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Vicious Verbs Designed by Elisa Paramore Vicious Verbs A verb is a word that expresses one of three things: an action an occurrence a state of being 3 Classes of Verbs Verbs may be divided into 3 different classes: transitive verbs, which require an object to complete their meaning as in the sentence: Mary admires him. intransitive verbs, which are complete in themselves as in the sentence: John trembled. and, linking verbs, which link a subject to its complement as in the sentence: Phyllis is a beauty. Linking Verbs Although most verbs show action, linking verbs do not. They simply give information about the subject The most common linking verbs are: is, am, are, was, were, feel, appear, look, become and seem “to be” Verbs “to be” – Singular present forms- “am”- use with “I” only, use “is” with all singular subjects, except “you” – Past singular form- use “was” with all singular subjects, including “I”, but not with “you” – Plural form- “are”- use with all plural subjects & with “you” – Past Plural form- “were”- use with all plural subjects and with “you” – Hint: do not use “be” by itself with any subject Examples of “to be” Verbs Present Singular form examples: I am tired. It is late. The wind is blowing. Past Singular form examples: I was awake early. He was seated in the rear Present Plural form examples: You are attractive. The students are busy. They are all outside. Past Plural form examples: They were singing. You were lucky to miss being drafted “to have” Verbs Present Singular form- “has”- use with all singular subjects except “I’ and “you” Plural form- “have”- use with all plural subjects and “I” and “you” examples of “to have” verbs Singular form examples: He has a cold. The book has a torn page. It has a bright red cover. Plural form examples: I have five dollars. You have a cold. The women have new cars. “to go” Verbs Singular form- “goes”-use with all singular subjects except “I” and “you” Plural form- “go”- use with all plural subjects and “I” and “you” Examples of “to go” Verbs Singular form examples: She goes to sleep early. The dog goes out before dinner. It goes to its favorite tree. Plural form examples: I go to the garage daily. The men go this way. You go too far when you drive. “to do” Verbs Singular form- “does”- use with all singular subjects except “I” and “you” Plural form- “do”- use with all plural subjects and “I” and “you” Examples of “to do” Verbs Singular form examples: She does important work. It does not look right. Plural form examples: You do the work! I do too much driving, Verb Tense Verb tense indicates the relationship between an action or a state of being and the passage of time There are 6 principle tenses: Present tense indicates that something is now. Example: He is talking to the gun club. Past tense indicates that something has happened in the past. Making the past tense of most verbs is most widely accomplished by simply adding “d”, “ed” Example: He talked to the gun club yesterday. Future tense indicates that something will happen. It is expressed by adding the word “will” in front of a present tense verb. Example: He will talk to the gun club. Present perfect tense expresses a past action that extends to the present but is not yet completed. It is expressed by simply placing the words “have” or“has” in front of a past tense verb. Example: He has talked to the gun club everyday. Past perfect tense expresses a past action that was completed before some other past action. It is expressed by simply adding the word “had” to a past tense verb. Example: This morning I saw the speaker who had talked to the gun club. Future perfect tense expresses an action that will be completed before some future time.This tense is expressed by adding the words “will have” in front of a past tense verb. Example: He will have talked to the gun club before next Thursday. Subject/ Verb Agreement It is very important to remember that a verb should agree with its subject in person and in number. Hint: In most cases if a subject uses an “s” form, the verb will not have an “s” and visa versa. Finding the Subject & Verb To find the subject ask who or what the sentence is about To find the verb, ask what the sentence says about the subject A second way to find the verb is to put I, you, he, she, it or they in front of the word that is thought to be the verb Subject/Verb Agreement Rules When a phrase comes between a subject and its verb, make sure that the verb agrees with the subject of the sentence and not with a noun found in the phrase. In the sentence, “The car with new tires costs more than other cars”, the subject is singular (car), therefore the verb also needs to be singular (costs) Rule # 2 Phrases beginning with “In addition to” or “As well as” do not change a subject’s number: In the sentence “ Her car, as well as the other two, was broken into.” the subject is singular (car), therefore the verb is also singular (was). Rule # 3 A compound subject joined by the word “and” usually takes a plural verb. One exception occurs when parts of the subject refer to a single entity. In the sentence “Ice cream and cake is my favorite dessert,” ice cream and cake is one entity, therefore “is” is the correct verb tense. Rule # 4 Another exception occurs when a compound subject is preceded by the word “Each” or “Every” In the sentence: “Every car and truck on the lot was sold,” both car and truck are singular, therefore the verb “was” is correct. Rule # 5 Indefinite pronouns such as “Each” and “Everyone” tend to be singular. In the sentence “Each of them is right,” the verb “is” must be used because it is also singular. In the sentence “Everyone is doing it,” the verb “is” is used because it needs to agree with the singular subject “Everyone” Rule # 6 The words “all”, “any”, “none” and “some” may be either singular or plural. In the sentence “Some of his time is spent at home,” the subject “some” is singular, therefore it requires a verb with an “s” In the sentence, “When they get home at night, some of them watch television,” some is plural, therefore a verb without “s” is needed. Rule # 7 Two singular subjects joined by “or” or “nor” take a singular verb. In the sentence, “Either Ann or Al is going to pick up pizza” both and Ann and Al are the subjects, but they are singular so a verb with an “s” is required. Rule # 8 Two plural subjects joined by “or” or “nor” take a plural verb. In the sentence, “Either the girls or the boys are going.” Girls and boys are plural, so the plural verb “are” is required. Rule # 9 If one of the subjects in the sentence is singular and one is plural, the verb should agree in number with the subject closest to the verb. In the sentence, “Ann or the boys are going” the plural verb “are” is used because the plural subject “boys” is closest to it. In the sentence, “The boys or Ann is going,” the singular subject Ann is closest to the verb so the singular verb “is” is required. Rule # 10 When a sentence begins with “there”, the subject tends to follow the verb. In the sentence, “There was one hole in the muffler, there were two holes in the tire,” the singular subject “hole” requires the use of the singular verb “was” in the first part of the sentence. In the second part of the sentence the plural subject “holes” requires a plural verb, “were”. Rule # 11 When “there” precedes a compound subject, the verb is singular if the first part of the subject is singular. In the sentence, “There is a hole in the muffler and two flat tires,” the words “hole” and “tires” are the subjects, however the singular verb “is” is required because the first subject (hole) is singular. Rule # 12 When a subject complement such as “my” follows a linking verb, make sure that the verb agrees with the subject. In the sentence, “Cars and trucks are my hobby,” the subject is cars and trucks, which is plural, therefore the plural verb “are” is required. In the sentence, “My hobby is cars and trucks,” the singular word “hobby” is the subject, so the singular verb “is” is required. Rule # 13 A collective noun, which names a group of individuals, takes a either a singular or plural verb, depending on whether the group is acting as a unit or as separate individuals. In the sentence, “The team is traveling to the game by bus”, the subject “team” is acting as a single unit, therefore the singular verb “is” is required. In the sentence, “The team are traveling to the game in their own cars,” the team is acting individually, as seen by the adding of “their own cars” so it is plural, therefore the plural verb “are” is required. Rule # 14 A singular verb is used when it follows a title, a word that is being defined, a word denoting some form of measurement (either weight or money) or a period of time. In the sentence, “Forty-thousand miles is a lot to put on a car in a year,” the singular verb “is” is required for the singular subject forty-thousand miles. Rule # 15 When a relative pronoun such as “who” is the subject of a clause, the verb should agree in number with the word that is modified. In the sentence, “She is one of those drivers who never get a ticket,” the subject of the sentence is plural, (drivers) and not the singular word “who” which means that the plural verb “get” is required. Conclusion I hope that this presentation has been helpful to you in regard to the use of verbs in your writing. Please come by Student Support Services to fill out an Academic Enrichment Summary so that we may document your participation. If you are viewing this workshop via the internet you may click on the link in the directions box on the Workshops page and print one out or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org . Handouts available upon request.
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