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Continuous Forms

Sometimes they were found in OE:

bēon + Participle 1

2.In OEit denoted a “quality” or a “lasting state” and was characterising a person or a thing indicated by the Subject of the sentence. The continuance was not limited in time (as it is in the ModE Continuous forms) and resembled more present-day Indefinite Tense forms, e.g.:

Sēō eorðe is berende missenlīcra fuζela – This land bears many birds.

3.In MEContinuous forms fell into disuse.

4.In NE these forms reappeared together with a synonymous form:

be + Participle 1 = be + on/in + Gerund (indicated a process of limited duration)


He was on huntinge – He was hunting (literally, He was on hunting).

5. 18th c.– Continuous forms became well-established.

6. 19th c. –Continuous forms in the Passivewere accepted as a norm (e.g. The house is being built – previously such forms were considered clumsy and non-grammatical).

1.In NE“do-periphrasis” was used in the Past and Present of the Indicative Mood.

2. 16th c. –“Do” was used in negative, affirmative and interrogative sentences and was freely interchangeable with the simple forms (without “do”), e.g.:

Heard you all this? = Did you hear all this?

I know not why he cries. = I don’t know why he cries.

He knew it. = He did know it (without any meaning of emphasis).

3. 17th c.– “do” was left only in negative and interrogative sentences to keep the word-order S + P + O (e.g. I (S) pity (P) him (O). Do you (S) pity (P) him (O)?). In affirmative sentences “do” acquired an emphatic meaning (e.g. Did you really see him? – I didsee him, I swear!).


1. After reading the material of the lecture, use the glossary of “A Reader in the History of English” by Е.К. Щука and analyse the following verbs: clypode, þystrodon, mihte, ζeseon, cwæd, ζesihst. Plan of analysis:

· initial form;

· type of conjugation/type of the verb;

· class of the verb;

· a non-finite form (Infinitive, Participle 1, 2, Gerund) or a finite form (Tense, Number, Person if there are);

· Modern English equivalent;

· translation.

2. Find all the verbs in the abstract from “Beowulf” on p. 8 in “A Reader in the History of English” by Е.К. Щука and analyse them according to the plan given above.

3. Find the Perfect, Passive and Infinitive forms in the abstract from the “Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer (lines 1-14) on p. 33-34 in “A Reader in the History of English” by Е.К. Щука and analyse them.

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