Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. Newbie
    Student or Learner

    • Join Date: Oct 2009
    • Posts: 6
    #1

    Question about Helping Verbs

    In the sentence, "She was active in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s" is "was" the main verb or a helping verb ("was active')? Is "active" part of the verb, or is it an adjective?

    Can you please let me know and explain how you know it?


    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 394
    #2

    Re: Question about Helping Verbs

    Was is the main verb.

    Terminology varies, but was could be considered a helping verb if the sentence used the passive voice. For example:

    Tom was taken to the hospital.

    Someone took him there.

    Your sentence is not passive; nobody "actived" the subject. It might also be considered a helping verb if it is used in the formation of the verb:

    Tom was strumming on his old banjo.

    That is, past continuous: BE + v-ing.

    Hope this helps.

    Greg


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #3

    Re: Question about Helping Verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by dizzy67 View Post
    In the sentence, "She was active in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s" is "was" the main verb or a helping verb ("was active')? Is "active" part of the verb, or is it an adjective?

    Can you please let me know and explain how you know it?
    Is this school work, Dizzy? Not that that matters, just curious.


    Constituent tree:

    (S (NP She)
    (VP was
    (ADJP active
    (PP in
    (NP the Civil Rights movement))
    (PP in
    (NP the 1960s)))))


    How do I know it? I went to Parse a Sentence at,

    obsolete sentence page

  2. Newbie
    Student or Learner

    • Join Date: Oct 2009
    • Posts: 6
    #4

    Re: Question about Helping Verbs

    This is what I thought, too.

    So, in the sentence "He was born in 19900" is "was" the main verb or a helping verb?

  3. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,091
    #5

    Re: Question about Helping Verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by dizzy67 View Post
    This is what I thought, too.

    So, in the sentence "He was born in 19900" is "was" the main verb or a helping verb?
    Here's an excellent opportunity for you to see if you've learnt the lesson. Why don't you tell us what "was" is and explain it? Someone will correct you if you're wrong.

  4. Newbie
    Student or Learner

    • Join Date: Oct 2009
    • Posts: 6
    #6

    Re: Question about Helping Verbs

    Well, I have found materials that identify "was born" as a verb phrase. I am assuming the argument is that "was" is a helping verb and "born" is a verb in the passive voice.

    However, one could make the argument for "born" being a predicate adjective and "was" being the linking verb. The online sentence parser that riverkid referenced above seems to think that this is the case.

    So, I don't know. What do you think?

  5. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 19,218
    #7

    Re: Question about Helping Verbs

    "Born" is a harder one to compare.

    Dictionary and Thesaurus - Merriam-Webster Online lists the adjective meaning of "born" first - "She was born to succeed."

    Compare this to the participle of "bear" "She was born" as a passive construction.

    He was free to pursue new avenues of research in his job, leading to his pursuit of...

  6. Newbie
    Student or Learner

    • Join Date: Oct 2009
    • Posts: 6
    #8

    Re: Question about Helping Verbs

    "free" sounds like an adjective in that sentence.


    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 394
    #9

    Re: Question about Helping Verbs

    However, one could make the argument for "born" being a predicate adjective and "was" being the linking verb.
    I've been sitting here all morning watching the Yankees game (current time difference: +12 hours) and searching for something definitive about born, and most things seem to be leaning toward passive voice. I have always felt this way about sentences like "I was born in Illinois," but I agree that it's very slippery however you ultimately interpret it.

    I don't mean this as any kind of expert grammatical analysis, but one thing that bugs me about the linking verb interpretation is that in my opinion be born seems to come up short in places that linking verbs followed by adjectives pass with flying colors.

    For example, the following sentence contains a linking verb followed by an adjective:

    John was tired.

    Was is a linking verb, and the adjective tired describes John's state or condition. You can substitute the word is and still have a good sentence:

    John is tired.

    Plus, you can say things like the following:

    How does John appear? He appears tired.
    How does John seem? He seems tired.

    "Hi, John. You look tired today."
    "Gosh, and I feel tired too."


    Was, is, appear, seem, look, feel: linking verbs all. Clearly, in each case the adjective tired describes John's condition; it doesn't refer to something that happened to or was done to John. Note that it could in other sentences, but it doesn't here.

    However, born just falls flat on its face here.

    John was born in Illinois.

    Is was a linking verb, with the adjective born describing John's condition? Well, let's put it through the same paces and see what we get:

    Can we substitute is for the verb?

    John is born in Illinois. (X)

    Can we say things like the following:

    How does John appear? He appears born. (X)
    How does John seem? He seems born. (X)

    "Hi, John. You look born today." (X)
    "Gosh, and I feel born too." (X)


    No on all counts.

    Does it refer to something that happened to or was done to John? Well, yes. His mother bore him.

    Even though that action is far from our consciousness in such sentences, it is still there, lurking under the surface. The word born is still tied to that distant action with a grammatical umbilical cord that just doesn't quite get cut.

    That's my gut feeling concerning born. Other opinions may vary.

    Greg
    Last edited by dragn; 08-Oct-2009 at 06:57.

  7. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,091
    #10

    Re: Question about Helping Verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by dizzy67 View Post
    Well, I have found materials that identify "was born" as a verb phrase. I am assuming the argument is that "was" is a helping verb and "born" is a verb in the passive voice.

    However, one could make the argument for "born" being a predicate adjective and "was" being the linking verb. The online sentence parser that riverkid referenced above seems to think that this is the case.

    So, I don't know. What do you think?
    I would parse this one as the former.
    "was" is a helping verb.
    His mother bore him. He was born.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] Helping Verbs
    By Hi5 in forum Frequently Asked Questions
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 05-Mar-2009, 12:31
  2. Name for a question that is answered with a question
    By Vandee in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 12-Feb-2009, 19:17
  3. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 29-Dec-2007, 01:09
  4. Types of question
    By Jupiter in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 15-Jul-2006, 11:33
  5. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 14-Jan-2005, 13:07

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •