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  1. #1
    notmyname216 is offline Junior Member
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    Default "fruit" as a verb

    Given this sentence:

    Fruit flies like bananas.

    Why can "fruit" not be a verb? I realize it is being used as a noun in this sentence.

    If "fruit" was a verb then "flies" must be a noun.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: "fruit" as a verb

    If 'fruit' were a verb in this sentence, it would have to be an imperative, ordering someone to do the same to flies as bananas, whatever 'fruiting a fly' would be.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: "fruit" as a verb

    Additionally, English is an SVO language: Subject+Verb+Object word-order.

    Statement: Fruit flies (subject) like (verb) banana (object).
    Imperative: [You] (subject) like (verb) fruit flies (object)! (awkward command)

    The subject comes first, the verb second, and the object third, so naturally speakers of English interpret the first word - or at least the word that comes before the verb - as the subject.

    With questions though, the word-order changes. The Verb comes first. Either the Subject-Verb pair is inverted (SV -> VS) or a form of DO is inserted.

    DO Insertion
    Fruit flies like bananas. => Dofruit flies like bananas?

    Subject-Verb Invertion
    Fruit flies are insects. => Are fruit flies insects?

    If anything, it'd be 'flies' that some speakers might interpret as being the verb. 'flies' is a verb as well as a noun.

    [1] Fruit (Subject) flies (Verb) like bananas. (like means, in the same way as)
    Cf. That kite flies like a bird.

    Example [1] is grammatical, but not all that meaningful. You see, bananas can't fly.

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