Explanation of Verbal Nouns

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230. The preceding chapters deal with the Simple Sentence: that is to say, the Sentence which consists of a single Verb, and the subordinate or qualifying vwοrds (Case-forms, Adverbs, Pre- positions) construed vwith it (ἡ 13 1). Wa have noςw to consider hοςw this type is enlarged by means of the Vαrbal Nouns.

The hnfinitive and Participὶe, as has been explained (ἢ 84). are in fact Nouns : the hnfinitive is an abstract Noun denoting the action of the Verb, the Participle a concrete Noun expressing that action as an attribute. They are termed ' Vrball2 because they suggest or imply a predication, such as a finite Verb ex- presses (e.. ἔρχεται ἄγων αὐτούς iπwuρίieς the assertionn ἄγει αὐτούς), and because the vwords which depend upon or qualify them are construed ςwith them as with Verbs (ἄγων αὐτούς, not ἄγων αὐτῶν briππgeτ ῃʼ teρm). Thus they have the character of subordinate Verbs, b governed b by the finite Vαrb of the sentence, and serving at the same time as centres of dependent Clauses.

The distinction between nfinitives anἄ other abstract Substantives, and· again between Participles and other primitive Adjectives, was probably not alrvways so clearly dravwn as it is in Greek. The nfinitives of the oldest Sanscrit hardly form a distinct group of vwords ; they are abstract Nouns of various formation, usedh in several different Cases, and vwοuld hardly hare been classed apart from other Case-forms if they had not been recognisedd as the precursors of the later more developed nfinitive. The Participles, too, are variously formed in Sanscrit, and moreover they are not the only Houns vwith vwhich the construction is b adverbial instead of being 'adnominal.'

The peculiarity of the Verbal Nouns in point of meaning may be said to consist in the tsmpοτατῳ and αccidentaὶ character of the actions or attributes vwhich they express. Thus ππpάττειv and πρᾶξαι suggest a pατtculατ doing, momentary or progressive, at or during a time fixed by the context; vwhereas πρᾶξις means dοιng, irrespective of time ; πράκταρ one 0ὰο does, generally or permanently, a dοeτ; and so in other cases. The distinction is especially important for Homer. In the later language there are uses of the nfinitive and Participle in vwhich they lose the Verbal element, and have the character of ordinary Houns ; d. g. τὸ πράττειν is nearly equivalent to πράάξιε, οἱ πράττοντες to πράκτορες, etc.