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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 23rd, 2014, 03:09 am
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Default Dogs hate cats. Why no S on the verb?

I've been explaining all the things I can about s endings to my friend in the Ukraine. It's a never ending conversation.

Does anyone have a simple way to describe why we use the s ending on third person singular and on plurals, but not on the action verb when having a conversation about plurals as in my example in the subject line?

I have gotten too long winded with my friend. Thank you for your thoughts in advance!
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Unread Jun 24th, 2014, 01:13 am
Sue
 
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Default Re: Dogs hate cats. Why no S on the verb?

First of all, the 3rd person s and plural s are unrelated. They are two different morphemes which by pure chance share the same representation in spelling - just as eg the animal "bear" (noun) is not connected to "bear" (verb) meaning carry. Just because things are spelt the same doesn't necessarily mean they are the same.

The "s" morpheme which is used with nouns indicates plural - ie more than one. It has different variants, including -es (dishes) -en (oxen) and zero (sheep). The -s plural developed from the Old English plural -as

The "s" morpheme which is used with verbs indicates 3rd person singular present tense. It too has different variants, including - es (does) and zero (can). But this doesn't mean it is the same morpheme as the plural s morpheme. It developed from the Old English 3rd person marker -až, which by Middle English had become -eth (hath, giveth, taketh). and then changed to -s.

So basically your question doesn't make sense. It's like asking "A person has legs and can walk. A table has legs too - so why can't it walk?" The legs of a person/animal and the legs of a table are not the same thing.
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Last edited by susan53 : Jun 28th, 2014 at 01:42 am.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 29th, 2014, 10:59 pm
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Default Re: Dogs hate cats. Why no S on the verb?

I love reading Susan's replies to questions like this. She's such a mine of linguistic diamonds, and it's always explained so fully and clearly. Thank you Susan.
In terms of teaching the 3-P-S 's' and the plural 's', I tell my learners that one grammatical 's' in a sentence is enough. (Now I see that that could be confusing in a sentence like "dogs hate cats"!) But it works for "Cats hate water" and "My cat hates water." EITHER the noun OR the verb should have an 's'. At an elementary/young learners level, that can be a rule of thumb that will get them by until things get more complicated.
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Unread Sep 22nd, 2014, 02:27 am
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Default Re: Dogs hate cats. Why no S on the verb?

Hi there,

"Dogs hate cats" is a variant of "They hate cats" therefore it is just a regular verb doing the normal thing! He hates, they hate...

All the best
Shelley Ann Vernon
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