Thursday, November 04, 2010

Eleven ways to add a D

kw: words, english language

In a recent post, I showed that 95% of English verbs form the past tense by putting a "D" sound at the end. Here we'll look at the various ways that "D" sound is spelled, plus the sounds that are added to form the present participle, third person singular and associated noun. This will of necessity be presented in narrative form, because Blogger doesn't properly support tables.

In the lists I made of verb forms, I distinguished them into 42 categories by the patterns by which the past, past participle, present participle, third person singular, and related noun are formed. For the vast majority of English verbs, the past and past participle are the same: "Today I Start, earlier I Started, and I have Started many times." From this point, I'll show the full conjugations this way: Start//Started/Starts/Starting/Starter, where that // indicates that the two past forms are the same. In planned posts where I discuss verbs with a full conjugation, all the parts will be shown, as Swim/Swam/Swum/Swims/Swimming/Swimmer.

My numbering scheme was arrived at somewhat ad hoc. I reserved numbers less than ten (currently 0, 1 and 2) for those few verbs like Cut that re-use the infinitive in the past and/or past participle. The ones that use the "D" sound in past forms are numbered 10 through 20:
  • 10: 2,748 verbs ending in "e" that add "d" to produce past forms, add "s" in the third person singular, change final "e" to "ing" for the present participle, and usually add "r" for the "performer" noun, though some change the final "e" to "or". Thus, Bribe//Bribed/Bribes/Bribing/Briber but Create//Created/Creates/Creating/Creator. For a few of these, the "r" or "or" form has become superseded by another form, such as Associate→Associate and Irritate→Irritant.
  • 11: 2,538 verbs that add "ed for the past forms, "s" for the third person singular, "ing" for the present participle, and "er" (rarely "or") for the noun. Examples are Adorn//Adorned/Adorns/Adorning/Adorner and Obey//Obeyed/Obeys/Obeying/Obeyer.
  • 12: 473 verbs whose final consonant is doubled before adding "ed" for the past forms and "ing" or "er", but still add a simple "s" for the third person singular. Examples are Brag//Bragged/Brags/Bragging/Bragger (though also Braggart) and Stun//Stunner/Stuns/Stunning/Stunner.
  • 13: 374 verbs which are similar to Type 11 except for adding "es" for the third person singular. Examples are Bless//Blessed/Blesses/Blessing/Blesser and Crash//Crashed/Crashes/Crashing/Crasher.
  • 14: 212 verbs ending in "y", for which the "y" is replaced with "ied" for the past forms, "ies" for third person singular, and "ier" for the noun, while simply adding "ing" for the present participle. Examples are Bury//Buried/Buries/Burying/Burier and Rally//Rallied/Rallies/Rallying/Rallyer.
  • 15: 34 verbs ending in "e" that keep the "e" when adding "ing" for the present participle, but are otherwise formed like Type 10. An example is Dye//Dyed/Dyes/Dyeing/Dyer.
  • 16: 8 verbs ending in "c" that add "s" for third person singular but append a "k" before "ed", "ing" or "er". An example is Frolic//Frolicked/Frolics/Frolicking/Frolicker.
  • 17: 11 verbs ending in "ie" which add "d" and "s" as Type 10 but replace the "ie" with "ying" for the past participle and with "yer" for the noun. An example is Tie//Tied/Ties/Tying/Tyer.
  • 18: 8 verbs for which the final consonant is always doubled. An examples is Gas//Gassed/Gasses/Gassing/Gasser.
  • 19: 6 verbs ending in "y" that change the "y" to "ied" and "ies" but append "ing" and "er" for the past participle and noun forms. Examples are Try//Tried/Tries/Trying/Tryer and (this verb means to "jump or jerk in startlement") Shy//Shied/Shies/Shying/Shyer.
  • 20: 15 verbs ending in "y" that follow the pattern of these examples: Pay//Paid/Pays/Paying/Payer and Say//Said/Says/Saying/Sayer.
The numbers total to 6,427 in my lists, or 95.2% of the 6,753 verbs that I have analyzed. I can see where I ought to regroup these so that all the verbs with an infinitive ending in "e" are together, those ending in "y" are together and so forth. That is a task for another day.

Note that, though there are these eleven ways the spelling is taken care of, the endings of the spoken forms all sound the same: Creating and Bragging and Trying just add an "ing" sound; Sensed and Rallied and Picnicked just add a "d" sound. So the spoken conjugation of 95% of English verbs is quite regular.

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