Grammar Guide: Verbs

The last Grammar Guide on April 22 focused on all eight parts of speech. For the next few weeks, we will explain an additional topic that has to do with that part of speech. Today, we will talk about verbs.

Verbs are one of the most important aspects of English sentences. Generally, verbs are some of the very first words that students learning English learn. We already know that verbs represent the action or the situation in a sentence. But did you know that every verb has 4 different forms? The form of the verb is like the "shape" of the verb. We use the form of the verb to create the verb tenses. 

Let's look at some examples. 

There are 4 verb forms: simple, past, past participle, and present participle
We'll take the verb to listen and to speakTo listen is a regular verb and to speak is an irregular verb.

Simple Form
This form is usually the first form that we learn when we are introduced to a new verb. Notice that the "simple form" is simply the infinitive form without the to. The simple form is used in the verb tenses simple present and simple future.

simple present: I
listen to you. I speak English. I read* books. I write letters.

simple future: 
I will listen to you. I will speak English. I will read books. I will write letters.

Past Form

This form is usually the second form that we learn when we are introduced to a new verb. The past form is tricky because it is inconsistent between regular and irregular verbs. For regular verbs, the past form is the simple form plus -ed. For irregular verbs, the past form varies. Some past form irregular verbs change the vowel, others stay the same, others change the spelling completely. The past form is used, of course, in the simple past verb tense.

simple past: 
I listened to you. I spoke English. I read* books. I wrote letters.

Read is pronounced differently in the present and past tense. In the present tense, read is pronounced like "reed." In the past tense, read is pronounced like "red."

Past Participle

The past participle can either be very easy or very tricky. For regular verbs, the past participle is generally the exact same form as the past form. For irregular verbs, however, the past participle varies as well. The past participle is used in all three (present, past, future) perfect tenses.

present perfect: 
I have listened to you. I have spoken English. I have read books. I have written letters.

past perfect: 
I had listened to you. I had spoken English. I had read books. I had written letters.

future perfect: 
I will have listened to you. I will have spoken English. I will have read books. I will have written letters.

Present Participle

This form is one of the most common forms, meaning it is used in the most verb tenses. This form is also the easiest except for the simple form. Simply add -ing to the simple form of the verb to create the present participle. The present participle is used in both the progressive and perfect progressive tenses.

present progressive: 
I am listening to you. I am speaking English. I am reading books. I am writing letters.

past progressive: 
I was listening to you. I was speaking English. I was reading books. I was writing letters.

future progressive: 
I will be listening to you. I will be speaking English. I will be reading books. I will be writing letters.

present perfect progressive: 
I have been listening to you. I have been speaking English. I have been reading books. I have been writing letters.

past perfect progressive: 
I had been listening to you. I had been speaking English. I had been reading books. I had been writing letters.

future perfect progressive: 
I will have been listening to you. I will have been speaking English. I will have been reading books. I will have been writing letters.

If you want to learn more about verbs and grammar, come study with us at Nomen Global.

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