Discuss the properties of English verbs with examples.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The properties of English verbs is a complex subject that we can only touch on in part here. English verbs are a word class that are lexically and morphologically distinct and indicate an action, a state of being or an event (occurrence). English verbs have inflectional properties that indicate tense, aspect and mood. They also show active and passive voice, which indicates the relationship between the Subject and the Verb of a sentence. There are regularly conjugated and irregularly conjugated verbs. English verbs conjugate for person: first (I; we), second (you; you) and third person (she, he; they) in both singular and plural. English verbs have non-finite, or infinitive, forms (to have, to be, to do) and participle forms (singing, sang; staying, stayed). English has auxiliary verbs and modal auxiliary verbs. English verbs can be followed by article particles to form phrasal verbs.

Tense locates verbs in time and shows past time, present time or future time. Examples are: Past: Yesterday I swam. Present: Today I swim. Future: Tomorrow I will swim. Aspect of a verb shows whether or not an action or occurrence (event) is completed or not. Aspect shows that which is incomplete through progressive aspect, also called continuous aspect, and complete through perfect aspect. English verbs indicate mood, or attitude, as ordinary indicative, questioning interrogative, urgent imperative, contingent conditionals, and doubtful or wishing subjunctive. Examples are: Indicative: I swam. Interrogative; Will you swim? Imperative: You must not swim. Conditional: I might not swim if it could be unwise. Subjunctive: If it were I, I would swim.

Regularly conjugated verbs, or regular verbs, are those that follow the standard English conjugation model for present, past simple and participle forms: Root word: bake: bake, baked, baking; infinitive: to bake. Irregularly conjugated verbs, or irregular verbs, are those that follow a different conjugation pattern in the past simple and past participle forms: Root: rise: rise, rose, risen. Root: bring: bring, brought, brought. It is posited that these high usage words maintained Middle English conjugation whereas lower usage words did not.

Finally, English auxiliary verbs are do, be and have. Modal auxiliary verbs, or modal verbs, commonly known are can, may, could, should, would, shall, ought (ought to), will, while some uncommonly known ones are need, and dare. There are three Simple tenses; three Perfect tenses: have + -ed participle; three Progressive (aka Continuous) tenses: be + -ing participle; and three Perfect Progressive (aka Perfect Continuous) tenses: have + be + -ing participle. The three categories for each are Past, Present and Future yielding twelve English tenses.

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