Verb – Definition

If you’re asking yourself ‘What is a verb?’ Then you must either be learning how to use it properly or learning how to teach it to someone else. In any case, let’s clarify what a verb is and how to properly use it.

The definition of Verb is a word that describes an action, expresses a state of being, or an occurrence. It forms the main part of the predicate of a sentence. There are three types of verb: action verbs, copular verbs, and auxiliary verbs.

Action verbs and copular verbs (linking verbs) are used as main verbs to define

Action Verbs

Action verbs are words of action (fly, walk, eat, etc.) and possession (own, have, etc.). The two types of action verbs are transitive and intransitive.

Transitive Active Verbs

Transitive active verbs require a direct object to transfer its action to.

Subject + Verb + Direct object

Example: Clark threw the ball

In this example, ‘threw’ is the transitive verb and ‘ball’ is the direct object which received the action of the verb.

Ditransitive Verbs

Ditransitive verbs precede either two noun phrases or a noun phrase and then a prepositional phrase usually led by to or for.

Subject + Verb + Indirect object + Direct object

Example: Clark threw Sally the ball

In this new example, ‘threw’ is still the transitive verb and ‘ball’ is still the direct object. The difference is the introduction of the indirect objectSally’. The indirect object is the object in which the action was done to or for.

Transitive Passive Verbs

Transitive passive verbs transfer its action to the subject.

Subject + Verb

Example: Clark was beaten.

In this example, ‘was beaten’ is the transitive passive verb which describes the action being done to the subject.

Intransitive Verbs

An intransitive verb is a verb that is opposite to transitive verbs in that it doesn’t require an object to act upon.

Example: Clark jumped.

In this sentence, the verb doesn’t require an object to direct the action to. Some verbs can only be intransitive as they cannot produce an object that would make sense. For example, you cannot use the word ‘live’ or ‘die’ with an object. You cannot ‘live’ something and you cannot ‘die’ something.

Double Transitive Verbs

Double transitive verbs are followed by noun phrase that serves as a direct object and then a second noun phrase, adjective, or infinitive phrase. The second noun phrase, adjective or infinitive is called a complement, which completes a clause that would otherwise not have the same meaning.

Example: The professor considers his students clever.

Copular Verbs (Linking Verbs)

A copular verb or linking verb is a word that connects the subject of the sentence to a predicate noun or predicate adjective that describes or gives more information about the subject. This type of noun or predicate is called a subject complement.

  • The room looks big.
  • John is a lawyer.

In the first example, the verb ‘looks’ links the subject with the adjective ‘big’, which is also the subject complement. In the second example, the verb ‘is’ links the subject John to the subject complement noun ‘lawyer’.

Forms of be Be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being
Other Linking Verbs Appear, become, feel, grow, look, seem, remain, smell, sound, stay, taste, turn

Auxiliary Verbs (Helping Verbs)

Auxiliary verbs are verbs used before action or linking verbs to convey additional information regarding aspects of possibility (can, could, etc.) or time (was, did, has, etc.). They are used to express tense, aspect, modality, voice, emphasis, etc. Normally helping verbs accompany a main verb called a verb phrase.

  • Mark is going to the supermarket.
  • Raccoons may seem harmless.

In the first example, ‘is’ plays the role of the helping verb, which supports verb phrase ‘going’. Likewise, in the second example, ‘may’ as the auxiliary verb helps the verb phrase ‘seem’.

Modal Verbs

Words such as can, may, must, shall, will, could, might, ought to, should, and would are called modals. They always function as an auxiliary verb.

Types of Verb Tenses

Tense Simple Continuous Perfect Perfect Continuous
Past Simple Past Tense Past Continuous Tense Past Perfect Tense Past Perfect Continuous Tense
Present Simple Present Tense Present Continuous Tense Present Perfect Tense Present Perfect Continuous Tense
Future Simple Future Tense Future Continuous Tense Future Perfect Tense Future Perfect Continuous Tense

Simple Past Tense (Preterite)

Simple past tense is used to talk about an action that was completed before the present. The action could have been completed either recently or long ago.

  • I walked to the park earlier today.
  • John played soccer last night.

Simple past is used to describe when something happened and can be accompanied with time expressions of frequency, definite point in time and indefinite point in time.

Time Expressions Examples
Frequency Often, usually, sometimes, always, never, rarely
Definite point in time Yesterday, last week, last year, five years ago
Indefinite point in time Sometime ago, long before, years ago

How to form a Simple Past Tense

To form a simple past sentence, it depends if the verb is a regular verb or an irregular verb. The structure will depend on the type of sentence. Check out the following formulas:

For affirmative sentences, subject + verb + ed

For negative sentences, subject + did not + infinitive – to

For interrogative sentences, Did + subject + infinitive – to

For interrogative negative sentences, Did not + subject + infinitive – to

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I clapped. I didn’t clap I didn’t clap Didn’t I clap?
You clapped You didn’t clap You didn’t clap Didn’t you clap?
He clapped He didn’t clap He didn’t clap Didn’t he clap?
She clapped She didn’t clap She didn’t clap Didn’t she clap?
We clapped We didn’t clap We didn’t clap Didn’t we clap?
They clapped They didn’t clap They didn’t clap Didn’t they clap?
John clapped John didn’t clap John didn’t clap Didn’t John clap?

Simple past tense: ‘To be’, ‘To have’, and ‘To do’

Subject Verb
  Be Have Do
I was had did
You were had did
He/She/It was had did
We were had did
You were had did
They were had did

Affirmative form

The affirmative form is of past simple is very clear and easy.

  1. I was at school yesterday
  2. He had a stomachache last week
  3. They did nothing last year

Negative/Interrogative form

For the negative and interrogative simple past form of ‘to do’, use the helping verb ‘did’.

For the negative and interrogative simple past form of ‘have’, use the helping verb ‘did’, but you’ll also need to add ‘not’ along with the negative.

Simple past tense for irregular verbs

Some of the verbs could be irregular, here are some examples of how to use them in simple past tense.

To Give

  • He gave me his car.
  • He didn’t give me his car.
  • Did he give me his car?

To Come

  • My brother came to visit me.
  • My brother didn’t come to visit me.
  • Did my brother come to visit me?

To Go

  • They went to eat fast food.
  • They didn’t go to eat fast food.
  • Did they go to eat fast food?

Past Continuous Tense

A past continuous tense describes an incomplete or unfinished action in the past that is still occurring at the time of speaking. You may use past continuous tense to describe several scenarios:

  1. An action that is taking place before and after another action.
    • My wife was cooking dinner when I arrived.
  2. For something that happened before and after a specific time.
    • Jennifer was working yesterday.
  3. To express that something is taking place or continued for some time.
    • They were laughing.
  4. For something that is happening continuously.
    • My friends were playing every day.
  5. With verbs to show change or development.
    • Japan was quickly developing.
  6. To describe the background of a narrative written in past tense.
    • The sun was rising as the birds were singing.
  7. To describe an incomplete action that was interrupted by another action or event.
    • I was walking in the forest when a bear popped out and growled at me.
  8. To express a change of mind.
    • I was going to work to on my homework, but I played video games instead.
  9. Using ‘think’ to express an alternative suggestion or plan compared to what was given.
    • I was thinking that maybe you can come over instead.
  10. Using ‘wonder’ to make a polite request.
    • I was wondering if you’d want to go out with me?

How to form a Past Continuous Sentence

The past continuous of any verb is made up of two parts:

Subject + To be form (was/were) + Base + ing (Present Participle form)

  Subject + To be (past) Verb + ing
Affirmative I Was Crying
Negative I Was not Crying
Interrogative Was I Crying?
Interrogative Negative Wasn’t I Crying?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I was clapping I wasn’t clapping Was I clapping? Wasn’t I clapping?
You were clapping You weren’t clapping Were you clapping? Weren’t you clapping?
He was clapping He wasn’t clapping Was he clapping? Wasn’t he clapping?
She was clapping She wasn’t clapping Was she clapping? Wasn’t she clapping?
We were clapping We weren’t clapping Were we clapping? Weren’t we clapping?
They were clapping They weren’t clapping Were they clapping? Weren’t they clapping?
John was clapping John wasn’t clapping Was John clapping? Wasn’t John clapping?

Past Perfect Tense

A past perfect tense indicates an action that was completed at one point in the past before something else happened. It is used to make clear that one event happened before the other in the past. The order of the vents doesn’t matter as the tense will make clear as to which event took place first.

  • I had cleaned my room, when my mom came in.
  • Before the everyone left the office, they had finished their work.
  • Because he hadn’t slept well, he came to work late.

How to form a Past Perfect Sentence

To form a past perfect sentence, you’ll need to use the following formula:

Subject + Had + Past Participle form

  Subject + Had + Past Participle
Affirmative He Had Woken
Negative She Hadn’t Asked
Interrogative Had They Worked?
Interrogative Negative Hadn’t You Eaten?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I have known I hadn’t known Had I known? Hadn’t I known?
You had known You hadn’t known Had you known? Hadn’t you known?
He had known He hadn’t known Had he known? Hadn’t he known?
She had known She hadn’t known Had she known? Hadn’t she known?
They had known They hadn’t known Had they known? Hadn’t they known?
We had known We hadn’t known Had we known? Hadn’t we known?
It had known It hadn’t known Had it known? Hadn’t it known?

Using ‘Just’ with Past Perfect Tense

‘Just’ is used along with past perfect to express that the first event took place just a shortly before the second.

Subject + Had + Just + Past Participle

  • I had just broken up with my girlfriend, when Katie asked my number.
  • I arrived at McDonald’s, when they had just closed the doors.

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

The past perfect continuous tense (past perfect progressive) is a verb tense which is used to show an action started in the past and continued up to another point in the past.

  • You had been waiting there for more than 1 hour when the bus arrived?
  • Had he been drinking the whole time when we talked?

How to form a Past Perfect Continuous Sentence

In order to form a past perfect continuous sentence, you’ll need to use the following formula:

Subject + Had + Been + Present Participle form

  Subject +Had been Verb + ing
Affirmative He Had been Eating
Negative She Hadn’t been Running
Interrogative Had you Been Sleeping?
Interrogative Negative Hadn’t you Been Driving?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I had been eating I hadn’t been eating Had I been eating? Hadn’t I been eating?
You had been eating You hadn’t been eating Had you been eating? Hadn’t you been eating?
He had been eating He hadn’t been eating Had he been eating? Hadn’t he been eating?
She had been eating She hadn’t been eating Had she been eating? Hadn’t she been eating?
They had been eating They hadn’t been eating Had they been eating? Hadn’t they been eating?
We had been eating We hadn’t been eating Had we been eating? Hadn’t we been eating?
It had been eating It hadn’t been eating Had it been eating? Hadn’t it been eating?

Simple Present Tense

Simple present, present simple or present indefinite is one of the several verb forms of present tense in the English Language. It is used to describe habits, unchanging situations, general truths and fixed arrangements.

Habits

  • He goes to church on Sundays.
  • They watch television after work.
  • I nap during lunch time.

Unchanging Situations (repeated actions)

  • We take the subway every night.
  • It snows in Canada during winter.
  • My cousin visits my house on weekends.

General Truths

  • The sun rises in the east.
  • Water boils at 100 degrees.

Instructions and Directions

  • Open the cup ramen and pour hot water.
  • Go straight and turn right.

Fixed Arrangements

  • Our boss finishes work at 6.
  • She wakes up in the afternoon.

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I know I do not know Do I know? Don’t I know?
You know You do not know Do you know? Don’t you know?
He knows He does not know Does he know? Doesn’t he know?
She knows She does not know Does she know? Doesn’t she know?
They know They do not know Do they know? Don’t they know?
We know We do not know Do we know? Don’t we know?
It knows It does not know Does it know? Doesn’t it know?

Present Continuous Tense

 Present continuous or present progressive tense is one of several verb forms that combines present tense and the continuous aspect.

It is used to describe:

  1. An action that is happening in the current moment.
    • I am studying English.
  2. An action that is going on during this period of time or a trend.
    • Everyone is learning a new language these days.
  3. An action or event in the future which has already been planned or prepared.
    • We’re meeting tomorrow, right?
  4. A temporary event or situation.
    • It’s raining cats and dogs right now.
  5. Describe or emphasize a continuing series of repeated actions.
    • You are always picking a fight with kids in school.

How to form a Present Continuous Tense

If you want to form a present continuous tense, you’ll want to remember the follow the formula:

Subject + To be form + Base + ing (Present Participle form)

  Subject + to be Verb + ing
Affirmative He Is Laughing
Negative He Is not (isn’t) Laughing
Interrogative Is He Laughing?
Interrogative Negative Isn’t He Laughing?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I am laughing I am not laughing Am I laughing? Am I not laughing?
You are laughing You are not laughing Are you laughing? Aren’t you laughing?
He is laughing He is not laughing Is he laughing? Isn’t he laughing?
She is laughing She is not laughing Is she laughing? Isn’t she laughing?
They are laughing They are not laughing Are they laughing? Aren’t they laughing?
We are laughing We are not laughing Are we laughing? Aren’t we laughing?
It is laughing It is not laughing Is it laughing? Isn’t it laughing?

Present Perfect Tense

Present perfect tense is a combination of present tense and perfect aspect that is used to express a past event that has present consequences. The time of action lies somewhere in an unspecified time before the present, but the result is the focus of the sentence.

It is used to describe:

  1. An action or situation that started in the past and continues in the present.
    • I have worked here since the establishment began.
  2. An action performed or occurred during a period that has not yet finished.
    • He has beaten me every game so far.
  3. A repeat action in an unspecified period between the past and now.
    • We have eaten turkey every Thanksgiving.
  4. An action that was completed in the very recent past (by using ‘just’).
    • They have just bought their tickets.
  5. An action when the time is not important.
    • I have graduated from University.

How to form a Present Perfect Tense

To form a present perfect tense, you’ll need a combination of two important elements: The auxiliary (helping) verb, to have (present tense), and the past participle of the base verb. Take a look at the following formula:

Subject + To have + Past participle

  Subject + To have + Past Participle
Affirmative She Has Worked
Negative She Has not (hasn’t) Worked
Interrogative Has She Worked?
Interrogative Negative Hasn’t She Worked?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I have worked I have not worked Have I worked? Haven’t I worked?
You have worked You have not worked Have you worked? Haven’t you worked?
He has worked He has not worked Has he worked? Hasn’t he worked?
She has worked She has not worked Has she worked? Hasn’t she worked?
They have worked They have not worked Have they worked? Haven’t they worked?
We have worked We have not worked Have we worked? Haven’t we worked?
It has worked It has not worked Has it worked? Hasn’t it worked?

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Present perfect continuous tense or present perfect progressive is a verb tense used to indicate an action that started somewhere in the past and has continued to the present moment. The emphasis on these sentences are on the duration or the amount of time that has passed.

It is used to describe:

  1. An action that started in the past and continue in the present.
    • I have been studying computers for three years.
    • She has been calling you all day.
  2. An action that has just finished, but the focus is on the result.
    • You have been eating all our food. (now it’s all gone)
    • They have been running throughout the whole marathon. (now they’re tired)

How to form a Present Perfect Continuous Sentence

To form a present perfect continuous sentence, you can follow the following formula:

Subject + Has/have been + Base + ing (Present Participle form)

  Subject + Has/have been + Verb + ing
Affirmative He Has been Eating
Negative He Has not been Eating
Interrogative Has He been Eating?
Interrogative Negative Hasn’t He been Eating?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I have been eating I have not been eating Have I been eating? Haven’t I been eating?
You have been eating You have not been eating Have you been eating? Haven’t you been eating?
He has been eating He has not been eating Has he not been eating? Hasn’t he been eating?
She has been eating She has not been eating Has she not been eating? Hasn’t she been eating?
They have been eating They have not been eating Have they been eating? Haven’t they been eating?
We have been eating We have not been eating Have we been eating? Haven’t we been eating?
It has been eating It has not been eating Has it been eating? Hasn’t it been eating?

Simple Future Tense

Simple future tense refers to an action that happens in a time later than now. There are two different ways to construct a simple future tense with their very own nuances and intended meaning. The first form is ‘will’ and the second form is ‘be going to’.

When to use ‘Will’ form

  1. For things that we decide to do at the moment. (Quick decision)
    • I will go to the concert, you’ve convinced me.
    • I will answer the phone! (when the phone rings)
  2. When we think or believe something about the future. (Prediction)
    • It will rain this weekend, make sure to bring an umbrella.
  3. To make an offer, a promise, or threat. (Condition)
    • I will eat your cake if you don’t hurry up.

Note: ‘Shall’ is an outdated version of ‘will’, it can be used to replace will to emphasize or make a point.

When to use ‘Going to’ form

  1. When we have already decided, or we intend to do something in the future. (Prior plan)
    • I’m going to the concert; I already bought my ticket.
  2. When there are definite signs that something is going to happen. (Evidence)
    • It’s going to snow a lot soon.
  3. When something is about to happen.
    • He drank too much! He’s going to throw up.

Note: You can replace ‘going to’ with ‘gonna’ for verbal conversation. (eg. I’m gonna take a nap)

How to form a Simple Future Sentence

To form a simple future tense, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the two formulas.

  1. Subject + Will + Base
  Subject + Will + Verb
Affirmative He Will Sleep
Negative He Will not Sleep
Interrogative Will He Sleep?
Interrogative Negative Won’t He Sleep?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I will sleep I will not sleep Will I sleep? Won’t I sleep?
You will sleep You will not sleep Will you sleep? Won’t you sleep?
He will sleep He will not sleep Will he sleep? Won’t he sleep?
She will sleep She will not sleep Will she sleep? Won’t she sleep?
They will sleep They will not sleep Will they sleep? Won’t they sleep?
We will sleep We will not sleep Will we sleep? Won’t we sleep?
It will sleep It will not sleep Will it sleep? Won’t it sleep?
  • Subject + To be + Going to + Base
  Subject + to be + Going to + Verb
Affirmative She is Going to Sleep
Negative She is not Going to Sleep
Interrogative Is she Going to Sleep?
Interrogative Negative Isn’t she Going to Sleep?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I am going to sleep I am not going to sleep Am I going to sleep? Am I not going to sleep?
You are going to sleep You are not going to sleep Are you going to sleep Aren’t you going to sleep?
He is going to sleep He is not going to sleep Is he going to sleep? Isn’t he going to sleep?
She is going to sleep She is not going to sleep Is she going to sleep? Isn’t she going to sleep?
They are going to sleep They are not going to sleep Are they going to sleep? Aren’t they going to sleep?
We are going to sleep We are not going to sleep Are we going to sleep? Aren’t we going to sleep?
It is going to sleep It is not going to sleep Is it going to sleep? Isn’t it going to sleep?

Future Continuous Tense

Future continuous tense or future progressive is used to indicate an action that will take in the future for a duration of time or continuously. It refers to an unfinished action or event that will progress at a time after now.

It can be used to:

  1. Project ourselves in the future.
    • This Christmas, I will be singing Christmas carols at our neighbor’s house.
    • Next week, I’m going to be shopping like crazy in New York.
  2. Predicting or guessing about future events.
    • I think you will be coming home for dinner.
    • Perhaps he is going to be eating a lot during this upcoming vacation.
  3. To ask politely about the future. (interrogative form)
    • Will you be sleeping over at my place?
    • Are you going to be coming over later on?
  4. Refer to continuous events are expected to happen in the future.
    • I will be working overtime everyday for the next month.
    • He is going to be living with his wife their wedding next week.
  5. Refer to events that are already happening now and are expected to continue some time into the future. (When paired with ‘Still’)
    • I will still be attending school after 4 years.
    • I am still going to be eating this sandwich after everyone is finished.
  6. Interrupted action in the future.
    • I will be playing video games when my mom comes home.
    • I’m going to be staying at the hotel when you come.
  7. The atmosphere in the future.
    • Everyone will be crying when you leave next week.
    • They are going to be laughing when they see our play.

How to use Future Continuous Tense

The two future tense forms ‘Will’ and ‘Going to’ paired with ‘to be’ and present participle will form a future continuous sentence.

  1. Subject + Will + To be + Base + ing (Present Participle form)
  Subject + Will be + Verb + ing
Affirmative He Will be Traveling
Negative He Will not be Traveling
Interrogative Will He be Traveling?
Interrogative Negative Won’t He be Traveling?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I will be traveling I will not be traveling Will I be traveling? Won’t I be traveling?
You will be traveling You will not be traveling Will you be traveling? Won’t you be traveling?
He will be traveling He will not be traveling Will he be traveling? Won’t he be traveling?
She will be traveling She will not be traveling Will she be traveling? Won’t she be traveling?
They will be traveling They will not be traveling Will they be traveling? Won’t they be traveling?
We will be traveling We will not be traveling Will we be traveling? Won’t he be traveling?
It will be traveling It will not be traveling Will it be traveling? Won’t it be traveling?
  • Subject + (is/are/am) + Going to + Be + Base + ing (Present participle form)
  Subject + to be + Going to be + Verb + ing
Affirmative She is Going to be Traveling
Negative She is not Going to be Traveling
Interrogative Is she Going to be Traveling?
Interrogative Negative Isn’t she Going to be Traveling?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I am going to be traveling I am not going to be traveling Am I going to be traveling? Am I not going to be traveling?
You are going to be traveling You are not going to be traveling Are you going to be traveling? Are you not going to be traveling?
He is going to be traveling He is not going to be traveling Is he going to be traveling? Isn’t he going to be traveling?
She is going to be traveling He is not going to be traveling Is she going to be traveling? Isn’t she going to be traveling?
They are going to be traveling They are not going to be traveling Are they going to be traveling? Aren’t they going to be traveling?
We are going to be traveling We are not going to be traveling Are we going to be traveling? Aren’t we going to be traveling?
It is going to be traveling It is not going to be traveling Is it not going to be traveling Isn’t it not going to be traveling?

Future Perfect Tense

The future perfect tense is used to explain an activity or action that will be completed by a certain time in the future. This tense indicates an event in the future that has a definitive end date or time. It is normally paired with ‘by’ to express a time until which the action will be completed by.

  • I will have slept eight hours.
  • Jerry and Anne will have married by then.
  • The children will have eaten all the cake by the time we arrive.

How to use Future Perfect Tense

The future perfect tense is composed of two elements:

Subject + Will have + Past participle form

  Subject + Will have + Past participle
Affirmative He Will have Departed
Negative He Will have Departed
Interrogative Will He have Departed?
Interrogative Negative Won’t He have Departed?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I will have departed I won’t have departed Will I have departed? Won’t I have departed?
You will have departed You won’t have departed Will you have departed? Won’t you have departed?
He will have departed He won’t have departed Will he have departed? Won’t he have departed?
She will have departed She won’t have departed Will she have departed? Won’t she have departed?
They will have departed They won’t have departed Will they have departed? Won’t they have departed?
We will have departed We won’t have departed Will we have departed? Won’t we have departed?
It will have departed It won’t have departed Will it have been departed? Won’t it have departed?

Future Perfect Continuous Tense

The future perfect continuous tense or future perfect progressive is a verb tense that describes actions that will continue up to a certain point in the future. This form is used to project ourselves towards the future, referring to events or actions that are currently unfinished by may be complete sometime in the future.

  • By next week, I will have been working in this company for 20 years.
  • By tomorrow, I will have been dating my girlfriend for a whole year.
  • I will have been waiting for 8 hours by the time the plane arrives.

How to use Future Perfect Continuous Tense

To form a future perfect continuous tense, you’ll want to use the following formula:

Subject + Will have been + Base + ing (Present Participle form)

  Subject + Will have been + Verb + ing
Affirmative She Will have been Partying
Negative She Won’t have been partying
Interrogative Will She have been Partying?
Interrogative Negative Won’t She have been Partying?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I will have been partying I won’t have been partying Will I have been partying? Won’t I have been partying?
You will have been partying You won’t have been partying Will you have been partying? Won’t you have been partying?
He will have been partying He won’t have been partying Will he have been partying? Won’t he have been partying?
She will have been partying She won’t have been partying Will she have been partying? Won’t she have been partying?
They will have been partying They won’t have been partying Will they have been partying? Won’t they have been partying?
We will have been partying We won’t have been partying Will we have been partying? Won’t we have been partying?
It will have been partying It won’t have been partying Will it have been partying? Won’t it have been partying?

Other ways to refer to the future WITHOUT future tense

There are several ways to refer to the future without the use of future tense. You’ll want to look at how to use the following examples:

1.      Using present continuous to refer to the future.

  • I’m leaving for Dubai next week.
  • We’re staying at your place this winter.

2.      Using simple present to refer to the future.

  • The bus leaves in 30 minutes
    • We close at 6 pm.

3.      Using ‘going’ to refer to the future

Using ‘going’ has a strong association with the present. It is used to refer to a plan or intention to perform an action based on the present situation. You may use ‘gonna’ as a short variation of this tense.

Subject + to be (conjugated) + Going + Infinitive

  Subject + to be (conjugated) + going + infinitive
Affirmative He Is Going To cry
Negative He Is not Going To cry
Interrogative Is He Going To cry?
Interrogative Negative Isn’t He Going To cry?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I am going to cry I am not going to cry Am I going to cry? Am I not going to cry?
You are going to cry You are not going to cry Are you going to cry? Aren’t you going to cry?
He is going to cry He is not going to cry Is he going to cry? Isn’t he going to cry?
She is going to cry She is not going to cry Is she going to cry? Isn’t she going to cry?
They are going to cry They are not going to cry Are they not going to cry? Aren’t they going to cry?
We are going to cry We are not going to cry Are we going to cry? Aren’t we going to cry?
it is going to cry It is not going to cry Is it going to cry? Isn’t it going to cry?

4.      Future Obligation

In reference to the future, we can use the following pattern to describe obligations or requirements that must be complete in a time after now. It functions similar to other imperatives such as ‘must’, ‘have to’, etc.

Subject + To be (conjugated) + Infinitive

  Subject + to be (conjugated) + Infinitive
Affirmative He Is To work
Negative He Isn’t To work
Interrogative Is He To work?
Interrogative Negative Isn’t He To work?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I am to work I am not to work Am I to work? Am I not to work?
You are to work You are not to work Are you to work? Aren’t you to work?
He is to work He is not to work Is he to work? Isn’t he to work?
She is to work She is not to work Is she work? Isn’t she to work?
They are to work They are not to work Are they to work? Aren’t they to work?
We are to work We are not to work Are we to work? Aren’t we to work?
It is to work It is not to work Is it to work? Isn’t it to work?

5.      Immediate Future

The following pattern describes an action that will immediately take place after spoken. The use of ‘about’ is to emphasize the urgency of the action, using the word ‘just’ right before ‘about’ will further amplify the immediacy.

Subject + To be (conjugated) + about + Infinitive

  Subject + to be (conjugated) + about + infinitive
Affirmative The bomb Is About To explode
Negative The bomb Is not About To explode
Interrogative Is The bomb About To explode?
Interrogative Negative Isn’t The bomb About To explode?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I am about to explode I am not about to explode Am I about to explode? Am I not about to explode?
You are about to explode You are not about to explode Are you about to explode? Aren’t you about to explode?
He is about to explode He is not about to explode Is he about to explode? Isn’t he about to explode?
She is about to explode She is not about to explode Is she about to explode? Isn’t she about to explode?
They are about to explode They are not about to explode Are they about to explode? Aren’t they about to explode?
We are about to explode We are not about to explode Are we about to explode? Aren’t we about to explode?
It is about to explode It is not about to explode Is it about to explode? Isn’t it about to explode?

Note: You may also use past simple tense instead of present tense to describe a situation that almost took place but was interrupted.

  • The bomb was about to explode, but it was defused.
  • The plane was about to take off, but the engine failed.
  • I gave her candy because she was about to cry.

Conditional Tense: How to use ‘IF’

Conditional tenses are used to express what might happen, what could have happened, or what should have happened. They are comprised of several English verb tenses.

They are sometimes referred to as ‘IF clauses’ and can be used to describe a past event that didn’t happen (but could have), or present and future events that have a possibility of taking place.

Mastering conditionals will help you develop your ability to express a variety of different ideas and thoughts in English. You’ll learn what is a verb and what you can do with it when paired with conditionals.

Conditional sentence type Usage If clause verb tense Main clause verb tense
Zero General truths & Habits Simple present Simple present
Type 1 A possible condition and its probable result Simple present Simple future
Type 2 A hypothetical condition and its probable result Simple past Present conditional or Present continuous conditional
Type 3 An unreal past condition and its probable result in the past Past perfect Perfect conditional
Mixed type An unreal past condition and its probable result in the present Past perfect Present conditional

The Zero Conditional

A zero conditional sentence is made up of two present simple verbs. This conditional is used when the result will always happen, and the situation is very possible. It is used to state a general truths(scientific facts) or habits. For example: If this thing happens, this thing happens.

If Clause Main Clause
If + Simple Present Simple Present
  • If you drink poison, you die.
  • You get fat if you eat too much.
  • If you mix blue and yellow, you get green.

The zero conditional sentence can also be used to give instructions by placing an imperative on the main clause.

If Clause Main Clause
If + Simple Present Imperative
  • If he gets poisoned, give him the antidote.
  • If you arrive on time, talk to the receptionist.

Note: In these statements, you may replace ‘if’ with ‘when’ without changing the meaning.

The First Conditional (Type 1)

The first type conditional sentence is made up of an IF clause using the present simple and a main clause that uses future simple. This type is used to talk about things that might happen in the future. Of course, we can’t know exactly what will happen in the future, but this describes possibilities which can easily take place. For example: If this happens, this WILL happen.

If Clause Main Clause
If + Simple Present Simple Future
  • If I have time, I will have dinner with you.
  • If you lie, I will hurt you.
  • You will get into a car accident if you drive recklessly.

Note: In SOME of these statements, you may replace ‘if’ with ‘when’ without changing the meaning.

You may also use the first type conditional sentence (type 1) with modals to express the degree of certainty, permission or a recommendation about the outcome.

If Clause Main Clause
If + Simple Present Simple Future with Modal verb
  • If he drinks the poison, he might die.
  • If you ask your boss for a letter of recommendation, he may give it to you.

The Second Conditional (Type 2)

The second conditional sentence uses a past simple for the IF Clause, along with ‘would’ and infinitive for the main clause. This type is used to express an unreal situation in the future. These types of sentences are not based on facts, but rather a possible future.

If Clause Main Clause
If + Simple Present Present Conditional /Present Continuous Conditional (Would)
  • If I studied harder, I would get an A on my exam.
  • If you stopped smoking, you wouldn’t be sick.

Rather than saying “IF I was”, use “If I were”.

  • If I were taller, I would be a model
  • I wouldn’t have jumped if I knew it was safe.

You can also exchange ‘would’ with other modal verbs to express the degrees, grade or levels.

  • If I had a higher salary, I may buy a car.
  • If he worked harder, he might become our boss.

How to use a Present Conditional Tense

To form a present conditional tense, you can use the following formula:

Subject + Would + Infinitive

  Subject + Would + Infinitive
Affirmative He Would Drive
Negative He Wouldn’t Drive
Interrogative Would He Drive?
Interrogative Negative Wouldn’t He Drive?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I would drive I would not drive Would I drive? Wouldn’t I drive?
You would drive You would not drive Would you drive? Wouldn’t you drive?
He would drive He would not drive Would he drive? Wouldn’t he drive?
She would drive She would not drive Would she drive? Wouldn’t she drive?
They would drive They would not drive Would they drive? Wouldn’t they drive?
We would drive We would not drive Would we drive? Wouldn’t we drive?
It would drive It would not drive Would it drive? Wouldn’t it drive?

The Third Conditional (Type 3)

The third conditional sentence is when the IF clause is the past perfect tense, whereas the main clause is either a perfect conditional or perfect continuous conditional. This conditional talks about a situation that didn’t happen, and its probable result in the past. This conditional talks about a hypothetical situation in the past, but the current reality is very different or opposite to what was desired.

If Clause Main Clause
If + Past Perfect Perfect Conditional/Perfect Continuous Conditional
  • If we had studied, we would have gone to college.
  • You would have done well if you had tried harder.

You may also substitute ‘would’ with a modal verb to specify the degree or chance of the outcome.

  • If they had done their part, the company might have succeeded.
  • I could have become the best swimmer if I hadn’t sprained my ankle.

The Perfect Conditional Tense

To form the perfect conditional tense, you can use the following formula:

Subject + Would + [Have + Past Participle Form = Perfect Infinitive]

  Subject + Would + Have + Past Participle
Affirmative He Would Have Flown
Negative He Wouldn’t Have Flown
Interrogative Would He Have Flown?
Interrogative Negative Wouldn’t He Have Flown?

Practice time: Read aloud the following sentences and their different forms. Try replacing the verb with something different to familiarize yourself with the forms and structure.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative Interrogative Negative
I would have flown I wouldn’t have flown Would I have flown Wouldn’t I have flown?
You would have flown You wouldn’t have flown Would you have flown? Wouldn’t you have flown?
He would have flown He wouldn’t have flown Would he have flown? Wouldn’t he have flown?
She would have flown She wouldn’t have flown Would she have flown? Wouldn’t she have flown?
They would have flown They wouldn’t have flown Would they have flown? Wouldn’t they have flown?
We would have flown We wouldn’t have flown Would we have flown? Wouldn’t we have flown?
It would have flown It wouldn’t have flown Would it have flown? Wouldn’t it have flown?

Contractions with Third Conditional Type

‘Would’ or ‘Had’ can be contracted to ‘d. This would make things easier but also a bit more confusing if you’re not familiar with how third type conditionals work. Two things you should note:

  1. ‘Would’ never appears in an IF Clause, if ‘d appears, it is a contraction of ‘had’
  2. ‘Had’ never appears before have, so if ‘d appears on a pronoun before have, it is a contraction of ‘would’

Mixed Conditional

A mixed conditional sentence refers to an unreal conditional past and a possible result in the present or future. These types of sentences express a hypothetical probable past and outcome of a situation that did not take place.

If Clause Main Clause
If + Past Perfect Present Conditional
  • If I had worked hard, I would have a better job.
  • You would be dead if the life guard had not been there.
  • If she had not tutored you, you wouldn’t have passed the test.

You may also use modal verbs to substitute ‘would’ in the main clause to represent degree or accuracy of the outcome.

  • If you had taken your dad’s car, he might disown you.
  • I could be the best dancer if I had practiced since I was a kid.

Another type of mixed conditional is where the sentence refers to an unreal present situation and its hypothetical past result.

If Clause Main Clause
If + Simple Past Perfect Conditional/Perfect Continuous Conditional
  • If I wasn’t lazy, I would have passed all my exams.
    I would have helped you out if I wasn’t busy.

‘If I were you’ or ‘If I was you’ – Which is correct?

To answer this question, you’ll want to know what a subjunctive mood is. In English, the purpose of a subjunctive mood is to explore a conditional or imaginary situation that are contrary to the fact. It is a grammatical point of view that is used differently based on culture.

Simple Past: If I was you, I would eat that.

Subjunctive Mood: If I were you, I would eat that.

What is a Gerund (-ING form)? – How to spot them

What is a gerund? What does it have to do with verbs and grammar? These are some of the common questions English learners and even native speakers have to look up from time to time.

To put it simply, a gerund most often functions as a noun, not exclusively, but is derived from a verb. They are different from present participles but use the same -ING form to function as a noun. Gerunds are very flexible and are used in various ways in the English language. Once you’ve become familiar with them, you’ll be able to spot them with ease in a sentence.

  1. The boy was given a punishment.  [Single-word Noun]
  2. The boy was given a scolding. [Gerund]

Examples of Gerunds in a Subject, Object and Verb to Be (Complement)

  • Fishing is a relaxing sport.
  • Boxing is dangerous.
  • I love eating apples.
  • My greatest goal is becoming rich.

Examples of Gerunds after Prepositions

  • Is she still interested in dating you?
  • The boy went up the hill quickly by climbing the steep side.

Examples of Gerunds after Phrasal Verbs

  • Their children are going to grow up excelling in their studies.
  • Let’s put off working this holiday, we need rest.

Examples of Gerunds with Compound Nouns

  • Let’s go sight-seeing together this summer.
  • She went sun-bathing during her trip in the Philippines.

Examples of Gerunds in Expressions – ‘Can’t help’, ‘can’t stand’, ‘to be worth’, and ‘it’s no use’

  • Wisemen say, “only fools rush in”, but I can’t help falling in love with you.
  • I can’t stand listening to pop music anymore!
  • A woman’s affection is worth pursuing.
  • It’s no use reasoning with them.

What is a Present Participle (-ING form)?

You may be asking, “What is a present participle?” and you may be wondering how it differs from a Gerund.

A present participle is a form of a verb that has the -ING ending. It is most used in continuous sentences. However, it has many others forms and ways it could be used. It’s quite different from a gerund, which you may want to look at.

Examples of Present Participle as a Continuous Form Verb

  • I am sleeping.
  • He was talking.
  • She was eating.

Examples of Present Participle as an Adjective

  • That was a breathtaking scenery!
  • Those fighting fishes are going at it!

Examples of Present Participle after Verbs of Movement and Position

  • They will go jogging after work.
  • We came looking for a job.

Examples of Present Participle after Verbs of Perception

  • I saw her singing in the park.
  • They watched us arguing in the playground.

Examples of Present Participle with Waste and Spend

  • My uncle wastes three hours a day complaining about the government.
  • My girlfriend spends a ton of time and money grooming her dog.

Examples of Present Participle with Catch and Find

  • She found me sleeping inside my car.
  • I caught my friend stealing my food!

Examples of Present Participle to Express Two actions Simultaneously

  • He walked down the road, laughing hysterically.
  • He stamped his feet angrily, groaning like goat.

Examples of Present Participle to Explain a Reason

  • Knowing what they might do to him, he shut his mouth.
  • She pleaded for forgiveness, understanding her own mistake.

What is an Infinitive?

If your student or friend asks you, “What is an infinitive?” How would you respond? Well, we’ve got you covered. An infinitive is a verb consisting of [to + verb]. It can act like a subject, direct object, subject complement, or even an adverb in a sentence. There are four other forms of infinitive: The Perfect Infinitive, The Perfect Continuous Infinitive, The Continuous Infinitive, and The Passive Infinitive.

  ACTIVE PASSIVE
Simple Infinitive (to) write (to) be written
Continuous Infinitive (to) be writing (to) be being written
Perfect Infinitive (to) have written (to) have been written
Perfect Continuous Initiative (to) have been written (to) have been being writing

Two forms of Present Infinitive:

To-Infinitive = to + base

Zero Infinitive = base

To-infinitive Zero infinitive
Sleep To sleep
Break To break
Give To give
Make To make

Functions of the To-Infinitive

  1. To indicate the purpose or intention of an action
    • She came to work at this establishment.
    • He called to ask his boss a question.
  2. Used as a subject of a sentence
    • To graduate with honors is one of my goals.
    • To travel the world is to see everything life has to offer.
  3. Used as a direct object of the sentence
    • I love to draw pictures of trees
    • Everyone chose to play that game.
  4. Used as a subject complement
    • His dream is to learn English.
    • Her purpose is to spite me.
  5. To indicate what something can or will be used for
    • He made an ax to cut down trees.
    • She wore a black dress to pay her respects.
  6. To make a comment or judgment
    • He is the best guy to hire.
    • That was a crazy thing to do during the party.
  7. Used after adjectives
    • That was nice of you to say.
    • It’s important for everyone to stay positive in times of trouble.
  8. Used as an adjective
    • I have some time to kill.
    • She has some work to do.
  9. Used as an adverb
    • There are way too many people here to have a quiet conversation.
    • Kailey is old enough to make her own decisions.
  10. Used with question words – ask, understand, decide, explain, forget, know, and tell
    • Ask her to go out with you!
    • I forgot what to do during the test!
    • Tell me when you want to work together.

Functions of the Zero Infinitive

  1. After Auxiliary Verbs (Helping)
    • Would you like a glass of water?
    • I may sleepover tonight.
  2. After certain verbs of perception (hear, see, felt, etc.)
    • I saw her climb the tree.
    • They felt something crawl up their legs.
  3. After certain verbs like ‘LET’ or ‘MAKE’
    • I’ll let you come with me if you stay quiet.
    • Her parents make her study hard.
  4. After the expression ‘Had better’
    • They had better bring their toys with them.
    • She had better apologize or I’ll dump her!
  5. After the expression ‘Would rather’
    • I would rather eat nothing than taste her cooking.
    • We would rather walk home than sit with them.
  6. With ‘Why’ to make a suggestion
    • Why wait outside when we can wait inside?
    • Why not buy that computer you want so bad?

Functions of the Passive Infinitive

Passive infinitives are used to form a sentence in the passive voice. It is normally used with modal verbs to indicate what is possible or correct. Use the following formula to make a passive infinitive:

To be + Past Participle

  • I am hoping to be promoted next month.
  • Thomas could be given an award for his outstanding achievement.

Functions of the Continuous Infinitive

The continuous infinitive refers to the same time as that of the preceding verb and expresses an action in progress or one that is continuing to happen over time.

To be + Present Participle form

  • I am happy to be sitting with you.
  • Christina must be crazy when she said you were ugly!

Functions of the Perfect Infinitive

The perfect infinitive refers to a time before the preceding verb. There are situations where the zero form of the infinitive would be used, which normally takes place after most modal auxiliaries.

To be + Past Participle form

  • Donnie was so grateful to have worked at my father’s company.
  • We were happy to have had the chance to talk with you.

Functions of the Perfect Continuous infinitive

The perfect continuous infinitive refers to a time before the preceding verb, but also expresses an action in progress or one that is continuing to happen over time.

To have been + Present Participle form

  • The Chinese must have been working for a long time to build the great wall.
  • Soon enough, she will have been waiting over 5 days for her package to arrive.

Bottom Line

Now that you’ve learned all about what is a verb, you’ll want to check out the other 8 parts of speech. Familiarize yourself with what is an adverb, noun, adjective, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, and interjection.

You can also master English by knowing how to use determiners properly. It’s always a good idea to review your English grammar by checking out ESL Workshop.

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