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A verb shows action or a passive state of being.

I go home. Home is my place to rest. I like the smell of my house. I feel totally relaxed. Home refreshes me. At home, I get ready for a new day.

 

"Passive" verbs indicate the simple state of existing or being.

Verbs must match subjects.

  • I am a doctor.
  • He is sleepy.
  • We are here.

Negative sentences need 'not' after the verb.

  • I am not a doctor.
  • He is not sleepy.
  • We are not there.

The verb comes first in interrogative sentences.

  • Am I a doctor?
  • Is he sleepy?
  • Are we there?

"Are not" (is not) can be shortened to "aren't" (isn't).

  • He isn't sleepy.
  • We aren't there.

 

Memorize the variations of "Passive" verbs:

PresentNegativeInterrogative
I amI am notAm I?
You areYou are not (aren't) Are you?
He isHe is not (isn't) Is he?
She isShe is not (isn't) Is she?
It isIt is not (isn't) Isn't it?
We areWe are not (aren't) Are we?
You areYou are not (aren't) Are you?
They areThey are not (aren't) Are they?

 

Quiz

Which of the following sentences are written correctly?

1) I am thirsty.
2) You are kind.
3) He am not sad.
4) She are not tall.
5) It is not moving.
6) We aren't tired.
7) Is they running?
8) Are you ready?

 

 

Action Verbs

Action verbs express action and are the most common verbs.

 

Action verbs need [s] at the end with third-person, singular subjects.

  • He eats bread.
  • She walks to the station.
  • It floats on the sea.

Negative sentences need do not, does not, or did not.

  • I do not eat bread.
  • He does not eat bread.
  • You did not walk to the station.
  • It does not float on the sea.

Interrogative sentences begin with do, does, or did.

  • Do you eat bread?
  • Does he eat bread?
  • Does she walk to the station?
  • Did they finish it?

Do not can be shortened to don't, does not to doesn't, and did not to didn't.

  • I don't eat bread.
  • She doesn't walk to the station.
  • It doesn't float on the sea.
  • They didn't finish it.

 

Remember the variations of action verbs:

Affirmative Sentence Negative Sentence Interrogative Sentence
I sing a song. I do not (don't) sing a song. Do I sing a song?
You sing a song. You do not (don't) sing a song. Do you sing a song?
He (she) sings a song. He (she) does not (doesn't) sing a song. Does he (she) sing a song?
We sing a song. We do not (don't) sing a song. Do we sing a song?
They sing a song. They did not (didn't) sing a song. Did they sing a song?

 

Quiz

Correct the verb errors in the sentences below. Some sentences may be correct as is.

1) I runs a marathon.
2) You look sleepy.
3) She do not dance.
4) Does you leave today?
5) We don't stay here.
6) It come with rice.

 

 

Regular vs. Irregular Verbs

Regular verbs form their past and past participle by adding [ed] (d).


Base VerbPastPast Participle
learnlearnedlearned
studystudiedstudied
cookcookedcooked
solvesolvedsolved
askaskedasked
watchwatchedwatched
listenlistenedlistened

 

Irregular verbs do not have definite rules, but there are a few patterns.

Base VerbPastPast Participle
growgrewgrown
knowknewknown
beginbeganbegun
drawdrewdrawn
drivedrovedriven
flyflewflown
givegavegiven
speakspokespoken
swimswamswum
gowentgone
taketooktaken
findfoundfound
spendspentspent
teachtaughttaught
paypaidpaid
feelfeltfelt
buyboughtbought
meetmetmet
havehadhad
feedfedfed
keepkeptkept
cutcutcut
hithithit
setsetset
shutshutshut
fitfitfit

 

Quiz

Find the past and past participle forms of the following verbs (using your dictionary):

  • bring
  • drink
  • think
  • tell
  • eat
  • make
  • beat

 

 

Auxiliary Verbs "Be" "Do" "Have"

An auxiliary verb helps the main (full) verb and is also called a "helping verb." With auxiliary verbs, you can write sentences in different tenses, moods, or voices. Auxiliary verbs are: be, do, have, will, shall, would, should, can, could, may, might, must, ought, etc.

  • I think I should study harder to master English.
  • I am having a cup of coffee.
  • You have been practicing hard.
  • It was written by a petitioner.
  • You may choose what you like.

The verb forms of be, do, and have can be used either as a main (full) verb or an auxiliary verb. The following examples show these verbs used as auxiliary verbs.

1. "Be" as an auxiliary verb

a. Used in progressive sentences:

  • I am taking a bath.
  • She is preparing dinner for us.
  • They have been studying all night.

b. Used in passive sentences:

  • I was given a free meal.
  • He was seen by fans at the airport.
  • This song has been sung by all nations.

2. "Do" as an auxiliary verb

a. Used in negative sentences:

  • I do not know the truth.
  • She doesn't agree with me.
  • They didn't arrive here yet.

b. Used in questions:

  • Do you want to have another one?
  • Did he finish his homework?
  • Do we need to keep going straight?

3. "Have" as an auxiliary verb

a. Used in perfect sentences:

  • I have been following you for a mile.
  • We have done a lot so far.
  • She had been queen of the town.

 

Quiz

Identify all auxiliary verbs in the following paragraph.

I have just heard that you didn't attend the meeting yesterday. Did you have a conflict with that time? I must ask that you explain the reason.

 

Which of the following sentences does not show any auxiliary verbs?

1) I didn't have any reason to go there.
2) Have we practiced English dialogues about this song enough?
3) Three seats have been reserved for us.
4) I am a professor in the economics department.

 

 

 

Auxiliary Verbs "Will/Would" & "Shall/Should"

The verbs will, would, shall, should, can, could, may, might, and must cannot be the main (full) verbs alone. They are used as auxiliary verbs only and always need a main verb to follow.

 

Will

Used to express desire, preference, choice, or consent:

  • I will take this duty.
  • Will you stop talking like that?

Used to express the future:

  • It will rain tomorrow.
  • The news will spread soon.

Used to express capacity or capability:

  • This bucket will hold two gallons of water.
  • This airplane will take 200 passengers.

Used to express determination, insistence, or persistence:

  • I will do it as you say.

 

Would (past form of will)

Often used in auxiliary functions with rather to express preference:

  • I would rather go shopping today.
  • We'd rather say something than stay quiet.

Used to express a wish or desire:

  • I would like to have one more pencil.

Used to express contingency or possibility:

  • If I were you, I would be so happy.

Used to express routine or habitual things:

  • Normally, we would work until 6 p.m.

 

Shall

Mainly used in American English to ask questions politely (it has more usages in British English) . For the future tense, will is more frequently used in American English than shall.

  • Shall we dance?
  • Shall I go now?
  • Let's drink, shall we?

Often used in formal settings to deliver obligation or requirement:

  • You shall abide by the law.
  • There shall be no trespassing on this property.
  • Students shall not enter this room.

 

Should (past form of shall)

Often used in auxiliary functions to express an opinion, suggestion, preference, or idea:

  • You should rest at home today.
  • I should take a bus this time.
  • He should be more thoughtful in the decision-making process.

Used to express that you wish something had happened but it didn't or couldn't (should + have + past participle):

  • You should have seen it. It was really beautiful.
  • I should have completed it earlier to meet the deadline.
  • We should have visited the place on the way.

Used to ask for someone's opinion:

  • What should we do now?
  • Should we continue our meeting?
  • Should we go this way?
  • Where should we go this summer?

Used to say something expected or correct:

  • There should be an old city hall building here.
  • Everybody should arrive by 6 p.m.
  • We should be there this evening.

 

Quiz

Fill in the blanks using an appropriate auxiliary verb.

1) I ____ leave now. It is too late.
2) You ____ have seen him. His dance was amazing.
3) _____ we have lunch together?
4) I _____ like a cup of tea, please.
5) _____ we read the email?

 

Auxiliary Verbs "Can/Could" & "May/Might/Must"

Can

Used to express ability (to be able to do something):

  • I can make jewelry.
  • He can't speak French.
  • Can you open this jar?

Used to ask for permission:

  • Can I use your bathroom?
  • Can I leave now?
  • Can I raise the volume?

Used to make requests or suggestions:

  • Can I have more napkins?
  • Can I have the bill?
  • You can take this spot if you like.
  • You can do whatever you want.

 

Could (past form of can)

Describes an ability that someone had in the past:

  • I could swim when I was young.
  • You could see the boat sinking.
  • They could tell he was nervous.

Often used in auxiliary functions to express permission politely:

  • Could I take this jacket with me?
  • You could borrow my umbrella.
  • Could you please let me pass you?
  • Could I get you more water?

Used to express possibility:

  • All of them could ride in the van.
  • You could always stay at our house.
  • Could it be true?
  • This plan could really work out.

 

May

Used to ask for formal permission:

  • May I come in?
  • May I say something now?
  • May I ask one question?

Used to suggest something that is possible:

  • She may agree with this plan.
  • They may not be happy about what happened.
  • It may shower tonight.

 

Might (past form of may)

Used to suggest a smaller possibility than may does (actually, might is more common than may in American English):

  • He might have finished it.
  • I might go see a doctor.
  • I might not come this time.
  • It might be right.
  • You might have lost it.
  • The store might have been closed today.

 

Must

Used to express something formally required or necessary:

  • I must complete the project by this week.
  • The government must provide health care for everybody.
  • Everyone must save the natural resources of the earth.
  • The building must have a fire alarm.
  • You must answer my question right now.

Used to show that something is very likely:

  • He must be a genius.
  • You must be joking!
  • There must be an accident.
  • She must be very tired.

 

Quiz

Choose the right word for each blank.

1) She ____ (can, could, may, might, must) have Practiced English dialogues a lot. Her performance was amazing.
2) I can't find my watch anywhere. I _____ (can, could, may, might, must) have lost it.
3) Professor, ___ (can, could, may, might, must) I ask a question?
4) _____ (can, could, may, might, must) you please lower your voice?
5) You ____ (can, could, may, might, must) be kidding! How is that possible?
6) I ___ (can, could, may, might, must) speak both English and Chinese fluently.

 

 

Basic English Grammar Lessons:

  1. Parts of Speech
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Nouns
  4. Pronouns
  5. Verbs
  6. Adjectives
  1. Adverbs
  2. Prepositions
  3. Conjunctions
  4. Articles
  5. Tense
  6. Gerunds
  1. Infinitives
  2. Passive Voice
  3. Mood
  4. Interjections
  5. Capitalization
  6. Punctuation

Learning Conversational English

 

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