Topic: Verb

Verbs are a very important word class, including words for actions (he walked home) and states (she is at home). They can be marked for present or past tense (walks, walked).

Finite or nonfinite?

In each of the following sentences, indicate whether the highlighted verb is finite or nonfinite.

Identify the verbs

Click on the words that you think are verbs to select or deselect them.

Main verb or auxiliary verb?

Is the highlighted verb a main verb or an auxiliary verb?

Y2 GPaS Test: Identify the verbs

Find the main verbs in a range of examples

Identify the main verb in each of the following examples. Click on the word (or words) to select or deselect them.

Y2 GPaS Test: Present or past tense?

In each of the following examples, indicate whether the highlighted verb is in present or past tense:

Y6 GPaS Test: Identify the modal verbs

Find the modal verbs in a range of examples

Identify the modal verbs in each of the following examples. Click on the word (or words) to select or deselect them.

Y6 GPaS Test: Identify the verbs

Find the verbs in a range of examples

Identify the verbs in each of the following examples. Click on the word (or words) to select or deselect them.

Y6 GPaS Test: Modal verbs, adverbs, and uncertainty

Read each of the following examples carefully. Which kind of word indicates uncertainty? An adverb or a modal verb?

Y6 GPaS Test: Noun or verb?

In each of the following examples, indicate whether the highlighted word is a noun or a verb:

Y6 GPaS Test: Present or past tense?

In each of the following examples, indicate whether the highlighted verb is in present or past tense:

Y6 GPaS Test: Select the verb form

Select the correct verb form for each example.

Phrasal verbs

What is a phrasal verb? Phrasal verbs consist of a combination of a verb and another word, which we’ll call a preposition. Some examples are come over, look (something) up. The first word in a verb-preposition combination can be just about any verb. The verbs that most commonly appear in such combinations are listed below:

Phrasal verbs: New phrasal verbs

There are many phrasal verbs that you won’t find in any dictionary. This is because we commonly create new phrasal verbs based on the meanings of existing phrasal verbs. Usually, new phrasal verbs are either transparent or aspectual – new idiomatic phrasal verbs would usually be too difficult for listeners to decode. Perhaps you’ve heard examples like the following:

Phrasal verbs: Three categories

Non-native speakers are often told that their only option is to memorise each phrasal verb individually. Is it really necessary to do all that work? No. Not only is it unnecessary, it’s inefficient. And it’s inefficient for three reasons:

Verbs

Verbs have traditionally been described as ‘doing words’ or ‘action words’. This works well for some verbs, like sprint, chatter, eat. Here are some sentence examples with verbs which describe actions:

Verbs: Auxiliary verbs

A key distinction in the word class of verbs is between main verbs (also called lexical verbs) and auxiliary verbs:

Verbs: Modal verbs

Modal auxiliary verbs (or modals for short), as the name suggests, are a kind of auxiliary verb. They have most of the attributes of auxiliary verbs. They are a closed class that is identifiable as a short list, and they convey particular types of meaning.

Here is a table which lists the most important modal verbs (also called the core modals). It shows most of them in pairs as present and past tense forms, which makes them easier to remember.

Verbs: Nonfinite and finite

Verbs can be divided into finite and nonfinite forms. Finite verbs carry tense. So, past and present tense verb forms are finite. Nonfinite verbs do not carry tense, and do not show agreement with a Subject. Put differently, they are not 'limited' by tense or agreement.

The infinitive form of a verb is nonfinite. It is the form which follows to:

Verbs: Tense

Tense is a grammatical notion that refers to the way in which a language encodes the real world notion of time. Typically this is done through endings on verbs called inflections. Verbs are the only word class that can carry tense inflections (though they don't always do so). Verbs that carry a tense ending are called finite verbs.

Verbs

What is a verb? Is it right to call them 'doing words'?

In this short film, Professor Aarts shows the problems with defining verbs as 'doing words' and explains that English has no future tense.

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