Verb Forms in English – Examples

In English grammar, verbs are a basic part that helps form complete and meaningful sentences. By verb, we mean the part of speech that primarily indicates an action or a state of being in a sentence.

Without verbs, it is impossible to express what someone does. Thus, verbs play a major role in grammar. However, today we will focus on the different forms of a verb.

Verb forms can be understood as a specific instance of a verb that helps us convey a message in the required tense. There are several verb forms, and each has its own characteristics and function. So, let us get into a quick discussion below.

What are verb forms?

Verbs are the specific words in English grammar that talks about an action or a state of being. They convey what someone or something does or the state of a particular person or thing.

But that is the basic understanding of verbs. When we identify a specific instance of a verb, in contrast to the entire verb taken in the abstract, it is said to be a verb form. A verb can be of many forms. For instance, it can be just the root form of a word such as call. Or, it can also be calling, calls, or called.

So, when we use a form of a verb that creates several verb tenses and expresses the verb in a true context, it is called a verb form. There are mainly five verb forms in grammar. They are infinitive, present, present participle, past, and past participle.

These are the basic verb forms that help express an action or state of being in different tenses.

Let us discuss these forms in detail one by one.

Five main verb forms

1. Infinitive

The infinitive form of a verb is a very basic verb form. It is simply the base form or the root form of a verb. That means it is the form where the verb appears exactly as the way it is. There is no change in the spelling or addition of a suffix or prefix.

However, the infinitive can further have two forms;

  • The to-infinitive: to + base word
  • The zero infinitives: only the base word

Simply put, an infinitive is usually preceded by the word to. However, even without the word to, the meaning of the infinitive will not change.

For example:

  • I need to eat a lot more vegetables to stay healthy.
  • I must eat a lot more vegetables to stay healthy.

As we can see, the infinitive form, eat, can be used with to or without to. However, if we state something like, “I eat vegetables a lot.” It will not be an infinitive verb form but will become a finite verb. That means an infinitive verb form can never be the main verb and can be used only as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

2. Present form of a verb

The present form of a verb is simply the presentation of a verb in its simple present tense. This form of a verb tells what a person is doing right now or what a person does habitually.

For example;

  • I eat fruits.
  • I play every week.
  • We cook food every day.

However, the present simple form works a little differently for the third-person singular.

Third-person singular form of a verb: In the third-person singular form of a verb, we add the letter “s” at the end of the verb word. That means the root form of the verb is added with -s. This shows something that a person does in the present.

  • He walks 40 kms every day.
  • She eats a lot of junk food.
  • He cooks food for his mother.

3. Present participle form of a verb

By participle, we generally mean the words that help create compound verb forms. They express a state of being and end a verb with -ing, -ed, -d, -t, -n, -en, or -ne. And in this form of a verb, we basically take the base form of the verb and add the suffix -ing. That means the present participle is simply the continuous form of a verb.

Present participle can be used in the past continuous tense, present continuous tense, and future continuous tense depending on the auxiliary verb used. So, a present participle is always preceded by a helping verb to make complete sense in a sentence.

For example;

  • I am driving to the store.
  • They will be teaching us how to dance.
  • She is eating her favorite dish at the café.

4. Past form of a verb

The past form of a verb is the form that indicates an action in the past tense. Something that has been done in the past. Here, we add the suffix -ed or -d at the end of the verb words.

For example:

  • He worked very hard.
  • He tried so much to pass the test.
  • He cried all night.

However, for irregular verbs like cut, make, sing, etc., the past form is different. They have unique words that have to be learned by heart. For example:

  • Sing – sung
  • Eat – ate
  • Make – made
  • Cut – cut
  • Drink – drank

5. Past participle form of a verb

The past participle form of a verb is similar to the simple past form. Here also we include the suffix ed- or d at the end of the base form of the regular verbs to indicate something that occurred in the past. Even here, the verbs that are changed into past participle without adding -ed are said to be irregular verbs. And their past participle forms are to be learned by heart.

For example:

  • I ate a lot of pizza yesterday.
  • He made a cake for his own birthday.
  • I performed very well in the assembly.

So, these are the five forms of a verb. Each form tries to express a verb in different tenses under different contexts. Thus, we can state that verb forms are the change in the base form of a verb word which helps express the action in the necessary context.

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