Introduction to Verbs (Basic)



Definition of Verbs

A verb tells or asserts something about a person or thing. It can refer to
(1) What a person or thing does
      Eg: The wheel spins. Harry cried.

(2) What is done to a person or thing
      Eg: The door is broken. Harry is wounded.

(3) What a person or thing is
     Eg: The dog is alive. The mirror is shiny.


Single Verb for Two Subjects in a Compound Sentence

A single verb can be used for two subjects in a compound sentence, only when the form of the verb is such as to permit it.

Not a whisper was heard, nor any other sound (was heard).


Usage of 'Lay' and 'Lie'

The verb 'lay' is transitive and is always followed by an object. The verb 'lie' is intransitive and cannot have an object.

I laid the eggs on the kitchen table.
I am lying on the grass.


Use of Infinitives in Present and Past Tenses

The infinitive should always be used in the present tense unless it represents action prior to that of the governing verb.

I would have liked to attend the party.
He seems to have enjoyed the party.


Present Participle Should Not Express Action Contemporaneous With the Principal Verb

A present participle should not be used to express an action which is not contemporaneous with the action of the principal verb.

He flew to Denver, arriving there on Tuesday morning. - Incorrect
He flew to Denver and arrived there on Tuesday morning. - Correct


Using the Subjunctive and Indicative Moods

The subjunctive mood is sometimes wrongly used for the indicative mood. When the statement introduced by 'if' or 'though' is an actual fact, or what is assumed to be a fact, the indicative mood is used.

Though the exam is over, I will continue studying the subject.
If he was there, he must have objected.


Use of the Verb 'Make' with a Noun/Pronoun and Bare Infinitive

The verb 'make' can be followed by a noun/pronoun and a bare or plain infinitive (infinitive without to).

Eg: She made the child clean his room.


Usage of Words like 'Enjoy', 'Avoid', 'Postpone' and 'Suggest without an Infinitive

Avoid using words like 'enjoy', 'avoid', 'miss', 'postpone' and 'suggest' with a to-infinitive.

I enjoy to bake cakes. - Incorrect
I enjoy baking cakes. - Correct


Usage of 'Discuss', 'Describe', 'Order' and 'Request' without a Presposition

Avoid using 'discuss', 'describe', 'order' and 'request' with a preposition.

We discussed about the subject. - Incorrect
We discussed the subject. - Correct

He requested for an invitation to the party. - Incorrect
He requested an invitation to the party. - Correct


Use of Infinitive after 'Know How' and 'Know When'

Use the infinitive after 'know how' and 'know when'.

He knows how to tile the roof.
He knows when to speak and when to stay silent.



Two types of verbs act as both verbs as well as nouns: Gerunds and Infinitives.

What are gerunds and infinitives?  They're both non-finite verbs, i.e., derived from a verb but without a subject (because it functions as a noun). Let's look at the gerunds first:

A gerund is a verb form that ends in ing, for example, read + ing = reading. It works like a noun: as a subject, object, complement of a verb or the object of a preposition.

  • As a subject: For example, Walking is the best exercise, where walking is a gerund that is the subject of the verb is.

  • As an object: For example, Neil loves reading, where reading is an object of the verb loves.

  • As the complement of a verb: For example, My favourite activity is singing, where singing is the complement of the verb is.

  • As the object of a preposition: For example, She is good at dancing, where dancing is the object of the preposition at.

Gerunds must not be confused with participles, which take the same form verb + ing. The difference is that a gerund functions as a noun and a participle functions as an adjective. 


Use of the Bare Infinitive after 'Had Rather', 'Had Better', etc.

The bare infinitive (without 'to') should be used after 'had rather', 'had better', 'would rather', 'sooner than' and 'rather than'.

He would rather delay than send the letter straightaway.



We've looked at gerunds, now let's take a look at infinitives.

An infinitive takes the form to + verb, such as to play, to read and so on. It functions in the same way as the gerund.

  • As the subject of a verb: For example, To err is human, to forgive is divine, where to err and to forgive are both subjects of the verb is.

  • As the object of a verb: For example, She likes to play, where to play is the object of the verb likes.

  • As the complement of a verb: For example, She seems to be upset, where to be is the complement of the verb seems.

  • As the object of a preposition: For example, I was about to leave, where to leave is the object of the preposition about.


Use of the Bare Infinitive After 'Bid', 'Let', etc.

The bare infinitive (without 'to') should follow verbs like 'bid', 'let', 'make', 'need', 'dare', 'see' and 'hear'.

He bid me open the door.
They let me contact a lawyer.


Difference Between a Gerund and an Infinitive


Use of a Gerund Following Verbs like 'Enjoy', 'Admit', 'Deny', etc.

A gerund should follow verbs like 'enjoy', 'admit', 'deny', 'appreciate', 'regret', 'avoid', 'help', 'consider', 'stop', 'looking forward to', 'accustomed to', 'is used to', 'do not mind' and 'object to'.

I enjoy playing basketball.
I deny lying to the judge.


Use of an Infinitive After 'Decide', 'Plan', 'Expect', 'Fail', etc.

Infinitives should be used after the verbs 'decide', 'plan', 'expect', 'fail', 'hope', 'intend', 'learn', 'promise', 'refuse', 'want', 'agree', 'consent', 'try' and 'love'.

I expect to pass with flying colours.
I hope to find out more about him.


Agreement of Subject and Verb in the Case of Singular Nouns Joined by And

If two or more singular subjects exist and are joined by 'and', the following verb will be in the plural.

Tom and Harry are two colleagues from my workplace.


Identifying the Correct Form of the Verb

Questions that ask you to identify the correct form of the verb test your knowledge of the various verb forms and ask you to choose the most appropriate verb form to fill in the given blank.


Follow 'make' in the passive with the to-infinitive

When 'make' is in the passive voice, we use the 'to-infinitive' form of the verb instead of the bare infinitive. 
For example: He was made to go to school. 


Words that are Adjectives and Adverbs

Some words can be used as both adjectives and adverbs. For example, consider the following sentences:
We took an early train to Jaipur. 
I sleep early on most nights.
In the first sentence, "early" is used as an adjective that modifies the noun "train." In the second sentence, "early" is used as an adverb that modifies the verb "sleep."


Words that are Adjectives and Adverbs

Examples of words that function as both adjectives and adverbs include weekly, low, just, most etc. Let's look at another example:
This is the most interesting book I have ever read. 
Most people prefer going to the beach on a sunny day.
In the first sentence, "most" is used as an adverb, but in the second sentence it functions as an adjective.


Subject and Object of the Verb (Basic)


The verb: Persons and Numbers (Basic)



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Important Questions