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Examples
  • I washed the car yesterday.
  • The equation looked confusing.
  • John studies English and French.
.In syntax, a verb, deriving from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word (part of speech) that conveys action (bring, read, walk, run, murder), or a state of being (exist, stand).^ The verb “to be” expresses a state of being, acting, or receiving action.
  • Tameri Guide for Writers: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.tameri.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ The tense of a verb relates an action or state of being to time.
  • Tameri Guide for Writers: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.tameri.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ When talking about actions that take place in the future, add the word will before the verb.
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]

.In most languages, verbs are inflected (modified in form) to encode tense, aspect, mood and voice.^ Verbs are the most complex part of most languages.
  • Tameri Guide for Writers: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.tameri.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ Unlike most other languages, English does not have inflected forms for the future tense.

^ Most verbs in English form their various tenses consistently: add -ed to the base of a verb to create the simple past and past participle: he walk ed ; he has walk ed .

.A verb may also agree with the person, gender, and/or number of some of its arguments, such as its subject, or object.^ A transitive verb is a verb that expresses an action which has some person or thing for its object: as, .
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]

^ The person and number of a verb are those modifications in which it agrees with its subject.
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]

^ An intransitive verb does not have such an object.
  • Verbs - Vici de LFN 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC lfn.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

Contents

Agreement

.In languages where the verb is inflected, it often agrees with its primary argument (what we tend to call the subject) in person, number and/or gender.^ Verbs can be affected by person and number to show agreement with the subject.

^ The subject and the verb don't agree.
  • Agreement: subject-verb 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC aliscot.com [Source type: Original source]

^ Verbs have to agree with the subject.

.With the exception of the verb to be, English shows distinctive agreement only in the third person singular, present tense form of verbs, which, in regular verbs, is marked by adding "-s" (I walk, he walks).^ The exceptions are: The forms of a verb where a present tense vowel shift is operative.
  • German verb conjugation/Deutsche Verbe Konjugationen 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.cambridgeclarion.org [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ The third person singular is the fifth morphological form.
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]

^ Given this definition, only a handful of verbs have irregularities in the present tense.
  • German verb conjugation/Deutsche Verbe Konjugationen 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.cambridgeclarion.org [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

.The rest of the persons are not distinguished in the verb (I walk, you walk, they walk, etc.^ But it was "guess-coding" so please, somebody review it or, alternatively, explain to me what is the right procedure to handling verbs, what is their meaning, what they are useful for, what is the reason for their existance, etc...
  • Nabble - Inkscape - Dev - Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC old.nabble.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ Where the verb is not varied to denote its person and number, these properties are inferred from its subject: as, if I love, if he love; if we love, if you love, if they love .
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]

^ They will help you to find verb strings.
  • CHAPTER 2 VERBS 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.ccc.commnet.edu [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

).
.Latin and the Romance languages inflect verbs for tense/mood/aspect and they agree in person and number (but not in gender, as for example in Polish) with the subject.^ Verbs have modifications of four kinds: moods, tenses, persons and numbers.
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]

^ The form of a verb must agree with the number of person, places, things, or concepts in the subject.
  • Tameri Guide for Writers: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.tameri.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ The conjugation of a verb is a regular arrangement of its moods, tenses, persons, numbers, and participles.
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]

.Japanese, in turn, inflects verbs for many more categories, but shows absolutely no agreement with the subject.^ Verbs can be affected by person and number to show agreement with the subject.

^ Japanese verbs also do not inflect for person.
  • Japanese Verbs has moved 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.epochrypha.com [Source type: Original source]

^ Japanese , in turn, inflects verbs for many more categories, but shows absolutely no agreement with the subject.
  • Verbs - Psychology Wiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC psychology.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]
  • Verb - FrathWiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC wiki.frath.net [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

.Basque, Georgian, and some other languages, have polypersonal agreement: the verb agrees with the subject, the direct object and even the secondary object if present.^ In some languages, the object of a transitive verb can have a complement.
  • Verbs - Vici de LFN 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC lfn.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ Other verbs connect a description to a sentence’s subject.
  • Tameri Guide for Writers: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.tameri.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ The form of a verb must agree with the number of person, places, things, or concepts in the subject.
  • Tameri Guide for Writers: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.tameri.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

Valency

.The number of arguments that a verb takes is called its valency or valence.^ The number of arguments that a verb takes is called its valency , or valence .
  • Verb - FrathWiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC wiki.frath.net [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ Main article: Valency (linguistics) The number of arguments that a verb takes is called its valency or valence .
  • Verbs - Psychology Wiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC psychology.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ This is called agreement in number, and it refers specifically to verbs in the present tense.
  • Online Writing Lab - Subject-Verb Agreement 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC depts.dyc.edu [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

Verbs can be classified according to their valency:
.
  • Intransitive (valency = 1): the verb only has a subject.^ For example here, the strong forms can only be used if the verb is intransitive.
    • German verb conjugation/Deutsche Verbe Konjugationen 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.cambridgeclarion.org [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

    ^ This object is equivalent to the intransitive subject, and the resulting verb means "to cause (the object) to ...": .
    • Verbs - Vici de LFN 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC lfn.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

    .For example: "he runs", "it falls".
  • Transitive (valency = 2): the verb has a subject and a direct object.^ A primarily intransitive verb can be made transitive by simply adding an object.
    • Verbs - Vici de LFN 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC lfn.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

    ^ This object is equivalent to the intransitive subject, and the resulting verb means "to cause (the object) to ...": .
    • Verbs - Vici de LFN 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC lfn.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

    ^ For a verb to be transitive, something must be done to an object or idea.
    • Tameri Guide for Writers: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.tameri.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

    For example: "she eats fish", "we hunt nothing".
In English, it is impossible to have verbs with zero valency. Weather verbs are often impersonal (subjectless) in null-subject languages like Spanish, where the verb llueve means "It rains". In English, they require a dummy pronoun, and therefore formally have a valency of 1.
.The intransitive and transitive are typical, but the impersonal and objective are somewhat different from the norm.^ Posted in October 23rd, 2007 by aliciaallyloh in Verbs Transitive, Intransitive and Ditransitive Verbs The difference between a transitive verb and an intransitive verb is that transitive verb has an object in the sentence while an intransitive verb does not.

^ The Difference Between Transitive and Intransitive Verbs My sister broke the window.
  • TestMagic Test Prep 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.testmagic.com [Source type: Original source]

^ In English, you cannot tell the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb by its form; you have to see how the verb is functioning within the sentence.

.In this sense you can see that a verb is a person, place, thing, or link.^ Recognize a linking verb when you see one.
  • The Linking Verb 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.chompchomp.com [Source type: Original source]

^ Know a linking verb when you see one.

^ Recognize a verb when you see one.

.In the objective the verb takes an object but no subject, the nonreferent subject in some uses may be marked in the verb by an incorporated dummy pronoun similar to the English weather verb (see below).^ Impersonal verbs take neither subject nor object, as with other null subject languages, but again the verb may show incorporated dummy pronouns despite the lack of subject and object phrases.
  • Verbs - Psychology Wiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC psychology.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ The verb is , a form of the verb be , does not take an object, and therefore, the pronoun cannot be in the objective case.
  • verb--function of in english grammar (page 1) 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.iscribe.org [Source type: Original source]

^ I take nouns and adjectives and use them as verbs.

.Impersonal verbs take neither subject nor object, as with other null subject languages, but again the verb may show incorporated dummy pronouns despite the lack of subject and object phrases.^ Impersonal verbs take neither subject nor object, as with other null subject languages, but again the verb may show incorporated dummy pronouns despite the lack of subject and object phrases.
  • Verbs - Psychology Wiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC psychology.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ May be followed by an object pronoun (if the verb takes an object.

^ In this sentence the pronoun "neither" serves as the subject.
  • Subject-Verb Agreement 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.meredith.edu [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

.Tlingit lacks a ditransitive, so the indirect object is described by a separate, extraposed clause.^ Tlingit lacks a ditransitive, so the indirect object is described by a separate, extraposed clause.
  • Verbs - Psychology Wiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC psychology.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ Ditransitive (valency = 3): the verb has a subject, a direct object and an indirect or secondary object.
  • Verbs - Psychology Wiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC psychology.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]
  • Verb - FrathWiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC wiki.frath.net [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

[citation needed]
.English verbs are often flexible with regard to valency.^ English verbs are often flexible with regard to valency.
  • Verbs - Psychology Wiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC psychology.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ Begin with an overview of the function of auxiliary verbs: Auxiliary Verbs Explained In spoken English, auxiliary verbs are often contracted - She'll come, They've bought, etc.
  • English Verbs - Guide to English Verb Resources 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC esl.about.com [Source type: General]

^ In many languages other than English, such valency changes are not possible like this; the verb must instead be inflected for voice in order to change the valency.
  • Verbs - Psychology Wiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC psychology.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

.A transitive verb can often drop its object and become intransitive; or an intransitive verb can take an object and become transitive.^ A primarily intransitive verb can be made transitive by simply adding an object.
  • Verbs - Vici de LFN 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC lfn.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ Verbs that take a direct object are called transitive verbs.
  • How to Identify Transitive and Intransitive Latin Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.brighthub.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ A transitive verb can often drop its object and become intransitive; or an intransitive verb can be added an object and become transitive.
  • Verb - FrathWiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC wiki.frath.net [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

.In the first example, the verb move has no grammatical object.^ There is no object of the verb, so “writes’ is intransitive in the example.
  • Tameri Guide for Writers: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.tameri.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ In the first example, the verb move has no grammatical object.
  • Verbs - Psychology Wiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC psychology.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ To Be Aru is the verb for objects that don't move (includes plants).

.(In this case, there may be an object understood – the subject (I/myself).^ NP, there is the idea that the subject is attempting to affect the oblique object, but may not succeed.
  • Verb Semantic Classes 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.ilc.cnr.it [Source type: Reference]

^ In most cases, the `typical' object is `implicit' or `incorporated' into the verb, or deducible from the subject and the verb.
  • Verb Semantic Classes 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.ilc.cnr.it [Source type: Reference]

^ In cases where the infinitive is present in the semantic structure but lacking in the surface grammatical structure, we analyze the former subject or object of the infinitive as the subject of the impersonal verb.
  • The Analysis of Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.silvermnt.com [Source type: Original source]

.The verb is then possibly reflexive, rather than intransitive); in the second the subject and object are distinct.^ An intransitive verb does not require an object.
  • John's Esl Community - online resources for teachers and students of ESL 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.johnsesl.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ A verb is used reflexively when the subject of the verb is also its object.
  • Spanish Verbs: How They Are Used and Conjugated 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC spanish.about.com [Source type: Reference]

^ Intransitive verbs do not need a direct object.
  • Parts of Speech: Verbs: All the Right Moves — FactMonster.com 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.factmonster.com [Source type: General]

.The verb has a different valency, but the form remains exactly the same.^ Learn the different forms of French verbs.
  • verb news and downloads on CNET 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.cnet.com [Source type: General]

^ The difference in the verb form is its conjugation.
  • Verbs in Russian 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.du.edu [Source type: Original source]

^ The verb has a different valency, but the form remains exactly the same.
  • Verbs - Psychology Wiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC psychology.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

.In many languages other than English, such valency changes are not possible like this; the verb must instead be inflected in order to change the valency.^ Several verbs that, semantically, are stative rather than active are thus marked active: for example, em and active forms of gnomai such as the perfect, g™gona .
  • The Analysis of Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.silvermnt.com [Source type: Original source]

^ In slightly less regular verbs, the consonants on the end of the stem may also differ between the different stems, but the consonant changes are much more constrained than the vowel changes.
  • German verb conjugation/Deutsche Verbe Konjugationen 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.cambridgeclarion.org [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ As for stem irregularities, many strong verbs change the trailing consonants but only sein changes the leading ones too.
  • German verb conjugation/Deutsche Verbe Konjugationen 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.cambridgeclarion.org [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

[citation needed]

Verbal noun and verbal adjective

.Most languages have a number of verbal nouns that describe the action of the verb.^ To describe an action that is temporary, add the appropriate form of the verb be before the verb and add ing to the end of the verb root.
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]

^ Verbals are words that seem to carry the idea of action or being but do not function as a true verb.

^ To describe an action that has taken place, put the verb in the past tense and add the appropriate form of the verb have before the verb.
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]

.In Indo-European languages, there are several kinds of verbal nouns, including gerunds, infinitives, and supines.^ Infinitives and gerunds are noun forms.
  • Concise ESL Support - Index 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.athabascau.ca [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ Both gerunds and infinitive phrases can function as nouns, in a variety of ways.

^ There are a few basic rules regarding the use of infinitives and gerunds.
  • Concise ESL Support - Index 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.athabascau.ca [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

.English has gerunds, such as seeing, and infinitives such as to see; they both can function as nouns; seeing is believing is roughly equivalent in meaning with to see is to believe. These terms are sometimes applied to verbal nouns of non-Indo-European languages.^ Infinitives and gerunds are noun forms.
  • Concise ESL Support - Index 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.athabascau.ca [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ Both gerunds and infinitive phrases can function as nouns, in a variety of ways.

^ The meanings of these two terms are interchangeable.

In the Indo-European languages, verbal adjectives are generally called participles. .English has an active participle, also called a present participle; and a passive participle, also called a past participle.^ Active or passive present perfect .

^ "If the expression, 'Is being built,' be a correct form of the present indicative passive, then it must be equally correct to say in the perfect, 'Has been being built;' in the past perfect, 'Had been being built;' in the present infinitive, 'To be being built;' in the perfect infinitive, 'To have been being built;' and in the present participle, 'Being being built;' which all will admit to be expressions as incorrect as they are inelegant, but precisely analogous to that which now begins to prevail."—Bullions's Principles of English Gram., p.
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]

^ Most verbs in English form their various tenses consistently: add -ed to the base of a verb to create the simple past and past participle: he walk ed ; he has walk ed .

.The active participle of break is breaking, and the passive participle is broken.^ Verbs form active participles in -nte , and passive participles in -da .
  • Verbs - Vici de LFN 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC lfn.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ The active participle normally also implies an ongoing action, while the passive participle suggests that the action occurred in the past: .
  • Verbs - Vici de LFN 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC lfn.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

.When used adjectivally, the active participle describes nouns that perform the action given in the verb, e.g.^ A participle is a verb conjugation used as a verb or an adjective.
  • Tameri Guide for Writers: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.tameri.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ Finally, the choice of a verb can describe the action.
  • Tameri Guide for Writers: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.tameri.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ A participle is a verb used as an adjective or adverb.
  • Verbs - Vici de LFN 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC lfn.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

I heard the sound of breaking glass. .The passive participle describes nouns that have been the object of the action of the verb, e.g.^ Linking verbs do not describe action.

^ Intransitive Verbs An intransitive verb is a verb that does not transfer action to a noun (a direct object ).
  • Greek/English Grammatical Terms 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.ntgreek.org [Source type: Original source]

^ The passive participle describes nouns that have been the object of the action of the verb, e.g.
  • Verbs - Psychology Wiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC psychology.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

I saw the broken glass scattered across the floor.
.Other languages have attributive verb forms with tense and aspect.^ This tense, in its simple form is the past; which, in all regular verbs, adds d or ed to the present, but in others is formed variously.
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]

^ In the few cases where alternate tenses possess identical form and accentuation and where we have been unable to determine the correct tense from the context, we have used a slash (/) and left the choice to others.
  • The Analysis of Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.silvermnt.com [Source type: Original source]

^ The exceptions are: The forms of a verb where a present tense vowel shift is operative.
  • German verb conjugation/Deutsche Verbe Konjugationen 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.cambridgeclarion.org [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

.This is especially common among verb-final languages, where attributive verb phrases act as relative clauses.^ Ignore phrases and clauses between the subject and verb.
  • Tameri Guide for Writers: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.tameri.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

^ "The -in grid: a mathematical order in language by way of Tagalog verb phrases."
  • SIL Bibliography: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.ethnologue.com [Source type: Academic]

^ Finally, distinctions between classes are sometimes hard to make, and this is reinforced by the fact that classes may unexpectedly have several verbs in common.
  • Verb Semantic Classes 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.ilc.cnr.it [Source type: Reference]

See also

Verbs in different languages

Grammar

Other

References

.
  • Gideon Goldenberg, "On Verbal Structure and the Hebrew Verb", in: idem, Studies in Semitic Linguistics, Jerusalem: Magnes Press 1998, pp.^ Gideon Goldenberg, "On Verbal Structure and the Hebrew Verb", in: idem, Studies in Semitic Linguistics , Jerusalem: Magnes Press 1998, pp.
    • Verbs - Psychology Wiki 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC psychology.wikia.com [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

    ^ Review of: Verbal meaning: a linguistic, literary, and theological framework for the interpretive categories of the Hebrew verb as elaborated in the book of Ruth, by Bo-Krister Ljungberg.
    • SIL Bibliography: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.ethnologue.com [Source type: Academic]

    ^ "A study of Sentani verb structure."
    • SIL Bibliography: Verbs 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.ethnologue.com [Source type: Academic]

    148–196 [English translation; originally published in Hebrew in 1985].

External links

.Italian Verbs Coniugator and Analyzer Conjugation and Analysis of Regular and Irregular Verbs, and also of Neologisms, like googlare for to google.^ English Verbs Fully Conjugated - 665 Regular and Irregular English verb list.
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]

^ Don't suppose you know where I can find a list of regular and irregular verbs?
  • French Verb List of 681 Most Common Verbs and Translations 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC www.dudziak.com [Source type: News]

^ A redundant verb is a verb that forms the past or the past participle in two or more ways, and so as to be both regular and irregular: as, thrive, thrived or throve, thriving, thrived or thriven .
  • English in Use/Verbs - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks 2 February 2010 17:55 UTC en.wikibooks.org [Source type: Original source]


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also verb

Contents

German

Pronunciation

Noun

Verb n (plural: Verben, genitive: Verbs)
  1. verb

Synonyms


Simple English

Examples
  • The cat slept.
  • That is John.
  • She loves you.
  • They are running.
  • Go there on Monday.
  • He said, "hello!"
  • Can you play the piano?
  • The sleeping baby looks beautiful.
  • She saw the girl who had been bitten by the dog.

A verb is a kind of word (see part of speech) that usually tells about an action or a state and is the main part of a sentence. Every sentence has a verb. In English, verbs are the only kind of word that changes to show past or present tense.[1]

Every language in the world has verbs, but they are not always used in the same ways. They also can have different properties in different languages. For example, in some other languages (e.g., Chinese & Indonesian) verbs do not change for past and present tense. This means the definition above only works well for English verbs.

There are sixteen verbs used in Basic English. They are: be, do, have, come, go, see, seem, give, take, keep, make, put, send, say, let, get.

Contents

The word 'verb'

The word verb originally comes from *were-, a Proto-Indo-European word meaning "a word". It comes to English through the Latin verbum and the Old French verbe.

Verbal phrase

In simple sentences, the verb may be one word: The cat sat on the mat. However, the verb may be a whole phrase: The cat will sit on the mat.

Verbal phrases can be extremely difficult to analyse: I'm afraid I will need to be going soon. There seem to be three verbal phrases here, which add to to something like Sorry, I must go soon.

Verb forms

In English and many other languages, verbs change their form. This is called inflection. Most English verbs have six inflected forms (see the table), but be has eight different forms.

Forms of English verbs
Primary forms past: walked She walked home
3rd singular present: walks She walks home
plain present: walk They walk home
Secondary forms plain form: walk She should walk home
gerund [1]: walking She is walking home
past participle: walked She has walked home

You should notice that some of the verb forms look the same. You can say they have the same shape. For example, the plain present and the plain form of walk have the same shape. The same is true for the past and the past participle. But these different forms can have different shapes in other verbs. For example, the plain present of be is usually are but the plain form is be. Also, the past of eat is ate, but the past participle is eaten. When you look for a verb in the dictionary, it is usually the plain form that you look for.

An English sentence must have at least one primary-form verb. Each main clause can only have one primary-form verb.

Kinds of Verbs

English has two main kinds of verbs: normal verbs (called lexical verbs) and auxiliary verbs. The difference between them is mainly in where they can go in a sentence. Some verbs are in both groups, but there are very few auxiliary verbs in English. There are also two kinds of auxiliary verbs: modal verbs and non-modal verbs. The table below shows most of the English auxiliaries and a small number of other verbs.

Kinds of English verbs
auxiliary verbs lexical verbs
modal verbs Can you play the piano? I fell
I will not be there I didn't fall
Shall we go I had breakfast.
Yes, you may I'm playing soccer.
You must be joking Must you make that noise?
non-modal verbs Have you seen him? Have you seen him?
I did see it I did see it
He is sleeping He is sleeping

There are several auxiliary verbs:

  • To do (do, does, did)
  • To be (am, is, are, was, were): Creates a progressive tense
  • To have (have, has, had): Creates a perfect tense

The follow verbs are modal auxiliaries

  • Can
  • Could
  • May
  • Might
  • Must
  • Shall
  • Should

Auxiliary verbs also inflect for negation. Usually this is done by adding not or n't.[1]

  • You shouldn't be here.
  • He isn't at home.
  • We haven't started yet.

Use of the auxilary do

Sometimes the verb do. It does not really change the meaning.

  • I do talk (Present)
  • I did go (Past)

It is also used in the negative when no other auxiliary verbs are used.

  • I don't talk (Present)
  • I didn't go (Past)

Many other languages do not use the verb do as an auxiliary verb. They use the simple present for do, and the simple past or perfect for 'did

Tense, aspect, and mood

Many people think that all different ways of using verbs are all different tenses. This is not true. There are three main systems related to the verb: tense, aspect, and mood.

Tense

Tense is mainly used to say when the verb happens: in the past, present, or future. Some languages have all three tenses, some have only two, and some have no tenses at all. English and Japanese for example have only two tenses: past and present.[1] Chinese and Indonesian verbs do not show tense. Instead they use other words in the sentence to show when the verb happens.

English tenses
Present tense Past tense
She walks home She walked home
He runs quickly He ran quickly
I can swim well I could swim well
Do you live here? Did you live here?

Aspect

Aspect usually shows us things like whether the action is finished or not, or if something happens regularly. English has two aspects: progressive and perfect. In English, aspect is usually shown by using participle verb forms. Aspect can combine with present or past tense.

Progressive aspect

English uses the gerund-participle, usually together with the auxiliary be (and its forms am, is, are, was, and were) to show the progressive aspect.

  • I'm sleeping. (present progressive)
  • He was studying English last night. (past progressive)
  • He will be going to the store tomorrow (future progressive)

Many other languages, such as French, do not use progressive tenses. They use the simple present instead of the present progressive; and the imperfect instead of the past progressive.

Perfect aspect

English uses the past participle, usually together with the auxiliary have to show the perfect aspect.

  • I've seen him twice. (present perfect)
  • I had lived there for three years. (past perfect)

The past perfect can be used to express an unrealized hope, wish, etc.

  • He had intended to bake a cake but ran out of flour.
  • She had wanted to buy him a gift but he refused.

After If, wish and would rather, the past perfect can be used to talk about past events that never happened.

  • If only I had been born standing up!
  • I wish you had told me that before.
  • I would rather you had gone somewhere else.

Mood

Finally, English mood is now usually shown by using modal verbs. In the past, English had a full mood system but that has almost completely disappeared. The subjunctive mood now uses the plain form. There is also a form of be that is used in conditionals to show that something is not true (e.g., If I were a bird, I would fly to California.)

Sentence parts that go with verbs

Certain parts of a sentence naturally come before verbs or after them, but these are not always the same for all verbs. The main sentence parts are: subject, object, complement, and modifier.

Subjects

Almost all English sentences have subjects, but sentences that are orders (called imperatives) usually do not have any subjects. A subject usually comes before a verb, but it can also come after auxiliary verbs. In the following examples, the subject is underlined and the primary verb is in bold.

  • We need you.
  • The food was good.
  • The small boy with red hair is sleeping.
  • Can you see the car?
  • Come here. (no subject)

Objects

Many verbs can be followed by an object. These verbs are called transitive verbs. In fact, some verbs must have an object (e.g., take), but some verbs never take an object (e.g., sleep). Verbs that do not take an object are called intransitive verbs. Some verbs can even have two objects. They are called ditransitive verbs. In the following examples, the object is underlined and the primary verb is in bold.

  • I'm sleeping. (no object)
  • I took the book from him.
  • I gave him the book. (2 objects)
  • I am happy. (no object)
  • I became a teacher. (complement, no object)
  • I slept in my bed (1 object)

Complements

Some verbs can or must be followed by a complement. These verbs are called linking verbs or copula. In the following examples, the complement is underlined and the verb is in bold.

  • He is good.
  • He is a boy.
  • She became sick.
  • She became a manager.
  • It looks nice.

Modifiers

Verbs can be modified by various modifiers, mainly adverbs. Note that verbs generally do not need modifiers; it's usually a choice. In the following examples, the adverb is underlined and the verb is in bold.

  • The boy ran quickly.
  • The freely swinging rope hit him.

Verbs also commonly take a variety of other modifiers including prepositions.

Differences between verbs and other kinds of words

Sometimes a verb and another word can have the same shape. In these cases you can usually see the difference by looking at various properties of the words.

Verbs vs. adjectives

Sometimes a verb and an adjective can have the same shape. Usually this happens with participles. For example, the present participle interesting and the adjective interesting look the same. Verbs are different from adjectives, though, because they cannot be modified by very, more, or most.[1] For example, you can say "That is very interesting," so you know interesting is an adjective here. But you cannot say "My teacher is very interesting me in math" because in this sentence interesting is a verb. On the other hand, if you cannot change the 'be' verb to 'seem' or 'become', it is probably a verb.

  • He was isolated / He became isolated (isolated is an adjective)
  • The door was opening / *The door became opening (opening is a verb)

Verbs vs. nouns

The gerund-particle sometimes looks like a noun. This is especially true when it is used as a subject, as in the following example:

  • Running is good for you.

The main differences between these verbs and nouns are: modifiers, number, and object/complement

Modifiers

Verbs cannot generally be modified by adjectives and nouns cannot generally be modified by adverbs. So, in "Running regularly is good for you", running is a verb because it is modified by regularly, an adverb.

Number

Verbs cannot change for number, so if you can make the word plural, it is a noun, not a verb. For example, "this drawing is nice" can change to "these drawings are nice", so drawing is a noun. But "drawing trees is fun" cannot change to "drawings trees is fun", so it is a verb here.

Object/complement

Many verbs can take objects or complements, but nouns cannot.[1] So, in "parking the car is hard", parking is a verb because it takes the object the car. But, if you say, "there's no parking", parking may be a noun because it does not have an object.

Verbs vs. prepositions

Some verbs have become prepositions.[1] Again, usually these share a shape with participles. Here are some examples:

  • Given the problems, I do not think we should go.
  • We have many helpers, including John.
  • According to the map, we are here.
  • He went to hospital following' the fight.

The main difference between verbs and prepositions is that verbs have a subject. Even if the subject is not written, you can understand what it is. Prepositions do not have a subject.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Huddleston R. & Pullum G.K 2005. A Student's Introduction to English Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:


Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 29, 2010

Here are sentences from other pages on Verb, which are similar to those in the above article.








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