Appendix 1. Verbs

Verbs tell activities, faculties, or states, for example to think, to work, or to be. They may do this in four Aspects. The Aspects are the Simple, the Progressive, the Perfect, and the Perfect Progressive.


Except Modal verbs, English verbs have three forms.









Grammar books vary in naming the three verb forms.












The Infinitive alone does not tell when something happens. It does not tell who or what acts or reacts. We can say the Infinitive on its own is person and time neutral or objective.


The Infinitive can help syntactic expansion, and allow staying in the same compass for grammatical time. In a phrase as “I want to learn language”, both the wanting and its object, learning language, belong with the grammatical PRESENT.


Dictionaries show base forms of verbs. Plain “be” is the base form of the verb “to be”. We also can know the form as the bare Infinitive. Almost everyone knows the famous “To be or not to be”, in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. “To be” is the full Infinitive form of the bare or base “be”.


We can use the bare Infinitive in adages, as
“Live and let live”.
We do not say,
*“Live and let to live”.


Varieties of English differ on the Infinitive. For example, British English or Irish English would employ the verb “to help” mostly with the full Infinitive.


American English has the bare Infinitive. We are likely to say or hear, “Help me do this”, in American English. In British or Irish English, the form would be probably “Help me to do this”. The American form is older than the present-day British or Irish forms.


The Infinitive has Progressive, Perfect, and Perfect Progressive forms.
… to be working (the Progressive Infinitive);
… to have worked (the Perfect Infinitive);
… to have been working (the Perfect Progressive Infinitive).


We can have the full Infinitive for the Simple Infinitive as well:
… to work (the Simple Infinitive).


The name “preterit” comes from the Latin “praeterire”, “to go by, pass”. The participle can be the Perfect or third form.
“He went home” (preterit);
“He has gone home” (the Perfect participle).


Let us now think about the participle. Some grammar books will have the Progressive participle, for the present participle. However, we can see the form in Progressive tenses, and these can be PRESENT, as well as PAST or FUTURE

… to be working (the Progressive Infinitive);
I am working (the PRESENT Progressive);
I was working (the PAST Progressive);
I will be working (the FUTURE Progressive).


Our grammar journey can stay by labels as the dynamic, or Progressive participle, and the stative or Perfect participle.


We form the dynamic participle by adding ING to the base form of the verb. We do not say the final [g] in the ING. We pronounce [Iŋ], bringing the tongue close to the back wall of the oral cavity, but without finalizing into the sound [g].


If our verb ends in o, the ending will take a “u-feature” [υ]. The effect may resemble [w] as in [wood]:
going [goυIŋ]

He is going home. [goυIŋ]


Both the Perfect and the Progressive participles may have adjectival or adverbial qualities.
He has gone home ≈ He is gone home.
(goneis an ADJECTIVE.)


Driving home, he was singing ≈ He was driving home and singing.
(Driving home” is an ADVERBIAL PHRASE.)


We drop the silent final –e, to make the dynamic participle, e.g. relieve ― relievING.


When the –e is not silent, we keep it, e.g. agree ― agreeING.


When the word base ends in –ie, we change it to –y, e.g. lie ― lyING.


Word-final –y does not change, e.g. fly ― flyING.


We double the final non-vowel when there is only one vowel sound before it and the syllable is stressed, e.g.
prefer ― preferring.


However, we double the final [l] only if the final nucleus is stressed, e.g.
control ― controlling.


Unstressed, the final nucleus [l] tends to be an approximant, in standard American English. The tongue only nears the roof of the mouth; it does not make contact. This might be why we do not double the sound then, e.g.

travel ― traveling.


There are a few irregular participle forms.


  • verbs ending in –c, where we add –k before the ING, e.g. frolickING;
  • the verb to singe, where we keep the final –e and avoid ambiguity, please compare:
    to singe ― singeING, [sInIŋ];
    to sing ― singING [sIŋgIŋ].

Please always refer to a dictionary. Dictionaries show verb forms. Without going into excess detail, we can learn the phonetic script, playing the game of the Ziggurat, in Part Four. Many dictionaries and resources use the script. It is worth knowing.

__Smiley PNG
Ziggurat card


Verbs can form Gerunds. Gerunds work as nouns. Their form is identical with that of the dynamic participle.


to writewriting


Please compare,

He is writing. He has dreamed to be like today, to be writing in his own writer’s room. He has always thought it must have been his dictionary research to have worked for his written style. He never wanted to be like his friend: to have been writing intuitively and to find out the result was a dictionary error. His writing has improved.


We can just pick up a color thread and compare word forms. Further travel has more of the picture.

__Smiley PNG

Verbs can be transitive and intransitive. When a verb is transitive, it has an object. An object is a word or words to tell to whom or to what the verbal refers.


99. He has worked on it. (Transitive)

100. It works. (Intransitive)


In the Simple Aspect, our variable {ON}, we have the feature (e)s with the verb for the 3rd person singular, that is the pronouns he, she, and it. The feature is plain -s, unless the verb ends in -o. For example, she reads, she does.


Modal verbs do not have all the three forms. They are auxiliaries: on their own, they do not tell the activity and require another verb. If we say I will or I can alone, there has to be another verb in the context to tell what this is we say we will or can. Even if auxiliaries appear to make sentences, the dot does not delineate the entire verbal structure. Further travel has more.


Naturally, saying “I want” alone, would be as lacking as saying “I can alone. However, the verb to want does not always require another verb. We can say,
“I want some peace and quiet for my language work”.
The “peace and quiet” make a nominal phrase, and the verb to want is sufficient for the verbal structure. Parts Three and Four expand on speech parts and phrases.


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