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 Simple, the Progressive, the Perfect, and the Perfect Progressive.

Except Modal verbs, English verbs have three forms.

FIRST
write

SECOND
wrote

THIRD
written

Grammar books vary in naming the three verb forms.

FIRST
Present
infinitive

SECOND
Past
preterit

THIRD
Perfect
participle

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: it allows staying in the same compass for grammatical time. In a phrase as “I would like to learn language”, both the favor 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 of the bare or base “be”. We can use the bare infinitive in adages, as
“Live and let live”.
By standard, the full infinitive might be odd for an adage:
“Live and let *to live”.

Varieties of English differ on the infinitive. For example, British English or Irish English would use the verb “to help” with the full infinitive. American English would have the bare infinitive; we are likely to say or hear, “Help me do this”, in American English. In British or Irish English, the form might be “Help me to do this”.

The infinitive is capable of Aspect shapes, the Progressive, Perfect, and Perfect Progressive:
to be working (the Progressive infinitive);
to have worked (the Perfect infinitive);
to have been working (the Perfect Progressive infinitive).

We may view the full infinitive as the Simple infinitive as well:
to work (the Simple infinitive).

The name “preterit” comes from the Latin praeterire, “to go by, pass”.
“He moved home” (preterit or 2nd form);
The third form may make the Perfect Aspect:
“He has moved home” (the Perfect or stative participle).

It can also work in the Passive:
“He is moved to a new home”.

Some grammar books may give the Progressive participle a name as the present participle. However, we can see it in Progressive tenses, and these can also be PAST or FUTURE:
I am working (the PRESENT Progressive);
I was working (the PAST Progressive);
I will be working (the FUTURE Progressive).

The Progressive participle form is: working; and
to be working is the Progressive infinitive.

Our grammar journey can stay by names 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 say [Iŋ], bringing the tongue close to the back wall of the mouth, but without sounding the written “g”.

If our verb ends in ―o, the ending will take a feature to resemble [w] as in [wood]:
He is going home. [gowIŋ]

Both the Perfect and the Progressive participles may have adjectival or adverbial qualities:
He has moved to a new home ≈ He is moved to a new home;
(participles as “moved” also happen to be used as adjectives.)

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.

We keep the final –e when it is not silent, 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 [l] tends to be an approximant, in standard American English. The tongue only nears the roof of the mouth; it does not make contact. We do not double the sound then, e.g.

travel ― traveling.

There are a few irregular participle forms:
■ in the verb to frolic, the final –c, sounds {k}, and we add written –k to keep the sound before ING, i.e. frolickING;
■ the verb to singe, we keep the final –e for the sound {dƷ}, please compare:
to singe ― singeING, [sIndƷIŋ];
to sing ― singING [sIŋgIŋ].

Many dictionaries and resources use phonetic scripts, that is, symbols like these in brackets here. Without going into excess detail, we can learn to interpret such scripts, playing the game of the Sound. Part 4 of our language journey has the game.


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Verbs can form gerunds. Gerunds behave like nouns. Their form is identical with that of the dynamic participle,
to write: writing, writtenwriting.

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. His writing has improved. He never wanted to be like his friend: to have been writing intuitively and to find out the result had a dictionary error.

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.
He has worked on it (transitive).
It works (intransitive).

In the Simple Aspect, our variable {ON}, we have the feature (e)s for the 3rd person singular, that is the pronouns he, she, and it. The feature is usually a 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 do.

Even if auxiliaries appear to make sentences, the dot does not delineate on their entire reference.
He thought if he could learn a new language. He could.
The entire reference for the phrase “he could” is
“he could learn another language”.
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 could 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 3 and 4 expand on speech parts and phrases.


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■ the Simple, Progressive, and Perfect;
■ infinitive, auxiliary, and head verb forms;
■ the Affirmative, Interrogative, Negative, and Negative Interrogative;
■ irregular verbs and vowel patterns: high and low, back and front.
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