Where the Action is: All About Verbs Part 1

There are few things in the english language that are as tricky as verbs. A verb is a word that describes an action, state or occurrence. Sounds simple enough, but what makes verbs so tricky is how intricately they are tied to tense. Tense tells if something has already happened, is happening right now or will happen in the future. These are generally known as past tense, present tense or future tense. With all of that out of the way, let’s dive in! It’s bound to be action-packed!

Verbs that happened before

Let’s look at the very simple verb run. A sentence with the word run might look something like this, “Dean had to run .”. But now lets look at how a change of tense changes the verb:

Future: Dean might run home.
Present: Dean is running home.
Past: Dean ran home.

The future tense stays the same, the present tense adds a suffix (-ing), but the past tense is a bit of a trick; it’s a different word. In fact, many verbs actually have a different word that is used in the past tense such as:

Present: Dive Past: Dove
Present: Buy: Past: Bought
Present: Sing Past: Sung
Present: Sit Past: Sat
Present: Drink Past: Drank
Dean ran home

If fluency is the goal, then all of the verbs that have different words for the past tense need to be memorized. But here is where it gets even trickier. Not all verbs have different words to indicate different tenses. For example, if we look at the verb work and its tenses we get work, working and worked. Some other examples include:

Present: Play Past: Played
Present: Mow Past: Mowed
Present: Walk Past: Walked
Present: Pat Past: Patted
Present: Look Past: Looked

Isn’t english fun? Not only do you have to know which verbs have different words and which ones have a suffix, but you also have to know which ones stay the the exact same in past tense. For example, the verb cut. The past tense of cut is… cut. For example, “Bill cut his hand yesterday.”. While this is less common, it is still important to know which verbs follow which rule. Some examples of verbs that don’t change are:

Present: Put Past: Put
Present: Shut Past: Shut
Present: Fit Past: Fit
Present: Hurt Past: Hurt
Present: Beat Past: Beat
Bill cut his hand yesterday

There are a few oddball verbs out there have different rules, which brings me to my next point; while there are a few tricks and rules to follow to know which verbs change in past tense, and how they change but in general, you have to memorize which verbs change and how. Many native english speakers really can’t explain the rules; they just know what’s right due to years of practice. And unfortunately, that’s what it takes. You won’t be able to sit down and memorize them all in a day and you’re likely to mix a few of them up on occasion (even native english speakers do!), but with practice, you’ll be a verb master!

Tune in next week when we talk about how just adding “-ing” to a verb isn’t the sure-fire way to put it into the present tense!

Were there a few words or phrases you were unfamiliar with? The definitions are listed below!

  • Occurence– An incident or event.
  • Intricately– In a very complicated or detailed manner.
  • Action-packed– Filled with action and excitement.
  • Suffix– A modifier added to the end of a word to change it’s function or meaning.
  • Oddball- Strange or bizarre.
  • SurefireCertain to succeed.

Do you think you got all of that? Try the quiz!