Verb as adjective

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I was confused to see "the tree was lit up". Is that a verb or an adjective because it seems like the passive or maybe past tense of light up? Any wise words?

Verbs asked Jul 12 '13 at 01:01 Emma Jayne Gray New member

3 answers


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'Lit up' in whatever tense is called a phrasal verb.

The sky lit up with lightning.

He lit up a cigarette.

During Christmas, the houses were all lit up.

 

This is an informal phrase used to describe a lot of things. Your sentence, the tree was lit up, is in passive voice.

link comment answered Jul 12 '13 at 01:11 Lewis Neidhardt Grammarly Fellow
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Emma - don't be surprised that verbs can and do often function as adjectives.  The past and present participles are frequently used as adjectives.  For example, one could say:

 

The freezing chicken looked very cold.

 

In this sentence, the present participle is used as an active adjective.  It is no longer a verb even though it retains its verb form.  You could also say:

 

The frozen chicken looked very cold.

 

In this sentence, the past participle is used as a passive adjective.  Once again, 'frozen' retains the verb form of the past participle, but it is no longer a verb - it is an adjective.

link comment answered Jul 12 '13 at 07:23 Ahmad Barnard Expert
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If you say "After supper he lit up the tree" this is a verb because you are talking about the action that took place after supper, (i.e. the lighting up of the tree.)

If you say "He switched on the power and the tree was lit up" it is an adjective because you are describing the state of the tree after the power was switched on.

link comment answered Jul 13 '13 at 07:21 Tork&Grunt New member

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