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Why Does I Take Plural Verbs?

I is singular, so why does it take plural verbs. Why do we say I go to the store on Fridays
instead of I goes to the store on Fridays?
Verbs Have a Number, Tense, and Person
When he talks about singular and plural, hes talking about what grammarians all number, but
the assumption that go is a plural form is not entirely orret. In addition to number, verb forms
an also enode tense and person.
!nglish "as #ifferent $ypes of %ronouns
We talked about person in !pisode &'(, when the topi was first)person, seond)person, and
third)person pronouns. $o summari*e, the first)person singular pronouns are the forms of I,
inluding me, my, mine, and myself.
First)person plural pronouns are forms of we.
+eond)person pronouns are the forms of you. In present)day !nglish, we dont distinguish
between singular and plural for seond)person pronouns, e,ept for the singular form yourself
and plural yourselves. -ou an refer to one person .you get the passenger seat / or many
people .would you please form a line in front of the ounter?/.
$hird)person singular pronouns are the forms of he, she, and it.
$hird)person plural pronouns are the forms of they.
"ow 0ne 1erb 2an $ell 3s 4ll $hese $hings?
5ow lets look at the verb go and how it an give information about all three of these things))
number, tense, and person. In the form goes, the )s ending tells us not only that its in the
present tense, but also that its sub6et is third person singular7 he, or she, or maybe
+8uiggly. +o the answer to why the singular verb goes doesnt agree with the singular sub6et
I is that goes is also third person, while I is first person. $hey dont math.
+ynretism 9ives 3s the !verything !lse 1erb $ense
If goes is the third)person singular present tense form, then what form is 6ust go? $he short
answer is that its the everything else form for the present tense. $raditional grammar books will
often list this same form five times, for first) and seond)person singular, and for first), seond),
and third)person plural. "owever, from a learning perspetive, its easier 6ust to think of go as a
form that an take on whatever ombination of person and number you need in the present tense,
other than third)person singular.
$he tehnial term for this kind of situation, in whih one word form an fill more than one
funtion, is synretism :sink)reh)tis, and !nglish has a lot of it. In fat, weve already run aross
another e,ample of it, with the seond)person pronouns, where you an be either singular or
plural.
In older stages of !nglish, there were different pronouns for seond)person singular and plural.
$he seond)person singular pronouns were forms of thou, and you was used for the plural.
;ut these days, thou isnt used in everyday !nglish, and instead, you serves as both a singular
and a plural seond)person pronoun.
<ore +ynretism7 -ou 2an ;e the +ub6et or the 0b6et
In fat, you is even more synreti than that, beause it an at as either a sub6et or an ob6et.
For omparison, the first)person singular pronoun is I as a sub6et, and me as an ob6et.
=ikewise, the first)person plural pronoun is we as a sub6et, and us as an ob6et. In older
stages of !nglish, ye was the sub6etive ase of the seond)person plural pronoun, and you
was the ob6etive ase.