English Grammar – Introduction to Verbs Before Learning Tenses

Before we start learning tenses and other grammar topics of English language we need to go to basics and it is essential to have some knowledge and understanding of Verbs.

What is a sentence?

In simple words a sentence is a group of words that are put together to mean something. A sentence should have atleast a subject and a verb to express a thought or an action.

Now,

What is a verb?

  • A verb is a kind of word that tells about an action or a state.
  • A verb is the main part of a sentence.
  • There cannot be a sentence without verb. And, verbs are the only kind of words that change to show present, past or future tense.

Kinds of verbs: There are three kinds of verbs.

  1. Action verbs.
  2. Linking verbs.
  3. Auxiliary verbs / Helping verbs.

 

1. Action verbs: An action verb expresses mental or physical action.

  • Example: 1. Jay thought about the math problem. (Mental action)

In this sentence, the verb thought indicates mental action.

  • Example:  2. He plays football every evening. (Physical action).

In this sentence the verb plays indicates physical action.

2. Linking verbs : Linking verbs make a statement by connecting the subject with a word that describes it.

Example: He has been sick.

3. Auxiliary verbs or helping verbs: They are used together with a verb to show the tense of the verb or to form a question or negative sentence.

  • Example: They are working on a project.       (positive)

In this sentence are is a helping verb.

  • Example: I am not watching T V these days. (negative)

In this sentence am is a helping verb.

The helping verbs in English language are:

am, is, are, be, been, was, were, have, has, had, do, does, did.

Note: These verbs can be either standalone or auxiliary verbs in a sentense.

What are Modal verbs?

Some helping verbs that perform other specific tasks to further modify the action or meaning of the main verb.

Example sentence

can

I can speak a little Spanish.

could

Could you please open the window?

may

He may be home late.

might

You might have discussed with Your parents.

will

That will be great.

would

I would love to play piano.

shall

I shall join you.

should

They should be there by now.

must

I must go now.

ought to

You ought to go out once in a while.

 

Again, verbs are classified into two types based on their patterns in their inflection.

Regular verbs & Irregular verbs.

Regular verbs: Verbs that follow standard spelling patterns in their inflection. (Inflection is the name for the extra letter or letters added to adjectives, nouns and verbs). That means,                                                                                                                in regular verbs the past tense and past participle  is formed by adding an – ed ending.

Examples:

Simple present Simple past Past participle
walk     walked     walked
play      played      played

visit

     visited      visited
 reach   reached   reached
expect expected expected

 

In these examples we can see an –ed ending in each verb.

Irregular verbs: Verbs that don’t take on the regular spelling patterns of past and past participle verbs.

Example verbs:

Simple present Simple past Past participle
drink drank drunk
build built built
give gave given
think thought thought
teach taught taught

 

In these verbs we can’t find an –ed ending in past and past participle form.

Finally,

There are some verbs in English language that spell all three forms- simple present, simple past and past participle  same. They are.

 

Simple present Simple past Past participle
bet bet bet
bid bid bid
broadcast broadcast broadcast
burst burst burst
cast cast cast
cost cost cost
cut cut cut
fit fit fit
forecast forecast forecast
hit hit hit
hurt hurt hurt
let let let
put put put
quit quit quit
read read read
set set set
shed shed shed
slit slit slit
split split split
spread spread spread
telecast telecast telecast
thrust thrust thrust
upset upset upset
wet wet wet

 

However, in the above words past and past participle form of read has to pronounced as ‘read’ as in sp`read’.

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