Grammatical Change

Revision cards about grammtical change.

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  • Loss of Old English inflections
  • They indicated the grammatical relationship between words.
  • Modern English uses syntax (word order/sentence structure) to indicate meaning.
  • Old/Middle English didn't rely on word order for meaning - the inflections showed the meaning.
  • Inflections can indicate:
      • tense e.g. -ed, -s
      • singular or plural
      • something belongs to the word
      • somehting is being done to or for the word
  • We still have some inflections - plural 's', tense endings etc. We just don't have as many as Old English had.
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Inflections - Suffixes

  • Can be derivational or inflectional
  • Derivational - change the word class. e.g. love - lovely - lovingly (verb/noun - adjective - adverb)
  • Inflectional - change the tense but not the word class. e.g. run - running  (present tense verb - present tense participle/gerund of the verb)
  • Most other inflections disappeared in the Middle Ages
  • Early Modern English still had some archaic inflections e.g. -th and -st verb endings.
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  • 'thou', 'thee' and 'thine' have largely disappeared.
  • are NOT archaic pronouns
  • are still used in some Yorkshire dialects,
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  • Use of the double negative is now considered to be incorrect grammar.
  • From 15th - 17th centuries the double negative was used to apply extra emphasis - whatever the double negative was being used for became twice as bad.
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'Who' and 'Whom'

  • 'Whom' refers to the object in a clause.
  • e.g. The man whom I met yesterday. (You are the subject, the man is the object, so 'whom' is correct.)
  • 'Whom' is often seen as excessively formal nowadays
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Split Infinitives

  • An infinitive is the base form of the verb. In English, they have 'to' before them. e.g. to love, to run, to play, to eat etc.
  • Latin infinitives are only one word e.g. 'to love' is 'amore'
  • You can't split that one word i.e. you can't split the infinitve.
  • Adverbs between the 'to' and 'love' are grammatically incorrect - but it is a habit which is becoming more acceptable.
  • Modern texts are more likely to have split infinitves than older texts.
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