chapter  4
Pages 9

We have looked at four of the five major word classes: nouns, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions. It is time to introduce the fifth major word class: verbs. To understand what a VERB is, we need to think both about how it contributes to the meaning of the sentence as a whole, and also about the shape of the verb as a word, including its suffixes. A sentence represents an action or an event or a state of affairs In many cases, the verb is the word which names the kind of action or event or state of affairs. Thus in the sentence I was reading the letter to John, the verb reading names the kind of action involved. In contrast, noun phrases usually name the participants in the eventuality – the actors or things acted upon, such as I and the letter and John. The verb is a bit like the head of the sentence, both because it expresses the core meaning in some sense, and also because the most indispensable part of an English sentence is its verb. A command like Eat! is a sentence consisting just of a verb.