Useful Verbs and Tenses by Martin Manser by Martin Manser - Read Online

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English verbs and tenses are difficult. There seem to be so many different tenses and structures. This book will help you not only understand how English verbs work but also use them correctly.
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Verbs and tenses are one of the most difficult parts of the English language for learners. There seem to be so many different tenses and structures that are not simple. I have compiled this book to help make verbs easier to understand. The book is in five parts:

Chapter 1 The basics

Here we look at the main terms used to describe different kinds of verb, eg transitive and intransitive.

Chapter 2 Tenses

In this section, we explain the wide range of tenses in English, as in for example I work, I am working, I worked, I have worked, I had worked, I will have worked. This section ends with a summary of the different tenses.

Chapters 3-13 Other kinds of verb

Here we consider other kinds of verb: auxiliaries (eg do, can, may); questions and negatives; the passive (eg The car was driven by Daniel); conditionals (with if); phrasal verbs, eg break down, make up; the infinitive; participles; reported speech; and the subjunctive.

Chapter 14 Useful verbs

Here we look at some common verbs (eg come, do, make go, put, set) and their phrasal verbs, together with their definitions and examples of usage.

Chapter 15 Irregular verbs

A list of irregular verbs in English.

Additional features throughout the book include ‘Grammar extra’ panels with further useful information, eg the different words that go with do and make, the difference between been and gone and between bring and take and different words to use instead of say.

Cross-references guide you to relevant information in other locations in the text.

I hope this short book will not only increase your understanding but also improve your use of English verbs.

Martin Manser

Aylesbury, England,

August 2015

1 Basics

1.1 What is a verb?

A verb is a doing or a being word:

She likes chocolate.

I am happy.

Verbs play a central role in a sentence and often communicate the most important information:

He ate an apple.

They stopped at the light.

Sometimes the verb may be a connecting word that links the subject with other parts of the sentence, for example the verbs be, seem and feel:

I am happy.

The storm seems to have ended.

Something felt funny about his appearance.

1.2 Kinds of verb

There are two main kinds of verb: main verbs and auxiliary verbs.

Main verbs are verbs that show the meaning:

She likes chocolate.

He ate an apple.

Auxiliary verbs are used with a main verb to change the meaning, tense etc of that main verb. Auxiliary verbs usually come in front of the main verb. If you want to change a main verb into a negative (with not) or a question, you use an auxiliary verb. Examples of auxiliary verb are be, do, have, can, may, must, shall and will:

They are poor.

She does not like bananas.

Do you like cabbage?

He had died.

She can speak French well.

I may arrive late.

You must try harder.

See 3 Auxiliary verbs.

1.3 Sentences

A sentence is a meaningful and grammatically complete unit that consists of one or more words. A sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, exclamation mark or question mark.

Sentences consist of a number of different parts:

Subject The subject of a clause or sentence is the person or thing that the clause or sentence is about and is usually the person or thing that carries out the action of the verb:

She left work early that afternoon.

Life is full of surprises.

The subject usually comes towards the beginning of a sentence or clause and comes before the verb, but sometimes it appears elsewhere:

Where has my bag gone?

Down went his opponent.

Scarcely had one stranger left when another one arrived.

‘Come in,’ said the doctor.

Object The object of a sentence usually follows the subject and the verb and refers to the person or thing affected by the verb. There are two kinds of object:

A direct object is a person or thing directly affected by the verb:

The man wrote the book.

She likes chocolate.

He washed the dishes.

An indirect object is an extra object that sometimes comes with certain verbs, especially verbs referring to giving:

He gave his wife a new jacket.

Complement In some sentences what follows the verb is called a complement rather than an object because it gives further information about the subject or object of the verb:

That seems a fair guess.

Adverbial The adverbial refers to a part of the sentence that includes additional information about the verb. It often consists of a single-word adverb:

Look carefully at the contract.

1.4 Transitive and intransitive verbs

Most main verbs are either transitive or intransitive:

Transitive means that the verb has an object. In He carried the box, the box is the object, so we can say that here the verb carried is transitive.

Other examples of transitive verbs:

He washed the dishes.

She drove the car.

I like basketball.

In some senses the same verb may be transitive while in other senses it may be intransitive:

She runs [‘manages’] a hotel.

He ran [‘moves very quickly’] to catch the train.

Some verbs (eg give, bring, lend, sell) have two objects. Such verbs are called ditransitive:

They gave the boy [indirect object] a new football [direct object].

Intransitive means that the verb does not have an object. In the sentence The moon appeared, the verb appeared is not followed by an object, so we say that here the verb appeared is intransitive. Other examples of intransitive verbs:

My tooth aches.

The sun rises in the east.

The lights sparkled.

Some intransitive verbs are followed by an adverb or preposition:

He coughed loudly [adverb].

The sun rises in [preposition] the east.

The train arrived at [preposition] the station.

1.5 Regular and irregular verbs

In English, there are two main kinds of verbs: regular and irregular. Regular verbs form their past simple tense (for example, you played yesterday) and their past participle (the form used with have: You have played many games already) by adding -ed to the base form (infinitive) of the verb. For example:

I worked [past simple] three hours yesterday.

We have lived [past participle] here since 2014.

Grammar extra: the five main forms of English verbs

1 the base form (infinitive): work

2 the 3rd person singular of the present simple tense: works

3 the present participle: working

4 the past simple tense: worked

5 the past participle: worked

Spelling rules with regular verbs

To form the past tense and past participle:

•   most verbs add -ed: help becomes helped, work becomes worked, ask becomes asked.

•   where the base form (infinitive) of the verb ends in -e, add -d: hope becomes hoped; arrive becomes arrived.

•   where the base form (infinitive) of the verb ends in a consonant and then -y, replace with -ied: study becomes studied; hurry becomes hurried.

•   where the base form (infinitive) of the verb ends in a single vowel followed by a single consonant, then that consonant is doubled: drop becomes dropped.

•   where the base form (infinitive) of the verb has more than one syllable, the consonant is doubled if the last syllable is stressed and the final consonant is preceded by a single vowel: prefer becomes preferred, occur becomes occurred. If the last syllable is not stressed, the final consonant is not doubled: develop becomes developed. An exception is words that have a final -l, which is doubled even if the syllable is unstressed: travel becomes travelled, cancel becomes cancelled.

Irregular verbs form their past simple and past participle in ways that are different from regular verbs. With irregular verbs, you have to learn the past simple and past participle separately. See 15 Irregular verbs.

Grammar extra: -ed and -t endings

The spellings -ed and -t may each be used for the past tense and past participle of the verbs burn, dream, lean, leap, learn, smell, spell, spill, and spoil. Generally, the -ed spelling is more common in American English and the -t spelling is more common in British English.

1.6 Linking verbs

Some verbs are followed by a complement rather than an object. Such verbs are called linking verbs. Examples are: appear, be, feel, seem:

Laughter is good for you.

That seems a fair guess.

1.7 Phrases and clauses

A phrase is a group of words that work together in their different roles as, eg noun, verb, adjective, adverb and preposition:

a black dog

green as grass

turn off

greatly interested

at the foot of the hill

in accordance with

A phrase does not by itself usually make a complete sentence and is not the same as a clause.

A clause is a meaningful group of words that includes one or more phrases and a verb and typically forms part of a complete longer sentence.

There are two kinds of clauses: main clause and subordinate clause. A main clause (or independent clause) is complete in itself and can exist independently as a sentence by itself:

We were late because the car broke down.

As there was no work to do, she decided to go home.

When times are difficult, I sleep less.

A subordinate clause (or dependent clause) is not complete in itself and cannot stand as an independent sentence. Subordinate clauses typically begin with such words as although, because, if or when:

We were late because the car broke down.

As there was no work to do, she decided to go home.

When times are difficult, I sleep less.

1.8 Structure of sentences

The usual order of the grammatical elements within a clause or sentence is subject, verb, object/complement/adverbial:

The woman [subject] opened [verb] her handbag [object].

The weather [subject] became [verb] stormy [complement].

The members [subject] voted [verb] very soon afterwards [adverbial].

Many sentences may include more than one object or a combination of object and adverbial or complement:

The doctor [subject] gave [verb] her [indirect object] a prescription [direct object].

The colleagues [subject] wrote [verb] a report [object] on the accident [adverbial].

The high-speed train [subject] carries [verb] many people [object] quickly [complement].

The order is different in questions: See 4 Questions.

1.9 Agreement

When we use a verb in a sentence, we must make sure we use the correct form. To work out which is the correct form, we look at the subject of the sentence. If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular:

She works (singular) in a bank.

If the subject is plural, the verb must be plural:

They work (plural) in a bank.

The ending of the verb also depends on which person the subject is.

We use the infinitive as the base form and add endings (eg -s, ed, -ing) or other words (auxiliary verbs, eg are, do, have, will, can) to express the meaning of verbs.

Grammar extra: singular or plural?

Sometimes it is difficult to know whether the subject is singular or plural, and so we may not be sure whether to use a singular or plural verb:

• where two or more nouns are joined with and, we use a plural verb unless they represent a single unit:

My aunt and uncle were at the party.

Where a single unit is thought of, we use a singular verb:

Fish and chips is [not: are] a popular meal because it is the singular meal that is thought of.

1,000,000 euros is [not: are] a lot of money. Here, it is