Most important grammar rules about verbs you should remember


We have already discussed important grammar rules about adverbs. The VERB is a part of speech, which indicates an action or state of being of a person or a thing. The Verb takes an important part in the English language.  It is impossible to create a sentence without a verb. Verbs usually express a physical, mental or other activity. Verbs answer the questions “what does the person (thing) do?”, “what is done to the person (thing)?” The Verb in English has several categories, such as tense, number, aspect, person, moos and voice. All these categories are conveyed by different affixes and word forms, as well as by the change of the root vowel. There are transitive and intransitive verbs, finite and non-finite forms.

Morphological structure

When talking about morphological structure, verbs can be shared in the following categories:

  • Simple (go, read, talk, take, put)
  • Derived verbs have affixes (modernize, finalize, undo, decompose, magnify)
  • Compound verbs are created of two stems (browbeat, broadcast, whitewash)
  • Phrasal verbs consist of the combination of a verb with preposition or adverb (calm down, give up, come in, take off, go out, take away)

The postposition always changes the meaning of the composite/ phrasal verb. Thus, we can create composite verbs with totally different meaning using same postpositions: give up, break up, stand up, etc.

Verbs have three basic forms in the Modern English language: The Infinitive, the Past Indefinite and the Past Participle II. For example: to take – took – taken. According to their Basic Forms, verbs are divided into regular, irregular and mixed groups.

1. REGULAR verbs. To form Past Indefinite or Participle II you should add –ed ending to the stem of the verb. In some cases we add only –d ending, if the word already has –e ending. For example: talk – talked, open – opened, close – closed, turn – turned, want – wanted.

  • When the word has –y ending, we change the final -y to –ied. For example: reply – replied, marry – married, carry – carried, supply – supplied.
  • We do not change –y to –ied if there is a vowel before the ending. For example: play – played, enjoy – enjoyed, stay – stayed, convey – conveyed.
  • When the word ends on a consonant after the stressed vowed we usually double the final consonant. For example: drop – dropped, stop – stopped, clap – clapped, plan – planned, stir- stirred.
  • When final –r comes after a stressed vowed it is also doubled. For example: prefer – preferred, occur – occurred, refer – referred.
  • When final –r comes after a diphthong it is also doubled. For example: appear – appeared.

2. IRREGUALR verbs. These verbs can change their form in different ways.

  • Changing the root vowel: win – won – won; sing- sang – sung; sink – sank – sunk; stand – stood – stood; get – got – got.
  • Changing the root vowel and + en ending in Participle II: Speak – spoke – spoken; hide – hid – hidden; fall – fell – fallen; take – took – taken.
  • Changing the root vowel and + –d or –t: bring — brought — brought; sell — sold — sold.
  • Changing the final  -d into  -t: build — built — built; send — sent — sent; smell – smelt – smelt.
  • Verbs which do not change in all forms - the Infinitive, Past Indefinite and Participle II: put – put – put; hit – hit - hit;  cut – cut – cut; cost – cost – cost.
  • Verbs with different stems: go – went – gone; do – did – done; be – was/were – been.

3. MIXED verbs. Past Indefinite has regular form, and Participle II has irregular form: sew – sewed – sewn; show – showed – shown.

Syntactic function

According to the syntactic function, verbs can be notional, auxiliary and link verbs. Syntactic function defines the level to which the verb can retain, weaken or lose its meaning.

Auxiliary verbs are those which do not have their own meaning and serve only as form words. They have only a grammatical function and function only in analytical form. For example: to be, to do, to have, may, should, will, shall, would.

Ex. I would love to drink some coffee with you after classes. One may think that we have a quarrel. I had to refuse his invitation to the bar.

Notional verbs has their own meaning and are used as a simple predicate. For example: to ask, to know, to bring, to write, to speak, to read.

Ex. He asked me about the last night. We spoke for a few hours by phone. My sister speaks Spanish and Chinese languages.

Link verbs have lost their meaning and serve in the compound nominal predicate in different forms of the verb to be.

Ex. He is a doctor. The bag was very heavy.

In different sentences, the same verbs be notional verbs as well as auxiliary or link verbs:

Ex. She turned the light off and left the room. A man turned pale when he saw his ill daughter.

Transitive and intransitive verbs

There are transitive and intransitive verbs in English. Transitive verbs can have a direct object, since they describe an action that proceeds to another person or thing. For example: to send, to eat, to see, to love, to take, to make, to bring, etc.

Ex. Mike send her an invitation letter. Arthur signed the paper, took his clothes and went out.

Intransitive verbs do not have a direct object. For example: to swim, to laugh, to think, to stand, to sleep, to lie.

Ex. John does not like summer and seaside, because he cannot swim. All kids stood still when the teacher came in.

Grammatical categories

As we have already mentioned, there are grammatical categories of aspect, tense, person, voice, number and mood.

  • In Modern English there are three forms indicating person, while the form of the 2nd person singular is not used any more. We use  the 2nd person plural instead.
  • There are 2 numbers: singular and plural. For example: He wants, she wants, we want, they want.
  • We have already spoken about English Tenses. Tense category describes the connection of an action to the moment in the future, present, or past.
  • The category of aspect  has two types: common and continuous. It shows how the action develops, is it in progress or finished.
  • Voice category shows the relations between the predicate, the subject and the object. We define 2 basic voices in English: active and passive voice. Active voice expresses the person, which is the doer of an action, while passive voice shows that the person or thing expressed by the subject is influenced upon.
  • There are 3 mood categories: the indicative mood, the imperative mood, and the subjunctive mood. Indicative Mood denotes an action as a real fact in the present, past or future. This form is fundamental in the transmission of information and communication.

Ex. He reads book in the evening. He is reading the evening book.

Imperative Mood expresses the motivation to act (order, request, advice, etc.)

Ex. Go to me. Let’s talk about last news. Take this pen and sign a paper.

The Subjunctive mood shows that the speaker considers the action not as a fact, but as expected or desired thing, as well as a possibility under certain conditions.

Ex. I wish he moved to my apartment.

There are a lot of important grammar rules about verbs every student should learn to improve the writing skills. We have described the basic rules about Verbs in English in this article. Do you have any suggestions? Contact team! We are happy to discuss it with you.