Student or Learner
I would like to know the definition of the following terms
1. 'Irregular' as in irregular verbs and nouns. Most grammar books define it as " not having any regular form' ,or, in the case of verbs- as verbs that do not form a past by adding 'ed' . The books give examples: eaten , rode etc.
Is that all? Is the term defined by what it is not, rather than by what it is?
2. Modal ( as in Modal verbs) ; Again grammar books just give examples - Can , could etc. but don't define the term modal. Even the dictionaries I looked at ( OED and Longman's ) only give examples. Why is a verb called A modal verb? What exactly does modal mean? Is it related to modes of doing things?
3. Static verb. Have is a good example. E.g I have a pen ( showing possession ) VS I have a drink every evening ( showing action _ the dynamic form of the verb) .
My question. Why is it called static? Is it only because it doesn't show action or movement as in my second example above? - again a definition by negation??
Can someone help please?
Thanks in advance,
1 Yes, because they are defined by not being regular. You can look at the various possibilities- no change (cut), internal changes (rode), etc, etc, but what they have in common is either not adding -ed or -d or having an alternative form (verbs like spell that can have spelled or spelt). If you want a pretty comprehensive list of the groupings and changes in irregular, click here There must be around fifty groupings there, which doesn't make for a handy definition.
2 The Oxford Dictionary that I have to hand gives involvement of 'affirmation of possibility, impossibility, necessity or contingency' in its definition, which gives many of the basics of the family of verbs.
3 Another term is state verbs, because they describe a state like ownership, possession and not an action, so I don't see this as a definition by negation, but a definition of what they are. You buy something- that's an action, but from then on it's yours- that the state of affairs and will only be changed by another action.