Everything Language and Grammar

Spring Greening?

Posted by languageandgrammar on April 19, 2009

Spring is that special time of year. Flowers bloom, little woodland creatures awaken from their long winter’s nap, and the grass and trees start to green up.

Wait a minute. Everything starts to green up? What does that mean?

Maybe the term is simply a charming little Pennsylvania term–minus the charm. Or, it’s part of the national obsession of turning nouns into verbs–more specifically, in this case, the trend of turning colors into verbs.

Green is, of course, an adjective, and it describes the way something looks. In the example, it’s a green table cloth, the word green describes the tablecloth. In the example, it’s starting to green up, the word green means that you didn’t pay attention in English class.

In order for green to be a verb, it would have to be used in different tenses. For example, in the sentence I turn green when I’m sick, turn is the verb. You could also say I turned green…, I will turn green…, I have turned green…, etc. There are more tenses, of course, but you get the point.

Let’s try different tenses with green as a verb. The grass greens up; the grass greened up; the grass has been greening for some time now. At the risk of repeating myself, what does that mean? We would never say (I hope) that the grass browns down in the winter or that the leaves orange up in the fall.

Let’s show green up the lack of respect it deserves.

–Paul

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