subject;
2. The predicate;
3. Objects;
4. The complement (predicative);
5. Modifiers.

SUBJECT AND PREDICATE AGREEMENT 

In the English language the predicate agrees with the subject in person 

and number. Agreement implies that the use of one form necessitates the 
use of the other (e. g. a singular subject requires a predicate in the singular, 
plural subjects reqiure a predicate in plural). This rule remains true for all 
link verbs irrespective of the number of the predicative noun, as in:

Our only guide was the Polar star.
Our only guide was the stars.
In Modern English, with its few inflexions, this agreement is 

restricted to the present tense apart from the verb to be. The verb to 
be agrees with the subject both in present and in the past [2].

The rules of agreement of the predicate  

with the subject expressed by:

1 .  H o m o g e n e o u s  m e m b e r s
– 
If there are two or more homogeneous subjects connected by 

the conjunction and or asyndetically the predicate is in the plural.

Her father and mother were obviously haunted and harassed 

(Galsworthy) [2].

The top of a low black cabinet, the old oak table, the chairs in 

tawny leather, were littered with the children’s toys, books, and garden 
garments (Eliot) [2].

NB! If two or more homogeneous subjects are expressed by 

the infinitives the predicate is used in singular.

To know everything is to know nothing.
To be loved and to be wanted is always good.

|   UNIT I. RELATIONS IN THE SENTENCE    |

7

– 
In the sentences where the predicate precedes a number of 

subjects (commonly used in sentences starting with here or there), 
the predicate agrees with the subject that stands first.

There is a scope for innovation and change both in the composition 

and procedures of appellate courts (Bell).

– 
When two homogeneous subjects are connected by the 

conjunctions: not only… but (also), neither… nor, either… or, or, nor 
the predicate agrees with the subject next to it.

Either my sister or my parents are at home.
Either my parents or my sister is at home.
Neither you nor I am right.
Neither I nor you are right.
Not only my parents but also my brother knows about it.
Not only my brother but also my parents know about it.
Is Tom or Mary eager to meet you at the station?

– 
When two subjects are connected by the conjunction as well 

as, rather than, as much as, more than, the predicate agrees with the 
first one.

My parents as well as my sister are teachers.
My sister as well as my parents is a teacher.
The manager as well as/rather than/more than/as much as the 

members of the board is responsible for the present situation.

– 
If the subject is modified by two or more attributes, connected 

by the conjunction and, the predicate is used in plural when two or 
more things, ideas, people are meant. In this case with uncountable 
nouns and plural nouns the article is put once, before the first 
attribute, with countable singular nouns the article is put before each 
attribute.

A black and a white kitten were playing on the hearth rug.
(A black kitten was playing and a white kitten was playing).

|  VERBAL RELATIONS IN ENGLISH GRAMMAR  |

The yellow and the red car were badly damaged.
In modern hotels hot and cold water are supplied in every room.
American and Dutch beer are both much lighter than British.
Good and bad tastes are shown by examples.
The Black and Mediterranean Seas never freeze.
If the article is repeated, the reference is to two persons or objects, 

a plural verb-predicate is used.

The bread and the butter are on the table. (Two separate object are 

meant).

The painter and the decorator are here. (Two persons are meant).
NB! If one thing, idea or person is meant, the predicate is in 

singular.

A tall and beautiful girl was waiting in the office.
A black and white kitten was playing on the hearth rug.

2 .  P r o n o u n 
– 
By a defining, indefinite or negative pronoun (each, either, 

everybody, everyone, everything, somebody, someone, something, 
nobody, no one, nothing, neither), the predicate is in the singular.

Somebody is asking for you. Nobody has come except me.
Everyone of us is present. Neither of the students has made a 

mistake.

Each has answered well.
NB! None has a plural verb-predicate (very seldom one can meet 

singular usage).

None were here. None of us understand it. None of them have 

come.

– 
By an interrogative pronoun who, what, the predicate is in 

singular if the question is not definitely referred to more than one 
person.

Who are standing at the door? I can hear a number of voices.
Who is there?

|   UNIT I. RELATIONS IN THE SENTENCE    |

9

– 
By the relative pronoun who, what, that, the predicate agrees 

with its antecedent.

It is you who are right. It is I who am wrong. But: It’s me who is 

wrong.

– 
By the emphatic it the predicate is in the singular no matter 

what follows.

It is what the idea looks like.
Foreigners say that it is only English girls who can be trusted to 

travel alone (Bronte).

– 
By the universal pronoun both and the phrase both… and, the 

predicate is in the plural.

Both the bread and the butter are fresh.
Both the teacher and the students have come.
Which of the letters are yours? Both are mine.

– 
By the All in the sense of «всё» has a singular verb, all in the 

sense of «все» takes a plural verb.

All is well that ends well. All that glitters is not gold.
All were in favour of the plan.

3 .  P l u r a l  n o u n s 
– 
By a plural noun which is the title of the book, the name of 

one thing (a newspaper, magazine, company, etc.), or a quotation, 
the predicate is in the singular.

“Fathers and Sons” is the most popular of Turgenev’s novels.
NB! The titles of some works which are collections of stories, etc., 

may have either a singular or a plural verb.

The “Canterbury Tales” consist of about seventeen thousand lines 

of verse.

Turgenev’s “Hunter’s Tales” was/were published in 1852.

|  VERBAL RELATIONS IN ENGLISH GRAMMAR  |

– 
By a noun in the plural denoting time, measure, or distance 

the predicate is in the singular when the noun represents the amount 
or mass as a whole.

4 .  C o l l e c t i v e  n o u n s 
– 
By a collective noun denoting a group or collection of 

similar individuals taken as a whole (humanity, mankind, etc.) the 
predicate is in the singular.

– 
By a noun of multitude (i. e. a collective noun denoting 

the individuals of the group taken separately e. g. people, infantry, cavalry, 
gentry, clergy, police, cattle, poultry, jury, etc.) the predicate is in the plural [1].

– 
By a collective noun such as family, committee, crew, board, chorus, 

government, party, team, company, band, crowd, clergy, cattle, gang, group, 
guard, gentry, infantry, jury, the predicate is either in the singular or in the plural, 
depends on what is uppermost in the mind, the idea of oneness or plurality.

A new government has been formed. The government have asked 

me to go, so I am leaving now.

It was now nearly eleven о’clock and the congregation were 

arriving… The congregation was small.

How are your family? Our family has always been a very happy one.
The commanding officer does not know where his cavalry is and his 

cavalry are not completely sure of their situation.

The crowd was enormous. The crowd were silent. The crowd were 

watching the scene spell-bound.

The cattle is in the mountains.
The cattle have stopped grazing. They know before you hear any 

sound that planes are approaching.

The jury decides whether the accused is guilty or not.
While the jury were out, some of the public went out for a breath of 

fresh air.

The crew on the ship was excellent. The crew have taken their posts.

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