The English verbal ending -s

It is often said that English verbs inflect in the present tense for the person (1st / 2nd / 3rd) and number (singular / plural) of their grammatical subject. In Notes on English Agreement, Richard Kayne provides a different analysis. He suggests that English verbs inflect only for number, not for person. Background Almost all…… Continue reading The English verbal ending -s

‘must not’ in English and German

The English modal verb must and its German counterpart muss are cognates—they share the same origin and similar meanings. But when they are negated, they behave in different ways. English Barbara must not go means that it is required that Barbara does not go.On the other hand, German Barbara muss nicht gehen means that Barbara…… Continue reading ‘must not’ in English and German

Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian

I have just read a paper describing 16 differences between Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian. The description was in a paper that looked for the border between language varieties separated by each difference. The paper also looked at whether those borders match national borders and how close the varieties are to each other. The authors…… Continue reading Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian

You need not understand

In English, auxiliary verbs (have and be) and modal verbs behave differently from all other verbs. For example, they combine differently with negatives, as shown in the following table for auxiliaries (have and be), a modal verb (can) and another verb (go). TypePositiveNegativeAux (have)You have goneYou have not goneAux (be)You are goingYou are not goingModalYou…… Continue reading You need not understand

Scandinavian language challenge day 29

Today I worked through chapter 9 of Swedish in three months, covering: indefinite and negative pronouns and adjectivesformation of adverbscomparative and superlativeinfinitive with and without attother words Indefinite and negative pronouns and adjectives The following are both pronouns and adjectives: någon (neuter: något, plural: några): something, someone, some, anything, anyone, anyingen (inget, inga): nothing, no-one, no…… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 29

Scandinavian language challenge day 21

Today I worked through chapter 6 of Norwegian in three months, covering: perfect tensemodal auxiliary verbscomparison of adverbsmore about adverbsexpressions of timeother words Perfect tense The perfect tense is formed by using the auxiliary ha (have) with the past participle. For some verbs, the auxiliary være instead of ha (to be covered in chapter 7). Example:I…… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 21

Scandinavian language challenge day 13

Today I worked through chapter 4 of Danish in three months, covering: auxiliary verbsauxiliary verbs: word ordermodal particlesindefinite and negative pronounsdemonstrativesother words Auxiliary verbs Infinitiveat kunneat skulleat villeat måtteat burdeat turde Present tensekanskalvilmåbørtør Meaningcanshall, is to, mustwill, wants tomay, mustought todare(s) When må means may, it is often used with one of the modal particles gerne…… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 13