Basic English Grammar #2 – More about Verbs

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

William Shakespeare

You may think that we’re done with verbs. *laughs* Nope, not yet. Enter auxiliary verbs (stay with me, buddy).

 

Auxiliary Verbs (Helping Verbs)

What are Auxiliary Verbs? They appear the most obscure, but are actually the easiest to understand. Auxiliary verbs are verbs that are used together with the main verb of the sentence to express the action or state. To put simply, they complement the main verb. Can’t follow? Look at the exemplary sentence below:

  • They are working.

You might not notice, but there are actually two verbs in this sentence. The obvious one is ‘working’, which is the main verbThe not-so-obvious one is the word ‘are’, which is the auxiliary verb. See how the word ‘are’ complements the word ‘working’ to form a proper sentence? Good, that’s the purpose of auxiliary verbs – to ‘help’ the main verb.

Auxiliary verbs are divided into two groups, primary auxiliary verbs and modal auxiliary verbs. Primary auxiliary verbs include the words are, was, am, is, were, has, had, have, be. Modal auxiliary verbs include the words shall, can, could, must, dare, used to. On the side note, auxiliary verbs have no meaning when on their own. Next, finite and non-finite verbs.

 

Finite and Non-Finite Verbs

Imagine finite verbs as the nice, obedient and rules-following kid, and non-finite verbs as its younger brother – the bully and the one that gives you the most headaches. Perfect.

Finite verbs are verbs that have a definite relation to the subject or noun. For instance, the verb ‘walks’ in ‘She walks to the market’. The usual, basic stuff, ya know.

Non-finite verbs do not show tense, person or number. They are simply verbs that function as either nouns, adjectives or adverbs. The rules-breaking kid, basically.

Non-finite verbs are broken down into three types: Gerunds, Infinitives and Participles. Most you have probably heard of, but never knew what they were.

 

Gerunds

Okay, so what are gerunds? Gerunds are nouns that are derived from verbs by adding -ing. Basically, they are nouns that are verbs that are nouns. Amazing.

For instance, look at the below sentences:

  • Shopping is evil.
  • Robin enjoys fishing.

In the first example, the word ‘shopping’ is a gerund, where the verb shop is added an -ing to make the verb function as a noun, shopping.

In the second example, the word ‘fishing’ is also a gerund, where the verb fish is added an -ing to make the verb function as a noun, fishing.

 

Infinitives

Infinitives are just like gerunds, only that they take the word ‘to’ before the main verb.

As a case in point:

  • She wants to go shopping.
  • Aunt Jane has to make a toast for her child.

In the first example, the word ‘to go’ is an infinitive, where the word to is added to the verb go to make it function as a noun.

In the first example, the word ‘to go’ is also an infinitive, where the word to is added to the verb make to also make it function as a noun.

 

Participles

Participles are also just like gerunds, but instead of just adding -ing to a verb to turn it into a non-finite verb, it also takes the suffix -ed. Also, participles do not make a verb function as a noun, it makes it function as an adjective. For example:

  • The tired dog caused a fire
  • That screaming lady is dead.

In the first sentence, the word ‘tired’ is a participle, which is the verb tire affixed to the suffix -ed. That makes the verb to act as an adjective, tired.

In the second sentence, the word ‘screaming’ is also a participle, which is the verb scream affixed to the suffix -ing. That also makes the verb to act as an adjective, screaming.

That is all for #2! Stay tuned for the next chapter, where I will finally not speak about verbs.

-ezfk

 

 

 

 

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