12. Modern English

1. Explain the nature of the so called composite predicates and consider the nature of the argument that “these constructions have legitimate uses” (p. 408).

Composite Predicates

- are predicates which consist of a quasi-auxiliary in a combination with a noun that has been formed from a verb

- quasi-auxiliaries = verbs of general meaning, such as “do, have, make, give, take”

- composite predicates can replace simple verbs

- some typical replacements are:

- give a call, make a call (instead of just call)

- have a look, take a look (instead of just look)

- give approval

- take care

- pay attention

- make reference to

- draw a conclusion from

- make an assumption

- there are some dialect differences in the use of composite predicates

- e. g. British speakers say “have a seat” while North American speakers say “take a seat”; similarly, British speakers say “make a study” and North American speakers say “do a study”

- Purists often disapprove of composite predicates: they claim they are “needlessly wordy” and they feel that they are less active, because the action is expressed by a noun rather than by a verb

- these constructions have legitimate uses, for example in uses allowing modification: we can say “take a long bath” but we cannot say “*bathe longly”

- this development is consistent with the increasing analyticity of the English language; it is also the same with phrasal verbs because both phrasal verbs and composite predicates consist of a phrase rather than a single form, which is a sign of the analyticity in the language