In this section, you can review the verb forms introduced in Chapters 1-5.  These include five verb tenses (imperative, simple present, simple past, simple future, and present continuous), modals, and phrasal verbs.  You can also review the BE-verb forms, and  There is - There areYou should also go to the Sentence Structure page to see how negatives and questions change the way verbs look.  

Verb tenses

    Simple Present

        This is used for an action you often do or a general truth.  I read the newspaper every day.  People from New York speak very quickly.  The biggest problem is that in second person singular (he/she/it, the dog, a book, an avocado), an s goes on the end of the verb, and many students forget that.  The dog plays with the cat.  A book costs $10.

    Simple Past

        This is used for and action that is finished.  He played football in high school.  The biggest problem with this is that there are two kinds of verbs in past tense.  The easiest ones are the regular verbs.  You can make a past tense by adding -ed to the root verb. Played, stopped, and cried are examples of this.  They have a few simple spelling and pronunciation rules, which are on page 114 of your book.

    Many verbs in English are irregular verbs, such as eat-ate, go-went, put-put, drive-drove, and swim-swam.  I slept on the sofa last night.  While many look the same, the only way to learn them is to memorize them.

    Simple Future

        There are three kinds of simple future tense in English.  The easiest is to use the helping verb will and the root form of the verb.  They will attend the dance next Saturday.

        The next kind uses the helping verbs BE going to and the root form of the verb.  Dave is going to play the piano tonight.  The BE-verb must agree with the subject.  We are going to make a float for the July 4th parade.   The dog is going to stay with my sister.  I am going to drive to Atlanta next month. 

        The third kind uses present continuous as future.  Dave is playing the piano tonight.  Not all verbs can use this form, the BE-verb must agree with the subject, and there usually is a time marker (for example, tonight, next week, in a few days) in the sentence.  Because of these rules, you should be careful when you use this kind of future tense.

    Present Continuous

        This is used to show that you are doing something now and you aren't finished.  It looks like this - BE + _______ing.  I am writing a report now.  The BE-verb must agree with the subject.  You should be careful about the spelling of the main verb, too.  Some non-action verbs cannot be in present continuous tense.  You should check the list on page 86.  You must be careful because some verbs have two meanings, and one meaning can't take the continuous tense.  Have is a good example.  You can say I am having (giving) a party next Saturday, but you can't say I am having (owning) a dog.


        This is the command form of the verb.  Just start the sentence with the root form of the verb.  You can't have a subject.  Study every day!  Eat your broccoli!


   Modals (can, will, may, might, should, must, and others) add more meaning to verbs.  They are easy to use once you know their meanings.  Carol can swim.  Carol might swim.  Carol should swim. 

   Do not confuse them with is going to, have to, want to, ought to, would like to, would rather, or used to.  These work like modals, but some of them act like regular verbs.

Phrasal Verbs

   These are verbs with another word, usually a preposition, attached to it to change the meaning. Get is a root verb, and get up, get around, get on, get back, and get over are phrasal verbs.  You must be very careful with these because the meaning of the phrasal verb can be very different from the meaning of the root verb, and many phrasal verbs have several meanings.  Get on can mean to bully, to enter (a train), or to continue.


   The BE-verb is difficult to use because it has so many forms.  Here is a list.

        Simple presentI am tall.  She is tall.  You are tall.  We are tall. They are tall. You are tall.

        Simple past:  I was tall.  She was tall. You were tall.  We were tall.  They were tall.

       Simple future:  I will be tall.  She is going to be tall.  NOT They are being tall.

        Present continuous:  Be very careful here.  BE can have several meanings.  Most meanings can't be in the continuous form, but a few can.  I  am being (acting as) Hamlet in the play next month is a good sentence, but NOT I am being tall.  In the last sentence, BE is a non-action verb, and non-action verbs can't usually be in the continuous tense.

        Imperative:  Be quiet!

        Modals:  I might be tall.  I should be tall.  I must be tall.

There is - There are

   These are used to say that something exists.  The BE-verb agrees with the noun after the BE-verb.  There is a chair in this room.  There are three chairs in this room.  We can also say A chair is in this room or Three chairs are in this room, but be careful.  You can say There is a big, black dog, but you can't say A big, black dog is.  Something must always come after the BE-verb.


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