Tuesday, June 19, 2012


In root-poor languages, such as Hebrew, all roots are used to their maximum in terms of producing noun, verb, and adjective forms.  For example, in French, the root grand comes out grandir, grandeur, and grand in the verb, noun, and adjective forms, respectively.  Likewise, in Hebrew, the root גדל [gimel, dalet, lamed] produces גדול, גודל ,לגדול [legdol, godel, and gadol].  Therefore, a learner can quickly ascertain the pattern and make educated guesses as to the relevant form of a word.  This clearly makes learning to speak a language much easier.
Alas, English is extremely rich in roots, deriving them from a multitude of different languages and developing them at different times in history.  All this renders it very difficult to “guess” the verb form.  In countless cases, there is no verb while in others the change is unpredictable.  An example of the latter is the relation between effect and affect, advice and advise, and satisfaction and satisfy.
The following are a few patterns that allow a reader to guess the meaning of a verb:
a.      Ize  / (UK)  ise – Modern English tends to add this suffix to a noun or adjective to create an easily understandable verb.  Examples include capitalize, modernize, standardize, and that old law school classic, shepardize.
b.      En- or –en – Following old German grammar, adding an en at the beginning or end of some words transforms them into verbs, often adding the meaning to give: encourage and empower as compared to widen and threaten.
c.       ception -> ceive – All nouns that end in ception become ceive in the verb: reception – receive, conception – conceive, deception – deceive, perception – perceive.
d.      Drop the tion – By droping the tion in the noun form, many verbs are formed: relation – relate, construction – construct, investigation – investigate.
As mentioned, it is unfortunately quite difficult to verbalize all of the strategies for making verbs.  The best way to know the form is to listen and read English, learning intuitively.

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