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lexical verb


lexical verb

The 12 most common lexical verbs in English


Any verb in English that is not an auxiliary verb. Also known as a main verb.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "Examples of lexical verbs are arrive, see, walk, copula be, transitive do, etc. They carry a real meaning and are not dependent on another verb. In addition to a lexical verb, the VP [verb phrase] may contain auxiliaries. Auxiliaries depend on another verb, add grammatical information, and are grouped together with the lexical verb in a Verb Group."
    (Elly van Gelderen, An Introduction to the Grammar of English. John Benjamins, 2000)

  • "I made an appointment with my doctor that afternoon, and he referred me to a psychiatrist. I got pills, I had about a dozen sessions with her. All of that helped. It was useful to me, yes. But secondary, I felt. Secondary to my yanking the steering wheel, my pulling sharply left as I braked, to my wanting so desperately and reflectively to be in life, to be still moving and doing, those wonderful verbs."
    (Sue Miller, The World Below. Random House, 2005)

  • "The LGSWE [Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English] compares a variety of lexical features across spoken and written registers and reports that almost one-third of all content words in spoken interaction are lexical verbs (also known as full verbs, e.g., eat, dance). Lexical verbs are extremely common in both conversation and fiction but quite rare in written registers such as news and academic prose. The single-word lexical verbs say, get, go, know, and think are the five most common verbs occurring in British and American conversation. The 12 most common lexical verbs identified in LGSWE (say, get, go, know, think, see, make, come, take, want, give, and mean--occurring over 1,000 times per million words), account for 'nearly 45% of all lexical verbs in conversation.'"
    (Eric Friginal, The Language of Outsourced Call Centers. John Benjamins, 2009)
Also Known As: full verb, main verb
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