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Verbs & Tenses

Verbs are words (or phrases) that express ACTION or BEING.  Verbs are the most important word(s) in a sentence.  You cannot have a complete sentence (or idea) without a verb.  When you use a “helping verb” with a primary verb, then you create a verb phrase.  Helping verbs provide tense, number, and other information about the subject-verb. 

  1. The most common verbs are ACTION verbs.  Action verbs show action or performance (no duh).  They are words like run, walk, eat, sleep, etc. 
  2. Other verbs are call STATE OF BEING or LINKING verbs.  These linking verbs connect the subject of a sentence with a noun, pronoun, or adjective that identifies or describes it.  Most Common “be” verbs: am, are, is, was, were, be, being, been.  Other common linking verbs: appear, become, feel, grow, look, remain, seem, smell, sound, stay, taste, turn.
  3. Finally, HELPING VERBS are used to make verb phrases.  Helping verbs, sometimes called auxiliary verbs, help out the main verb in a sentence. They accomplish this by giving more detail to how time is portrayed in a sentence. For this reason, they are used in [verb conjugation] to show the progressive and the perfect tenses of verbs. 
    1. There are 23 helping verbs:
      1. Group 1: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been
      2. Group 2: has, have, had
      3. Group 3: do, does, did
      4. Group 4: shall, will, should, would
      5. Group 5: may, might, must, can, could    



Verb Tenses

Besides showing the action or state of being in the sentence, the verb also indicates the time the action or “being” took place. By learning about the different kinds of simple, perfect, past, and present tenses, your speaking and writing will be clear and concise.

  • Simple present tense: tells what is happening now
  • Simple past tense: tells what happened before now
  • Simple future: talks about what has not happened yet
  • Present perfect tense: expresses an action or state of being in the present that has some connection with the past
  • Past perfect tense: places an event before another event in the past
  • Future perfect tense: talks about something that has not happened yet in relation to another event in the future


Six Most Common Verb Tenses

Present (I walk.)

Present Perfect (I have walked.)

Past (I walked.)

Past Perfect (I had walked.)

Future (I will walk.)

Future Perfect (I will have walked.)



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