VERBS

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Meaning of verb

A verb is a word that expresses an action or a state of being.

Examples
a. The hunter killed a lion. (action)
b. Hawa is angry. (State of being) .
Every complete sentence has a verb.

Types of Verbs

There are two major types of verbs;

1.Auxiliary verbs : These are verbs that express a state of being or help main or lexical verbs to express their actions, mood, tenses or voice.
Examples include; is, was, may, will, would can etc.

Usage Examples
a. The man is typing a letter. (helps the main verb, ‘typing‘ to express its tense).

b. Khadija was killed by the robbers. (helps the main verb, ‘killed‘ to express its voice).

There are two types of auxiliary verbs;

A. Primary Auxiliaries : These are verbs that express state of being, ownership and help lexical verbs to express their actions and tenses.

There are three primary auxiliary verbs. The three primary auxiliaries are;
BE, HAVE, DO
These primary auxiliaries have sub-forms which could be finite or non-finite.

Sub Forms of the Primary Auxiliaries

BE
Finite Forms; is, am, are, was, were

Non finite forms; be, being, been

Uses of the Primary Auxiliary ‘BE’

a. It is used to express state of being.
E.g Ama is beautiful
John is annoy

b. It helps main verbs to express their tenses
E.g I am dancing. It is not possible to say; *I dancing

c. It helps lexical verbs to express their voice in the passive form.
Example
The hunter killed a lion. (Active voice)
A lion was killed by the hunter. (passive voice)

HAVE
Finite forms; has, have, had
Non finite form; having

Uses of the Primary Auxiliary HAVE


a. It is used to show possession
E.g He has a car

b. It is used to form perfect tenses aspect.
E.g She has done the work. (present perfect)
They had killed it. (past perfect)

DO
Finite forms; does, do, did.

Uses of the Primary Auxiliary DO

a. It is used with lexical verbs to emphasize their actions.
E.g I understand what you have said.
I do understand what you have said. (‘do’ emphasizes the action of the verb ‘understand’)
She does hate him.

Note; It is important to note that when the past form of do (did) is used with a lexical verb, the action is in the past, so the main or lexical verb need not be in the past.

Example; * I did came here yesterday. (wrong)
I did come here yesterday. (correct).

*I did wrote the exam last year. (wrong)
I did write the exam last year.

b. It is also used to form yes or no interrogative sentences.
E.g Do you know the man?
Do you like my name?

c. It is used in forming tag questions (question tags) when a lexical verb is used in a sentence without any of the forms of BE as an auxiliary verb.

E.g I hardly understand the concept, do I?
The woman came here, didn’t she?

d. It is also used as a pro-verb of lexical verbs in sentences, i.e to replace verbs in sentences.
E.g The man likes insulting the children a lot, of course, the wife does too.
The meaning of the verb ‘does‘ in this case is, ‘likes insulting’. It is been used as a pro-verb to replace the verb phrase, ‘likes insulting’
We could have said;
The man likes insulting the children, of course the woman likes insulting the children too.

Man; Do you love me?
Woman; I do.
The meaning of the verb ‘do‘ in the reply of the woman means ‘love you‘, it means ‘do‘ has been used to replace the lexical verb ‘love’.

B. MODAL AUXILIARIES


These are verbs that are used with main or lexical verbs to express ideas such as; ability, obligation, compulsion, necessity, possibility etc.
Examples include; can, could, will, would, shall, should, may, might, must, had to, dare, need, ought

Uses of the Modal Auxiliaries

CAN: a. It is used to express ability.
Example; I can dance

b. It also used to seek permission.
Example; Can I leave now?

c. It is also used to grant permission.
Example; You can leave now.

COULD: a. It is used to express past ability.
Example : I could read fluently.

b. It is used to make polite requests.
Example : Could I use your car?

WILL: a. It is used with main verbs to express actions in the future time.
Examples; I will do it tomorrow

b. It is used to issue strong commands.
Example; Will you sit down!

WOULD : a. It is used to make polite requests.
Example; Would you help me build my house?

b. It is used with main or lexical verbs in the main clauses of second conditional sentences.
Example; If she came, I would see her.

c. It is also used with HAVE and a main or lexical verb in the main clause of third conditional sentences.
Example; If I had known earlier, I would have married her.

MAY : a. It is used to make a request or seek permission.
Example; May I use your pen?

b. It used to grant permission.
Example; You may leave.

c. It is used to express probability.
Example; It may rain today.

MIGHT : It is used to express probability.
Example; They might come.

SHALL; a. It is used with main or lexical verbs to express tenses in the future time for only the first person pronouns.
Examples; I shall travel.
We shall do the work.

b. It is used to form yes or no interrogative sentences with I and we.
Examples; Shall we do the work?
Shall I call you tonight?

Note; The difference between SHALL and WILL as far as the future time is concerned is, SHALL is merely a statement of fact in the future, whereas WILL is a statement of intention.
Examples;
a. I shall be coming. (merely a fact)
b. I will be coming. (an intention to come)

SHOULD : a. It is used to express duty or obligation.
Example; You should take good care of yourself.

b. It is used to express duty or sensible action which was not performed.
Example; I should have advised them.

MUST : a. It is used with a main or lexical verb to express necessity or compulsion.
Example; You must leave.

b. It is used +be to express probability.
Example; He must be angry

OUGHT TO : a. It is used to express duty or obligation.
Example; We ought to do the work.

b. It is used to indicate what is advisable or desirable.
Example; I ought to respect my teachers.

DARE : It is used to challenge.
Example; I dare you to pass your exam.

USED TO : a. It is used to express a discontinued habit.
Example; We used to play football together.

b. It is also used to express an accustomed habit.
Example; They are used to hard work.

SOME MODALS AND THEIR PAST FORMS

PresentPast
cancould
maymight
shallshould
willwould
musthad to
dare
need
ought to

Note: ‘Should’, ‘Could’ and ‘Would’ could also be used to show politeness or to make a request instead of being past.

Note; A primary or modal auxiliary cannot be a helping verb if there is no other verb (main or lexical verb) in the sentence. If the primary auxiliary verb BE is the only verb in the sentence, then it becomes a linking verb, instead of helping verb because there is no other verb for it to help. This explains why you will always hear; auxiliary or helping or linking verbs. Auxiliary and helping verbs may mean the same thing, but auxiliary verb and linking verb are never the same, even though, they may have the same form.

Examples;
She is reading the Bible. (auxiliary or helping verb; it is helping the main verb ‘reading‘)
She is a thief. (linking verb; it is linking the subject and the complement).

MAIN/LEXICAL/PRINCIPAL VERBS

These are verbs that express actions. They have dictionary meanings and are capable of going through the six forms of verbs;

a. Bare form or bare infinitive form; e.g. sit, kill, write

b. Third person singular form (‘-s’ form); e.g sits, kills, writes

c. Past tense (-d or -ed form); e.g sat, killed, wrote

d. Present participle form (‘-ing form); e.g sitting, killing, writing

e. Past participle form; e.g sat, killed, written

f. To infinitive form (to + bare form); e.g to sit, to kill, to write

TENSES OF VERBS


There are basically two tenses of verbs;

i. Present tense; The present tense of a verb basically refers to the form of a verb that represents an action that is taking place now or refers to an event that currently exists. E.g go, is, sit, dance etc.

ii. Past tense; The form of a verb that represents an action that happened in the past. e.g went, was, sat, danced etc.

FORMS OF VERBS

Verbs have forms based on how their past and past participles are formed. There are two forms of verbs; regular and irregular verbs.

A. Regular Verbs; These are verbs that form their past and past participle forms by adding ‘-d’ or ‘-ed’ to the bare/base form.

Regular Verbs

Base FormPresent Participle PastPast Participle
Callcalling Called(has) called
CarryCarrying Carried (have) Carried
Clapclapping Clapped (had) Clapped
CombCombingCombedcombed
CookCookingCookedcooked
Dancedancingdanceddanced
JumpJumpedjumpedjumped
Kickkicking Kicked Kicked
ScoreScoringScoredScored
WalkWalkingWalkedwalked

B. Irregular Verbs; These are verbs that form their past and past participles without adding ‘-d’ or ‘-ed’ to the bare/base form.

An irregular verb forms its past in one of the following ways;

i. Changing vowels

Base Form PastPast Participle
winwonwon
singsangsang
holdheldheld
sitsat sat

ii. Changing consonants

Base Form PastPast Participle
Makemademade
Lendlentlent
hear heardheard

iii. Changing vowels and consonants

Base Form PastPast Participle
catchcaughtcaught
drawdrewDrawn
teartoreTorn

iv. Making no change

Bare Form PastPast Participle
burst burstburst
cut cutcut
hurt hurthurt

Note; If you are not sure about the principal parts of a verb, look up the verb in a current dictionary. Entries for irregular verbs list the principal parts of the verb.
The principal parts of a verb are; the bare form, the present participle, the past form and the past participle form.

Common Irregular Verbs

Base Form PastPast Participle
amwasbeen
arise arosearisen
bearboreborne
begin began begun
bite bitbitten
bleed bledbled
bindboundbound
broadcast broadcast broadcast
buildbuiltbuilt
cotheclad/clothedcothed/clad
creepcreptcrept
dodiddone
eatateeaten
flyflewflown
forbidforbadeforbidden
grind groundground
hide hidhidden
iswasbeen
lightlighted/litlighted/lit
mow mowedmowed/mown
outdooutdidoutdone
outgooutwentoutgone
outshineoutshoneoutshone
slayslewslain

TRANSITIVE AND INTRANSITIVE VERBS

a. Transitive Verb; a transitive verb is a verb that expresses an action that is directed towards a place, person or thing.
With transitive verbs, the action passes from the doer i.e the subject to the receiver of the action, i.e the object.
Thus, a transitive verb is a verb that takes an object.

Examples;
i. Amina killed a snake. (the object, ‘snake’s receives the action of the verb, ‘killed‘). ‘killed’ therefore is a transitive verb.

ii. John insulted the man.

iii. The lady bought a bicycle.

Types of Transitive Verbs

A. Monotransitive verbs; These are verbs that take only one object (i.e direct object) only.

Examples;
i. The hunter killed a lion.
ii. The man destroyed the building
iii. The child wounded her mother

B. Ditransitive verbs; These are verbs that take two objects (i.e direct and indirect object). E.g buy, send, write, give etc.

Examples;
i. The teacher bought her student a gift

ii. The man sent his wife a gift.

iii. The students wrote their form master an apology letter.

B. Intransitive Verbs; These are that do not take objects. These verbs tell something about the subject or express an action without the action passing to a receiver/object.

Examples;
I. The children smiled
II. The horse jumped

Note; Some verbs can be used as both transitive and intransitive, these verbs are called ambitransitive verbs.

Examples;
I. We write everyday (intransitive)
II. We write letters everyday (transitive)

FINITE AND NON-FINITE VERBS

a. Finite Verbs; These are verbs that have subjects and mark grammatical tense, person or number.

Examples;
i. I wrote a letter yesterday :wrote – finite verb, it marks grammatical tense – past)

ii. The man is the chief of the town. (is – finite verb, marks grammatical number)

iii. She writes legibly. (writes – finite verb, marks grammatical person)

Note; Only the primary auxiliary BE has number distinction in its past forms, otherwise there is no number distinction in the past forms of lexical or main verbs as well as the primary auxiliary HAVE.

Note; It is important to note that all third person singular forms of lexical verbs (‘-s’ forms) are finite. Also, the past forms and all other verbs that immediately come after the subject are finite.

b. Non-finite Verbs; These are verbs that do not have subjects they correspond to and are not inflected to indicate number, tense or aspect.

Examples of Non-finite Verbs

A. Infinitives; to + base/bare form of the verb. E.g to sing, to dance, to walk etc.

Examples;
i. To dance can be difficult.
ii. To sleep is nice.

B. Bare infinitives (base form of the verb without ‘to’); The bare infinitives are considered non-finite verbs if they are used with modal auxiliary verbs. The modal auxiliary verbs are considered the finite verbs of those sentences. e.g sing, dance, walk etc.

Examples
i. The man can sing reggae. (sing – non-finite)
The boys will work on the farm. (work – non-finite)

C. Gerunds; a gerund is a present participle that has been used as a noun. Since gerunds do not have the grammatical function of verbs; they are always non-finite. Planting, dancing, writing etc.

Examples
i. Walking is dangerous on slippery surfaces.
ii. The farmers did the planting.

D. Participles
i. Present participles; They have same form as gerunds, i.e they end in ‘-ing’. They function in a sentence as either part of a continuous tense aspect relying on an auxiliary verb to be complete or as an attributive or predicative adjective, modifying a noun. E.g walking, running, pending etc.

Examples;
a. The students were singing in class. (singing – non-finite verb, the finite verb is ‘were’, which marks both tense and number).

b. I bought a washing machine. (washing – non-finite verb, it is used as an attributive adjective).

c. The results are pending. (pending – non-finite verb, it is used as predicative adjective).

ii. Past participles; past participles are used with the forms of HAVE to form perfect tenses in which they depend on the auxiliary verbs for their meaning to be complete. The auxiliary verbs are regarded as finite in such sentences.

Examples;
a. She has written the letter. (written, non-finite, the finite verb is ‘has’)

b. They had destroyed the building. (destroyed, non-finite, the finite verb is ‘had’)

We have come to the end of our lesson on verbs, I hope this article was helpful?

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