1 The Verb: tenses, forms, structures, and phrases Contents The Verb... 2 Regular Verbs... 2 Irregular verbs... 2 The Four Verb Forms:... 3 Verb Tense... 3 Timeline Key... 3 The Present Tense... 4 The Simple Present Tense... 4 The Present Progressive Tense... 5 Simple Present and Present Progressive: Forms and Structures... 5 Simple Present and Present Progressive: Short Answers to Questions... 6 Stative Verbs (to show abstractions, possession, and emotion)... 7 Examples of Stative Verbs... 7 The Past Tense... 8 The Simple Past Tense... 8 The Past Progressive Tense... 9 Simple Past and Past Progressive: Forms and Structures Simple Past and Past Progressive: Short Answers to Questions The Present Perfect Tense The Past Perfect Tense Present Perfect and Past Perfect: Forms and Structures Present Perfect and Past Perfect: Short Answers to Questions... 14
2 The Future Tense: Will or Be Going to The Future Perfect Tense Future Tense Forms and Structure Future Tense Questions and Short Answers: Will or Be going to Modal Auxiliary Verbs Active vs. Passive Voice Passive Voice and Active Voice: Forms and Structures Phrasal Verbs Some Facts about Phrasal Verbs SOME COMMON SEPARABLE PHRASAL VERBS: SOME COMMON INSEPARABLE PHRASAL VERBS: Tips and Concluding ideas about Verbs The Verb In English, the verb is the part of speech that asserts something about the subject of the sentence and expresses existence (states of being), action, or occurrence (events). All sentences must contain at least one verb. There are two types of verbs: regular verbs and irregular verbs. Regular Verbs Regular verbs follow a fixed pattern and have four forms: the base form, simple past, past participle, and present participle. Each form can be made from the base form. For example, the base from of a regular verb takes an -ed ending for the past simple and past participle forms (or a d if the verb already ends in e). Irregular verbs Irregular verbs do not have a fixed pattern by simply adding an ed ending to the base form. Some irregular verbs do not change at all. The verb put, for example, is the same in every form. Meanwhile, other irregular verbs change with every form. Write, for example, changes to wrote and written.
3 The Four Verb Forms: Simple Present Simple Past Present Participle Past Participle o o o o o o The form found in the dictionary The base form without any endings Examples: make, have, finish, and wait Regular verbs end in ed Examples: cooked, researched, covered, tried Irregular verbs change completely from the simple present to past forms Examples: made, had, finished, and waited Regular and irregular verbs end in ing Used for the progressive or continuous tenses Examples: making, having, finishing, and waiting Regular verbs end in ed Examples: believed, discovered Irregular verbs change completely from the simple present to the Past Participle form. Used with the present perfect and past perfect tenses Examples: finished, waited Verb Tense Tense shows the relationship between the action or state described by the verb and the time it occurs or exists. There are two basic tenses in English: the present tense and the past tense. Both of these tenses are then further modified to show different ideas about the present and past. For example, adding will to the present tense creates a future tense. Each verb tense in English is illustrated below with a timeline and examples. Timeline Key X one action specific or unspecific a non-continuous period of time a continuous period of time a parallel, continuous action or action VVVVVVVVVVVVVV XXXXXXXX a continuous action a specific or unspecific, repeated action
4 The Present Tense The Simple Present Tense Use one: A repeated or usual action We use the Simple Present to express the idea that an action is repeated or usual. The action can be a habit, a hobby, a daily event, a scheduled event or something that often happens. For example, I play tennis. Play is the simple, present tense verb. It can also be something a person often forgets or usually does not do. For example, She always forgets her purse. Use two: Facts and opinions We use the Simple Present to indicate the speaker believes that a fact was true before, is true now, and will be true in the future. It is not important if the speaker is correct about the fact. For example, New York is a fun city. The verb is is in the simple present tense. The simple present tense is also used to make generalizations about people or things. For example, Cats like milk. The verb like is in the simple present tense. Use three: Scheduled events in the near future We use the Simple Present to talk about scheduled events in the near future. This is most commonly done when talking about public transportation ( The bus leaves at nine o clock tomorrow morning ), but it can be used with other scheduled events as well. For example, What time does class begin tomorrow?
5 The Present Progressive Tense Use one: An action happening now We use the Present Progressive with normal verbs to express the idea that something is happening now, at this very moment. For example, You are learning English now. It can also be used to show that something is not happening now. For example, They are not watching television now. In English, "now" can mean this second, today, this month, this year, or this century. Sometimes, we use the Present Progressive to say that we are in the process of doing a longer action that is in progress; however, we might not be doing it at this exact second. For example, Are you working on any special projects at work? Use two: Near future Sometimes, speakers use the Present Progressive to indicate that something will or will not happen in the near future. For example, I am meeting some friends after school. Simple Present and Present Progressive: Forms and Structures Examples of Simple Present Examples of Present Progressive STATEMENT NEGATIVE STATEMENT (You-We-They) work. (He-She-It) works. [VERB] + s/es in third person (I-You-We-They) do not work. (He-She-It) does not work. [Verb] no s/es in third person I am working. (You-We-They) are working. (He-She-It) is working. I am not working. (You-We-They) are not working. (He-She-It) is not working.
6 QUESTIONS Do (I-you-we-they) work? Does (he-she-it) work? Am I working? Are (you-we-they) working? Is (he-she-it) working? Simple Present and Present Progressive: Short Answers to Questions Question Short Answer Long Answer Yes, she likes ice cream. Yes, she does. Does Maria like ice cream? Simple Present Do you like ice cream? No, she does not. Yes, I do. No, she does not like ice cream. Yes, I like ice cream. Use does for pronouns: he, she and it. No, I do not. No, I do not like ice cream. Simple Progressive Are you eating ice cream? Use am for pronoun I. Use is for pronouns: he, she, and it. Use are for pronouns: you, we, and they. Yes, I am. Use am for pronoun I. Use is for pronouns: he, she, and it. Use are for pronouns: you, we, and they. Yes, I am eating ice cream. No, I am not. ( I am not= I m not) (is not = isn t) (are not = aren t) No, I am not eating ice cream.
7 Stative Verbs (to show abstractions, possession, and emotion) Stative verbs cannot be illustrated on a timeline because they have no duration and no distinguished endpoint. As verbs used for abstractions, possession, and emotion, they usually cannot be seen. There are two types of Stative Verbs: those that cannot be used in the progressive form and those that change meaning when used in the progressive form. Examples of Stative Verbs Verbs that change meaning in the progressive tense. Non-progressive Progressive a) think b) have a) I think you are great. (think = opinion) b) I have a book. (possession) a) I am thinking about friends and family. ( verb is occurring now) b) She is having a good time. (refers to an experience) Verbs with no Progressive Form a) love b) hear c) see d) believe e) own f) need g) want h) hate i) forget j) remember a) I love my son. b) She hears the music. c) He sees the mountains. d) I believe in the good of men. e) Mary owns her house. f) I need some help. g) I want to see the movie. h) I hate to see you go. i) We forgot to lock the door. J) They remember each other. No progressive form.
8 The Past Tense The Simple Past Tense Use one: Completed action in the past We use the Simple Past to express the idea that an action started and finished at a specific time in the past. Sometimes, the speaker may not actually mention the specific time, but they do have one specific time in mind. For example, She washed her car. The verb washed is in the simple past tense. Notice that washed is a regular verb; it ends in ed. Use two: A series of completed actions We use the Simple Past to list a series of completed actions in the past. These actions happen first, second, third, fourth, and so on. For example, I finished school, walked to the library, and found a book for my homework. Notice that finished and walked are regular verbs and found is irregular. All three are in the simple past tense. Use three: Duration in the past The Simple Past can be used with a duration, which starts and stops in the past. A duration is a longer action often indicated by expressions such as: for two years, for five minutes, all day, all year, etc. For example, I lived in Germany for many years.
9 Use four: Habits in the past The Simple Past can also be used to describe a habit that stopped in the past. It can have the same meaning as used to. To make it clear that we are talking about a habit, we often add expressions such as always, often, usually, never, when I was a child, when I was younger, etc. For example, I studied piano when I was a child. The Past Progressive Tense Use one: Interrupted action in the past We use the Past Progressive to indicate that a longer action in the past was interrupted. The interruption is usually a shorter action in the Simple Past. This can be a real interruption or just an interruption in time. For example, He was waiting for me when I stepped off the train. The verb was waiting is in the past progressive tense. The verb stepped is in the simple past tense. Use two: Specific time as an interruption In use one, an interrupted action in the past, a past action is interrupted by a shorter action in the Simple Past. However, you can also use a specific time as an interruption. For example, Last night at 6 o clock, I was finishing my assignment. The verb was finishing is the past progressive tense conveying the action that was happening when the clock said 6 p.m.
10 Use three: Parallel actions When you express the Past Progressive with two actions in the same sentence, it expresses the idea that both actions were happening at the same time. The actions are parallel. For example, He was studying while I was making dinner. Use four: Something that happened often in the past The Past Progressive with words such as "always" or "constantly" expresses the idea that something irritating or shocking often happened in the past. The concept is very similar to the expression used to but with negative emotion. Remember to put the words "always" or "constantly" between "be" and the past progressive verb ("root verb + ing"). For example, She was always coming to class late. The verb was coming is in the past progressive tense. Simple Past and Past Progressive: Forms and Structures Examples of Simple Past Examples of Past Progressive STATEMENT NEGATIVE (You-We-They) worked. (He-She-It) worked. (I-You-We-They) did not work. (He-She-It) did not work. I was working. (You-We-They) were working. (He-She-It) was working. I am not working. (You-We-They) were not working. (He-She-It) was not working.
11 QUESTIONS Did (I-you-we-they) work? Did (he-she-it) work? Were you working? Were (you-we-they) working? Was (he-she-it) working? Simple Past and Past Progressive: Short Answers to Questions Question Short Answer Long Answer Simple Past Did Maria eat ice cream? Yes, she did. Yes, she ate some ice cream. Use did for all persons (I, he, she, it, we, they, you). No, she did not. (did not = didn t) No, she did not eat some ice cream. Was Maria eating ice cream? Yes, she was. Yes, Maria was eating ice cream. Past Progressive Use was/were Use was for pronouns: he, she, and It. No, she was not. (was not = wasn t) Use was for pronouns: I, he, she, and it. Use were for pronouns: you, we, and they No, Maria was not eating ice cream. Were you eating ice cream? Yes, I was. Yes, I was eating ice cream. Use were for pronouns: you, we, and they No, I was not. (was not=wasn t) Use was for pronouns: I, he, she, and it. Use were for pronouns: you, we, and they No, I was not eating ice cream.
12 The Present Perfect Tense Use one: Unspecified time before now We use the Present Perfect to say that an action happened at an unspecified time before now. The exact time is not important. We cannot use the Present Perfect with specific time expressions (e.g., one year ago, when I was a child, that day, etc.). We can use the Present Perfect with unspecific expressions such as ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet, etc. For example, I have seen that movie 20 times. The verb have seen is in the present perfect tense. Sometimes we want to limit the time associated to an experience. We can do this with expressions such as in the last week, in the last year, this week, this month, so far, up to now, etc. For example, They have had three tests in the last week. Have had is in the present perfect tense. Use two: Duration from the past until now (non-continuous verbs) With non-continuous verbs and non-continuous uses of mixed verbs, we use the Present Perfect to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. "For five minutes," "for two weeks," and "since Tuesday" are all durations, which can be used with the Present Perfect. For example, He has been in Germany for six months. Has been is in the present perfect tense.
13 The Past Perfect Tense Use one: Completed action before something in the past The Past Perfect expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past. For example, I had never been to an opera before last night. The verb had been is in the past perfect tense. Present Perfect and Past Perfect: Forms and Structures Present Perfect STATEMENT NEGATIVE QUESTIONS I have been to New York many times. Use have with I, you, we, and they. I have not been to New York. Use have with I, you, we, and they. Have you been to New York? Use have with I, you, we, and they. Past Perfect She has gone to Mexico four times. Use has with he, she and it. She has never been to Mexico. Use has with he, she and it. Has she been to Mexico? Use has with he, she and it. STATEMENT I had lived in New York by the time I moved to Florida. She had left for work by 3 o clock. Use had with all persons.
14 NEGATIVE QUESTIONS I had not seen my family since I moved to the United States. Had you visited this doctor before your last appointment? She had not left for work by 3 o clock. Use had with all persons. Had she left for work by 3 o clock? Use had with all persons. Present Perfect and Past Perfect: Short Answers to Questions Question Short Answer Long Answer Present Perfect Have you finished? Yes, I have. Yes, I finished. Use have with I, you, we and they Use has with he, she or it No, I have not. (haven t=have not) No, I have not finished. (haven t) Has the movie finished? Yes, it has. Yes, it finished. No, it has not finished. (hasn t) No, it has not finished. (hasn t) Question Short Answer Long Answer Past Perfect Use had with all persons. Had you finished the book by the time he came? Yes, I had. No, I had not. (hadn t) Yes, I had finished the book by the time he came. No, I had not finished the book by the time he came.
15 The Future Tense: Will or Be Going to Use one: "Will" to express a voluntary action "Will" often suggests that a speaker will do something voluntarily. A voluntary action is one the speaker offers to do for someone else. Often, we use "will" to respond to someone else's complaint or request for help. For example, I will translate the when I get it. The verb will translate is in the future tense. We also use "will" when we request that someone help us or volunteer to do something for us. For example, Will you make dinner? Similarly, we use "will not" or "won't" when we refuse to voluntarily do something. For example, I will not answer the phone. Use two: Will" to express a promise "Will" is usually used in promises. For example, I will not tell anyone your secret. Use three: "Be going to" to express a plan "Be going to" expresses that something is a plan. It expresses the idea that a person intends to do something in the future. It does not matter whether the plan is realistic or not. For example, Who are you going to invite to the party? Are going to expresses the future verb tense. Use four: "Will" or "Be Going to" to express a prediction
16 Both "will" and "be going to" can express the idea of a general prediction about the future. Predictions are guesses about what might happen in the future. In "prediction" sentences, the subject usually has little control over the future and therefore uses one through three do not apply. In the following examples, there is no difference in meaning: John Smith will be the next President. John Smith is going to be the next President. The Future Perfect Tense The Future Perfect expresses an action that will be completed in the future before another time or event in the future. For example, Amanda will have finished her exercise routine by the time she leaves the gym today. Will have finished is a verb phrase in the future perfect tense. Future Tense Forms and Structure Future Tense STATEMENT NEGATIVE QUESTIONS I am going to bake a cake for your birthday. I will be there on time. I am not going to bake a cake for your birthday. I will not be there on time. She will haven not finished her work by the time she leaves tonight. Is she going to bake a cake for your birthday? Will she be on time? Will she have finished her work by the time she leaves tonight? Use Be going to / Will with all persons. Use Be not going to / Will not with all persons. Use Will + not + have/has with all persons. Use Be + pronoun + going to/ Will + pronoun with all persons. Use Will + pronoun + have/has with all persons.
17 Future Tense Questions and Short Answers: Will or Be going to Future Question Short Answer Long Answer Use Be + pronoun + going to with all persons. Are you going to bake a cake tomorrow? Yes, I am. Yes, I am going to bake a cake tomorrow. No, I am not. (I m=i am) No, I am not going to bake a cake tomorrow. Will + pronoun with all persons. Will you on time tomorrow? Yes, will. Yes, I will be on time. No, I will not. No, I will not be on (won t=will not) time. Future Perfect Question Short Answer Long Answer Will + pronoun + have\has + past particle for all persons. Will she have finished her work by the time she leaves tonight? Yes, she will. Yes, she will have finished her work by the time she leaves tonight. No, she will not. No, she will not have finished her work by the time she leaves tonight. Modal Auxiliary Verbs Modal Auxiliaries are helping verbs that help to express the speaker s attitude. They can express necessity, advisability, permission, possibility, and probability. Each Modal has more than one meaning and the meaning may change whether the Modal is used with present or future tenses or in the past tense. Present and Future Form Modal + the simple form of the verb a) She might come to the party tomorrow. b) She might be on her way right now. Past Form Modal + have + been + part particle form of the verb a) She might have been at the library. *some exceptions to this structure are could, had to Examples: I had to work yesterday. I could ride a bicycle when I a child.
18 Modal Uses Present/Future Past should may might have to * have got to a) advisability b) expectation Polite request Formal permission Less than 50% certainty. a) You should go to the doctor. b) She should be there by now. a) May I borrow your book? b) You may leave now. c) He may come to class today. a) less than 50% a) He might be in the library. a) necessity b) lack of necessarily a) necessity a) I have to cook tonight. b) I do not have to cook tomorrow. a) I have got to study for the test. a) She should have gone to the doctor. b) She should have gotten there by now. No uses. a) He might have been in the library yesterday. a) I had to cook tonight. b) I did not have to cook yesterday. No uses ought to must Can would a) advisability b) expectation a) strong necessity b) prohibition (negative) c) 95% certainty a) ability/possibility. b) informal permission c) informal polite request d)impassability (negative) a) polite request b) preference c) repeated actions in the past. a) I ought to call home soon. b) She ought to review the test. a) I must finish my work. b) You must not cross the street without looking. c) She must be tired after working 12 hours. a) I can play the piano. b) You can go now. c) Can you open the window? d) I cannot speak French. a) Would you please come in? b) I would like a cup of water. a) She ought to have called home b) She ought to have reviewed the test. a) no uses b) no uses c) She must have been tired after working 12 hours. a) I could play the piano when I was a child. b) no uses c) no uses d) I could not speak French before now. a)no uses b) I would have liked to be at your wedding. c) I would play with my
19 had better d) unfulfilled wishes or desires. a) threat of bad results c) no uses d) no uses a) You had better be on time, or you will be grounded. brother every day. d) I would have liked to have gone to Spain, but I did not have vacation. Active vs. Passive Voice Passive Voice and Active Voice: Forms and Structures Passive Voice In passive sentences, the receiver of the action is the subject of the sentence and the actor is optionally included near the end of the sentence. Use the passive form if you think that the receiver of the action is important or should be emphasized. Or, use the passive form if you do not know who is doing the action or if you do not want to mention who is doing the action. Formation: [Thing receiving action] + [be] + [past participle of verb] + [by] + [thing doing action] Example: A cure for AIDS was found. Active Voice Phrasal Verbs In active sentences, the actor is the subject of the sentence and the receiver of the action is the object. Most sentences are active. Formation: [Thing doing action] + [verb] + [thing receiving action] Example: A young American found the cure for AIDS. Some Facts about Phrasal Verbs Fact: English contains many main verbs that are two or three words in length. These verbs consist of a base verb, like put, take, or get, and a particle, which is often a preposition (out, over, in, across, off, on, etc ). Examples: put-on, take-up, get-in Fact: The meaning of the phrasal verb can be simply a combination of its parts (to run away means to leave quickly ) or it can intensify the meaning of the main verb to indicate something done thoroughly or completely (to close down means to close permanently ). Fact: Phrasal verbs are categorized as either separable, meaning other words can come between them, or inseparable, meaning other words cannot. For example, to figure out
20 (meaning to understand ) is a separable phrasal verb because we can say, Stephanie will figure it out (note how it comes between figure and out ). On the other hand, to come down with (meaning to catch (an illness) ), cannot be separated: Correct: Maggie came down with the flu. Incorrect: Maggie came the flu down with. Incorrect: Maggie came down the flu with. This section will not list all the English phrasal verbs, but it will discuss the meanings of several common ones. A great source to find definitions of many English phrasal verbs is the Cambridge Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs, available online at SOME COMMON SEPARABLE PHRASAL VERBS: Bring off complete successfully. Example: I didn t think he could do it, but he brought off the interview perfectly. Bring on cause to happen. Example: The earthquake brought on the tsunami. The slang phrase, Bring it on, can be used as a threat to mean let s fight, or a statement that assures the speaker s belief in success (I can handle the big project bring it on!) Bring over bring (often to someone s house) Example: Can you bring over that new DVD so we can watch it? (Also correct: Can you bring that new DVD over so we can watch it?) Bring up raise (children) Example: She s an amazing woman: she brought up nine children all by herself (Also correct: she brought nine children up all by herself) Call off cancel. Example: Can you believe they called off the wedding? (Also correct: Can you believe they called the wedding off?) Close down close permanently. Example: They closed down the restaurant because it was losing so much money. (Also correct: They closed the restaurant down because it was losing so much money.) Close up - close temporarily. Example: They close up the restaurant for a week every summer. (Also correct: They close the restaurant up for a week every summer.) Play down decrease the importance of. Example: The Yankees played down the loss, saying that it was only one game. (Also correct: The Yankees played the loss down, saying that it was only one game.) Play up increase the importance of. Example: The Red Sox played up their win, saying it was the most important win ever. (Also correct: The Red Sox played their win up, saying it was the most important win ever.)
21 SOME COMMON INSEPARABLE PHRASAL VERBS: Come across find or express. Example: Sheila came across a rare painting at a garage sale. Sheila came across as rude. Come along with accompany (a person) or make progress (on a task). Example: I came along with him to the mall. He asked me how I was coming along with my job search. Come down with catch an illness. Example: Martha came down with the flu. Get around avoid. Example: Stan was able to get around the height requirement. Get away with do without getting caught. Example: Many people think O.J. Simpson got away with murder. Tips and Concluding ideas about Verbs The verb is the heart of the sentence. It is necessary for the verb to be correctly conjugated in order for the sentence to make sense. Memorizing the verb forms, tenses, structures, and phrases will help you to understand how to conjugate and use them, but ultimately, using and combining them is what will give you a command over them. Most importantly, do not become discouraged by the many rules and exceptions to those rules related to verbs. It takes time to fully grasp the different forms and functions; however, because the verb is central to the sentence, giving the verb concentrated attention will significantly boost your control over your writing and language skills. Additionally, when you have questions about verbs, you may bring them to a KUWC Live Tutoring session or to a writing workshop. Writing help is here!