Our analysis of participation in events is centred, naturally enough, on the verb, as this is the lexicogrammatical resource most typically associated with actions, activities and states of affairs – all of which we can lump together under the technical term processes. Now, there are an awful lot of verbs in English, and if we took account of all the meaning differences they capture then it would be very hard to capture the patterns of construal that occur either within texts or between them. For that reason we have to decide on an appropriate degree of abstraction in differentiating process types into contrasting groups. There are different ways of doing this, some of which depend on locally contingent contrasts, such as processes of

working in contrast to verbs of playing, which may be an important distinction to highlight within a particular research topic. At a general level, however, the grammar of the language provides basic distinctions between process types that capture fundamental distinctions in how different participants are involved in events and activities. Halliday has suggested (in Halliday and Matthiessen 2004, chapter 5) that all languages use the grammar (rather than the lexicon) to distinguish between material, mental and relational processes. The fact that these categories are most likely universal suggests that they capture distinctions which are basic to human understanding of participation and are therefore useful distinctions to capture in discourse analysis. As well as these three core categories, English includes verbal, behavioural and existential processes within the basic, or least delicate, system of process types. Participants can be involved in these process types in different ways, as, for example, the person who carries out a material action, such as hitting, or as the person getting hit. I’ll discuss the different process types and the type of participation in some depth in section 3.1.