Last time I looked at nouns and their articles. If you missed it click here for a refresher. Test your knowledge in the quick quiz. How did you get on?
What is a verb?
A verb describes:
- what a person or thing does, e.g.
- run, cook, walk
- what happens, e.g.
- follow, grow
- a state, e.g.
- be, like.
The most basic sort of verb is the ‘infinitive’, e.g. to be, to run, to go.
The tense of a verb tells when a person did something or when something happened:
- there are 3 main tenses:
- Present tense, e.g. I am, she cooks, they like.
- Past tense, e.g. I was, she cooked, they liked.
- Future tense, e.g. I shall, she will cook, they will like.
All verbs have a subject, however, depending on how the sentence is worded, the verb can be either active or passive:
- Active verb – e.g. England (subject) beat (active verb) Germany in the final.
- Passive verb – e.g. Germany (subject) were beaten (passive verb) by England in the final.
The passive verb tends to be used more in formal writing, e.g. reports and official documents.
Here’s a quick quiz to test your knowledge of verbs and their subjects:
Choose the correct form of the verb that agrees with the subject:
- John and his sisters (is, are) at school.
- Either David or my mother (is, are) going to pick you up from the gym.
- There (was, were) ten sweets in that bag. Now there (is, are) only one left!
- Either my books or your bag (is, are) always on the floor.
- The players, as well as the captain, (want, wants) to win.
- Every one of those books (is, are) non-fiction.
- Neither of my brothers (is, are) going to the cinema.
- John and Simon (doesn’t, don’t) want to go swimming.
- Nobody (know, Knows) what’s going on.
- (Is, are) my trousers at the cleaner’s?
To see how you got on, click here for the answers.
Just when you thought you were getting the hang of verbs, let me throw a small spanner in the works and introduce something called a participle.
A participle is a word that is partly a verb and partly an adjective.
When used as a verb – there are 2 kinds of participles in English:
- Present participle – ends in –ing and demonstrates an action as ongoing or incomplete, e.g.
- We met a man walking to the shops.
- Past participle – ends in –ed or –d for regular verbs, or with –t or –en, and demonstrates an action that has been completed, e.g.
- Driven by rain, we sought shelter under a tree
- Laughed at by his friends, he left the room
When used as an adjective:
- the present participle has an active meaning, e.g.
- the barking dog
- a moving car
- the past participle has a passive meaning, e.g.
- a burnt tree
- a painted door
So, maybe you weren’t aware that when you use a word ending in –ing, that you’re actually using a ‘present participle’? Likewise, when you use a word ending in –ed, you’re actually using a ‘past participle’.
You are now!
That’s it for verbs, next up I’ll be looking at adjectives and adverbs. Look out for another quick quiz.
If you’ve missed any of the previous parts of Grammar – Love it or Loathe it, select from the list below:
In the meantime, contact me if you would like to know more about how I could help you to overcome any fears or lack of confidence you may have about your writing.
Peter Clarke aka ‘The OopsProofer’