The Info List - Modern English

Modern English (sometimes New English or NE[3] as opposed to Middle English and Old English) is the form of the English language
English language
spoken since the Great Vowel Shift
Great Vowel Shift
in England, which began in the late 14th century and was completed in roughly 1550. With some differences in vocabulary, texts from the early 17th century, such as the works of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
and the King James Bible, are considered to be in Modern English, or more specifically, are referred to as using Early Modern English
Early Modern English
or Elizabethan English. English was adopted in regions around the world, such as North America, the Indian subcontinent, Africa, Australia
and New Zealand through colonisation by the British Empire. Modern English has a large number of dialects spoken in diverse countries throughout the world. This includes American English, Australian English, British English
British English
(containing English English, Welsh English and Scottish English), Canadian English, Caribbean English, Hiberno-English, Indian English, Pakistani English, Nigerian English, New Zealand
New Zealand
English, Philippine English, Singaporean English, and South African English. According to the Ethnologue, there are almost 1 billion speakers of English as a first or second language.[4] English is spoken as a first or a second language in a large number of countries, with the largest number of native speakers being in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand; there are also large populations in India, Pakistan, the Philippines
and Southern Africa. It "has more non-native speakers than any other language, is more widely dispersed around the world and is used for more purposes than any other language".[5] Its large number of speakers, plus its worldwide presence, have made English a common language "of the airlines, of the sea and shipping, of computer technology, of science and indeed of communication generally".[5]


1 Development 2 Outline of changes

2.1 Morphology

2.1.1 Pronouns 2.1.2 Verbs

2.2 Phonology 2.3 Syntax 2.4 Alphabet

3 See also 4 Footnotes 5 References 6 External links

Development[edit] Modern English evolved from Early Modern English
Early Modern English
which was used from the beginning of the Tudor period
Tudor period
until the Interregnum and Restoration in England.[6] The
works of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
and the King James Bible, are considered to be in Modern English, or more specifically, are referred to as using Early Modern English
Early Modern English
or Elizabethan English. By the late 18th century, the British Empire
British Empire
had facilitated the spread of Modern English through its colonies and geopolitical dominance. Commerce, science and technology, diplomacy, art, and formal education all contributed to English becoming the first truly global language. English also facilitated worldwide international communication. English was adopted in North America, India, parts of Africa, Australasia, and many other regions. In the post-colonial period, some of the newly created nations that had multiple indigenous languages opted to continue using English as the official language to avoid the political difficulties inherent in promoting any one indigenous language above the others.[7][8] Outline of changes[edit] The
following is an outline of the major changes in Modern English compared to its previous form (Middle English), and also some major changes in English over the course of the 20th century. Note, however, that these are generalizations, and some of these may not be true for specific dialects: Morphology[edit]

"Like", "same as", and "immediately" are used as conjunctions.[9] "The" becomes optional before certain combinations of noun phrase and proper name.[9]


Loss of distinction between "whom" and who in favor of the latter.[9] The
elevation of singular they to formal registers.[9] Placement of frequency adverbs before auxiliary verbs.[9]


Regularization of English irregular verbs[9] Revival of the present ("mandative") English subjunctive[9] Elimination of "shall" to mark the future tense in the first person[9] Do-support for the verb "have"[9] Increase in multi-word verbs[9] Development of auxiliary verbs "wanna", "gonna", "gotta"[9] Usage of English progressive verbs in certain present perfect and past perfect forms.[9]

Phonology[edit] Main articles: Phonological history of the English language
English language
§ Up to the American–British split; and Phonological history of the English language
English language
§ After American–British split, up to the 20th century Syntax[edit]

disuse of the T-V distinction
T-V distinction
(thou, ye). Contemporary Modern English retains only the formal second-person personal pronoun, "you" (ye), used in both formal and informal contexts. use of auxiliary verbs becomes mandatory in interrogative sentences. "less", rather than "fewer", is used for countable nouns[9] For English comparisons, syntactic comparison (more) is preferred to analytic comparison (-er)[9] Usage of the saxon genitive ('s) has extended beyond human referents.[9]

Alphabet[edit] See also: Early Modern English
Early Modern English
§ Orthography Changes in alphabet and spelling were heavily influenced by the advent of printing and continental printing practices.

letter thorn (þ), which began to be replaced by th as early as Middle English, finally fell into disuse. In Early Modern English printing thorn was represented with the Latin y, which appeared similar to thorn in blackletter typeface (𝖞). The
last vestige of the letter was in ligatures of thorn, ye (thee), yt (that), yu (thou), which were still seen occasionally in the King James Bible
King James Bible
of 1611 and in Shakespeare's Folios. The
letters i and j, previously written as a single letter, began to be distinguished; likewise for u and v. This was a common development of the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
during this period.

Consequently, Modern English came to use a purely Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
of 26 letters. See also[edit]

English portal

History of the English language International English


^ Terttu Nevalainen: An Introduction to Early Modern English, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 1 ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Standard English". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ Sihler 2000, p. xvi. ^ Lewis, M. Paul; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D., eds. (2016). "English". Ethnologue. SIL International. Retrieved 22 February 2016. Total users in all countries: 942,533,930 (as L1: 339,370,920; as L2: 603,163,010)  ^ a b Algeo & pyles 2004, p. 222. ^ Nevalainen, Terttu (2006). An Introduction to Early Modern English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press ^ Romaine 2006, p. 586. ^ Mufwene 2006, p. 614. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Leech, Geoffrey; Hundt, Marianne; Mair, Christian; Smith, Nicholas (2009). Change in Contemporary English: A Grammatical Study. Cambridge University Press. pp. 18–19. 


Algeo, John; Pyles, Thomas (2004). The
Origins and Development of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Wadsworth Cengage. ISBN 978-0-155-07055-4.  Sihler, Andrew L. (2000), Language History: An Introduction, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 191, John Benjamins, ISBN 978-9027236982 

External links[edit]

English at Ethnologue

v t e

History of English

Proto-Indo-European Proto-Germanic Proto-West-Germanic Anglo-Frisian languages Old English Anglo-Norman language Middle English Early Modern English Modern English

Phonological history


Old English


Great Vowel Shift low unrounded vowels low back vowels high back vowels high front vowels diphthongs changes before historic /l/ changes before historic /r/ trisyllabic laxing


rhoticity flapping t-glottalization l-vocalization consonant clusters h-dropping wh th th-fronting ð (eth) þ (thorn)