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Applied Research in English Language

Yıl 2013 , Cilt 2 , Sayı 2

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Başlık :

The two be's of english

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PhD, Senior Linguistics Consultant1
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This qualitative study investigates the uses of be in Contemporary English. Based on this study, one easy claim and one more difficult claim are proposed. The easy claim is that the traditional distinction between be as a lexical verb and be as an auxiliary is faulty. In particular, 'copular-be', traditionally considered to be a lexical verb, is in fact a prototypical auxiliary. The harder claim is that there is a syntactic distinction between lexical-be and auxiliary-be, but that distinction does not coincide with the copular vs. non-copular usages. Rather, the syntactic distinction between lexical and auxiliary be has an entirely different, semantic motivation based on stativity vs. activity. In the process of providing evidence for these claims, the paper challenges a major assumption of traditional grammar – namely that every English sentence requires a lexical verb. This assumption is replaced by the notion that every English sentence requires Inflection. The proposals in this paper bridge the gap between theoretical and applied linguistics and have the potential to simplify significantly the conceptualization, teaching and learning of English grammar. 

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