acter in a novel is spoken about as one who had to be satisfied with the role of a has-been, what is this odd-looking has-been, a verb or a noun? One must admit that it has quite a verbal appearance, but why, then, is it preceded by the article?
Why is the word if used in the plural form in the popular proverb: If ifs and ans were pots and pans? (an = if, dial., arch.)
This type of questions naturally arise when one deals with words produced by conversion, one of the most productive ways of modern English word-building.
Conversion is sometimes referred to as an affixless way of word-building or even affixless derivation. Saying that, however, is saying very little because there are other types of word-building in which new words are also formed without affixes (most compounds, contracted words, sound-imitation words, etc.).
Conversion consists in making a new word from some existing word by changing the category of a part of speech, the morphemic shape of the original word remaining unchanged. The new word has a meaning which differs from that of the original one though it can more or less be easily associated with it. It has also a new paradigm peculiar to its new category as a part of speech.
to nurse, v
-'s, poss. c., Verbal sg.paradigm
-s', poss. c., pl
-s, 3rd p. sg. -ed, past indef., past part.
-ing,- pres. part., gerund
The question of conversion has, for a long time, been a controversial one in several aspects. The very