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What is a verb
Verb is a broader term because it cannot be defined with respect to one function like noun.
It sometimes denote action, like; play, hit, smell etc, and sometimes it stands for a copula like; seem, be or taste etc.
Copula is that form of the verb which doesn’t stand for action.
Sometimes it is; operator or auxiliary, modal operator or modal auxiliary and modal verb.
nyway, the verb may be anything that stands for certain sort of activity in a sentence, or other way round which doesn’t act like subject (actor) or object (patient).
Verb is an integral part of a sentence and sometimes gives complete meanings on its own in imperatives, like, sit, speak, come, go etc.
Forms of verb
Generally the students know that there are four forms of verb. Of course these 4 forms of verb are often used in English grammar and we are quite used to with them.
According to Rodney Huddleston in his book English Grammar an Outline verb has not only four forms.
He says verb has 6 forms which are as follows:
6 forms of the verb
1. Present form (go)
Now you see there are 6 forms of the verb. Two new forms you might have seen in the above list are; 3rd person singular form (goes) and base form (to go).
Whenever we make the sentence of present indefinite tense we always use 3rd person singular form with he, she, and it, and since they are 3rd person singular pronouns therefore we call this form of the verb as 3rd person singular form.
Base form, on the other hand, as the very word (base) indicates, is the root form. This is the form of the verb in which we don’t add anything at the end of the verb like; –ing, –ed etc.
Therefore the examples of base form are; to think, to go, to bring etc.
Auxiliary verb, helping verb or operator
From the above heading you got the point that auxiliary verb, helping verb or operator are one and the same thing.
Auxiliary verb, helping verb or operator are used with the main verb in a sentence. They don’t denote action rather they help main verb in connection with tense and aspect.
Tense and aspect is also discussed in detail in this verb guide.
There are three basic auxiliaries, like; be, have, and do. The rests are their different forms. Like:
is, am, are, was, were
Examples of auxiliary verb
Look at the following examples of auxiliary verb;
• He is
washing his car.
In the above examples italicized words are auxiliary verbs or helping verbs or modal verbs.
You have noticed they don’t give an impression of an action.
Actions are the main verbs in the above examples like; washing, understand, learning and read.
Auxiliary verbs or operator verbs just seem to help the main action with respect to tense and aspect (defined later on this page).
Copular verbs or linking verbs
Copular verbs or linking verbs are those which connect subject with object or predicative complement which are adjectives.
They sometimes look like auxiliaries (be, is, am, are, was, were) but they stand on their own.
They don’t need any main verb to complete a sentence.
Look at the following examples and you shall understand it clearly.
Examples of copular
verbs or linking verb
Now you understand form the practical examples that they link subject to object or predicative complement.
In the last two examples is and am are copular verbs too because they stand on their own and they don’t need main verbs quite unlike, “I am playing piano.” and “He is working hard.”
In “I am playing piano.” and “He is working hard.” the words am and is are auxiliary verbs or helping verbs.
Be-form and copular verbs
As it is discussed earlier that be-forms are sometimes similar to copular verbs.
Be is the basic word for is, am and are so they all are called be-forms.
Their past, past participle and present participle forms are same as explained under.
Chart of be-form
|Present||Past||Past participle||Present participle||base form|
Modal verbs, modal operators and modal auxiliaries are one and the same thing. They are the verbs which have only one or two tensed forms (present and past).
They don’t have 4 or 6 forms of verb.
Modal verbs are also called modals in short.
Look at the examples below and you will understand that modal verb or modal auxiliaries don’t have 4 or 6 forms like other verbs.
|Present form||Past form|
Some other kinds of verb are tensed and non tensed form.
Tense means time, so tensed form of the verb is that form of the verb which, without using auxiliary, tells us about the time whether it is present or past.
For example present (go) is tensed form because it alone tell us that the sentence is in present time, like, “OK, I go to fetch it”.
Whereas past participle (gone) gives no information about time unless any auxiliary verb is used with it, like, has gone (present time) and had gone (past time) etc.
Hence it is non-tensed form.
So in short tensed form is the form of the verb which gives information about time and non tensed form is the form of the verb which doesn’t give us any information about time unless any auxiliary is used with it.
Tensed forms of the verb are: Present form (go), Past form (went) and 3rd person singular form (goes).
Non tensed forms of the verb are: Past participle form (gone), Present participle (going) form and Base form (to go).
There are two further categories of verb known as tense and aspect.
Tense, as defined above is the verbal action in relation to time whereas aspect is related to the manner of verbal action.
It means whether the verbal action is completed or it is in progress.
In case of completion of verbal action the auxiliary verb have, has and had are used.
Whereas in case of continuation of verbal action be form (be, is, am, are, was, were) shall be used.
Look at the following examples.
• He is enjoying the movie.
• You have enjoyed the movie.
In the first sentence the verbal action (enjoying) is in progress.
That means his enjoyment in watching the movie is in progress.
In the second example this enjoyment of watching the movie of now completed or over, since you have finished watching the movie.
Now you understand that aspect of verb means the manner in which verbal action is performed.
Now let us discuss some other kinds of verb and that is transitive verb and intransitive verb.
Remember transitive verb is the one which transfers its action to object.
It rather needs object and without it sentence with transitive verb cannot be formed.
Now look at the following examples
• He brought a couple of books.
• Did you convey the message?
• Parents love their children.
• He carried a box.
Now look at the above sentences.
You see in every sentence there are two important things one has to understand white reading transitive verbs.
1. All the verbs transfer their action to the
2. The verbs, in fact, demand object and we cannot complete the sentence without objects.
In “He brought a couple of books.” The verb brought transfers its action to books.
Similarly we cannot say “He brought” because it does not tell us what.
The meaning remains truncated and therefore incomplete.
No you got that the verb brought actually demands the object.
This is an example of transitive verb.
Explaining transitive verbs itself throws light on intransitive. Of course intransitive verbs are other way round.
Intransitive verb doesn’t need object.
It doesn’t demand it, and the sentence leaves no suspense in a meaning.
Now look at the following examples to get the better idea:
• He is singing.
• The sun shines.
• The soldier fired.
• Thief ran.
• He jumps.
Now if you see the above examples you are the man to understand transitive and intransitive verbs precisely.
In the above examples of intransitive verbs sentences don’t even need object.
Therefore there is no question of transferring verbal action.
Action verbs simply talk of action like; go, come, play, throw etc
In years of teaching English at Government College I have noticed many common mistakes in students’ compositions.
I surprisingly discovered that students generally overlook subject verb agreement.
Subject verb agreement means that verb and subject are in connection with each other and verb is used in accordance with the subject.
Now look the following example and you will know what I mean by subject verb agreement.
• He observes the situation.
• She likes ice-cream.
• In such circumstances we behave cautiously.
Now let us analyze the above examples.
Look at the first sentence “He observes the situation”.
The verb (observes) is directly linked with the subject (he).
We cannot say “He observe the situation”.
Similarly the verb (likes) in the second example is also 3rd person singular form. It is because of the third person singular subject (she).
If we remove the subject (she) we have to convert the verb as like instead of likes.
In the third example the verb (behave) is because of the subject (we).
And if we change the subject as he we will have to change the verb also as behaves.
So now you understand clearly what is subject verb agreement.
Finally in this comprehensive guide you have learnt in detail about verb.
We have given a complete account of it so that this guide should cater all your needs to understand verb, its kinds and functions.
Now for revisions you can either watch our video on what is verb and its kinds or download our comprehensive Urdu PDF guide.