What is a Verb?
Words that express action are called verbs.
The verb is the grammatical core of every sentence. The entire structure of a sentence centers around it. For a sentence to express something, we need to know the "predicate." (A predicate is the part of a sentence or clause containing a verb and stating something about the subject.) Only the verb can express the action.
Adjectives, adverbs and other modifiers may add beauty and fluency to a sentence, but the verb is the most important. Without it, we cannot analyze other people's sentences, or create sentences of our own, unless we use a verb and understand how the other parts of the sentence relate to it.
The ability to recognize the verb of the independent clause is fundamental to create a grammatically correct sentence.
We can define a verb as a word which we use to assert a state or an action. A common variation of a verb, called the "transitive verb" requires an object to complete its meaning. An "intransitive verb" does not take an object.
To inflect (to bend) a verb is to flesh out its various forms. This process for the verb is called its conjugation (con, together; jugate, to join). We can "conjugate" a verb with its various forms to make sentences more meaningful; these include: Voice, Mood, Tense (past, present and future), Number, and Person. You can learn about each variation of verb by using the navigation above or below.
The verb has two "voices" called active and passive voice. The subject of the active voice is the person or thing doing the action. That is, the subject does the action designated by the verb. When the verb expresses action done to the subject, we call it the passive voice. (We call it the passive voice because the subject is passive.)
The "mood" of a verb represents the manner in which we, the writer, use the action of the verb. The "indicative mood" conceives the action as real; the "subjunctive mood" conceives the action as doubtful; the "imperative mood" conceives the action as urged or commanded.
The tenses of the verb allows us to express the time of the action. Present tense relates to present time; past tense relates to past time; future tense relates to future time. We class these three tenses as "simple tenses."
English grammar also has three "compound tenses." The "perfect tense" relates to action completed at the time of speaking. The "pluperfect tense" relates to action completed at some point in past time. The "future perfect tense" relates to action anticipated at some point in future time. For simplicity, we typically only refer to the "simple tenses" when we write.
Two numbers can inflect a verb, singular and plural; and three persons: the first, the person speaking; the second, the person spoken to; and the third, the person spoken of.
The parts of the verbmood, number, and personare called finite parts of the verb; we call the other forms of the verbthe infinitives and the participlesnon-finite parts. We can modify the non-finite forms with voice and tense.
We call the principal parts of a verb 1) the present indicative, first person singular; 2) the past indicative, first person singular; and 3) the past participle.
When we change verbs to form the past tense by adding ed, d, or t to the present tense, we refer to them as "weak verbs" (love, loved). When we change verbs to form the past tense by changing the radical vowel of the present tense, we refer to them as "strong verbs" (run, ran).
EX. "Brian throws the baseball to the kids."
The subject of this sentence is Brian. The whole predicate is throws the baseball to the kids.
The predicate expresses the action performed by the subject. One particular word in the predicate expresses the action performed by Brian. This word is throws.
The baseball tells what Brian throws; to the kids tells to whom he throws the baseball; but throws tells the exact action performed by Brian.
Divide each of the following sentences into a subject and a predicate. Then point out in each predicate the word which tells the exact action performed by the subject.
EX. Julia plays the flute.
EX. The boy broke several toys.
EX. The sun shines.
EX. The birds ate all the seed.
EX. We planted bushes in our yard.
EX. She always wears pink shoes.
EX. David cleaned the bathroom.
EX. Sally drives our car.
EX. Pilots fly airplanes.
The words, plays, broke, shines, ate, planted, wears, cleaned, drives, and fly express the action of the sentence. Because these words perform a special duty in the predicate, we call them verbs.
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