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“I love using the gerund!”: An Empirical Study on the Complementation of Emotive Verbs in English


  • Ann Hermansson

Summary, in English

This essay concerns the complementation of the English emotive verbs like, love, hate and prefer. In English, gerund-participial and infinitival complements often receive semi-synonymous semantic interpretations when complementing emotive verbs. All the while, both complement types supposedly convey separate semantic interpretations, resulting in that they commonly appear in contexts expressing habit and hypotheticality, respectively. The reality of these two, somewhat contradictory, claims was investigated through a speaker-judgement task (completed by 64 native speakers of English), with 30 test items distributed across two lists. Additionally, this essay features a short translation task (Swedish to English, completed by 35 Swedish advanced learners of English). The data from the speaker-judgement task was analysed with the help of t-testing, with the purpose to see if a specific complement type was more (un)accepted in one context (hypothetical/non-factual and habitual/factual) than another, or in general. The results could unfortunately not be statistically supported due to the study being too small. However, the results of the items appearing in a context expressing habit showed a marginal statistical significance in favour of gerund-participial complementation. Furthermore, there was a clear preference of one complement type in some specific instances. Nonetheless, the results showed that there in general was no explicit preference for either complement type in either context, or in general. The results from the translation task showed that 42.9% of the participants produced translations featuring only infinitival complements, while 45.7% produced an infinitival construction in a hypothetical context and a gerundial construction in a habitual context, respectively.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • linguistics
  • gerund
  • infinitive
  • verb complementation
  • emotive verb
  • English
  • Swedish
  • translation


  • Eva Klingvall