Non-Finite forms (verbals)



A comparison of the verbals in Old English and in Middle English and New English shows that the number of verbals in Old English was less than that in Middle and New English. At the end of the Middle English period a new verbal developed – the Gerund, in addition to the Infinitive and the Participle existing already in old English. The gerund appeared as a result of a blend between the Old English present Participle ending “-ende” and the Old English verbal noun ending in “-inge”. From the verbal noun the Gerund acquired the form (the ending “-inge”), but under the influence of the Participle it became more “verbal” in meaning.

In the process of English history the Verbals are gradually shifting from the system of declension into the system of conjugation thus in old English the verbals existing at the same time: the infinitive and the participle could be declined. In the course of language history (already at the end of the Old English period) and the participle (in Middle English) lost their declension. And at the end of the Middle and New English they acquired elements of conjugation – the grammatical categories of order, voice, and aspect (the infinitive) and the grammatical categories of order and voice (the participle and the gerund). The Old English preposition preceding the Dative case of the infinitive loses its independent meaning and functions simply as a grammatical particle showing that the Verbal is the Infinitive.

But even in Modern English we can find such contexts where the form of the verbal is active, though the meaning is passive.

The book is worth reading

The coats needs ironing



or the non-perfect form expresses order, i.e. is used to express events that took place prior to the action of the finite form of the verbs:


I remember doing

I thanked him for brining the happy tidings.

Such phenomena reflect the previous stage of the development of the English language, when the given verbals were indifferent to voice and order.



Morphological classification of verbs in Middle English and New English

2.0. The subdivision of Old English verbs into strong and weak is preserved with modifications in Middle English.


Strong verbs



Classes of the strong verbs

In New English, however, the original regularity that was observed in the group of strong verbs in Old English and partly in Middle English is no longer felt due to the following:

1) Splitting of original classes into subclasses, for example:



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