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Parts of Speech
Chapter 3  - Verbs

A verb is often defined as a word which shows action or state of being. The verb is the heart of a sentence - every sentence must have a verb. Recognizing the verb is often the most important step in understanding the meaning of a sentence. In the sentence The dog bit the man, bit is the verb and the word which shows the action of the sentence.  In the sentence The man is sitting on a chair, even though the action doesn't show much activity, sitting is the verb of the sentence.  In the sentence She is a smart girl, there is no action but a state of being expressed by the verb is. The word be is different from other verbs in many ways but can still be thought of as a verb.

Unlike most of the other parts of speech, verbs change their form.  Sometimes endings are added (learn - learned) and sometimes the word itself becomes different (teach-taught).  The different forms of verbs show different meanings related to such things as tense (past, present, future), person (first person, second person, third person), number (singular, plural) and voice (active, passive). Verbs are also often accompanied by verb-like words called modals (may, could, should, etc.) and auxiliaries(do, have, will, etc.)  to give them different meanings.

One of the most important things about verbs is their relationship to time.  Verbs tell if something has already happened, if it will happen later, or if it is happening now.  For things happening now, we use the present tense of a verb; for something that has already happened, we use the past tense; and for something that will happen later, we use the future tense.  Some examples of verbs  in each tense are in the chart below:
 
Present
Past
Future
look
looked
will look
move
moved
will move
talk
talked
will talk

Verbs like those in the chart above that form the past tense by adding -d or -ed are called regular verbs.  Some of the most common verbs are not regular and the different forms of the verb must be learned.  Some examples of such irregular verbs are in the chart below:
 
Present
Past
Future
see
saw
will see
hear
heard
will hear
speak
spoke
will speak

The charts above show the simple tenses of the verbs.  There are also progressive or continuous forms which show that the action takes place over a period of time, and perfect forms which show completion of the action.  These forms will be discussed more in other lessons, but a few examples are given in the chart below:
 
Present Continuous
Present Perfect
is looking
has looked
is speaking
has spoken
is talking
has talked

Simple present tense verbs have a special form for the third person singular. Singular means "one" and plural means "more than one."  Person is used here to show who or what does the action and can have the following forms:
    1st person or the self (I, we)
    2nd person or the person spoken to (you)
    3rd person or a person not present (he, she, it, they)
The third person singular forms are represented by the pronouns he, she, it.  The chart below shows how the third person singular verb form changes:
 
Singular
Plural
1st Person (I)see
hear
come
1st Person (we)see
hear
come
2nd Person (you)see
hear
come
2nd Person (you)see
hear
come
3rd Person (he, she, it)sees
hears
comes
3rd Person (they)see
hear
come

A verb must "agree" with its subject. Subject-verb agreement generally means that  the third person singular verb form must be used with a third person subject in the simple present tense. The  word be - the most irregular and also most common verb in English - has different forms for each person and even for the simple past tense.  The forms of the word be are given in the chart below:
 
Number
Person
Present
Past
Future
Singular
1st (I)
am
was
will be
2nd (you)
are
were
will be
3rd (he, she, it)
is
was
will be
Plural
1st (we)
are
were
will be
2nd (you)
are
were
will be
3rd (they)
are
were
will be

Usually a subject comes before a verb and an object may come after it.  The subject is what does the action of the verb and the object is what receives the action.  In the sentence Bob ate a humburger, Bob is the subject or the one who did the eating and the hamburger is the object or what got eaten.  A verb which has an object is called a transitive verb and some examples are throw, buy, hit, love.  A verb which has no object is called an intransitive verb and some examples are go, come, walk, listen.

As you can see in the charts above, verbs are often made up of more than one word. The future forms, for example, use the word will and the perfect forms use the word have.  These words are called helping or auxiliary verbs.  The word be can serve as an auxiliary and will and shall are also auxiliary forms. The chart below shows two other verbs which can also be used as auxiliaries:
 
NumberPersonPresentPast
Singular
1st (I)
have
do
had
did
2nd (you)
have
do
had
did
3rd (he, she, it)
has
does
had
did
Plural
1st (we)
have
do
had
did
2nd (you)
have
do
had
did
3rd (they)
have
do
had
did

There is a type of auxiliary verb called a modal which changes the meaning of a verb in different ways.  Words like can, should, would, may, might, and must are modals and are covered in other lessons.

There are other lessons that cover the use of verbs.  This lesson presents some of the important features of verbs and also shows some common forms.  Review this lesson as many times as you want, and when you are ready, take the pop quiz on this chapter.

END OF CHAPTER 3


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©2002 INTERLINK LanguageCenters - Created by Mark Feder
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pop Quiz for Chapter 3

CLICK THE CORRECT ANSWER:

1)  Which is not a past form of a verb?

was had looked spoke hear

2)  Which is not a present form of a verb?

are saw has talk speak 


3)  Which is not a plural form of a verb?
are were am have do


4)  Which is not a 3rd person singular form of a verb?
goes has was are does



5)  Which is not a modal?
must is should can may



6)  Which is a regular verb?
looked saw was spoke heard



7) Which is not a simple tense of a verb?
will move heard has spoken will talk see

8) Which is not used as an auxiliary of a verb?

was have did will sees


9)  Which verb can be both singular and plural?
sees has do am is

10)  Which verb can be both singular and plural?

was does have comes hears

End of Pop Quiz for Chapter 3


Table of ContentsQuitGo to Chapter 4

©2002 INTERLINK LanguageCenters - Created by Mark Feder