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Beginner's Guide to Grammar (Verbs)

By Edited Jul 7, 2014 0 0

Building blocks(69761)

Verbs are words that convey either an action or a state of being. Within a text, they tell us what kind of event is taking place.  In addition, they are often used together with other kinds of words to form verb groups to convey a range of meaning. The following tips are organised in a manner for easy understanding.

1.1 Types (by their meanings)

(i) Action  - describing actions or the act of doing things

walk, run, jump, laugh, cry, skip

(ii) Saying  - related to speech

say, tell, shout, yell, whisper

(iii) Linking - connect ideas or objects in a sentence (also known as relational or copular verbs)

become, appear, seem, be 

(iv) Mental / Thinking / Emotion  - describe our thoughts, feelings and emotions

imagine, believe, think, know, need

(v) Sensing - related to the use of our senses

 see, taste, hear, smell, feel

1.2 Types (by how they express the time aspect)

(i) Dynamic  - that describe an action with a beginning and an end (They can take the progressive or continuous form (i.e. - ing form).)

walk, hit, run, swing, jump

(ii) Static - that describe a state or condition that is unchanging (They do not take the continuous form.)

believe, think, know


1.3 Types (regular / irregular)

(i) A regular verb is expressed in the past form by the addition of the -ed suffix.

My mother cooked dinner for all of us last night.

She pushed him aside when she saw the car coming.

They laughed at his jokes yesterday.

(ii) An irregular verb is expressed in the past form in a totally different manner.

They bought (buy) the books at the book store.

She brought (bring) home the puppy yesterday.

I told (tell) her not to tell anyone.


1.4 Types (finite / non-finite)

(i) A finite verb can change its form when the reference of the sentence is changed.

(ii) A non-finite verb cannot change its form even when the reference of the sentence is changed.

The girls like to listen to his music.

The girls liked (finite) to listen (non-finite) to his music when they were young.

His father makes him finish his homework.

His father made (finite) him finish (non-finite) his homework last night.

I can help you with this.

I could (finite) help (non-finite) you with this.

Knowing him, I know he will end up in trouble.

Knowing (non-finite), I knew (finite) he would (finite) end (non-finite) up in trouble.

Verbs Tenses

2. Forms

They generally have the following five forms.

(i) Base form (also known as the infinitive)

The base form is often used in requests / commands, procedural instructions or after a modal verb.

e.g. Keep your toys now!

e.g. Turn right after you reach the corner.

e.g. I can see him from here.

e.g. She will tell him the news tomorrow.


(ii) -s form (also known as the third person singular present tense)

This form, which takes the -s suffix, is used to express the present tense when its subject is singular.

e.g. Mary reads the newspapers every day.

e.g. The cat drinks from the bowl.


(iii) -ing participle (also known as the progressive or continuous participle)

This form, which takes the -ing suffix, is used to express an ongoing action. 

e.g. The boys are walking to school now.

e.g. She is talking on the phone.


(iv) -ed past tense 

This form, which takes the -ed suffix, is used to express a past or completed action. However, the -ed form is applicable for regular verbs. For irregular verbs, they will take a different form unlike the -ed form.

e.g. The postman knocked on the door just now.

e.g. I saw her at the mall last week.


(v) -ed / -en participle (also known as the perfective participle)

This form is used to express either an action that has taken place or the passive voice (an action being done by someone or something)

e.g. He has finished his homework.

e.g. They have eaten the cake.


3. Tenses

The correct tense to be used is determined by the conditions and intent of the sentence. There are several tenses.

(i) Present

It is used to express factual statements.

e.g. The earth is round.

e.g. The sun sets in the west.

It is used to express a regular event.

e.g. Mary walks to school every morning.

e.g. They visit their grandparents once a week.

It is used to express an action taking place in the present.

e.g. The dog chases the cat.

It can be used to express a planned future event.

e.g. We go to New York next week.


(ii) Past 

It is used to express an event in the past.

e.g.  The thief stole his wallet just now.

e.g. She slept for six hours yesterday.

It is used in reported speech.

e.g. He said, "I like fruits." --> He said that he liked fruits.

e.g. She told him, "I cannot work with you anymore." --> She told him that she could not work with him anymore.

It can be used to refer to something in a hypothetical situation.

e.g. I wish I had more money.

e.g. If I were you, I would have told him off.


(iii) Perfect 

It is used to describe something that has recently occured / a past action or event (but with no specific time reference) / a past action or event (with relevance to the present)

e.g. I have finished my homework.

e.g. John has passed the test.

e.g. He has been worried about this for a long time.


(iv) (Present / Past) Continuous 

It is used to show the ongoing nature of an action or event. 

e.g. The students are listening to their teacher now.

It can also be used to express a planned future event.

e.g. We are going to the concert tonight.


(v) Future 

It is used to show a future action or event.

e.g. I shall write 5 articles a day for Infobarrel. 

e.g. They will pay for tonight's dinner.



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