English Grammar/Basic Parts of Speech/Verbs

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Definition[edit]

A verb is a word or group of words expressing an action, a condition or a state of being.

Categories of Verbs[edit]

  1. Action verb describe physical or mental action.
    • A transitive verb is a verb having a direct object.
    • An intransitive verb is a verb having no object.
      (Note: When passive voice are changed to their active form, they are always transitive.)
  2. Linking verbs connect the subject of a sentence to its complements: a predicate noun, a predicate pronoun or a predicate adjective. They do not express action.
    • various forms of be (am,is ,are, was, were, be, being, been)
    • verbs related to the senses (appear, feel, look, smell, sound, taste)
    • verbs expressing condition or placement of the subject (become, grow, remain, seem, stay)
      Note:
      Some verbs can function as either linking or action verbs depending on how they are used.
      Example:
      The drainage smells foul.(linking verb)
      We smell the fragrance of the blooming flowers. (action verb)
      Since linking verbs do not have objects, they may be considered intransitive.
  3. Auxiliary verbs help the main verb in a verb phrase. A verb phrase is a combination of a main verb and one or more auxiliary verb
    • Common auxiliary verbs:
      • forms of be (be, being, been, am, is, are, was, were)
      • forms of have (has, have, had)
      • modal auxliaries (can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, must)
Auxiliary + Main Verb = Verb Phrase
is + singing = is singing
would have + gone = would have gone
will have been + working = will have been working

Principal Parts of Verbs[edit]

There are four principal parts of the verb: the present, the present participle, the past and the past participle. (The list below shows the present participle and past participle forms with auxiliary or helping verbs in parentheses.) A verb is also classified as regular or irregular verbs.

Regular Verbs[edit]

To form the past and past participle of a regular verb, add -d or -ed to the present and to form the present participle, add -ing to the present. However, some regular verbs change in spelling before adding -ing or -ed. Following is a list of some regular verbs in their different parts.

Present Present Participle Past Past Participle
carry (is) carrying carried (has) carried
cruise (is) cruising cruised (has) cruised
dance (is) dancing danced (has) danced
drop (is) dropping dropped (has) dropped
evolve (is) evolving evolved (has) evolved
jump (is) jumping jumped (has) jumped
picnic (is) picnicking picnicked (has) picnicked
scream (is) screaming screamed (has) screamed
work (is) working worked (has) worked

Irregular Verbs[edit]

Irregular verbs have different ways of forming their principal parts. Here, they are grouped into five. Note:

  • The present participle and past participle must always be used with auxiliary verbs.
    Example: are watching, will have known
  • The present participle of a verb, regular or irregular, is formed by adding -ing to the present form.

Group 1[edit]

The present, past an past participle have the same form.

Present Present Participle Past Past Participle
burst (is) bursting burst (has) burst
cost (is) costing cost (has) cost
cut (is) cutting cut (has) cut
hit (is) hitting hit (has) hit
hurt (is) hurting hurt (has) hurt
put (is) putting put (has) put
read (is) reading read (has) read
set (is) setting set (has) set
shut (is) shutting shut (has) shut

Group 2[edit]

The past and past participle of the verb have the same spelling except for the verb get which has two possible past participle, got and gotten.

Present Present Participle Past Past Participle
bring (is) bringing brought (has) brought
catch (is) catching caught (has) caught
fight (is) fighting fought (has) fought
flee (is) fleeing fled (has) fled
fling (is) flinging flung (has) flung
get (is) getting got (has) got or gotten
lead (is) leading led (has) led
lend (is) lending lent (has) lent
lose (is) losing lost (has) lost
say (is) saying said (has) said
seek (is) seeking sought (has) sought
shine (is) shining shone (has) shone
sit (is) sitting sat (has) sat
sting (is) stinging stung (has) stung
swing (is) swinging swung (has) swung
teach (is) teaching taught (has) taught
wind (is) winding wound (has) wound

Group 3[edit]

The past participle is formed by adding -n or -en to the past form except for bear, bite and shear.

Present Present Participle Past Past Participle
bear (is) bearing bore (has) borne
beat (is) beating beat (has) beaten
bite (is) biting bit (has) bitten
break (is) breaking broke (has) broken
choose (is) choosing chose (has) chosen
freeze (is) freezing froze (has) frozen
shear (is) shearing sheared (has) shorn
speak (is) speaking spoke (has) spoken
steal (is) stealing stole (has) stolen
swear (is) swearing swore (has) sworn
tear (is) tearing tore (has) torn
wear (is) wearing wore (has) worn

Group 4[edit]

The vowel i in the present changes to a in the past and u in the past participle. For the verb spring which has two past forms, sprang is preferred.

Present Present Participle Past Past Participle
begin (is) beginning began (has) begun
drink (is) drinking drank (has) drunk
ring (is) ringing rang (has) rung
shrink (is) shrinking shrank (has) shrunk
sing (is) singing sang (has) sung
sink (is) sinking sank (has) sunk
spring (is) springing sprang or sprung (has) sprung
swim (is) swimming swam (has) swum

Group 5[edit]

These verbs form their past participle from the present form.

Present Present Participle Past Past Participle
blow (is) blowing blew (has) blown
come (is) coming came (has) come
do (is) doing did (has) done
draw (is) drawing drew (has) drawn
drive (is) driving drove (has) driven
eat (is) eating ate (has) eaten
fall (is) falling fell (has) fallen
give (is) giving gave (has) given
go (is) going went (has) gone
grow (is) growing grew (has) grown
know (is) knowing knew (has) known
ride (is) riding rode (has) ridden
rise (is) rising rose (has) risen
run (is) running ran (has) run
see (is) seeing saw (has) seen
shake (is) shaking shook (has) shaken
slay (is) slaying slew (has) slain
take (is) taking took (has) taken
throw (is) throwing threw (has) thrown
write (is) writing wrote (has) written

Tenses of Verbs[edit]

A verb takes different forms to show when an action occurs. These forms are called tenses. The table below shows the six basic tenses (the three simple tenses and the three perfect tenses) and the special forms of a verb: the six progressive forms and two emphatic forms. Problems in using the tenses are also included. Note: In the formation of the passive voice, only two progressive forms are included.

Simple Tense[edit]

Simple Present Tense[edit]

The simple present tense encompasses the past, present and future time.
Formation:

Active Passive
-3rd person singular, present form +-s/-es
-other singular/plural forms, use unchanged present form.
-am,is,are + past participle

Uses

  1. Expresses present action or condition
  2. Expresses regularly occurring action or condition
  3. Expresses constant action or condition
  4. Expresses introduction to a quotation
  5. Expresses past historical action or a piece of literature as if happening now to make description more vivid and realistic
  6. Expresses future time when sentence contains adverb or phrase indicating the future
  7. Expresses action or condition as in present perfect tense

Simple Past Tense[edit]

The simple past tense indicates that an action terminated in the past.
Formation:

Active Passive
-regular verbs +-d / -ed
-irregular verbs, use past form
-was, were + past participle

Uses

  1. Expresses action or condition that happened at a definite time in the past
  2. Expresses action or condition that began and ended in the past
  3. Expresses polite speech

Simple Future Tense[edit]

Perfect Tense[edit]

Present Perfect[edit]

Past Perfect[edit]

Future Perfect[edit]

Special Forms of a Verb[edit]

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Problems in Using Tenses[edit]

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Improper Shifts in Tense and Form The same tense must be express two or more actions that occur in the same time.

  • A shift in tense within a sentence or between consecutive sentences must be avoided.

Incorrect: I watched television and my brother plays computer last night.
Correct: I watched television and my brother played computer last night.

  • A shift in tense may be necessary to show a logical sequence of actions or the relationship of one action to another. This is considered correct.

Example: The Beatles had performed (past perfect) in small German clubs before they conquered (past) the international scene. By the time our team wins (present) the World Cup, the Ice Age will have returned (future perfect).

Voices of Verbs[edit]

The voice of verbs indicates whether its subject is the performer or the receiver of the action the verb expresses.

  • Active voice shows that the subject is the doer or performer of the action. It is preferred in writing because it is more forceful and direct than the passive voice.
  • Passive voice shows that the subject is the receiver of the action. it is used in the following:
    • to express an action when the doer of the action is unknown.
    • to describe an ongoing experience
    • to avoid giving a direct order or to state a rule.
    • to express action when the doer is not important.

Moods of Verbs[edit]

Mood identifies the manner in which a verb expresses an idea.

The Three Moods of Verbs[edit]

  1. The indicative mood states a fact or asks a question.
  2. The subjunctive mood is used to express:
    • a wish or a condition that is contrary to fact.
    • a command or request after the word that.
  3. The imperative mood gives a command or makes a request. Verbs in this mood are always in the present tense and second person.

Note: The indicative and subjunctive moods have the same forms except for the following:

  • In the third=person singular, the -s is omitted from verbs.
  • The form of the verb to be is always be in the present subjunctive mood.
  • The form of the verb to be is always were in the past subjunctive mood.

Commonly Confused Verbs[edit]

Bring and Take[edit]

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Hang[edit]

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Learn and Teach[edit]

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Let and Leave[edit]

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Lie, Lay and Lie[edit]

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Rise and Raise[edit]

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Sit and Set[edit]

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