The aim of this paper is twofold: in the first place, an analysis on the origin and historical development of the English prepositional phrase a-hunting is provided. According to many scholars, this phrase could be ascribed to a prepositional pattern of the type on + verbal noun in -ing/-ung, apparently in use from OE times. During the ME period, this preposition weakened to a and was finally lost through aphesis, with the result that there were no longer any formal differences between this pattern and the ordinary progressive, while the meaning conveyed by both constructions became practically the same. In the second place, several examples of this prepositional pattern are offered, and for this purpose, the early Modern English section of the computerized Helsinki Corpus has been used, in particular the so-called HE3 section, which covers the period between 1640 and 1710.
Análisis de frecuencia; Función sintáctica; Variantes dialectales; Lenguaje coloquial; Gramática histórica; Locución preposicional; Lengua inglesa