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Ch. 01 MAIN VERBS

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    52296
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    8.jpg

    The verb is the engine of the sentence. [Image: Alternate Skate | Unsplash]

    DEFINITION TO REMEMBER:

    • Verb = Action

    Every sentence must have two components in order to be a sentence: a subject and a verb. The verb is the engine of the sentence. It either provides the action that gives the sentence life or functions as the link between the subject and its modifier.

    When you look for the main verb in a sentence, look first for a linking verb: am, is, are, was, were, being, been, etc. Common linking verbs include variations of to be, to become, and to seem, among others.

    “Good writing expresses what you mean to say, but great writing can ignite the imagination, give power to a cause, unite communities, and change the world for the better. Don’t just be a good writer. Be a great one.” Jennifer Hebbeler, Accounting Specialist

    If you see a linking verb, it will nearly always be the main verb of your sentence: The pen is blue. The movie was sad. If you don’t see a linking verb, look for the word that defines the action in your sentence: I threw the pen across the room. The dog barked.

    RULES TO REMEMBER:

    1. If you see a linking verb, it will nearly always be your main verb. If a linking verb is part of an introductory or concluding phrase, it cannot be the main verb; otherwise, it will be the main verb.

    That pillow is soft.

    Her brother seems angry.

    The front door will be open tomorrow afternoon.

    2. A gerund (-ing verb) must have a helper verb in order to be your main verb.

    He had been walking for more than an hour before arriving.
    Had been walking
    is the main verb; arriving has no helper verb and cannot be the main verb.

    The kindergartner was sitting alone at the beginning of class, waiting for her friend.
    Was sitting is the main verb; waiting has no helper verb and cannot be the main verb.

    3. An infinitive (to + verb) can never be your main verb.

    My teenager waited nine months to get her driver’s license.
    Waited is the main verb; to get is an infinitive and cannot be the main verb.

    He is almost ready to jump into the deep end of the swimming pool.
    Is is the main verb; to jump is an infinitive and cannot be the main verb.

    4. Your main verb will not be part of an introductory or concluding phrase.

    Even though the bus arrived late, she still made it to work on time.
    Made is the main verb; arrived is part of an introductory phrase and cannot be the main verb.

    While the mother duck ushered her ducklings across the busy road, the cars waited patiently.
    Waited is the main verb; ushered is part of an introductory phrase and cannot be the main verb.

    5. Watch for the compound verb, which occurs when a single main subject completes two or more actions in a single sentence.

    I ran to my car and grabbed my umbrella. (I + ran, grabbed)

    Jeff never sleeps or eats well in another city. (Jeff + sleeps, eats)

    Once he woke from his nap, the baby chattered and clapped joyfully for most of the afternoon. (baby + chattered, clapped)

    6. Always look for the verb first. Once you locate your main verb, the other components of the sentence will be easier to find.

    Jordan has been dieting this summer, trying to lose a few pounds.
    Has been is the main verb.

    Arthur baked four batches of lemon muffins this morning.
    Baked
    is the main verb.

    I was terribly thirsty after our long hike through the mountains.
    Was
    is the main verb.

    7. In colloquial speech or written dialogue, the verb can sometimes be implied. Do not rely on an implied verb in formal or academic writing.

    ◦ “Who will be with you on the bus?”
    “Thomas.
    Will be is the implied verb, as in Thomas will be with me on the bus.

    COMMON ERRORS:

    Forgetting the verb.

    Elizabeth was hoping to meet us, but not yet. After the dance.
    What action occurs after the dance? This fragment is missing both a subject and a verb. Either join the fragment with another sentence, or add the necessary components: She will meet us after the dance.

    Mismatching the subject and verb.

    His girls, who finally got a hamster from the store to keep as a pet, convinces everyone that the hamster needs a second hamster for company.
    His girls is plural, which means convince must be a plural verb: girls + convince.

    Varying the verb tense.

    Every Sunday, the boy studied his Spanish vocabulary, and every Saturday, he practices verb conjugation.
    Studied and practices should either both be in present tense (studies and practices) or both be in past tense (studied and practiced).

    EXERCISES:

    Exercise 1.1

    Identify the main verb in the following sentences.

    1. My grandmother rides her scooter to the market across town.
    2. His sister drinks her lattes with coconut milk and two extra shots of espresso.
    3. He hopes to earn a degree in human resources one day.
    4. The plant at the end of the hallway looks thirsty.
    5. The lightning flashed suddenly and loudly.
    6. I have never ridden in a boat this large.
    7. Josephine likes her house cool in the winter and warm in the summer.
    8. That cat must have nine lives.
    9. Enjoy your trip.
    10. Are the eggs finished yet?

     

    Exercise 1.2

    Identify the main verb in the following sentences.

    1. Once I arrive, we will discuss the details.
    2. After yesterday’s baseball game, his baseball paints were ripped in three places.
    3. What time is the meeting?
    4. You should talk to her later, when you both have time to sit and think things through.
    5. She has always dreamed of living in the country, where the crickets sing and the stars are bright.
    6. When he plays the guitar, his inhibitions disappear.
    7. Sixteen horses are corralled in the far pasture, waiting to be brought into the barn.
    8. The subway arrives every 20 minutes on the red line.
    9. My professor warned me about that textbook.
    10. Her exam passed with highest honors, much to her surprise.

     

    Exercise 1.3

    Identify and correct the verb errors in the following paragraph.

    Sonia started her first waitressing job on Thursday. On Thursday and Friday, she shadows another waitress, following her from table to table. On Saturday morning, the restaurant manager asks if she wanted to serve her first table alone. Sonia said yes, but she was so nervous that her hands shooked as she walked to the table. Two teenage girls sat sullenly at the table, hardly acknowledging Sonia as they order milkshakes and nachos. Sonia wrote the order on her notepad and thanks the girls. When she submitted the order, the cook reminded her to clips the order to the left of the heat lamps. Sonia scooped chocolate ice cream into the metal milkshake cups and turns the blender on high. When the milkshakes are blended, she squirted swirls of whipped cream on the top of each shake. The girls grinned when Sonia brought their order to the table, and Sonia’s nervousness finally begins to fade. Two more tables fill, and Sonia scurried to help.

    ANSWER KEY:

    Answer Key Exercise 1.1
    1. My grandmother rides her scooter to the market across town.
    2. His sister drinks her lattes with coconut milk and two extra shots of espresso.
    3. He hopes to earn a degree in human resources one day.
    4. The plant at the end of the hallway looks thirsty.
    5. The lightning flashed suddenly and loudly.
    6. I have never ridden in a boat this large.
    7. Josephine likes her house cool in the winter and warm in the summer.
    8. That cat must have nine lives.
    9. Enjoy your trip.
    10. Are the eggs finished yet?

     

    Answer Key Exercise 1.2
    1. Once I arrive, we will discuss the details.
    2. After yesterday’s baseball game, his baseball paints were ripped in three places.
    3. What time is the meeting?
    4. You should talk to her later, when you both have time to sit and think things through.
    5. She has always dreamed of living in the country, where the crickets sing and the stars are bright.
    6. When he plays the guitar, his inhibitions disappear.
    7. Sixteen horses are corralled in the far pasture, waiting to be brought into the barn.
    8. The subway arrives every 20 minutes on the red line.
    9. My professor warned me about that textbook.
    10. Her exam passed with highest honors, much to her surprise.

     

    Answer Key Exercise 1.3
    Sonia started her first waitressing job on Thursday. On Thursday and Friday, she shadowed another waitress, following her from table to table. On Saturday morning, the restaurant manager asked if she wanted to serve her first table alone. Sonia said yes, but she was so nervous that her hands shook as she walked to the table. Two teenage girls sat sullenly at the table, hardly acknowledging Sonia as they ordered milkshakes and nachos. Sonia wrote the order on her notepad and thanked the girls. When she submitted the order, the cook reminded her to clip the order to the left of the heat lamps. Sonia scooped chocolate ice cream into the metal milkshake cups and turned the blender on high. When the milkshakes were blended, she squirted swirls of whipped cream on the top of each shake. The girls grinned when Sonia brought their order to the table, and Sonia’s nervousness finally began to fade. Two more tables filled, and Sonia scurried to help.

    Ch. 01 MAIN VERBS is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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