Chapter 6
The verb

We have learnt that a Verb is a saying word. It is a word that is used to tell or assert something about some person or thing. Verbum in Latin means Word hence, the verb is considered the most important word in a sentence. Let us consider the following examples:

  1. The boy is singing. (What a person or thing does.)
  2. She is scolded. (What is done to a person or a thing.)
  3. She is beautiful.(What a person or a thing is.)

singing, scolded, is are verbs. They indicate some action or being.

Kinds of verbs

There are two kinds of Verbs.

  1. Transitive Verb
  2. Intransitive Verb.

Transitive Verb

Definition

A verb is transitive if the action denoted by it passes from the doer or subject to an object.

Examples

  1. The boy threw a stone.
  2. He passed the ball.

Explanation

In the first example the action threw passes from the doer boy to the object stone. So it is a Transitive Verb (transitive – passing over). Similarly in the second example, the action passed passes from the doer He to the object stone.

Intransitive Verb

Definition

A Verb is intransitive when the action does not pass from a doer or subject to an object. It

expresses a state or being.

Examples

  1. Fire burns.
  2. The eagle flies.
  3. The child cries.

Explanation

The action denoted by these verbs does not pass to any other. The action stops with the doer. So they are Intransitive Verbs.
Therefore we find that:

A transitive verb takes an object where as an intransitive verb does not take an object. But sometimes, intransitive verbs take after them an object similar in meaning to the verb. Such an object is called the Cognate Object or Cognate Accusative. (Latin Cognatus means similar and the noun used as a Cognate Object is in the Accusative Case.)

Examples

  1. I have fought a good fight.
  2. He laughed a hearty laugh.
  3. I dreamt a strange dream.

Note:

Direct and indirect object

Some verbs take two objects.

Example

I asked you a question.

Explanation
In the above example, You is known as the indirect object and Question is known as the direct object. Most transitive verbs take a single object. But, transitive verbs like give, offer, promise, tell, etc take two objects after them – an indirect object which denotes the person to whom something is given or for whom something is done, and a direct object which is usually the name of something.

More examples

  1. His father gave him (indirect) a watch (direct).
  2. He told me (indirect) a secret (direct).

Note:

Most Verbs can be used both as Transitive and Intransitive Verbs. It is better to say that a Verb is used Transitively or Intransitively rather than it is Transitive or Intransitive.
Used Transitively
The ants fought the wasps.
The shot sank the ship.
Ring
the bell, Rama.
The driver stopped the train.
He spoke the truth.
The horse kicked the man.
I feel a severe pain in my head.
Used Intransitively
Some ants fight very fiercely.
The ship sank rapidly.
The bell rang loudly.
The train stopped suddenly.
He spoke haughtily.
This horse never kicks.
How do you feel?

Note:

  1. Some Verbs e.g. come, go, fall, die, sleep, lie, denote actions which cannot be done to anything; they can, therefore, never be used Transitively.
  2. In some sentences like ‘He pinched himself’ where the Subject and the Object both refer to the same person, the Verb is said to be used reflexively.
  3. Sometimes, although the Verb is used reflexively, the object is not expressed. These Verbs may be regarded as pure Intransitives without any reflexive force.

Examples

  1. The bubble burst (itself).
  2. The guests made (themselves) merry.
  3. Please keep (yourselves) quiet.
  4. With these words he turned (himself) to the door.
  5. The Japanese feed (themselves) chiefly on rice.
  1. Certain verbs can be used reflexively and also as ordinary Transitive Verbs.

Examples

Used reflexively

  1. Do not forget his name.
  2. I enjoy myself sitting alone.
  3. Acquit yourself as man.
  4. He interested himself in
    his friend’s welfare.

Used transitively

  1. I forget his name.
  2. He enjoys good health.
  3. The magistrate acquitted
    him of the charge against him.
  4. His talk does not interest me.

When an intransitive verb is used in a causative sense it becomes transitive.

Examples

Intransitive

  1. The horse walks.
  2. Birds fly.

Transitive

  1. He walks the horse. (cause the horse to walk)
  2. The boys fly their kites. (cause their kites to fly)

There are a few transitive verbs that are sometimes used as intransitive verbs.

Examples

Transitive

  1. He broke the glass.
  2. He burnt his fingers.
  3. Stop him from going.
  4. Open all the windows.

Intransitive

  1. The glass broke.
  2. He burnt with shame.
  3. We shall stop here for a few days.
  4. The show opens at six O’ clock.

Verbs of Incomplete Predication

Definition

An Intransitive Verb that requires a word to make the sense complete is called a Verb ofIncomplete Predication.

Examples

  1. The boy seems happy.
  2. He reads clearly.

Explanation

When we say, ‘The boy seems’ or ‘He reads’, we do not make complete sense unless we add the words ‘happy’ and ‘clearly’. The Verbs seems and reads are called Verbs of Incomplete Predication.
In the above example, the word happy, which is required to make the complete sense is called the Complement of the Verb or the Completion of the Predicate.

Note:

  1. Verbs of Incomplete Predication usually express the idea of being, becoming, seeming, appearing etc. The Complement usually consists of a Noun called a Predicative Noun, or an Adjective called a Predicative Adjective. When the Complement describes the Subject, as in the following examples, it is called a Subjective Complement.

Examples

  1. Pussy is a cat.
  2. Ashok became a soldier.
  3. The sky grew dark.
  1. When the Subjective Complement is a Noun as in the first two examples above, it is in the same case as the Subject, i.e., in the Nominative Case.
  2. Certain Transitive Verbs require, besides an Object, a Complement to complete their predication. Here the Complement describes the Object, and is, therefore, called an Objective Complement.

Examples

  1. The boys made Rama captain.
  2. His parents named him Roshan.
  3. The judge found him guilty.
  4. I called him a liar.

When the Objective Complement is a Noun as in the above examples, it is in the Objective or Accusative Case in agreement with the object.

Tense

Definition

Tense is form of a Verb that shows the time and the state of an action or event.

Examples

  1. I eat a mango.
  2. I ate a mango.
  3. I shall eat a mango.

Explanation

Eat denotes what I do now. It is present tense.
Ate denotes that the action took place in the past. It is past tense.
Shall eat denotes that the action is yet to take place. It is future tense.
Thus there are three tenses. (Tense means time as we have already understood earlier). The three tenses are Past, present and future.
The present tense has four forms

  1. I eat – Simple present – here the action is mentioned simply without anything being said about the completeness or incompleteness of the action.
  2. I am eating – Present continuous – here the action is mentioned as incomplete or continuous, that is, as still going on.
  3. I have eaten – Present perfect – the action is mentioned as finished, complete, or perfect, at the time of speaking.
  4. I have been eating – Present perfect continuous – the action is going on continuously, and not completed at this present moment.

Similarly the past tense has also four forms

  1. I ate – Simple past
  2. I was eating – Past continuous
  3. I had eaten – Past perfect
  4. I had been eating – Past perfect continuous

And, the future tense has also four forms

  1. I shall/will eat – Simple future
  2. I shall/will be eating – Future continuous
  3. I shall/will have eaten – Future perfect
  4. I shall have been eating – Future perfect continuous.

We shall study Tenses in detail in a separate chapter on Tenses.

Moods

Definition

Mood is the manner in which the verb expresses action.

Examples

  1. I write to my brother every week. (statement)
  2. Who wrote that letter? (question)
  3. Write neatly. (command)
  4. If I were you, I would have left by now. (supposition)

Explanation

We find that the verb in the above sentences is used to express different moods or manners of the action. The action thus denoted by the verb is called the mood or the manner of the verb.
Moods are of three kinds.

  1. Indicative
  2. Imperative
  3. Subjunctive

Indicative mood

Definition

The verb is in the indicative mood when it makes a statement, asks a question or expresses asupposition which is assumed as a fact.

Examples

  1. They came late.
  2. He does not read clearly.
  3. Did you cut it?
  4. If he stays today I shall meet him.
  5. If you like it I shall give it to you.

Explanation

The verbs came and does not read are making statements; while did cut in the third sentence asks a question. In the fourth and fifth sentences, the verbs stays and like assume as facts staying and liking. These are all in the indicative mood.

Imperative mood

Definition

The verb is in the imperative mood when it expresses a command, an entreaty or an exhortation or a prayer.

Examples

  1. Stand down.
  2. Lend me your book.
  3. Love your country.

Explanation

The verb stand is a command, the verb lend an entreaty, and love an exhortation. These are the imperative mood.

Note:

  1. The imperative mood can strictly be used only in the second person, since the person commanded must be the person spoken to. But in the first and third persons a like sense is expressed by the use of the auxiliary verb let.

Examples

  1. Let me go.
  2. Let us go.
  3. Let him go.
  4. Let them go.
  1. The subject of a verb in the imperative mood you is usually omitted.

Subjunctive mood

Definition

The verb is in the subjunctive mood when it expresses purpose, wish or condition.

Examples

  1. I give you a prize that you may do your best.
  2. I wish I were strong to help you.
  3. If you were there you would not have allowed it.

Explanation

The verb in the first sentence expresses a purpose, the verb in the second sentence expresses a wish and the verb in the third sentence expresses condition. They are all in the subjunctive mood.

Active and passive voice

Active Voice

Definition

A verb is in the active voice when the subject is the doer of the action denoted by the verb.

Examples

  1. The boy ate a fruit.
  2. He kicks the ball.

Explanation

The subject boy does the action denoted by the verb ate. Similarly the subject He is the doer of the action kicks. We say therefore that the verbs are in the active voice.

Passive Voice

Definition

A verb is in the passive voice when it shows that something is done to the person or thing denoted by the subject.

Examples

  1. A fruit was eaten by the boy.
  2. The ball is kicked by him.

Explanation

The subject a fruit does not do any action. On the other hand, it suffers the action. So also the subject the ball suffers the action done to it. So we say that the verb is in the passive voice.

Active to passive voice

  1. The farmer caught a mouse. (active voice)
  2. A mouse was caught by the farmer. (passive voice)

To convert a sentence from active to passive certain changes have to carried out in the sentence. The farmer is the subject in active voice. It has been shifted to the place of the object in the passive voice. A mouse is the object in active voice and that has been shifted to the position of the subject. The verb caught is changed into was caught
Let us consider the following:
Present simple

He eats a fruit. (Active)
A fruit is eaten by him. (Passive)

Present continuous
He is eating a fruit. (Active)
A fruit is being eaten by him. (Passive)

Present perfect

He has eaten a fruit. (Active)
A fruit has been eaten by him. (Passive)

Present perfect continuous

He has been eating a fruit (Active)
No passive.

Past simple

He ate a fruit. (Active).
A fruit was eaten by him. (Passive).

Past continuous

He was eating a fruit. (Active).
A fruit was being eaten by him. (Passive).

Past perfect

He had eaten a fruit (Active).
A fruit had been eaten by him. (Passive).

Past perfect continuous

He had been eating a fruit. (Active).
No passive.

Future simple

He will eat a fruit. (Active).
A fruit will be eaten by him. (Passive).

Future continuous

He will be eating a fruit (Active).
No passive.

Future perfect

He will have eaten a fruit. (Active).
A fruit will have been eaten by him. (Passive)

Future perfect continuous

He will have been eating a fruit. (Active).
No passive.

Changing the active to passive when the sentence in interrogative.

  1. Who broke the glass? (Active)
    By whom was the glass broken? (Passive).
  2. How did you manage it? (Active)
    How was it managed by you? (Passive).
  3. Who will see it? (Active)
    By whom will it be seen? (Passive).
  4. When shall we do it? (Active)
    When
    will it be done by us? (Passive).
  5. Have you completed the work? (Active)
    Has the work been completed by you? (Passive).
  6. Who will deny it? (active)
    By whom will it be denied? (Passive)

Change of voice when the verb is in the imperative mood.

1. Open the door. (Active)
Let the door be opened. (Passive)
2. Do it now. (Active)
Let it be done now. (Passive)
3. Find it out. (Active)
Let it be found out. (Passive)

Infinitives

Definition

An infiniteve is a form of the verb that is not limited by the number and person of the subject. It is often followed by to.

Examples

  1. He wishes to see you.
  2. We wish to see you.
  3. They wish to see you.

Explanation

In the above sentences to see indicates an action. He is the subject in the first sentence, we the subject in the second sentence and they the subject in the third sentence. In spite of different subjects of different number and person to see remains unchanged. It is not limited by the number and person of the subject. So it is called an infinitive.

In the case of verbs in the other moods - indicative, imperative and subjunctive- the verb changes according to the number and person of its subject.

Uses of the infinitive

An infinitive may be the subject of a verb.

Example

To be punctual is a good habit.

Explanation

To be puntual, is the subject of the verb is.

An infinitive may be the object of a verb.

Example

They like to eat.

Explanation

To eat, is the object of the verb like.

An infinitive may be the complement of a verb.

Example

Her desire was to play.

Explanation

To play is the complement of the verb was.

An infinitive may be the object of a preposition.

Example

We were about to close.

Explanation

To close is the object of the preposition about.

An infinitive may modify a verb.

Example

They ran to escape.

Explanation

To escape modifies the verb ran.

An infinitive may qualify a noun.

Example

Bring me a fruit to eat.

Explanation

To eat qualifies the noun fruit.

An infinitive may modify an Adjective.

Example

They are good to buy.

Explanation

To buy modifies the Adjective good.

Note:

  1. Sometimes a past tense may refer to present time, and a present tense may express future time.

Examples

  1. I wish I knew the answer. (I am sorry I don’t know the answer. Past tense – present time.)
  2. Let’s wait till he comes. (Present tense – future time.)
  1. A Verb agrees with its subject in number and person. (For details see the last part of this chapter.)

Weak and Strong verbs

Verbs are grouped as weak and strong on the basis of method of formation of their past tense.

Weak verbs

Weak verbs are formed by the following ways.

  1. Verbs that form their past tense by the addition of ‘d’, ‘ed’ or ‘t’ to the present tense are weak verbs.

Examples

Live (Present)
Dream (Present)
Burn (Present)
Lived (Past)
Dreamed (Past)
Burnt (Past)

Explanation

These verbs form their past tense by the addition of d, ed and t to the present tense. They are called weak verbs.

  1. Verbs that form their past tense by shortening the vowel of the present tense are weak verbs.

Examples

Shoot (Present)
Lead (Present)
Feed (Present)
Shot (Past)
Led (Past)
Fed (Past)

Explanation

These verbs have formed their past tense by shortening the vowel of the present tense. They are also weak verbs.

  1. Verbs whose past tense form is the same as the present tense form are weak verbs.

Examples

Cut (present)
Put (present)
Hurt (present)
Cut (past)
Put (past)
Hurt (past)

Explanation

These verbs have the same form in the past tense as in the present tense. They are weak verbs.

Strong verbs

Strong verbs are formed by the following ways.

Verbs that form their past tense by the change of the inside vowel in the present tense form and without the addition of ‘d’, ‘ed’ or ‘t’ are strong verbs.

Examples
Stand (present)
Sit (present)
Find (present)
Stood (past)
Sat (past)
Found (past)

Explanation
These verbs form their past tense by the change of the inside vowel and without the addition of ‘d’, ‘ed’ or ‘t’. They are strong verbs.

Auxiliary verbs

Definition

A verb that helps another verb is called an auxiliary verb.

Examples

  1. We do our work regularly.
  2. Do you like it?

Explanation

In the first sentence do expresses a meaning of its own. It is called a principal verb. In the second sentence do helps another verb like. It is called an auxiliary verb. (Auxiliary means helping) The other examples of auxiliary verbs are have, be, shall, will and may.

Note:

Auxiliary verbs can also be used as principal verbs.

Examples

Have

  1. They have their own pens. (principal verb)
  2. They have brought their won pens. (auxiliary verb)

Be

(Forms of the verb be – am, is, are, was, were, been, being).

  1. God is. (principal verb)
  2. He is liked. (auxiliary verb).
  3. I am standing from a long time. (auxiliary verb)
  4. He was reading. (auxiliary verb)

Do

  1. You do your part of the work. (principal verb)
  2. We do not come late. (auxiliary verb)

Shall

  1. You shall carry it out. (principal verb)
  2. I shall meet you tomorrow. (auxiliary verb)

Will

  1. I will enter at any cost. (principal verb)
  2. She will sing one again. (auxiliary verb)

May

  1. He may enter. (Principal verb as it has a meaning of its own –permission.)

May you prosper. (Auxiliary verb because it helps the verb to form the subjunctive mood)

Person and number

The verb like the personal pronouns has three persons – the first, the second and the third.

Examples

  1. I speak.
  2. You speak.
  3. He speaks.

Explanation

In the first sentence, the subject is of the first person and therefore the verb is also of the first person. Similarly in the second and the third sentences, the subject is in the second and the third person respectively and so the verbs in these sentences are in the second and the third persons respectively. That is, the verb takes the same person as its subject or that the verb agrees with its subject in person.
Also, the verb like the noun and the pronoun has two numbers – the singular and the plural.

Examples

  1. He speaks.
  2. They speak.

Explanation

In the first sentence, the subject is singular, therefore the verb is singular while in the second sentence, the subject is plural and hence the verb is plural. That is, the verb takes the same number as its subject or that the verb agree with the subject in number.

The Gerund

Definition

A Gerund is that form of the Verb that ends in –ing and has the force of a Noun and a Verb.

Examples

  1. Playing cards is not allowed here.
  2. I like reading poetry.
  3. He is fond of hoarding money.

Explanation

In the first sentence, the word playing is formed from the Verb play, by adding ing. Here the Gerund like a Noun is the subject of a Verb but, like a Verb, it also takes an object, thus clearly showing that it has also the force of a Verb. Same is the case in sentence 2. In sentence 3, the Gerund like a Noun is governed by a preposition but like a Verb it also takes an object.
Both the Gerund and the Infinitive have the force of a Noun and a Verb and either of them can be used without any special difference in meaning.

Examples

  1. Teach me to swim.
    Teach me swimming.
  2. To give is better than to receive.
    Giving
    is better than receiving.
  3. To see is to believe.
    Seeing
    is believing.

Compound Gerund is formed by placing a Past Participle after the Gerunds of have and be.

Examples

  1. I heard of his having gained a prize.
  2. We were fatigued on account of having walked so far.
  3. They were charged wit having sheltered the terrorists.

Uses of the Gerund

A Gerund may be used as:

  1. Subject of a Verb.
    Seeing is believing.
  2. Object of a Transitive Verb.
    I like reading poetry.
  3. Object of a Preposition.
    I am fond of swimming.
  4. Complement of a Verb.
    Seeing is believing.