Verbs are action words. Here we’ll explain how to construct and use helping verbs, modal verbs, infinitive/gerund, participles, phrasal verbs, and the passive, imperative, and subjunctive.
The helping verbs are be, do, have, and will, when they are used to form a compound tense or the passive.
- I do not know if he is sleeping.
The modal verbs are verbs such as can, may, must, need not, shall/should/ought to. They indicate ability or permission when referring to an action.
- I cannot dance but I ought to learn it.
Certain words in English take a verb in its infinitive form or in its gerund form. Here we’ve made a list of the most common words that are used with the infinitive or the gerund.
- He was busy working in the garden and did not let anyone help him.
There are three kinds of participles in English: present participle, past participle and perfect participle. We often use them as adjectives, but also in participle clauses.
- Having been interested in seeing interesting places, I travelled a lot.
Phrasal verbs are verbs that are used together with a preposition or an adverb as a single unit, which often changes their meaning completely from the original verb.
- I get up at seven every morning.
We use the passive to emphasise an action. Who or what performed the action is unimportant, unknown, or assumed to be generally known.
- The letter was written (by Anne).
We use the imperative for commands and orders when we’re addressing one person or several people directly.
- Stop! Don’t go!
We use the subjunctive in certain phrases and idioms. The verb is used in the basic form, even for the third person singular.
- She demands that he be heard.