Write in Style: A Guide to Good English

By Richard Palmer | Go to book overview

19

INFLECTIONS
An inflection means a change in the form of a word according to the job it is doing. English is not highly inflected, especially compared to several European languages, but there are still many times when inflection is required. This section looks at all of them, although it is not an exhaustive treatment. Occasionally my remarks will be brief, as we have come across some of these instances of inflection during the previous chapter on Parts of Speech.
Irregular verbs
A regular verb is one whose forms are determined by rules and is thus predictable. If we take the three verbs look, listen and perform we find they all behave alike when changes are required:
1. They add -s to form the 3rd person present singular.
2. The past participle and simple past tense are formed by adding -ed.
3. The present participle is formed by adding -ing.

There are well over 300 verbs which do not obey one or more of these procedures. Space precludes listing them all; besides, I think that would be tedious rather than helpful-both to read and to write. What is worthwhile is to look at the various kinds of irregular verb, with examples of each.


The eight classes of irregular verb

A. A number of verbs seem to be entirely regular, but they incorporate a change of spelling in one or more of their forms. For example:

(a) stop takes a double p in both participle forms and in the simple past:

stopping

stopped

they stopped

(b) So does hop:

-274-

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Write in Style: A Guide to Good English
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • From the Reviews: vi
  • Contents vii
  • List of Exercises xi
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • Preface xv
  • Part One - Engage Brain and Ear Before Writing 1
  • 1 - Disasters 3
  • 2 - Triumphs 9
  • Part Two - Foundations 13
  • 3 - Introduction 15
  • 4 - Bone Structure 16
  • 5 - Joints 28
  • Part Three - Style 65
  • 6 - Introduction: Style Versus Fashion 67
  • 7 - Fight the Flab 70
  • 8 - Voice 109
  • Part Four - Tailor-Made 139
  • 9 - Introduction 141
  • 10 - Letters 142
  • 11 - Essays 161
  • 12 - Articles 189
  • 13 - Reviews 192
  • 14 - Reports 194
  • 15 - Minutes 199
  • 16 - Précis and Summary 203
  • 17 - Reportage 225
  • Part Five - Grammar Primer 229
  • 18 - Grammar Primer 231
  • 19 - Inflections 274
  • 20 - Syntax 286
  • 21 - Parts of Speech (Advanced) 294
  • 22 - Punctuation in Speech and Quotation 315
  • 23 - Spelling and Confusibles 327
  • Appendix: Answers to Exercises 343
  • Further Reading 355
  • Authors, Sources and Named References 359
  • Subject Index 361
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