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5.2: Verbs (Part 1)

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    Verb Forms

    You must always use a verb in every sentence you write. Verbs are parts of speech that indicate actions or states of being. The most basic sentence structure is a subject followed by a verb. Correct use of verb tenses and forms is very important in English. Verbs carry much of the main meaning of the sentence, and verb suffixes and auxiliaries indicate the time. Verbs are the powerhouses of our language.

    There are two main types of verb errors. Try to distinguish between the two types. Verb Form is an error where the tense has been incorrectly formed. Verb Tense is an error where an incorrect tense has been chosen for the meaning. Although the grammar of verbs is very complex in English, every student can easily learn the basic grammar and be able to use verbs correctly.

    English verbs have five forms:
    Base Past Past Participle Progressive/Continuous 3rd Person Singular

    Regular

    WALK

    WALKED WALKED WALKING WALKS

    Irregular

    EAT

    ATE EATEN EATING EATS
    Some Verb Form Rules to Know Examples
    Infinitive = to + base form to run, to hide, to show
    Modal = modal + base form can run, could hide, should show
    Do Support = do, does, did + base form did run, doesn’t hide, did show
    Progressive = “to be” + base + ing am running, was hiding, are doing
    Perfect = have, has, had + past participle have run, has hidden, had shown
    Passive = “to be” + past participle is built, was written, are being done

     

    Active Forms of the 12 English Tenses of the regular verb “WALK”
      PAST PRESENT FUTURE
    SIMPLE WALKED WALK/S WILL WALK
    PROGRESSIVE WAS /WERE WALKING AM/IS/ARE WALKING WILL BE WALKING
    PERFECT HAD WALKED HAS/HAVE WALKED WILL HAVE WALKED
    PERFECT-PROGRESSIVE HAD BEEN WALKING HAD BEEN WALKING WILL HAVE BEEN WALKING

    Simple Verb Tenses

    Verb tenses tell the reader when the action takes place. The action could be in the past, present, or future. These are called Time Frames.

    Past ← Present → Future
    Yesterday I jumped. Today I jump. Tomorrow I will jump.

    Simple present verbs are used in the following situations:

    When the action takes place now

    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\):

    I drink the water greedily.

    When the action is something that happens regularly

    Example \(\PageIndex{2}\):

    I always cross my fingers for good luck.

    When describing things that are generally true.

    Example \(\PageIndex{3}\):

    College tuition is very costly.

    When it is he, she, or it doing the present tense action, remember to add -s, or -es to the end of the verb or to change the y to -ies.

    Simple past verbs are used when the action has already taken place and is now finished:

    • I washed my uniform last night.
    • I asked for more pie.
    • I coughed loudly last night.

    When the action is something done in the past, remember to add -d or -ed to the end of regular verbs, regardless of the subject.

    Simple future verbs are used when the action has not yet taken place:

    • I will work late tomorrow.
    • I will kiss my boyfriend when I see him.
    • I will erase the board after class.

    Going to can also be added to the main verb to make it future tense:

    • I am going to go to work tomorrow

    Exercise 13

    Complete the following sentences by adding the verb in the correct simple tense:

    1. Please do not (erase, erased, will erase) what I have written on the board.
    2. They (dance, danced, will dance) for hours after the party was over.
    3. Harrison (wash, washed, will wash) his laundry after several weeks had passed.
    4. Yesterday Mom (ask, asked, will ask) me about my plans for college.
    5. I (bake, baked, will bake) several dozen cookies for tomorrow’s bake sale.

    tip

    Remember, if you have a compound subject like Marie and Jennifer, think of the subject as they to determine the correct verb form.

    EX: Marie and Jennifer (they) have a house on Bainbridge Island.

    Similarly, single names can be thought of as he, she, or it.

    EX: LeBron (he) has scored thirty points so far.

    Perfect Verb Tenses

    Up to this point, we have studied the three simple verb tenses—simple present, simple past, and simple future. Now we will add three more tenses, which are called perfect tenses. They are present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect. A past participle is often called the -ed form of a verb because it is formed by adding -d or -ed to the base form of regular verbs. Past participles can also end in -t or -en. Keep in mind, however, the past participle is also formed in various other ways for irregular verbs. The past participle can be used to form the present perfect tense.

    Review the following basic formula for the present perfect tense: 

    Subject + has or have + past participle
    I   have   helped

    The present perfect tense has a connection with the past and the present.

    Use the present perfect tense to describe a continuing situation and to describe an action that has just happened.

    Example \(\PageIndex{4}\):

    I have worked as a caretaker since June.

    This sentence tells us that the subject has worked as a caretaker in the past and is still working as a caretaker in the present.

    Example \(\PageIndex{5}\):

    Dmitri has just received an award from the Dean of Students.

    This sentence tells us that Dmitri has very recently received the award. The word just emphasizes that the action happened very recently.

    Study the following basic formula for the past perfect tense:

    Subject + had + past participle
    I   had   listened

    Example \(\PageIndex{6}\):

    The bus had left by the time Theo arrived at the station.

    Notice that both actions occurred entirely in the past, but one action occurred before the other. At some time in the past, Theo arrived (simple past tense) at the station, but at some time before that, the bus had left (past perfect).

    Look at the following basic formula for the future perfect tense:

    Subject + will have + past participle
    I   will have   graduated

    The future perfect tense describes an action that started in the past, continues through the present, and will occur in the future. Use the future perfect tense when you anticipate completing an event in the future, but you have not completed it yet.

    Example \(\PageIndex{7}\):

    You will have forgotten me after you move to London.

    Notice that both actions occur in the future, but one action will occur before the other. At some time in the future, the subject (you) will move (future tense) to London, and at some time after that, the subject will have forgotten (future perfect tense) the speaker, me. 

    Exercise 14

    Complete the following sentences by using the correct perfect verb tense for the verb in parentheses:

    1. I plan to start a compost bin because I ________ (to want) one for a long time now.
    2. My brother told me he ________ (to argue) with his friend about politics.
    3. By the time we reach the mountain top the sun ________ (to set).
    4. Denise ________ (to walk) several miles in the past three hours.
    5. His mother ________ (to offer) to pay him to work in her office.

    Progressive Verb Tenses

    Progressive verb tenses describe a continuing or unfinished action, such as I am going, I was going, or I will be going. 

    The present/progressive tense describes an action or state of being that takes place in the present and that continues to take place. To make verbs in the present progressive tense, combine these two parts:

    Present tense form of to be + present participle
    am/is/are   helping

    You should use the present progressive tense to describe a planned activity, to describe an activity that is recurring right now, and to describe an activity that is in progress, although not actually occurring at the time of speaking:

    Example \(\PageIndex{8}\):

    Preeti is starting school on Tuesday.

    This sentence describes a planned activity.

    Example \(\PageIndex{9}\):

    Janetta is getting her teeth cleaned right now.

    This sentence describes an activity that is occurring right now.

    Example \(\PageIndex{10}\):

    I am studying ballet at school.

    This sentence describes an activity that is in progress but not actually occurring at the time of speaking.

    The past progressive tense describes an action or state of being that took place in the past and that continues to take place in the past time. To make verbs in the past progressive tense, combine these two parts:

    Past tense form of to be + present participle
    was/were   helping

    The future progressive tense describes an action or state of being that will take place in the future and that will continue to take place. The action will have started at that future moment, but it will not have finished at that moment. To make verbs in the future progressive tense, combine these parts.

    Future tense form of to be + present participle
    will be   helping

    Use the future progressive tense to describe an activity that will be in progress in the future:

    Example \(\PageIndex{11}\):

    Samantha and I will be dancing in the school play next week.

    Tomorrow Agnes will be reading two of her poems.

    Exercise 15

    Revise the following sentences, written in simple tenses, using the progressive tenses indicated in parentheses.

    1. He prepared the food while I watched. (past progressive tense)
    2. Jonathan will speak at the conference. (future progressive)
    3. Josie traveled to Egypt last July. (past progressive tense)
    4. My foot aches, so I know it will rain. (present progressive tense)
    5. Micah will talk a lot when I see him. (future progressive) 6. I yawn a lot because I feel tired. (present progressive tense)

    Perfect Progressive Verb Tenses

    Similar to the present perfect tense, the present perfect progressive tense is used to indicate an action that was begun in the past and continues into the present. However, the present perfect progressive is used when you want to stress that the action is ongoing. To make verbs in the present perfect progressive tense, combine the following parts: 

    Present tense form of to have + been + present participle
    has or have   been   helping

    Example \(\PageIndex{12}\):

    She has been talking for the last hour.

    This sentence indicates that she started talking in the past and is continuing to talk in the present.

    Example \(\PageIndex{13}\):

    I have been feeling tired lately

    This sentence indicates that I started feeling tired in the past, and I continue to feel tired in the present. Instead of indicating time, as in the first sentence, the second sentence uses the adverb lately. You can also use the adverb recently when using the present perfect progressive tense.

    Similar to the past perfect tense, the past perfect progressive tense is used to indicate an action that was begun in the past and continued until another time in the past. The past perfect progressive does not continue into the present but stops at a designated moment in the past. To make verbs in the past perfect progressive tense, combine the following parts:

    Past tense form of to have + been + present participle
    had   been   helping

    Example \(\PageIndex{14}\):

    The employees had been talking until their boss arrived.

    This sentence indicates that the employees were talking in the past and they stopped talking when their boss arrived, which also happened in the past.

    Example \(\PageIndex{15}\):

    I had been working all day.

    This sentence implies that I was working in the past. The action does not continue into the future, and the sentence implies that the subject stopped working for unstated reasons.

    The future perfect progressive tense is rarely used. It is used to indicate an action that will begin in the future and will continue until another time in the future. To make verbs in the future perfect progressive tense, combine the following parts:

    Future tense form of to have + been + present participle
    will have   been   helping

    Example \(\PageIndex{16}\):

    By the end of the meeting, I will have been hearing about mortgages and taxes for eight hours.

    This sentence indicates that in the future I will hear about mortgages and taxes for eight hours, but it has not happened yet. It also indicates the action of hearing will continue until the end of the meeting, something that is also in the future.

    Passive Verb Forms

    The passive voice can be added to verbs, creating a difference in meaning and a difference in grammatical form from the active voice. In a clause with an active verb, the subject is “responsible” for the action described, as in this example:

    Example \(\PageIndex{17}\):

    Faculty members often forget to lock their office doors when they go to the workroom to print something.

    Who did the forgetting? The answer is the faculty members – that is, the subject of the sentence. We know this because the verb is active. Look at the difference in the following example where the verb is passive:

    Example \(\PageIndex{18}\):

    Professor Mulden’s purse was stolen from her office last week when she went to the computer room and forgot to lock her door.

    Who did the stealing? Certainly, not Professor Mulden! She was not responsible for the action; she only suffered the effects. We know this because the main verb is in a passive form. To make verbs in the passive, combine the following parts:

    Passive of the simple present: 
    Subject + am, is, are + past participle
    A vote   is   taken
    Passive of the simple past:
    Subject + was, were + past participle
    A vote   was   taken
    Passive of the simple future:
    Subject + will be + past participle
    A vote   will be   taken
    Passive of the present perfect:
    Subject + has, have + been + past participle
    A vote   has been   taken
    Passive with modal:
    Subject + must, could, can + be + past participle
    A vote   must be   taken

    Exercise 16

    Identify the following underlined verbs in sentences as active (A) or passive (P).

    1. The jury voted at the end of the trial.
    2. Some jurors were told to leave at noon.
    3. All the jurors were leaving the building when the reporters came in.
    4. My sister Joan has been selected for jury two different times.
    5. Were you given any information about that murder case?
    6. Not every juror will be needed for the trial next week.

    Gerunds and Infinitives

    Gerunds

    A gerund is a form of a verb that is used as a noun. All gerunds end in -ing. Since gerunds function as nouns, they occupy places in a sentence that a noun would, such as the subject, direct object, and object of a preposition. You can use a gerund in the following ways:

    As a subject

    Example \(\PageIndex{19}\):

    Traveling is Cynthia’s favorite pastime.

    As a direct object

    Example \(\PageIndex{20}\):

    I enjoy jogging.

    As an object of a proposition

    Example \(\PageIndex{21}\):

    The librarian scolded me for laughing.

    Often verbs are followed by gerunds. Examine the following table for examples.

    Table of Gerunds and Verbs
    Gerund Verb Followed by a Gerund
    moving Denise considered moving to Paris.
    cleaning I hate cleaning the bathroom.
    winning Nate imagines winning an Oscar one day.
    worrying Mom says she has stopped worrying.
    taking She admitted taking the pumpkin.

    Infinitives

    An infinitive is a form of a verb that includes the word to and acts as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

    $$\text{to} + \text{verb} = \text{infinitive}$$

    Examples of infinitives include to move, to sleep, to look, to throw, to read, and to sneeze.

    Often verbs are followed by infinitives. Examine "Infinitives and Verbs" for examples.

    Table of Infinitives and Verbs
    Infinitive Verb Followed by Infinitive
    to help Jessica offered to help her move.
    to arrive Mick expects to arrive early.
    to win Sunita wants to win the writing contest.
    to close He forgot to close the curtains.
    to eat She likes to eat late.

    You may wonder which verbs can be followed by gerunds and which verbs can be followed by infinitives. With the following verbs, you can use either a gerund or an infinitive.

    Table of Infinitives and Gerunds Verbs
    Base Form of Verb Sentences with Verbs Followed by Gerunds and Infinitives
    begin
    1. John began crying.
    2. John began to cry.
    hate
    1. Marie hated talking on the phone.
    2. Marie hated to talk on the phone.
    forget
    1. Wendell forgot paying the bills.
    2. Wendell forgot to pay the bills.
    like
    1. I liked leaving messages.
    2. I liked to leave messages.
    continue
    1. He continued listening to the news.
    2. He continued to listen to the news.
    start
    1. I will start recycling immediately.
    2. I will start to recycle immediately.
    try
    1. Mikhail will try climbing the tree.
    2. Mikhail will try to climb the tree.
    prefer
    1. I prefer baking.
    2. I prefer to bake.
    love
    1. Josh loves diving.
    2. Josh loves to dive.

    Exercise 17

    Complete the following sentences by choosing the correct infinitive or gerund:

    1. I meant ________ (to kiss, kissing) my kids before they left for school.
    2. The children hoped (to go, going) to a restaurant for dinner.
    3. Do you intend ________ (to eat, eating) the entire pie?
    4. Crystal postponed ________ (to get dressed, getting dressed) for the party.
    5. When we finish ________ (to play, playing) this game, we will go home.

    key takeaways

    • Verb tenses tell the reader when the action takes place.
    • Actions could be in the past, present, or future.
    • There are six main verb tenses in English: simple present, simple past, simple future, present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect.
    • Verbs in English can have active forms and passive forms.
    • Verbs can be followed by either gerunds or infinitives.
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