Explore words formed by tagging on the ‘-ed’ suffix.
RECENTLY an acquaintance asked whether one should say “You are welcome at my school” or “you are welcomed at my school”. It was an interesting question – interesting enough for me to explore the different ways in which the “-ed” suffix is used. Basically, the said suffix is used in three ways: (1) as an inflectional suffix for verbs; (2) as a suffix to form adjectives from nouns; and (3) as a suffix to form adjectives from verbs, specifically the past participles of verbs. Let me explain.
‘-ed’ as inflectional suffix
There are many variations in the form of the past tense (preterite) of verbs. A large class of verbs, called weak verbs, form the past tense, as well as the past participle, by tagging on the “-ed” suffix, e.g. laugh/laughed, travel/travelled. Variants of the suffix are “-d” (as in love/loved, hear/heard) and “-t” (as in smell/smelt~smelled, spill/spilt~spilled, dream/dreamt, mean/meant, keep/kept).
Weak verbs, a term found in the older grammar books, arise from the way that such verbs are conjugated – by simply adding the suffix “-ed” or its variants to the base verb. One should note a few features associated with the term: (1) verbs ending in a vowel-consonant combination double the consonant-letter before adding the “-ed” suffix (ban/banned, control/controlled, cross/crossed – but not always (focus/focused, sever/severed, vomit/vomited); (2) verbs ending in “-y” change the “y” to “i” before adding the “-ed” suffix (carry/carried, deny/denied, vary/varied); (3) verbs may undergo an internal change before adding the “-d” or “-t” suffix (sell/sold, dream/dreamt, leave/left, sleep/slept, bring/brought); (4) certain verbs with a consonant-plus-d ending form the past tense by changing the “d” to “t” (build/built, spend/spent); and (5) certain verbs with a vowel-plus-d or vowel-plus-t termination retain their form for the past tense (hit/hit, read/read but pronounced /reed/red/, shut/shut). Even with the above features, there is one characteristic that distinguishes weak verbs from strong verbs: weak verbs have the same form for the past tense and the past participle (love/loved/loved, lose/lost/lost, buy/bought/bought, quit/quitted/quitted or quit/quit/quit) whereas strong verbs may have the past tense in the “-ed” or “-d” or “-t” form BUT the past participle has a different form (swell/swelled/swollen), show/showed/shown).
[Strong verbs form their past tense without the addition of an added syllable (the strong form of conjugation); they are nearly all words of one syllable and belong to the early English stock; and the strong form of conjugation may be said to be dead because no new verbs are conjugated in this way (L. Tipping, 1935. Matriculation English Grammar of Modern English Usage.London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd. p.214.)]
‘-ed’ as suffix to form adjective from noun
The suffix “-ed” is also added to the base form of nouns to form adjectives denoting “with, possessing, wearing, affected by”, as in feathered, meaning “having feathers”; moneyed, meaning “having money, rich”; and talented, meaning “possessing talent”. Phrases made up of adjective and noun form the corresponding hyphenated adjectives, e.g. bad-tempered, meaning “having a bad temper”, and multi-talented, meaning “possessing many talents”.
The following are some examples of such “-ed” adjectives and their usage: (1) teenaged, said of a someone between 13 and 19 years old (1) a left-handed person, being a person who normally uses the left hand to write and do most things; (2) in stockinged feet, meaning “wearing socks or stockings but without shoes”; (3) a four-storeyed building (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 2010, p.1,471), referring to a building with four storeys – but, incongruently, it is multi-storey car park (Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 2004, p.939; OALD, 2010, p.971); (4) uniformed staff, meaning “staff wearing a uniform”, not “staff with a uniform physique or disposition”; (5) a wasp-waisted figure, referring to a lady’s figure with a noticeably narrow waistline.
Here are a few more examples to reinforce the “rule”: low-ceilinged room, detailed report, polka-dotted swimsuit, double-edged sword, open-ended discussion, orange-flavoured drink, bare-footed man, big-hearted person, well-intentioned gesture, landed property, life-sized statues, skilled workers, the speckled band, stepped pyramid, untenanted building, four-wheeled carriage.
One may note that “-ed” nouns-becoming-adjectives are easily applied to plants (single-celled plants, red-coloured stem, broadleaved plants, scented flowers, umbrella-shaped fungus), and to animals (yellow-banded scad, red-bellied piranha, duck-billed platypus, yellow-crested cockatoo, white-handed gibbon, horned toad, four-legged animal, red-nosed reindeer, winged insect).
The above lists but a small proportion of the very large number of “-ed” nouns that function as adjectives. On the other hand, there are some nouns in their basic form that function as adjectives, specifically as modifiers. The following are examples of modifier nouns: blood relative (not blooded relative), high-calibre personnel (not high-calibred personnel), left-hand drive (not left-handed drive), love story (not loved story), mother tongue (not mothered tongue), murder victim (not murdered victim).
For curiosity’s sake, note that a hyphen may make a difference in meaning. For example, one-armed man means “a man with one arm”, whereas one armed man means “a man who is armed with a weapon or weapons”.
‘-ed’ as suffix to form past participial adjective
We now come to the word “welcome” as posed at the beginning of this article. Let me extend the use of this word in the following pairs of sentences: (1) “You are always welcomed in my house” vs “You are always welcome in my house”; and (2) “There is a welcomed mat at the front door of the house” vs “There is a welcome mat at the front door of the house”.
It is at once obvious that for Example (1), the first version of the sentence is not tenable – one cannot have been welcomed when one has not come to the house. Likewise, for Example (2), the first version is weird: it implies a mat that has been welcomed – and by whom? It is clear that there is a difference between “welcome” as a regular adjective and “welcomed” as a past participial adjective (a past participle functioning as an adjective). There are many situations where it is necessary to differentiate between regular adjectives and past participial adjectives of the “-ed” form. The following pairs of examples illustrate: (1) “advance copy of the forthcoming book” vs “advanced state of decay”; (2) “an articulate person” vs “an articulated bus” (3) “a complete package” vs “a completed project”; (4) “express wish” or “express bus” vs “expressed juice of oranges” (5) “a separate room” vs “the separated yolk of an egg”.
I often hear references to “matured adult”, which I shall use to elaborate on the above point. Why should it be “mature adult” and not “matured adult” as commonly encountered in conversation? “Mature” is a regular adjective, but “matured” is a past participial adjective. Thus it is all right to say mature adult, meaning “an adult who has reached a stage of mental or emotional development characteristic of an adult”. On the other hand, matured adult implies that he, like a wine or a cheese, has been kept under special storage conditions to age and attain a desired quality. I may labour the point by considering the opposite of the “mature/matured” pair. One can understand what an immature adult is, but one cannot make sense of an immatured adult!
The above outline accounts for pairs of adjectives and past participles which look almost alike and are used attributively (i.e. preceding the word that is thus modified). Uncertainty may also arise when such pairs are considered for use in the predicate. For example, when does one use subject to instead of subjected to, and vice versa? A felon may be subjected to (“caused or forced to undergo”) caning, and a cancer patient may be subjected to (“treated with”) chemotherapy. On the other hand, a person is subject to (“under the control or authority of”) the laws of his country, any decision by the committee is subject to (“dependent or conditional upon”) a society’s constitution, and flights into and out of the airport are subject to (“likely to be affected by”) delay because of a workers’ strike.
We may note that British English and American English differ slightly in the terminology of certain dairy products. For example, BrE recognises skimmed milk and processed cheese for the AmE skim milk and process cheese. How do we reconcile the difference? Apparently BrE uses skimmed and processed as participial adjectives, whereas AmE uses the verbs skim and process as adjectives, specifically as modifier verbs.
Incidentally, it is roast (not roasted) beef, roast pork, and roast meat in both BrE and AmE. In such usage, the word roast is the short form of the past participle of the verb roast (G.O. Curme, 1947. English Grammar. Barnes & Noble Books. pp.65, 69).
Article from Mind Our English
By DR LIM CHIN LAM
After learning a foreign language, you can speak, write and converse with others. But it is necessary to learn walking before learning to run. Learning English grammar tenses is essential to know English perfectly. You should know how the way of words work together, how the tenses are used, how to use adjectives, adverbs and prepositions. It is essential to understand and use the language properly.
If you work hard on these English tenses then surely you may gain success. When a person wants to learn a new language, the main part which comes in it is grammar. Grammar of each and every language is different. The grammar or tenses used in foreign English is far more different than Indian English. People created this language and brought it on the top. Grammar in this language came later.
English is an intermediate language used in every country. Everybody doesn’t know each and every language. People of Russiacannot speak Chinese language as they don’t know. But how can they communicate with Chinese people? There can be a mediator between them who may know Chinese as well as Russian language or the Russian can communicate in English language with the Chinese person. But while communicating orally, English grammar tenses are not given prior importance.
Knowing the meaning of a new word, function of tense or use of prepositions doesn’t make a good learning until it can form a proper sentence or a paragraph. The sentence should make people feel enjoyable while reading so we should put some funny things in the sentences. The learners should take interest in learning the language; then only they can master the language. Some learners do lot of English grammar exercises to learn perfectly while others may not.
Grammar is simply a rule which people need to follow while learning any new language. When we play a game, it has some rules and we can’t break them as we may break down. In the same way, English has some grammar rules which can’t be ignored. But yes, rules of English language are tougher than rules of a game. It is just the same way how you learned your mother tongue. So it may not be more difficult for any person.
Observe the aspects of English grammar that are same to any other language. The grammar and tenses of other languages can be different and English grammar tenses can be dissimilar. When you learn to know the differences and similarities, you will learn the rules quickly. It is necessary to learn more number of English books.
When you read English books all the time, the grammar of yours gets improved. When you participate in any essay writing activity or when you tell a story to anybody, you tend to remember where to use English tenses properly. You should know the difference between past and present tense so that you can form sentences correctly.
Try out the grammar rules yourself to learn them if you don’t like to be taught by somebody or practice English grammar exercises. You can write a few sentences to improve your grammar. Grammar consists of adverbs, nouns, adjectives, tenses etc so he or she needs a lot of time to concentrate on these rules to form a new sentence.
Common mistakes in English Grammar Tenses are quite commonly committed. But if you practice daily, your grammatical skills can be drastically improved. Mostly, mistakes are committed when it comes to the usage of verb tenses and this is quite common. Languages other than English have only one past tense and one future tense. But, English has many tenses and so it might come across as a very difficult language. Even British English varies from American English. People make mistakes mostly in the usage of present perfect and simple past tenses.
The tense called as the present perfect is mostly used in British English. Apart from this tense, there are other tenses like the present continuous and the present perfect continuous tense. For example, you can check out this sentence:
I am working for the last two hours. This is an incorrect sentence.
The correct sentence can be: I have been working since the past two hours.
The common mistake here is with the tenses in English; the present continuous and present perfect continuous have different roles. So, you must know where to use the present continuous and when to use the present perfect continuous. Students normally get confused between these two tenses when it comes to where they should use the present perfect continuous tense.
The present continuous tense talks about an action going on at the time of speaking and the present perfect continuous tense talks about an action performed in the past, going on in present and is still going on. Adverbs like ‘since’ and ‘for’ are used more. Other tenses in English like ‘future simple’ and ‘future perfect’ have lot more dissimilarity. An example of the future simple tense is:
She will make more money.
An example of the future perfect tense is: At the end of the year, she will have made money.
So there is a lot of difference in this sentence.
Students get confused while using these tenses and some take English grammar lessons from teachers to learn perfect English. There is a lot of difference among the present perfect, simple past and the future tenses. The present perfect tells about the present, simple past about the past and future tense about the future. In the same way, be careful while using simple past and past perfect tenses. Students do change past with perfect tenses and the meaning of the sentence becomes different. The process of interchanging the tenses while writing about the same topic can be called as ‘tense shift’.
These errors are quite common in schools and colleges. They can be corrected by reading loudly and polishing your grammar. Another problem in English language has articles. Articles are of two types: definite and indefinite. The main rule is that the noun should be a singular and not a plural. You should know where to use ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘an’. So when you form a sentence, you should use the perfect article along with using the right English grammar tenses to get the perfect sentence.
Practice your skills by writing and reading English books. In today’s world, English is used everywhere. The main language in schools, colleges and other educational institutes is English. English is mainly used for communicating with foreign people. So, the use of English grammar tenses in a proper way can make your English perfect. People speaking British or any other foreign language may not know how to speak proper American English as the tenses are a lot more different. Indian people prefer American English compared to British English language.