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Substantivized numerals

§ 234. Numerals can be substantivized, that is, take formal nominal features: the plural suffix -s, an article, and the ability to combine with adjectives and some other modifiers of nouns. When numerals undergo substantivization not only their morphology is changed, but also their meaning. Thus when the numerals hundred, thousand and million are substantivized they acquire the meaning "a great quantity", as in:

hundreds of books, thousands of people, millions of insects, etc.


Other numerals, both cardinals and ordinals, can also be substantivized.

Cardinals are substantivized when they name:


1) school marks in Russia

(He got a two. He got three fives)


school marks in Great Britain

(He got ten. He got three nines last week).


2) sets of persons and things:

They came in twos. They followed in fours. Form fours!


3) playing cards:

the two of hearts, the five of spades, the seven of diamonds, the ten of clubs, three of trumps.


4) boats for a certain number of rowers:

a four, an eight.


5) decades:

in the early sixties, in the late fifties, etc.


The meaning of substantivized ordinals is less affected by substantivi­zation and remains the same:


He was the first to come.

She was the fourth to leave.



§ 235. The stative denotes a temporary state of a person or a non-person. Unlike such classes of words as nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs the number of statives functioning in English is limited. There are about 30 stable statives, used both in colloquial and in formal style:


ablaze adrift afire aflame afloat afoot afraid aghast aglow agog ahead akin ajar alight alike alive aloof alone amiss ashamed askew aslant asleep aslope astir astray athirst awake awry


and about 100 unstable ones, which are seldom used even in formal style and never in colloquial:

ashudder, atwist, atremble, agleam, etc.


Semantically statives fall into five groups describing various states of persons or non-persons:


1. Psychological states of persons:

afraid, aghast, ashamed, aware, agog.

2. Physical states of persons:

alive, awake, asleep.

3. States of motion or activity of persons or non-persons:

afoot, astir, afloat, adrift.

4. Physical states of non-persons:

afire, aflame, alight, aglow, ablaze.

5. The posture of non-persons:

askew, awry, aslant, ajar.

Morphological characteristics


§ 236. From the point of view of their morphological composition the class of statives is homogeneous, that is all of them have a special marker, the prefixa-: asleep, alive, alone, afire, etc.



In English there are some words devoid of the marker -a-, which are semantically and functionally very similar to statives. These are:

fond, glad, ill, sorry, well.

Their grammatical status is intermediate between that of stative and adjective.


As regards their structure, statives with the marker a- fall into two groups: those that can be divided into morphemes (the prefix a- and the stem of a noun, a verb, or an adjective) a-sleep, a-fire, a-glow, and those that cannot be devived because the part following a- does not correspond to any noun, verb, or adjective stem, as in a-loof, a-ware, a-fraid.

Statives do not change their form to express concord with the word they refer to.



There are other words besides statives with the prefix a-:

across, along (adv. and prep.), amidst (prep.), anew (adv.) arise (verb), aloud (adj.), amount (noun), etc.

Syntactic function


§ 237. Statives may have three functions in a sentence: thatofpredicativein a compound nominal or a double predicate (the most common function), that ofobjective predicative, or occasionally that ofattribute.

When used in the function of predicative statives describe the state of the person or non-person denoted by the subject and are connected with the subject by means of a link verb or in some cases by a notional verb.

Statives as predicatives within a compound nominal predicate:


He was terribly afraid of his father.

The house was ablaze with lights.

Soon she fell fast asleep.

He seemed afraid to go any further.

She felt alert and young.

Why do they look so frighteningly alike?

The Overlords remained aloof, hiding their faces from mankind.

Statives as predicatives within a double predicate:


He sat quite alone on that large verandah of his.

For a moment she stood aghast, looking at the door.

She was lying wide awake listening to all the sounds of the night.

She sounded very high and afraid.


When they have the function ofobjective predicative, statives describe the state of the person or non-person denoted by the object:


First of all have the fire alight in the drawing room.

The large dog kept him afloat until the raft came up.

Don’t keep the door ajar.

Leave me alone, you fool.

I’ll get him awake in a minute.


Although thefunction of attribute is not characteristic of statives, some of them may have this function (either detached or undetached attributes).

Statives as undetached attributes are always postmodifying:


No man alive could have done it.

No one aware of the consequences of his deed would have defied the fate.


When used as detached attributes, statives may be either post- or premodifying:


The microphone, already alive, was waiting for him.

He stood, alert and listening, while the noise from the reef grew steadily around him.

Aloof on her mountain-top, she considered the innumerable activities of men.


In all these cases the stative retains its predicational force.



§ 238. The adverb is a word denoting circumstances or characteristics which attend or modify an action, state, or quality. It may also intensify a quality or characteristics.

From this definition it is difficult to define adverbs as a class, because they comprise a most heterogeneous group of words, and there is consi­derable overlap between the class and other word classes. They have many kinds of form, meaning and function. Alongside such undoubtful adverbs as here, now, often, seldom, always, there are many others which also function as words of other classes. Thus, adverbs like dead (dead tired), clear (to get clear away), clean (I've clean forgotten), slow, easy (he would say that slow and easy) coincide with corresponding adjectives (a dead body, clear waters, clean hands). Adverbs like past, above are homonymous with prepositions. There is also a special group of pronominal adverbs when, where, how, why used either as interrogative words or as connectives to introduce subordinate clauses.

Where shall we go? (an interrogative pronominal adverb)

We’ll go where you want (a conjunctive pronominal adverb).


Some adverbs may be used rather like a verb, as in “Up. Jenkins! Down, Peter!”, where the first word is like an imperative.

In many cases the border-line between adverbs and words of the other classes is defined syntactically.


He walked past. (adverb)

He walked past the house. (preposition)

They took the dog in. (adverb)

They left the dog in the house, (preposition)

He did everything slowly but surely. (adverb)

Surely you know him. (modal word)


There are three adverbs connected with numerals: once, twice, and thrice (the latter being archaic). They denote measure or frequency.


She went there once a week.

I saw him twice last month.

Twice is also used in the structure twice as long, etc.


He is twice as tall as his brother.

She is twice as clever.


Beginning with three the idea of frequency or repetition is expressed by the phrases three times, four times; He went there four times; he is four times as bigger; she is ten times cleverer.

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