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Verbs are the backbone of any language, conveying action, existence, and states of being. Understanding verbs is crucial for effective communication, as they determine the meaning and structure of a sentence. Properly grasping verbs makes it easier to convey thoughts and ideas accurately, leading to misunderstandings and confusion. Therefore, a thorough understanding of verbs is essential to become proficient in any language.

Verb Tenses

There are three main verb tenses: past, present, and future. Each tense has helping verbs used with the principal verb to indicate the time of the action or state. For example, in the past tense, the helping verbs “had” and “did” are commonly used, as in “She had eaten” and “They did not go.” In the present tense, the helping verbs “do,” “does,” and “is” are used, as in “He does his homework” and “She is running.” In the future tense, the helping verbs “will” and “shall” are commonly used, as in “I will go” and “We shall see.” These helping verbs assist in expressing actions or states that will occur in the future. Using the appropriate helping verb with the main verb is essential to convey the intended verb tense accurately.

Present Tense

The present tense refers to actions or states happening now or are generally true. It is used to describe events that are currently taking place or habits and facts that are true in the present. For example, “I eat breakfast every morning” and “The sun rises in the east” are sentences in the present tense. The helping verbs “do,” “does,” and “is” are used to form questions and negative statements in the present tense, as in “Do you like ice cream?” and “She does not want to go.”

Past Tense

The past tense is used to talk about actions or events that have already happened. It is used to describe actions that occurred in the past and are no longer happening. For example, “I went to the store yesterday” and “They played soccer last weekend” are sentences in the past tense. The helping verbs “did” and “was” are used to form questions and negative statements in the past tense, as in “Did you see the movie?” and “He was not happy with the result.”

Future Tense

Future tense is used to talk about actions or events that will happen in the future. It describes actions that have yet to happen but are expected or planned to occur. For example, “I will go to the store tomorrow” and “They will play soccer next weekend” are sentences in the future tense. The helping verbs “will” and “shall” are used to form statements in the future tense, as in “I will finish my homework tonight” and “She shall arrive at 7 pm.”

Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement refers to the grammatical rule that states that the verb must agree in number with the subject of a sentence. This means that a singular subject requires a singular verb, and a plural subject requires a plural verb. For example, “He plays the piano” and “They play soccer” demonstrate subject-verb agreement. However, it can sometimes be tricky to determine the correct verb form when a subject is a collective noun or when there are intervening words between the subject and verb. In such cases, it is essential to identify the actual subject and ensure that the verb agrees with it.

See the sentences “The team is practising hard” and “The flowers are blooming beautifully.” In both of these sentences, the singular subject “team” and the plural subject “flowers” are correctly matched with their corresponding verbs “is” and “are.” Remember, subject-verb agreement is crucial for maintaining clear and effective communication in writing.

Using singular verbs with plural subjects is a common error, such as “The cats is playing” instead of “The cats are playing.” Always ensure the verb matches the subject in number to avoid this error. Another common mistake is using plural verbs with singular subjects, such as “The dog were running” instead of “The dog was running.” To avoid this, use a singular verb when the subject is singular. Additionally, be careful with indefinite pronouns like “everyone” or “nobody,” as they are always singular and should be matched with singular verbs.

Verb Forms and Conjugation

Verb forms refer to how a verb can be used in a sentence. They include the base form (also known as the infinitive), past tense, present tense, future tense, and various participles. Conjugation, on the other hand, refers to the changes made to a verb to indicate different grammatical aspects, such as tense, person, and number. These changes can include adding an -s or -es to show the third person singular in the present tense or adding -ed or -d to indicate past tense. It is important to understand verb forms and conjugation to use verbs correctly in sentences.

Regular Verb Conjugation

Regular verb conjugation follows specific rules and patterns. For example, in the present tense, most regular verbs add -s or -es to indicate third-person singular. For instance, the verb “walk” becomes “walks” in the third person singular. In the past tense, regular verbs usually add -ed or -d to indicate the action that happened in the past. For example, the verb “jump” becomes “jumped” in the past tense. We can use regular verbs correctly in our sentences by understanding these rules and examples. In the future tense, regular verbs often use the auxiliary verb “will”, followed by the base form of the verb. For instance, “I will walk” or “She will jump.” Additionally, regular verbs can also be used in the present continuous tense by adding -ing to the base form of the verb. For example, “I am walking” or “They are jumping.” Understanding how regular verbs change in different tenses is essential for constructing grammatically correct sentences.

Irregular Verb Conjugation

Irregular verb conjugation, on the other hand, does not follow a predictable pattern like regular verbs. Instead, irregular verbs have their unique forms for each tense. For example, the irregular verb “go” changes to “went” in the past tense and “gone” in the past participle form. Another example is the irregular verb “eat,” which changes to “ate” in the past tense and “eaten” in the past participle form. It is crucial to memorize the different forms of irregular verbs to use them correctly in sentences.

Irregular verbs do not follow a consistent pattern like regular verbs. Instead, they have their unique forms for each tense. Examples of irregular verbs include “go”, which changes to “went” in the past tense, and “gone” in the past participle form, as well as “eat” which changes to “ate” in the past tense and “eaten” in the past participle form. Memorizing the various forms of irregular verbs is essential for using them accurately in sentences. Understanding irregular verbs and their different forms is crucial for mastering English.

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Devika Panikar
δάσκαλος (dáskalos) means the teacher in Greek. Devika Panikar has been teaching English Language and Literature since 2006. She is an Assistant Professor with the Directorate of Collegiate Education under the Government of Kerala. She teaches at the Government Colleges under this directorate and is now posted at the Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram. This website is a collection of lecture notes she prepared by referencing various sources for her students’ perusal. It has been compiled here for the sake of future generations.

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