Grammar Labels for Verbs in English Monolingual Learners’ Dictionaries


  • Dominic Stewart



lexicography, corpus linguistics, learners’ dictionaries, frequency of verbs, grammatical categories, passive


The labels ‘passive’ and ‘progressive,’ as well as ‘not passive’ and ‘not progressive,’ are those most commonly adopted in English monolingual learners’ dictionaries to indicate the grammatical category of verb headwords. However, it can happen that for specific verbs very different indications are provided from one dictionary to the next, a fact which would appear to derive primarily from diverging interpretations of corpus data on the part of lexicographers, and more specifically, from diverging interpretations of which corpus occurrences qualify as passive and progressive respectively for any given verb. This will lead to the discussion of a suggested conflict of form and function in corpus lexicography. Further, it is striking that the labels passive and progressive are prioritised at the expense of other verb labels such as imperative–used very sparingly in dictionaries–simple present, perfective and first person, which are not used at all. The corpus consulted is primarily the British Web 2007 (ukWac), but comparisons will be made with data from the British National Corpus.

Author Biography

Dominic Stewart

Dominic Stewart teaches English Language and Linguistics and Italian-English Translation at the University of Trento. He has published primarily in the field of corpus linguistics and translation. His publications include Semantic Prosody: A Critical Analysis (2010) and Italian to English Translation with Sketch Engine: A Guide to the Translation of Tourist Texts (2018).


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Articles (general section) - English language and linguistics