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Inchoative Verb

An inchoative verb, sometimes called an "inceptive" verb, shows a process of beginning or becoming. Productive inchoative infixes exist in several languages, including Latin and Ancient Greek, and consequently some Romance languages.

A glance at the term

In English, the inchoative verb is usually formed by adding the suffix "-en" to a normal vern. Learn more about suffixes and prefixes. It is also signified by the "-ify" ending in verbs. The inchoative verb is generally more important in ancient languages like Greek and Latin than in English. This is because in those languages, the inchoative verb is a tense calling for specific conjugations. 

Learning to use inchoative verbs

Here is an example of the inchoative verb being used correctly within a sentence. 

"The research paper I bought says, that according to the ancient alchemists, the soul had to go through a transformative process through which it would blacken, whiten, and redden in turn."

In this sentence, the verbs blacken, whiten, and redden are each an inchoative verb that describes a process of becoming experienced by the soul. 

Now, here is an example of the inchoative verb being used incorrectly in a sentence. 

"The chemistry professor told his students that under certain conditions, ice would liquen at temperatures greater than 32 degrees F."

This is an incorrect use of the inchoative verb because "liquen" is not a real word. The correct word for this situation would be "liquefy". 

In case you are still a little confused, here are a couple guidelines you can follow in order to make sure you are using the inchoative verb correctly. 

  1. In English, a verb that is modified to be an inchoative verb almost always has an "-en" added to the end of it. This is the case, for example, with words such as thicken or flatten. Almost every verb that has this kind of suffix is an inchoative verb.   
  2. Other verbs in English naturally count as an inchoative verb. The verb modify is a good example of this. This is an inchoative verb by its very nature, because its basic meaning cannot help but express a process of some kind of change.  

Inchoative verb more important in ancient languages

It is worth noting that the inchoative verb, as such, was more important in ancient languages than it currently is within the type of modern English paper you could purchase today. Or, to put the matter more precisely: whereas the ancient languages required certain complex conjugations in order to signify that a normal verb had become an inchoative verb, modern English only requires the conjugation of adding an "-en" to the end of the verb. The use of the inchoative verb in English is thus far simpler than it is or has been in other languages. 

However, this also means that the use of the inchoative verb within English is rather limited. In a language where the inchoative verb was a tense with its own specific conjugations a wide range of verbs could be put into this tense. For example, in Latin, verbs such as learn and born can be expressed through the use of an inchoative verb. This could give sentences a certain mood or force that it would not be possible to adequately capture with standard English usage. In English, there are comparatively quite few verbs that can in fact be used as an inchoative verb. 

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