English Language for Dummies

Topics: English language, Germanic languages, German language Pages: 4 (1268 words) Published: May 23, 2014
English grammar has minimal inflection compared with most other Indo-European languages. For example, Modern English, unlike Modern German or Dutch and the Romance languages, lacks grammatical gender and adjectival agreement. Case marking has almost disappeared from the language and mainly survives in pronouns. The patterning of strong (e.g. speak/spoke/spoken) versus weak verbs (e.g. love/loved or kick/kicked) inherited from its Germanic origins has declined in importance in modern English, and the remnants of inflection (such as plural marking) have become more regular.

At the same time, the language has become more analytic, and has developed features such as modal verbs and word order as resources for conveying meaning. Auxiliary verbs mark constructions such as questions, negative polarity, the passive voice and progressive aspect. English word order has moved from the Germanic V2 word order to being almost exclusively subject-verb-object; as English makes extensive use of auxiliary verbs, this will often create clusters of two or more verbs at the centre of the sentence, such as "he had hoped to try to open it". The long literary history of English has also created many conventions regarding the use of techniques such as verbal nouns and relative clauses to express complex ideas in formal writing.

English vocabulary has changed considerably over the centuries.[89]

Like many languages deriving from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), many of the most common words in English can trace back their origin (through the Germanic branch) to PIE. Such words include the basic pronouns I, from Old English ic, (cf. German Ich, Gothic ik, Latin ego, Greek ego, Sanskrit aham), me (cf. German mich, mir, Gothic mik, mīs, Latin mē, Greek eme, Sanskrit mam), numbers (e.g. one, two, three, cf. Dutch een, twee, drie, Gothic ains, twai, threis (þreis), Latin ūnus, duo, trēs, Greek oinos "ace (on dice)", duo, treis), common family relationships such as mother, father, brother,...
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