This chapter outlines some of the main points of English syntax which are necessary for an understanding of later chapters (it does not go into exhaustive detail on any issue).
On a fair number of analytical issues there is currently disagreement between grammarians; only some of these disagreements are mentioned here. In a book of this size it would be impracticable to discuss all alternative proposals. What I have tried to do is provide a single, internally consistent view of the syntax of English.
It is important to distinguish between the base form of a verb, the three tense forms, and the two non-tense suffixed forms. Illustrating for one regular and three sample irregular verbs:
|tense||present, 3sg subject||discover-s||see-s||give-s||hit-s|
|forms||present, other subject||discover||see||give||hit|
The tense forms are used in main clauses and must be preceded by a subject (at the least, the impersonal subject, it); the only circumstance in which a subject can be omitted is when two clauses with identical subject are coordinated, e.g. John came in and sat down (§2.10). The base form is used in the imperative, and after to (the so-called 'infinitive').