Grammar!

Do you remember your grammar classes from high school? Maybe even grammar classes for a foreign language you took in school as well. It was maddening! Eight parts of speech, forty prepositions, regular and irregular verbs! All of it designed to make you crazy.!

My host brother was explaining the meaning of his new son’s name to me: Leutrim. He said that leu is the past of born and trim is brave. Oh, cool name! Then I started thinking. Past of born? Isn’t born the past participle. But of what verb. I’ll just look it  up in Merriam Webster. It will tell me. Imagine my surprise when good old MW tells me it is an adjective.  WHAT?! And the sample sentence is: He was born in July. Now I don’t know about you but that looks like a verb to me. What is the infinitive form? Oh, here it is: bear. The three principle parts of the verb are bear, bore, born(e). So how on God’s Green Earth has it become an adjective. I think it’s a verb in the Bible when it says, “For unto you is born a savior……” What would the adjective be modifying?  So I’m ready to fight Merriam Webster.

In other grammatical news…..English is sometimes so precise. Teach and learn, while related, are two totally different words with different meanings. The same with listen and hear. But in Shqip: mësoj is either teach or learn and dëgjoj is listen or hear. Shumë is many, much or very. Add an ‘s’ and it becomes the word for plural. Is it any wonder I just nod my head and say po (yes in Shqip)?

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Eileen

A 60 something woman who has run off to faraway places with the Peace Corps.

5 thoughts on “Grammar!”

  1. “For unto you is born a savior……”
    The verb is “is”.

    “He was born in July.”
    The verb is “was”.

    These are auxiliary verbs with the word “born” holding the past perfect tense of “to bear”. In older English, that was considered an adjective as the word “born” is modifying the object of the sentence. In the first case, “savior” is now in a state of “born” and in the second, “he” is now “born”. Some modern grammarians seem to treat it as two verbs, rather than a verb and an adjective.

    Wikipedia has a nice little writeup:

    The have-perfect developed from a construction where the verb meaning have denoted possession, and the past participle was an adjective modifying the object, as in I have the work done.

    Just another in a long series of examples of how English evolves and we’re silly to make rules around it.

  2. I just looked in a thesaurus …..synonyms for born= constitutional, essential, natural, built-in……innate. Which is an adjective.

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