English Grammar Made Easy

Subtitle

Forms of Main Verbs

Forms of Main Verbs

Main verbs (except the verb "be") have only 4, 5 or 6 forms. "Be" has 9 forms.

Main verbs are also called "lexical verbs".

 

 

V1

V2

V3

 

 

 

infinitive

base

past simple

past participle

present participle

present simple, 3rd person singular

regular

(to) work

work

worked

worked

working

works

irregular

(to) sing
(to) make
(to) cut

sing
make
cut

sang
made
cut

sung
made
cut

singing
making
cutting

sings
makes
cuts

(to) do*
(to) have*

do
have

did
had

done
had

doing
having

does
has

infinitive

base

past simple

past participle

present participle

present simple

(to) be*

be

was, were

been

being

am, are, is

In the above examples:

  • to cut has 4 forms: to cut, cut, cutting, cuts
  • to work has 5 forms: to work, work, worked, working, works
  • to sing has 6 forms: to sing, sing, sang, sung, singing, sings
  • to be has 9 forms: to be, be, was, were, been, being, am, is, are

 Tip

The infinitive can be with or without to. For example, to sing and sing are both infinitives. We often call the infinitive without to the "bare infinitive".

At school, students usually learn by heart the base, past simple and past participle (sometimes called V1, V2, V3, meaning Verb 1, Verb 2, Verb 3) for the irregular verbs. They may spend many hours chanting: sing, sang, sung; go, went, gone; have, had, had; etc. They do not learn these for the regular verbs because the past simple and past participle are always the same: they are formed by adding "-ed" to the base. They do not learn the present participle and 3rd person singular present simple by heart—for another very simple reason: they never change. The present participle is always made by adding "-ing" to the base, and the 3rd person singular present simple is always made by adding "s" to the base (though there are some variations in spelling).

* Note that "do", "have" and "be" also function as helping or auxiliary verbs, with exactly the same forms (except that as helping verbs they are never in infinitive form).

Example Sentences

These example sentences use main verbs in different forms.

Infinitive

  • I want to work
  • He has to sing.
  • This exercise is easy to do.
  • Let him have one.
  • To be, or not to be, that is the question:

Base - Imperative

  • Work well!
  • Make this.
  • Have a nice day.
  • Be quiet!

Base - Present simple
(except 3rd person singular)

  • I work in London.
  • You sing well.
  • They have a lot of money.

Base - After modal auxiliary verbs

  • I can work tomorrow.
  • You must sing louder.
  • They might do it.
  • You could be right.

Past simple

  • I worked yesterday.
  • She cut his hair last week.
  • They had a good time.
  • They were surprised, but I was not.

Past participle

  • I have worked here for five years.
  • He needs a folder made of plastic.
  • It is done like this.
  • I have never been so happy.

Present participle

  • I am working.
  • Singing well is not easy.
  • Having finished, he went home.
  • You are being silly!

3rd person singular, present simple

  • He works in London.
  • She sings well.
  • She has a lot of money.
  • It is Vietnamese.

Forms of Helping Verbs

Helping verbs are also called "auxiliary verbs".

All helping verbs are used with a main verb (either expressed or understood*). There are 2 groups of helping verbs:

  • Primary helping verbs, used mainly to change the tense or voice of the main verb, and in making questions and negatives.
  • Modal helping verbs, used to change the "mood" of the main verb.

Study the table below. It shows the prinicipal forms and uses of helping verbs, and explains the differences between primary and modal helping verbs.

* Sometimes we make a sentence that has a helping verb and seems to have no main verb. In fact, the main verb is "understood". Look at the following examples:

  • Question: Can you speak English? (The main verb speak is "expressed".)
  • Answer: Yes, I can. (The main verb speak is not expressed. It is "understood" from the context. We understand: Yes, I can speak English.

But if somebody walked into the room and said "Hello. I can", we would understand nothing!

Helping Verbs

Primary

Modal

do

(to make simple tenses, and questions and negatives)

can

could

be

(to make continuous tenses, and the passive voice)

may

might

have

(to make perfect tenses)

will

would

shall

should

must

ought (to)

"Do", "be" and "have" as helping verbs have exactly the same forms as when they are main verbs (except that as helping verbs they are never used in infinitive forms).

Modal helping verbs are invariable. They always have the same form.

Primary helping verbs are followed by the main verb in a particular form:

  • do + V1 (base verb)
  • be + -ing (present participle)
  • have + V3 (past participle)

"Ought" is followed by the main verb in infinitive form. Other modal helping verbs are followed by the main verb in its base form (V1).

  • ought + to... (infinitive)
  • other modals + V1 (base verb)

"Do", "be" and "have" can also function as main verbs.

Modal helping verbs cannot function as main verbs.

 

Now try a simple little quiz. Just click on the website below.

http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verbs-verb-forms_quiz.htm

Thank You http://www.englishclub.com

 

 

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