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Use of Semi Modal Verb Get

Essay by   •  June 8, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  5,204 Words (21 Pages)  •  2,288 Views

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Table of contents

Introduction 3

Chapter 1 Modal and Semi-Modal Verbs: Theoretical Aspect 4

1.1. Modal and Semi-Modal Verbs and Their Different Interpretations 4

1.2. Syntax, Morphology and Scope of semi-modal verbs 7

Chapter 2: Semi-Modal Verb GET: Practical Aspect 12

2.1. Usage: Tense and Aspect 12

2.2. Different Uses of Semi-Modal Verb GET 14

Conclusions 19

Bibliography 20

Introduction

Human language is truly unique as it allows us to talk about things beyond here and now. The way we do so is through the Tense, Aspect and Modality systems of natural language. Modality is what this paper is about. Roughly speaking, modality allows us to talk about events that may not have happened, but are desired or required. Modality is completely autonomous unit, and it affects our language usage in many ways. Tense and Modality are undeniably interconnected: what used to be a possibility a month ago may not be one today. Tense and Aspect are likewise related: a punctual event that took place yesterday may not hold at present, but an event (or state) that is more durative may still hold.

The primary function of modal verbs is to enable us to talk about possibilities and necessities. We can talk about the ways the world should be, were there peace on Earth, how it might have been, would Christopher Columbus not have landed in America, etc... This ability to go beyond directly observable facts is indeed at the heart of the meaning of modal expressions, and is neatly captured formally by invoking the notion of 'possible worlds' (cf. Kripke 1963: 57, Kratzer 1981: 38, 1991: 640, a. o.). What modal and semi-modal verbs do is 'quantify' over different sets of worlds, the way the quantifiers some or every quantify over sets of individuals. We thus see that semi-modal verbs enable us to talk about non actual (but possible) situations by invoking worlds other than the actual one.

The aim of the paper is to provide unified analysis of modal and semi-modal verbs focusing on the semi-modal verb get.

The objectives of the paper include:

* Acknowledging the theoretical aspect of modal and semi-modal verbs;

* Defining different interpretations of modal and semi-modal verbs;

* Providing a unified analysis of all uses of get under the rubric of semi-modal verbs;

* Accounting practical usage of get in modern English;

* Presenting conclusions.

The paper consists of two chapters. The first one focuses on theoretical aspect of modal and semi-modal verbs. The second one concerns the practical aspect of semi-modal verb get.

Chapter 1 Modal and Semi-Modal Verbs: Theoretical Aspect

1.1. Modal and Semi-Modal Verbs and Their Different Interpretations

Before we proceed and delve into differences between the various interpretations of the modals and semi-modals, it is essential to provide a common definition of what modal and semi-modal verbs are.

There are many definitions of modal verbs. In general, modal verbs are defined as:

* a type of auxiliary verb that communicates how likely something is to happen, or the degree of intent behind it.

* a special kind of verb (known as an auxiliary verb) which describes the way a speaker feels about a situation (e.g. whether the speaker thinks that the situation is possible or impossible, advisable or inadvisable).

* a type of auxiliary verb that is used to indicate modality. The use of auxiliary verbs to express modality is a characteristic of Germanic languages.

Common examples of modal verbs are 'can', 'could', 'may', 'might'. 'must', 'have to', 'should', 'will', 'would', etc. Here are some examples with the use of these modals:

* I can help you with your homework.

* Could you give me your book?

* May I help you?

* Martha, you might have phoned me and told me not to wait for you.

* You should have put more sugar in the pie.

* You must be very careful!

* You would be late!

* Did you have to wait for your friend long?

The modal verbs share some distinct characteristics that grammatically differentiate them from other verbs:

(a) they have no -s forms, infinitives, or participles (these sentences are the examples of how modal verbs should not be used: 'Martha cans drive' (no -s form), 'I like canning drive' (no non-finite forms) ;

(b) they do not have the set of tenses formed with be or have which most verbs have;

(c) they form questions by inversion and negatives by adding not or -n't ('Can you drive?', 'Martha can't drive') ;

(d) they must be used as auxiliaries to lexical verbs (cf. The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar, 1998: Modal Verb);

(e) they cannot be chained together in a sentence ( 'They will can go to the concert tomorrow' is not a correct sentence) with a few exceptions such as might have to or may have used to;

(f) they have verbal ellipsis (I can sing this song, and so can Joanne);

(g) they can be used to add emphatic stress (but I do like Milli Vanilli; but she can sing Bella Ciao) (Palmer, 1990: 103).

Syntactically, modals take infinitival complements. They fully decline and, in that sense, they behave like regular verbs. As far as the aspectual class they belong to, modals are traditionally taken to be stative predicates (cf. Stowell 2004: 86,): e.g., in English, they are licensed by present tense and do not allow progressive morphology.

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