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AN ANALYSIS OF VERBS AND ADVERBIAL PHRASES: USES AND PROBLEMS IN CONTEXUAL GRAMMAR

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AN ANALYSIS OF VERBS AND ADVERBIAL PHRASES: USES AND PROBLEMS IN CONTEXUAL GRAMMAR

 

ABSTRACT

This research is focused on verb and adverbial phrases, their uses and problems in contextual grammar. Data was gotten from answers of students who were the respondents to the questionnaire used. The verb is the basic word in a sentence. It is the key word that gives meaning to a concept. This definition takes care of doing words like jump, laugh, and dance -etc. The grammatical implication of these words is that the actions are being carried out. When a verb comes in a form of two or more words, it becomes a verb phrase. The definition of an adverb in terms of form may be misleading at times. This is so because some people hold the opinion that words ending in "Ly" is enough to identify an adverb. The role of adverbs is very central in the English language. Adverbials, comprise, adjuncts, conjuncts and disjuncts. Not many students can identify adverbs without the "ly" suffix, just as very few students are familiar with the clause of adverbs. From the research, it shows also that not many students can make use of adverbial phrases correctly. The unpredictable nature of the adverb poses problem to students. The research advises that teachers look at some basic words that are unavoidable in the teaching of verbs. Teachers should explain, the finite, transitive and intransitive verbs. Adverbials include particles and phrases, therefore the term is more complex than the adverb as well' as its unpredictable nature. This should not persuade a teacher to overlook the concepts of adverbial phrase.

CHAPTER ONE

1.1   INTRODUCTION

The verb is the basic word in a sentence. It is the key word that gives meaning to a concept. The word verb comes from the Latin and "Verbum" meaning "the word". Traditional grammar defines verb as an action word or words that refer(s) to an action or state. This definition takes care of doing words like jump, laugh dance, eat etc. The grammatical implication of these words is that the actions are being carried out. In this definition, there is no reflection of any word. Example of this type of words include: "perceive, know, sense, think".

The Oxford Advanced Dictionary defines a verb as a word or phrase indicating what somebody or something does. What state, somebody or something is in, what is becoming of somebody or something.

According to Oji Nzobunachi (1988:26) the verb is a word that fits into an inflectional verbal paradigm like nouns. Verbs belong to the open system members. This class get added to the verb class mainly by the process of adoption and modification of words from other classes. Examples are:

 

Noun

 

Verb

 

Beauty

 

Beautiful

 

Identity

 

Identify

 

Glory

 

Glorify

 

Specific

 

Specify

 

Clarify

 

Clarity

 

Verbs changes with time. This inflectional changes of the verb leads to the conception of a tense. It might be from present to past.

The function uses of the verb are: ­

Making statement - Uche is coming.

Asking questions - Did you go to school yesterday?

Giving command - Stand up!

The verb may be in a single word as exemplified above or in a group of two or more words.

In English language, there are called verb phrase. A verb phrase usually contains the auxiliary and main verb. According to Christopherson Paul (1980:55) verb phrases can be seen as a sequential performing the function of a verb or can be substituted by a single verb. He also opines that verbal phrases or groups are made up of auxiliary, examples are;

a)   They are eating rice

b)  He has done the work

c)   He will come tomorrow

d)  Uche is driving a car

In the above examples, ‘are’, ‘will’, ‘has’, ‘is’, are all acting in the auxiliary forms.

Adverb is one of the eight major parts of speech as identified by Boadi L.A. (198:64). However, it is very hard to define. This is due to the fact that it varies greatly both in forms and in terms of the position they may occupy in a sentence.

A definition of the adverb in terms of form may be misleading at times. This is so because some people hold the opinion that words ending in "ly" are: sufficient manifestations of adverbs and from this point of view neglect the fact that there are words like, fatherly, brotherly, dearly, that end in "ly" but are' not adverbs. In addition, if the determination of adverbs is on the concepts then some certain adverbs like, here, tomorrow, yesterday, up, often, sometimes and seldom will be neglected. Adverb can therefore be seen as words that modify verbs and adjectives and other adverbs. Adverbs also answer the question, where, when and how.

The role of adverbs is very central in the English Language Adverbials comprise, Adjuncts, Conjuncts and Disjuncts. The attention that will be given to adjuncts consists of adverbial of time, place, manner and reason. Adverbs which state where an action takes place are called adverb of place example here, out anywhere. Adverbs of time state when the action of a verb takes place, example: daily, soon, now, today. Adverbs of a reason state "why" an action is done, example, why?

Thus adverbial can be defined as adverb phrase. A very important aspect of the use of adverbial modification is that of polarity as it is been called. Polarity is the contract between positive and negative utterances. The simplest way of transforming positive sentences into a negative one, is by means of the insertion of the adverb "not" in the appropriate place - he is here/he is not here. Usually, however there is a case of redundancy in the system. The adverb `not' often needs the co-operators do, does, did, in order to make the system work, as in I saw him yesterday.

Adverbs and adverbial phrases can be classified into two complementary ways:­

(a) According to the kind of concepts they express, manner place, time, degree etc.

(b) According to the position they normally occupy in the sentence. Unfortunately, there is no single correspondence between the kind of adverbial and the position it occupies in a sentence, but we can draw a few general conclusion and then show how usage may depart from the normal. Adverbial may occur at the end of sentences.

The problems posed by adverbials are many and diverse, most students do not recognize adverbials that do not end with the "ly" suffix, some do not recognize adverbials that make concessions like "although, however" etc. Disjuncts like "obviously, honestly, frankly speaking" are not readily identified as adverbials.

1.2   PURPOSE OF STUDY

This study is to investigate the followings:

(1) To examine the extent to which verb and adverbial phrases are important to student who are learning English language as a second language

(2) To identify the variable factors that create handicap in the teaching and learning of adverbials in the secondary schools.

(3) To arouse interest in both students, teachers and even casual readers on the place of verb and adverbials in sentences

(4) The research questionnaire will be used to get- responses from both students and English Language teachers in some secondary schools.  .

1.3   STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

Verbal and adverbial usages create a lot of difficulties amongst students. Their contextual usage abound owing to their structural and abstract definition. A number of students are unable to use and identify verb and adverbs correctly even in the senior school certificate examination (SSCE). This is mainly due to the fact that they (students) believe that the suffix "ly" is sufficient evidence that a word is an adverb, but this is far from true.

It is also important to note that teachers of the English `language, seem not to teach verbs and adverbs well; they teach these topics haphazardly, regarding verbs and Adverbial phrases are supposed to be taught for a full week or two, but one will find out that some teachers just teach them for two days and move over to a fresh topic entirely.

Moreover, more attention is given to some parts of speech like nouns, adjective than adverbial. They seem to regard them to be more important. Greater emphasis is given to other parts of speech than verb and adverbs, mainly because teachers feel that adverbials rarely appear in external examinations like General Certificate Examination (G. C. E), Joint Admission Matriculation Board (J.A.M.B). Again, some teachers appear not serious in correcting their student’s mistakes in verb and adverbial but rather refer them to textbooks that are not readily available to the students. Even students who come buy such books are unable to understand them, since they are not well taught. Therefore, this study aims at filling these gaps hence this study on the Analysis of verbs and adverbial usages in contextual grammar.

1.4   RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

1. Do students find it difficult to use verbs and adverbs in sentences?

2. Can students identify adverb without the "ly" suffix when they occur in sentences?

3. Are these students who are familiar with the classes of adverbs such as adjuncts, conjuncts and disjuncts?

4. Do students use adverbial' phrases correctly?

5. Is the unpredictable nature of adverbs a problem to students learning English as a second language?

1.5   SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This research will help to buttress the relevance of verb and adverbial phrases towards the development of the student's use of English.

It will also help in identifying them easily in their everyday

English usage. For instance in the sentences such as:

(a)    The cat slowly picked the fish and ran away quickly.

(b)    Mary stupidly smacked at the man:

In these two sentences above, the students are most likely to spot out the adverbs, which are, "slowly, quickly, and stupidly," because they have the ending "ly".

Furthermore, this research will help to suggest a way through which students and teachers would develop interest in the use and study of verb and adverb as part of the English studies and should not be taught haphazardly - rather they, are to be given greater attention.

The study is also significant because of the significance of the verb and adverbials in the study of English. There is the need for students to be conversant -with- verb and adverbials to use them correctly and also to apply them where necessary.

1.6   SCOPE AND DELIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

1.  This research is limited to the study of Verb and adverbial phrases and their recognition in contextual grammar

2.  The amount of work expected to be done in this research study is limited due to limited resources. As a student researcher, inadequate funds crippled an extensive research, hence limiting the research area to only Ifako local government area of Lagos in which the research resides.

3.  However, the researcher is very convinced that the few schools used for the research is a strong representative of the educational level of schools in the local government area. The researcher will bring into focus the use of verb and adverbials amongst secondary school students.

4.  Time factor is another basic hindrance to an extensive research, for the research had to be done in a very: short time. Furthermore, inadequate sources and books for the research negated the wide coverage and enhancement of the work. Textbooks on verbs and adverbs were not easily found. This also limited the research on this topic.

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