Peculiarities Of -Ing-Forms Of English Modal Verbs Interpretation Into Russian


In this article, the authors reveal general features of the –ing forms’ meaning of verbs to be, to have, to do, which are of broad semantics, and identify options for their interpretation into Russian basing on semantic-cognitive analysis. In the course of the study, we analyzed the cases of using -ing forms of еру verbs as well as the features of their translation into Russian. This helped us supplement the results of previous studies in the field of cognitive English grammar to identify the principles of building complex verbal word forms. Our study is based on the perception of the meaning -ing word forms as “an active state or property characterized by an action called in the verb basis”. This value remains unchanged in any context, but depending on it, it acquires a different degree of concretization: an abstract state (the name of the process), or the state of an object with which definitive relations are associated. A semantic-cognitive analysis of the -ing forms from these positions helps to reveal the cognitive processes of constructing a sentence in English. The study of the compatibility of -ing forms of to do, to have, to be leads to the conclusion that the lexemes accompanying the forms of doing, being, having more fully reveal and complement them. The considered forms in all cases retain their lexical meaning. The results of the study can be used to create methods for teaching English based on cognitive grammar.

Keywords: Cognitive linguisticscognitive grammar-ing formsverbs of broad semanticscomplex verb forms


Other research in the field of cognitive linguistics allows us to rethink the processes of creating complex verbal word forms of the English language as free phrases in which each element has its own lexical and grammatical meaning. One of the fundamental principles that we are guided by is the one put forward by the creator of cognitive grammar Langacker (2008). In his opinion, the signs and sounds of a language are the symbolic representation of a person’s thoughts and his perception of the world around him (Langacker, 2008).

Statements about the presence of only grammatical and “erasure” of lexical meaning in the so-called “linking verbs”, in our opinion, are criticized fairly (Arkhipov, 2013; Ilyashenko et al., 2019). A cognitive approach to the grammar system of the English language allows us to come closer to understanding the processes of creating sentences, which can bring great practical benefit in terms of creating new teaching methods (Dmitrieva et al., 2019; Markova & Narcosiev, 2019; Shamov & Guseva, 2018). This is noted by both domestic and foreign scholars: the vision of a language which is provided by cognitive linguistics as a new scientific paradigm can really increase the effectiveness of English teaching (Beljavskaja, 2013).

One of the contributions that cognitive linguistics makes to second language learning and teaching is to suggest ways in which the relationships between grammatical expressions and their original lexical meanings can be made apparent in the language classroom to enhance learning and memorization. This process encourages learners to explore the deeper meanings of grammatical items, and to think about why the target language expresses things the way it does. (Littlemore, 2009, p. 45)

Problem Statement

In this article, we turn to the peculiarities of the interpretation of the -ing forms of verbs with broad semantics into the Russian language. We do it in order to trace how the general meaning of -ing “active state or property characterized by the action named in the verb basis” is revealed in various grammatical positions and contexts on the basis of the analysis.

To consider the direct use of the indicated verb forms in speech, we turned to the British National Corpus of the English language. From there we selected examples of sentences with the forms doing, having, being by continuous sampling method. We examined examples in fiction and drama, newspaper texts (tabloids), and scientific texts (academic). This distribution also allows us to consider the possible differences in the use of forms of doing, having, being depending on the genre and style of the text.

Research Questions

The topic of determining the meaning of the verbs to be, to have and to do in a cognitive aspect was developed in the dissertation of Maljutina (2008, para. 06), who distinguishes them as verbs of broad semantics and suggests that they are “minimally necessary to cover the entire onomasiological space of verb semantics in English”. At the same time, the researcher, based on the detailed analysis of all three verbs in both synchronic and diachronic sections, determines the meaning of the verb to be as "to exist at a(n) (un)specified position", the meaning of to have as “To encompass (an) object (s) or a situation” (“to have something in your sphere”), and notes that the verb do makes it possible to represent all actions, as well as processes, events, states and relationships in the form “doing” (performing something).

In general, we share this assumption, however, in our opinion, the lexical and grammatical meaning of the verbs to be and to have is even broader and more fully conveyed through the concepts of existence and presence with a touch of possession, respectively (Bystrova et al., 2018; Smirnova & Krasikova, 2018). That is, if the main lexical and grammatical element of the predicate is the personal form of the verb be, then we are always talking about the existence (being) of something (Prikhodchenko, 2016a). Personal forms (correlated with the subject) of the verb to have are used in English as a predicate, when the statement says that there is something with a touch of possession (“to have it”). This approach allows us to distinguish three main types of utterances in English depending on the main grammatical element of the predicate: 1) a message about the existential status of an object, 2) a message about the presence or absence of an object (with a touch of belonging-possession), 3) a message about the action.

We also attempted to describe the common meanings of -ed and -ing word forms and examined the features of their manifestation depending on the context of the utterance (Prikhodchenko, 2014, 2016b).

Purpose of the Study

To reveal the peculiarities of the general meaning of –ing with the verbs to be, to have, to do and identify options for their interpretation into Russian based on semantic-cognitive analysis of the British National Corpus of English. To analyze the cases of using -ing forms of these verbs in texts of various subjects, consider updating the semantic field depending on the thematic focus of the text, as well as on combinations of the forms of being, doing, having with various lexemes.

Research Methods

To consider specific examples of -ing forms’ usage of the English verbs to do, to be, to have, the continuous sampling method was used. Discovered examples were examined through semantic-cognitive analysis.



Fiction texts:

My whole dependence is upon Mr. Belville, and I have a near view of being provided with a living by his favorite but I will risk all things – In this case, being expresses the hypothetical state of the subject, his possible state that he is considering is “I can get security”.

If I might make a suggestion – shut up and sit down. Stop being perverse – Being perverse – the state of the subject is considered by the speaker as temporary or able to be changed, which is indicated by the instruction to change this state (Stop being perverse). Being is transmitted in Russian as an infinitive ‘to be’.

Far from it. ' Right now I'm two months away from being broke. Being broke is a condition that can be achieved by the speaker.

Newspaper articles:

One in five families with children are now being cared for by a single parent – nearly all of them women – Being expresses the current state. Using continuous determines the verb form ‘being cared’, which emphasizes the current state of affairs.

Safari park macaques are being sold off for breeding or research – The being form is a part of the passive construction in the English sentence. It is translated into Russian with the verb “sell”. Macaques in this example are in a special condition which consists the fact that they are being for sale at the specified time – being sold off.

Scientific texts:

The crying baby is being expressive, although her cries are not really language at all, but instinctive reactions – Being expressive in the Russian sentence sounds like "expresses itself." The semantic element of “existence” in translation has been replaced by the semantic element “action”.

The reader should assume from now on that partial indexing is being discussed – In this example, the being form expresses the state of the discussion, which in the Russian version is conveyed by the structure with the passive meaning “discussion is ongoing”.

Hobbes has thus explained how it is possible that a civil society can come into being – Come into being – is literally ‘to begin to exist’.


Fiction texts:

I shall think myself fortunate in having the honor to wait upon our ladyship – Here it is about ‘having’ a certain advantage – having the honor.

He told us he dreaded having to stand in line in the airport while people giggled and pointed – The verb to have in this sentence is not accompanied by a direct complement but by the infinitive to stand. The meaning of the verb is preserved: the possession of a certain action, involvement in it.

It is impossible after having seen the finest lady in the world not to wish to see her again. – Even though the verb form having is part of the grammatical perfect form, the lexical meaning of the verb does not disappear. The speaker says that he has a certain experience: he met some beautiful lady.

Newspaper articles:

I spent three months working out in the gym and having voice therapy – ‘Having’ is accompanied by a direct complement ‘voice therapy’: in the life of the speaker, there was work with the voice, he had such experience.

Why are we having this long discussion? – The English ‘have discussion’ has a connotation of possession, in this case, “possession” of a discussion that is not necessary for the person asking the question. When transferred into Russian, the tint of possession is leveled and replaced by the designation of the action – we say.

Having been a serving officer I know when someone's had a drink. — Having a certain experience and gaining it as a result of having some skills — ‘he was an officer’.

Scientific texts:

Having tried and failed to control spending the government then decided to control local revenue. It is about actions undertaken in the past, the perfect form describes the possession of a certain experience.

... all group members having been individually assessed by one of the therapists, using the structured interview and questionnaires – The verb ‘has’ says that each participant in the experience has a history of medical evaluation.


Fiction texts:

Pray, Lady Davers, what are you doing? The question is about the process or activity which Lady Devers is occupied with.

Shouldn't we be doing something constructive? The question concerns the choice of actions suitable for those who are present.

You'd be doing James a favorite. ‘Doing a favorite’ means doing certain things that will result in a great service.

Newspaper articles:

We asked the five top supermarkets what they were doing to make their trolleys safer – ‘Doing’ in this case means performing certain actions.

If teams are doing well in the League, Cups and Europe, then they are forced to play – In the Russian translation, the semantic element “do, execute” was leveled and replaced by the element “demonstrate”.

She will be the one doing all the hard job. In this case, we observe the identity of the English and Russian structures.

Scientific texts:

... but necessary also to change the attitudes, values and the taken-for-granted ways of doing things that govern professional activity. – In the Russian version, the active voice of the verb ‘to do’ (doing things) is slightly reduced (meaning ‘finding solutions’).

In so doing he was acting for the Crown '- The active semantics of the verb ‘to do’ is preserved in the Russian version.

According to data presented in the National British English Corpus, the words accompanying ‘having’ form with the highest frequency are as follows: without, regard, trouble, fun, affair, difficulty, diagnosed, fortunate, suspected, intercourse. These words supplement the semantics of possessing something: having trouble, having difficulty – the presence of a problem; without having – without possession; suspected, diagnosed having – suspect, diagnose the possession of something. Past participles after ‘having’ mean 'having a certain history or experience of a given action’ (having seen, having gone). In the Russian language, such a construction can be conveyed by the participial, which is directly related to the verb expressing the main action, and more fully reveals its meaning.

The ‘being’ form is most often accompanied by the following words: treated, currently, capable, accused, driven, questioned, acquired, constantly, investigated, tested. The lexemes accompanying ‘being’ more fully reveal the meaning of existence: temporary (currently being, constantly being), under a certain influence when using past participles (being questioned, being accused).

The most frequent lexemes in combination with the ‘doing’ form are as follows: what, 're, things, job, capable, hell, harm, rounds, washing, homework. We observe the disclosure of the execution of the action in more detail (doing homework, doing job, doing harm).


We conducted the analysis of cases using -ing forms of English verbs with broad semantics, as well as the peculiarities of their interpretation into Russian. This helped us supplement the results of previous studies in the field of cognitive English grammar to identify the principles of building complex verbal word forms. Our study is based on the idea of cognitive perception of the meaning -ing forms, which we understand as “an active state or property characterized by an action called in the verb basis”. This value remains unchanged in any context, but depending on it, it acquires a different degree of concretization: an abstract state (the name of the process), or the state of an object with which definitive relations are associated. A semantic-cognitive analysis of -ing forms from these positions helps to reveal the cognitive processes of constructing a sentence in English.

‘Being’ in the considered cases of use in fiction expresses a hypothetical state, or a state that can be changed. The transfer of this form to the Russian language often depends on the words surrounding it and the choice of a specific tool is determined both by the context and the grammatical and stylistic features of the Russian language system.

The ‘having' form, if there is a direct addition, directly reports the possession of something, and in the interpretation in Russian such a message is often saved (having the honor, having voice therapy, having discussion). When combining a form with an infinitive, possession and involvement in any action that needs to be performed (having to stand). It should be noted that even in the grammatical form of the perfect aspect, the verb ‘to have’ does not lose its lexical meaning and reports ‘having some experience’ (having tried and failed, having seen). These patterns can be traced in the texts of different styles.

Having examined the different cases of using -ing form of the verb ‘to do’, it can be noted that the meaning “to do, to execute, to perform actions” is preserved in all the examples given. The specific transmission of doing into Russian depends on the context, the prevailing stable expressions used in the language, as well as on the features of the grammatical structure. In our opinion, the semantics of the verb form ‘doing’ is transparent enough, which is associated with the active implementation of an action. ‘Doing’ often has a direct complement, which indicates what kind of action the speaker means (doing the job, doing a favor).

As a result of studying the compatibility of the considered forms, we can conclude that the lexemes accompanying the forms doing, being, having more fully reveal and supplement them. The considered forms in all cases retain their lexical meaning.


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31 October 2020

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

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Aksenova, M. V., Arkhipova, M. V., Guseva, L. V., Prikhodchenko, P. I., & Khomenko, A. M. (2020). Peculiarities Of -Ing-Forms Of English Modal Verbs Interpretation Into Russian. In D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism» Dedicated to the 80th Anniversary of Turkayev Hassan Vakhitovich, vol 92. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 31-37). European Publisher.