A verb expresses an action or a state of being.
Verbs are traditionally expressed along with the appropriate
pronouns as follows:
I run We run
You run You run
He runs They run
She runs --
It runs --
Verbs are expressed in tenses which place the statement in a
point in time. Broadly speaking these are are the past,
present, and future tense:
PAST I ran [yesterday]
PRESENT I run [today]
FUTURE I shall run [tomorrow]
The verbs 'to be' and 'to have' are the most commonly used
auxiliary verbs and they work alongside the main verbs in any s
Verbs are doing words. This is a very simple definition,
although it is valid for most normal purposes:
Tom went to the bank.
My father arrives on Saturday.
The verb is a very important part of the sentence. It is a
necessary part of every fully expressed predicate - the part
of the sentence which normally follows the subject.
The verb is the grammatical instrument which gives us
information about the person or thing which is the subject.
Consider the following sentence:
Jane grasped the neckace with joy and placed it in the carved box.
We are given essential information here by means of two verbs -
'grasped' and 'placed'. They express the subject's physical and
psychological attitude, and they also place the action in a
temporal context by the fact that they are verbs in the past
These verbs in this context are lexical items, even though they
are also doing essential grammatical work. They are lexical in the
sense that they are giving detailed information regarding the
actions of the subject.
Some key parts of the Verb
Words that express action or emotion. Verbs can be conjugated in
many tenses of past, present, and future. The six forms that
verbs are conjugated into are first, second, and third person
singular and plural. Example:
run, laugh, write, think.
Verbs which take direct objects (no prepositions are needed to
connect verb and object). Example:
He speaks English.
We understand you.
Verbs which take indirect objects (usually to or for are used
before the object, but not always; it can be implied). Example:
He gave the book to her.
Tom brought some candy for us.
I'm giving my dad some DVDs.
When the subject is represented as acting. Example:
The boy loves his mother.
When the subject is acted upon. Example:
The door is opened by Tom.
Makes a direct statement or declaration, in the form of fact.
The river flows eastward.
The boy is very tall.
She will be ready tomorrow.
Expresses commands, requests, permission and always has the
subject in the second person (you) which is understood.
Talk to your father.
Give me the tape.
Indicates doubt, supposition, uncertainty and presumes or imagines
an action or state. Example:
If he were here, he would know what to do next.
It is necessary that you be on time.
I cried, was crying, did cry, have cried, had cried.
I love, am loving, do love.
I will write, will have written.
The "helper" verbs are used before infinitives (can, may, will,
should, must, might) or participles (have). Have is also used in
the compound tenses (you have seen, they had been.)
Present and past participles are derived from the verb and act as
a verb form, adjective or noun. Present participles are formed by
adding -ing to the verb, while past participles are formed by
adding -ed to normal verbs. Present participles imply a
continuance of action, state or being. Example:
She is reading the book.
Past participles imply the completion of an action, state or being.
I have loved.
Participles can also act as adjectives when placed before nouns.
He is a reading man.
Gerunds are also formed by adding -ing to the verb, but they
function as a verbal noun and are normally preceded by articles or
The singing was excellent.
An infinitive is a verbal consisting of the word to plus a verb (in
its simplest "stem" form) and functioning as a noun, adjective, or
adverb. The term verbal indicates that an infinitive, like the
other two kinds of verbals, is based on a verb and therefore
expresses action or a state of being. However, the infinitive may
function as a subject, irect object, subject complement, adjective,
or adverb in a sentence. Although an infinitive is easy to locate
because of the to + verb form, deciding what function it has in a
sentence can sometimes be confusing.
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