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Verbs are words used to show the performance of an action (throw, do, run), existence (be), possession (have), or state (know, love) of a subject. A verb tells what something or someone does.

Action Verbs are action words. They show that an action is being performed. They show something happening and action verbs are dynamic.

There are two type of action verbs, regular and irregular.
For example: 
  • "Walk" is a regular action word.
  • "Run" is an irregular action word.

Auxiliary verbs
are always used with a main verb to provide grammatical information and that's why auxiliary 
Auxiliary verbs
verbs add extra meaning to a sentence. Auxiliary verbs give information which is not given by the main verb.
Auxiliary verbs are used to form the passive voice, continuous tense and perfect tense.
Auxiliary verbs are irregular verbs and can be used as main verbs. Be, Do and Have are auxiliary verbs. The auxiliary verbs "to be" and "to have" are the most commonly used auxiliary verbs and are used alongside the main verbs in any statement.

Modal verbs are treated separately from the auxiliary verbs, even though they are also auxiliary verbs. Can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will and would. Modal verbs can never be used as main verbs.

To Be
Be is the most common verb in English. It can be used as an auxiliary verb and also as a main verb. It is used a lot in it's other forms.

 Base Form be
 Present  Form am, is, are
 Past Form was, were
 Present Participle/Gerund being
 Past Participle been

To Do
The verb do is the most common verb in the English language. It is used as an auxiliary verb and a main verb. It is often used in questions.

 Base Formdo
 Present  Formdo, does
 Past Formdid
 Present Participle/Gerund doing
 Past Participle done

To Have

 Base Form have
 Present  Form have, has
 Past Form had
 Present Participle/Gerundhaving
 Past Participle had

Finite and Non Finite Verbs

A finite verb is also known as the main verb. A finite verb has a subject, which means that it can be the main verb in a sentence. A finite verb shows tense or it can also show number.

For example: I live in Delhi. (I is the subject- live tells as what the subject does - live is a finite verb)

A non finite verb doesn't have a subject tense or number. The only non-finite forms are infinitive (the to - form), the gerund and the participle.

For example: I traveled to Delhi to Improve my English. (To improve is the infinitive form)

Regular Verbs
Regular verbs are formed with easy to learn rules.

All of the regular verbs have...
  • a base form like "to look".
  • a gerund (-ing) form like "looking"
  • an "-s" form like "looks"
  • a past tense form like "looked"
  • a past participle form like "looked"

Irregular Verbs
Irregular verbs don't have any rules for conjugation. Irregular verbs can only be learnt in context.

All of the irregular verbs have...
  • a base form like "to run"
  • a gerund (-ing) form like "running"
  • an "-s" form like "runs"
  • a past form like "ran" (it must be learnt)
  • a past participle form like "run" (it must be learnt too)

The Main Verb
There can be more than one kind of verb in a sentence. There are auxiliary verbs, modal verbs and main verbs (they are also called full or non auxiliary verbs)

The main verb expresses the main action or state of being of the subject in the sentence and it changes form according to the subject (singular, plural, 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person)

Almost all statements in speech and writing have a main verb. The main verb can change the form according to the verb form (perfect tense, past tense, simple tense etc.)The Main Verb

For example:
  • Normally, dogs chase cats.
  • However, my cat chases my dog.
  • The dog has sometimes chased my cat.
  • But, only because my cat ate my dog's food.
  • My cat has been eating my dog's food a lot. 
Modal Verbs
Except be, do and have; all the auxiliary verbs are called modals. Modals are different from other auxiliary verbs. Be, do and have can be used as main verbs. Modal verbs only exist in their helping form. These verbs can't act alone as the main verb in any sentence.

The modal verbs are can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, ought to, will, would and they are explained below:

 Modal Example Usage


They can manage their own budgets.

We can't mend it.

Can they smoke here?

Can you help?



Asking for permission

Could I borrow your book?

Could you play it again more slowly?

We could try to correct it ourselves.

I think we could have another world war.

He gave up smoking so he could be healthy.
Asking for permission.



Future possibility

Ability in the past

May I have another cup of tea?

China may become a super power.
Asking for permission

Future possibility

We'd better call tomorrow, they might be eating their dinner now.

They might give us a 20% rebate.
Present Possibility 

Future Possibility

We must go now.

They mustn't use their phone at work.

Necessity/ obligation 

Ought to
We ought to employ a professional photographer.

Saying what's right or correct.
Shall (more common in the UK)
Shall I help you with your baggage?

Shall we say 1:00 then?

Shall I clean it or will you?



Asking what to do?
We should make peace at once.

I think that we should check again.

Profits should increase in two years.

Saying what's right or correct.

Recommending action

Uncertain prediction

 I can't see any taxi so I will walk.

I'll do it for you if you like.

I'll get back to you on Monday.

Profilts will increase next year.
Instant decisions



Certain Prediction

Would you mind if I brought a friend with me.?

Would you pass the sugar please?

Would you mind waiting for a moment?

"Would 2 o'clock suit you? - That'd be fine."

Would you like to play cricket this Friday?

"Would you like tea or coffee? - i'd prefer tea please"

Asking for permission



Making arrangements



Verbs don't have good or bad moods. They are actually not moody. Mood here means manner. The mood of the verb expresses the viewpoint of the speaker or writer; their wishes, intents, or assertions.

Verbs have three moods:-

Indicative mood: the indicative mood is used to state facts, to ask questions or to deny things.

Imperative mood: This is used to give commands.

Subjunctive mood: It is used to show doubt or to show that a particular situation is hypothetical.

Stative Verbs
stative verbs show a state and not an action. Stative verbs can be grouped in the following ways:
  • Verbs that show thought - doubt, believe, understand, know etc.
  • Verbs that show possession - own, have, want, contain etc.
  • Verbs that show senses - hear, smell, see etc.
  • Verbs that show emotion - want, need, hate, love etc.
Stative verbs are regular and irregular but when they are used to show a state the do not take the (-ing) form. Stative Verbs
For example:
  • I love ice cream. (don't use - I am loving...)
  • I know a lot of words in English. (don't use - I am knowing...)

However, some verbs can be used to show action or state.

For example:
  • I think English is easy (opinion)
  • I am thinking of joining a course in English Speaking. (Consideration)

Phrasal Verb
A phrasal verb is a combination of a preposition and a verb, an adverb and a verb, or a verb with both a preposition and an adverb.
A phrasal verb means different from the original verb. That's why they are so interesting, but confusing. You may have to guess the meaning from the context, or, use a dictionary. 

The preposition or adverb that follows the verb are sometimes called a particle. It changes the meaning in idiomatic ways. Phrasal Verbs are also know as compound verbs, verb-particle constructions, verb-adverb combinations.

Literal UsagePhrasal Verb

A phrasal verb used in a literal sense with a preposition is easy to understand.

  • He walked across the bridge.
Verb and adverb combinations are also easy to understand if used literally.
  • He opened the windows and looked outside.
  • When I heard the crash, I looked up.

Idiomatic Usage

Idiomatic usage makes phrasal verbs so important.

  • I hope you will get over the bad experience quickly. (Here, get over means to recover from)




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Verbs Exercises