Lesson 4 Parts of Speech: Verbs

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1 Lesson 4 Parts of Speech: Verbs Verbs are a sentence's "action" or "being" words; that is, they tell what happens or what is. Verbs may consist of one or several words wrote and would have written, for example and the form of a verb may change to indicate subtle meaning and to complement other words in the sentence. Among the many action verbs used in business are send, pay, and produce. The words underlined in the following sentences are action verbs as well: They bought a $15 million company and turned it into an even bigger company. I have seen the proposal, but I cannot remember some of its specific points. Will you stock item next quarter? Don is eating lunch in the cafeteria. Notice that some of these verbs consist of a helping verb (such as have) and a main verb (such as seen). Among being verbs, the most common is, logically enough, be: Present Past Other Tenses I am was will be (future) you are were have been (present perfect) he, she, it is was had been (past perfect) we are were will have been (future perfect) they are were But other verbs such as feel, seem, and sound serve the same purpose and can substitute for be. All being verbs link the subject of a sentence with other qualities, like an equal sign; they indicate that the word on one side is linked with the word on the other side. But they do not demonstrate any action. For example, all of the following verbs describe a state of being: Darla was happy about her promotion. The figures seem accurate. Your estimate sounded right. I will feel better tomorrow. In the following exercises, underline all being verbs: 1. Andy feels ready to demonstrate the product. 2. Chicago Fabricating sent holiday greetings to all its major customers. 3. This procedure lasts only five minutes. 4. We were reluctant to give a refund in this case. 5. Will you be using my desk while I'm out of the office? 177

2 178 English Essentials Verb tenses allow you to talk about things happening or existing in different time periods. For regular verbs, the present tense adds a final s to the main verb, but only when used with he, she, or it; the past tense adds ed to the main verb; and the future tense uses the main verb with the helping verb will. For example: Present: He mails the letters on Tuesday. Past: He mailed the letters on Tuesday. Future: He will mail the letters on Tuesday. Although these are the three tenses most frequently used, you will also have occasion to use three "perfect" tenses, which imply completed or repeated actions. The perfect tenses use the helping verb have and usually the past tense of the main verb: Present perfect: He has mailed the letters every Tuesday. Past perfect: He had mailed the letters on Tuesday. Future perfect: He will have mailed the letters by Tuesday. Write the verb tense called for in each of the following exercises: 6. repair (future perfect) 7. hire (past) 8. move (past perfect) 9. motivate (present perfect) 10. train (future) Not all verbs are as regular as these; indeed, they are called irregular verbs because in one or more of the tenses they do not follow this pattern. The most irregular of the verbs is be, but many other common verbs are to some extent irregular. Here is a sample: INFINITIVE go begin drink take PAST went began drank took FUTURE will go will begin will drink will take PRESENT PERFECT have/has gone have/has begun have/has drunk have/has taken PAST PERFECT had gone had begun had drunk had taken FUTURE PERFECT will have gone will have begun will have drunk will have taken Provide the irregular verb form called for in the following exercises: 11. I (present perfect, became) the resident expert on repairing the copy machine. 12. She (past, know) how to perform an audit when she came to work for us. 13. By the time you finish the analysis, he (future perfect, take) his vacation. 14. Next week, call John to tell him what you (future, do) next month's meeting. 15. By the time Susan returned to our company, she (past perfect, rise) in rank to analyst.

3 Lesson 4: Parts of Speech: Verbs 179 Another way to distinguish among verbs is to label them either transitive or intransitive. Transitive verbs such as give, lay, set, and raise transfer the action from the subject to the object. For example: He gave a refund to Nissa Nelson. In this sentence, the verb gave is what he (subject) did to or with the refund (object). On the other hand, intransitive verbs such as feel, lie, sit, and rise do not transfer any action: Profits rose in the first quarter. The verb rose is what profits (subject) did, but profits did not act directly on anything in this sentence. Some verbs may be transitive or intransitive. Consider the following: He feels uncomfortable with the proposition. She feels the texture of the cloth before deciding to buy. In the first sentence, he (subject) feels (predicate), but nothing in the sentence receives the direct impact of his feeling. In the second sentence, however, she (subject) feels (predicate) texture (object); in other words, she performs an action that has a direct impact on something. 16. In the exercises below, underline the intransitive verbs and circle the transitive verbs: 17. Ms. Detweiler sent him a reminder. 18. What is the purpose of this memo? 19. When you have heard her story, call me about it. 20. They mentioned a name yesterday. 21. He sat next to my desk and described the whole thing. The way you use verbs can have a great deal to do with the tone of your writing. For example, verbs may be either passive or active. An active sentence uses direct, subject-verb-object order: We will refund your money. Notice how much more indirect this passive sentence is: Your money will be refunded. It is not clear who is doing the refunding in this sentence. Active sentences are more forceful than passive sentences, which is usually desirable. However, in business communication you may sometimes want to soften a statement or to avoid assigning responsibility for an action. Then you will find passive sentences useful.

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