How to need and how to have

The way languages express needing something is linked in a surprising way to how they express having something. In their paper Having “need” and needing “have” Stephanie Harves and Richard Kayne (Linguistic Inquiry, 2012) summarise the facts and suggest an explanation. How to have: H-languages English and some other languages use a transitive verb like…… Continue reading How to need and how to have

Doing work and playing roles in Italian

Several constructions in Italian use the verb fare (‘do’, ‘make’). Two of these constructions look very similar on the surface but syntactically they behave in very different ways. A short book Fare: Elementi di sintassi, by Nunzio La Fauci and Ignazio M Mirto (2003) analyses them. Here are 2 examples: (1) Adamo fa il medicoAdam…… Continue reading Doing work and playing roles in Italian

What is the passive?

In English and many other languages, many verbs may be in either an active form or a passive form. Most descriptions of the passive treat the active as a more basic form, with the passive derived from it. The easiest way—perhaps the only way—to describe active or passive is by the relationship between them: the…… Continue reading What is the passive?

Scandinavian language challenge day 6

Today I worked through the first chapter of Norwegian in three months. This chapter introduces: articles and nounsplurals of nounssubject pronounsthe verbs to be and to haveeveryday expressionsother words Articles and nouns There are two genders: common and neuter, though sometimes common gender is split into masculine and feminine colloquially (and especially in Nynorsk). The…… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 6

Scandinavian language challenge day 5

Today I worked through the first chapter of Swedish in three months. This chapter introduces: the verbs to be and to havesubject pronounsarticles and nounsplurals of nounsnumbers from zero to tenquestion formseveryday expressionsother words The verbs to be and to have The infinitive of the verb to be is att vara (Danish is at være)…… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 5

Scandinavian language challenge day 4

Today I worked through the first chapter of Danish in three months. This chapter introduces: the verbs to be and to havesubject pronounsdefinite and indefinite articlesplurals of nounsdefinite pluralgreetingsother words The verbs to be and to have The infinitive of the verb to be is at være and its present tense is er. The infinitive…… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 4