A diachronic perspective on the development of phrasal verbs as aspect and Aktionsart markers


  • Lívia Bisch Endres


Phrasal verbs. Aspect. Aktionsart. Telicity. Old English. Middle English. Early Modern English. Modern English.


Constituted by a verb plus a particle, phrasal verbs are usually divided by scholars into literal and idiomatic. There is, however, a third category which is not always included in the studies about this kind of verb: the phrasal verbs which convey aspectual meanings. Aspect is divided into grammatical aspect and lexical aspect, or Aktionsart, but there seems to be a great deal of confusion between these concepts in the literature. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the origins of phrasal verbs in the English language and their development as aspect and Aktionsart markers, as well as to analyze their use as such in Modern English. To do that, the first thing was to review the concepts and define which the study would be based on. The next step was to consider examples of the first appearances of phrasal verbs in the language in an attempt to approach the possibilities around their development. The last part of the study was an analysis in order to determine how phrasal verb particles are used with aspectual meanings nowadays. Among the findings this study provided is the assumption, consensual among scholars, that phrasal verb particles first appeared in Old English and, throughout Middle English and Early Modern English, substituted a prefixal system whose functions were very similar to those phrasal verbs have, including aspectual marking. Another point provided in the study is that phrasal verb particles have, in Modern English, two basic kinds of aspectual meanings: continuative aspect and telic Aktionsart. Such conclusions are useful for the foreign student of the language, because they provide a better understanding of the meanings phrasal verb particles can provide, especially since phrasal verbs are a widely used structure in English, not only with transparent or opaque meanings, but providing aspectual notions as well.

Biografia do Autor

Lívia Bisch Endres

Gilbertto Keller


Como Citar

Endres, L. B. (2010). A diachronic perspective on the development of phrasal verbs as aspect and Aktionsart markers. Revista Da Graduação, 3(2). Recuperado de https://revistaseletronicas.pucrs.br/index.php/graduacao/article/view/7893



Faculdade de Letras