Sponsored By

Part 5: The Problem With (English) Auxiliary Verb, Adverb And More

Following on from my previous post on verb, I now examine the use of auxiliary verb and adverb to try and figure out differences, in both concept and manner of use, that we don't currently recognise.

Darren Tomlyn

February 1, 2016

9 Min Read

A Study Of Games As A Matter Of Linguistics

Section 1: The Problem With Our Understanding Of The Meaning(s) Of The Word* Game

Part 5: The Problem With Auxiliary Verb, Adverb And More



Given the content of the previous posts, there shouldn’t be much here that’s very complicated to recognise and understand.  Most of this part will therefore be fairly straightforward, and therefore short and to the point. There are, however, additional concepts that need to be looked at in relation that are not currently recognised for what they are, and again, I might not have all the answers for what they should be labelled as, including their manner(s) of use.


Auxiliary Verb

Auxiliary verb is only problematic for two reasons:

  1. Using it to describe the concept that is used in such a manner, rather than as a manner of use is a problem, (which should be sounding very familiar by now).

  2. Confusing the concept used in this manner with others, such as am/is/are (be/been) or being/be/been

Auxiliary verb is a manner of use caused by a concept which exists to add additional information and context - especially tense - to all types of things of happening except '-ing' type, whether used as verb or not, but also including be/been (both in relation to being and am/is/are etc.)), but exactly how the concept itself should be described, I’m not sure.

The main words used in this manner are, do, can, will, shall and have, with variations of did, could, would, should and had, and slang combinations with the negative not, (don’t/didn’t, can’t/couldn’t, shan’t/shouldn’t, haven’t etc.) being applicable and common, though some others are used (such as may/need etc.).  One other aspect of such a concept, however is that have can also be used in combination with others – (e.g. may have, could have, will have etc.), though whether this is enough to consider have to be of a different concept entirely, I don’t know.  For this reason, the tense described in relation to all things of happening as indicated by such auxiliary verbs, is simple in themselves, but more complex when used in combination, in which case it is the first used that normally indicates the overall tense - e.g. I will have been there for an hour by the time the bus arrives, exists in the future, (will) rather than past (have been).

Since am/is/are/be/been are not only used in relation to things of happening, they cannot be considered auxiliary verbs at all – (especially since be and been require them in addition/combination).  Since this concept is not only used in relation to verb, its current label now looks inconsistent.  Exactly what it should be, and the basic concept itself, I do not know, and have no suggestions.



The first important question we have to ask about the concepts we currently perceive as causing adverb, is that if there are numerous different types of things of happening, that are treated as their own distinct basic concepts by the language, then surely the properties each can be given must also be seen to be different, yes?  So properties of basic things of happening, must be seen as different, distinct concepts to properties of continuous things of happening, yes? Especially if such different things of happening have different relationships with other concepts, that some of their properties also share?

The main problems we have with our understanding of adverb are:

  1. That we fail to recognise, teach and describe the basic types of properties things of happening can have, as being separate (but related) individual basic concepts (similar to the problem with adjectives).

  2. That we fail to recognise differences in syntactic application, as reflecting differences in meaning and concept, between all of the properties currently considered as such.


The main, basic, properties of things of happening, in general, are similar to those of things (currently perceived as causing adjective), and share the same basic types – e.g. I threw the ball high/higher/highest/high-ish.

The main note of their application is that they are used after the things of happening, and also any object involved, but before any (currently recognised as) preposition* – (I threw the ball high out of the window).

(*more on this in a later part)

They can be used after if using a comparative property (with additional context), but requires a comma – (I threw the ball out of the window, farther than you/farthest of all). An equivalent without requiring a comma, would therefore be: I threw the ball farther than you/farthest of all out of the window.)  Any multiple properties used require an additional relationship or comma, e.g. I threw the ball harder and farther than you, high out of the window.  (I threw the ball farther/farthest, high out of the window, is also possible.)

Another note about these properties, is that they are not, (or shouldn’t be), used in such combination with being or all uses of be/been – which is why is/am/are/being/be/been cannot be considered to be basic things of happening and/or used as verbs.

There is one other type of property used in combination with things of happening (including '-ing' type) and verbs, but it can also be used in combination with being and be/been.  This type of property is applied in a manner that the above types are not – it can also be used before a thing of happening.

This type of property appears to be mainly (but not always) about using properties of other concepts, of being 'similar to/like' in relation to/combination with such things of happening, and usually (but not always) adds the suffix –ly, to such properties, but is actually even more limited than this.  The reason for this, is that there are only a few that are treated as such basic properties of, solely, things of happening, such as quickly/slowly/boldly.

Although this concept can be used in a fairly similar manner to the basic properties above – when used in addition with them, it requires a comma, rather than a relationship, to denote its difference.

So, example uses would be:

  • I quickly threw the ball high out of the window.

  • I threw the ball quickly, high out of the window.

  • I threw the ball high out of the window, quickly.

So, this particular type of property cannot be considered to be used as adverb, and instead requires its own manner of use.  It also does not share the same (semantic) relationships with other concepts in the taxonomic hierarchy that the basic (absolute) properties do, or is not used in combination with all additional concepts in the same manner as all other types of property - though very can be used in combination).


Additional Concepts And Manners Of Use (WIP)

As with properties of things, properties of things of happening can have additional concepts used in combination, before the properties themselves.  Since such concepts are also often used in combination with properties in general, perceiving them as either adjectives or adverbs themselves, as we do at present, is simply not consistent with how they are applied, and therefore the concepts they must belong to.  The basic properties of things of happening are simply not applied in such additional ways, even if they appear to be similar.  There are a large number of particular basic means of communication applied in relation to properties, though they can sometimes differ slightly in their application with each, and therefore cause different manners of use when doing so.  Some can even be used in combination with am/is/are etc..  Unfortuantely, some of those I've spoken to have used this as evidence of am/is/are etc. being verbs, even though normal adverbs are not applied in this way, and therefore am/is/are should not be considered to be verbs at all - they are a different concept with different applications/manner of use.

As described before, in relation to adjective, there are a number of different basic means of communication that belong to different concepts, since they are applied in a different manner to each other, either in isolation, or even in further combination.

Some examples of such basic means of communication are:

  • Already

  • Mostly

  • Mainly

  • Generally

  • Nearly

  • Almost

  • Really

  • Suddenly?


  • Often

  • Always


  • Very

  • Extremely (Though this isn't used in combintion with sslowly/quickly before a thing of happening)


  • Quite


  • So


  • Much


In addition to their application in relation to properties of things (and other concepts used in a similar  manner) as I've already described, these have the following additional applications - (here's hoping I've not missed any)

The first group has three other general type of application:

  1. In relation to all other types of properties of concepts other than things of happening, e.g. It’s already wetter than yesterday/the wettest, today. 

  2. In combination with all types of relative time and space* , e.g. I’m almost outside/under the table.

  3. In relation to all types of things of happening, (including being and all uses of be/been), similar to the last type of property, hence the confusion between the two, e.g. I almost threw the ball.

The second group is used as 2&3 above.

Note: some of these can also have very used in combination - e.g. very generally/nearly/often, though should this difference define them as being a different concept and manner of use?

The third and fourth groups also have additional applications:

  • In relation to basic properties of things of happening, relative space as a setting*, and three types of relative time as a setting* e.g. I threw the ball very high/late, outside/today/earlier is/was very cold, and in combination with the additional 'similar' properly of things of happening e.g. quite/extremely/very quickly.

The fifth group - so - can be used in combination with all basic (absolute) and relative-comparative properties, along with the 'similar', but not the absolute-comparative, properties, unless as part of another concept, (perceived to be used as a conjunction*), or when used for emphasis.

The sixth group - much - can be used in combination with all realtive comparative properties, and also in combination with very and so, with all basic properties, (and relative-comparative/similar properties for so) and also in combination (after) the objects of things of happening, which they truly apply to - (I'm not quite sure how to limit this description to how it's applied in such a manner), e.g. I love you very/so very much.

(*More on these over the next two parts.)


So, again, what all these concepts and manners of use should be labelled as and by, I do not know, and have no suggestions to make, sorry.


Again, the main purpose of this post is to separate out the basic types of properties of things of happening from both each other, and other, similar, (confused for), concepts.  As with things of happening, (and even properties of things), we’ll see why this is so important later. (Hint: noun)

Before then, however, looking at relative time and space in the English language also has to be done, for they also have additional ramifications for our recognition and understanding of 'noun'.



Read more about:

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like