The verb is not as much of a gadabout as its partner the noun, but in a lot of ways, it is more complex. A verb is found as the main word in the predicate of a sentence.
Verbs come in two forms: regular and irregular.
• Regular verbs form their past tense and past participle through adding –ed or –d to the base verb. Example: include – included.
• Irregular verbs form their past tense and past participle by changing the spelling of the base verb. Example: find, found.
A verb can establish a state of being (is, am, were, was, are, be, being, been), or it can express action or an occurrence, whether you can see it or not (run, fall, analyze, think).
• Action verbs are broken down into transitive and intransitive. A transitive action verb transfers action from the subject to a direct object. The boy slugged his tormentor. With an intransitive action verb, there is no direct object so the action is limit to the subject. The woman jogs regularly.
• Auxiliary verbs or helping verbs combine with action verbs to establish tense, mood or voice. The most often used auxiliary verbs, which include state of being verbs, are to be, to have, and to do.
• Linking verbs are verbs that link the subject with a word or words that rename or describe the subject. These can be state of being verbs or action verbs. If you wrote The little boy smelled awful, the word “smelled” functions as a linking verb because it links the boy and the description of him. If you wrote The little boy smelled smoke, the word “smelled” is an action verb.
Let’s take a minute to determine when state of being verbs qualify as linking verbs or as helping verbs. Consider the verb phrase “is growing” in the following examples.
Mary is growing weary of the conversation. In this case, “is” is a linking verb because it is connected to a verb describing Mary’s state of being.
Now, consider this: Mary is growing radishes in her garden. In this case, “is” is a helping verb because it is connected to action that Mary is taking.
• Yet another type of verb, modal auxiliary verbs are can, may, could, should, would, might, ought to, and must, which clarify meaning by adding a sense of obligation, urgency, or possibility.
Verb tenses are designed to pinpoint when an action takes place. The simple tenses of verbs are the past, present, and future. Each of these three tenses comes in three forms: perfect form, progressive form, and perfect progressive. The purpose of the simple tenses is pretty obvious, but what do the three forms for each tense indicate? I started out trying to explain them in paragraph form, but it was a nightmare. So, I created a table for your sanity and mine! YOU can access it on the right sidebar.
There are three moods of a verb: indicative, imperative, and subjunctive. Their use indicates whether the writer believes the sentence to be concerning a fact, a command, or an event that is contrary to fact.
• Using the indicative mood can be stating a fact, an opinion, or asking a question.
This publisher has been in business for ten years. (fact)
This publisher is not very reliable. (opinion)
Have you ever used this publisher? (question)
• The imperative mood makes a command or a request. The subject of the sentence is “you,” but it is often omitted.
Don’t drop my crystal vase! (“you” is understood)
Don’t you dare leave this house!
• Subjunctive mood is used in dependent clauses when the writer uses hypothetical, doubtful, or wishful expressions, including requests. The clauses begin with if, as if, as though, or that. Sometimes, that is omitted.
I wish [that] I were a doctoral student.
The professor requires that we be present
If I were rich, would I be living here?
It’s as if he were still here.
I can hear the music as though he were still playing.
Just because a clause begins with if doesn’t mean that the subjunctive mood is required: it must adhere to the requirements of the subjunctive mood. When the use of if establishes a cause-and-effect relationship, it is not a subjunctive construction.
Voice is the form of a transitive verb that denotes whether the subject is acting or being acted upon.
• Active voice is when the subject performs the action.
The boy slugged his tormentor.
• Passive voice is when the subject of the sentence is the receiver of the action. The verb must be accompanied by a form of the verb to be and the word by.
The boy was slugged by his tormentor.
Voice is about emphasis. Sometimes, using a passive construction in a sentence results in a lackluster presentation. Using the active voice creates a strong presence for the subject.
Passive voice, however, can be used to emphasize the object of a sentence when the subject is not very definitive, such as we, a group, or people, and in effect, strengthens the force of the sentence.
For example: To use the passive voice to strengthen the first sentence below, reorder the sentence, making the object the subject as the receiver of the action. Also note the use of a form of the verb to be and the word by as required in passive voice.
We made investments in financial instruments during the bull market in 1980.
Investments in financial instruments were made by us during the bull market in 1980.
Obviously, this is not everything there is to know about the noun and the verb, but it’s certainly enough to keep a writer on course. I hope that it proves beneficial for you. Don’t be too hard on yourself, however, if your head starts to spin. You will eventually be rewarded when all these details slip quietly into the background to become part of your programming as a writer.