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Essentials Of English Grammar
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Divisions of Grammar Definitions - Etymology.
A verb is a word which implies action or the doing of something, or it
may be defined as a word which affirms, commands or asks a question.
Thus, the words John the table, contain no assertion, but when the word
strikes is introduced, something is affirmed, hence the word strikes
is a verb and gives completeness and meaning to the group.
The simple form of the verb without inflection is called the root of
the verb; e. g. love is the root of the verb,--"To Love."
Verbs are regular or irregular, transitive or intransitive.
A verb is said to be regular when it forms the past tense by adding
ed to the present or d if the verb ends in e. When its past tense
does not end in ed it is said to be irregular.
A transitive verb is one the action of which passes over to or affects
some object; as "I struck the table." Here the action of striking
affected the object table, hence struck is a transitive verb.
An intransitive verb is one in which the action remains with the subject;
as "I walk," "I sit," "I run."
Many intransitive verbs, however, can be used transitively; thus, "I walk
the horse;" walk is here transitive.
Verbs are inflected by number, person, tense and mood.
Number and person as applied to the verb really belong to the
subject; they are used with the verb to denote whether the assertion is
made regarding one or more than one and whether it is made in reference
to the person speaking, the person spoken to or the person or thing
In their tenses verbs follow the divisions of time. They have present
tense, past tense and future tense with their variations to express
the exact time of action as to an event happening, having happened or yet
There are four simple moods,--the Infinitive, the Indicative, the
Imperative and the Subjunctive.
The Mood of a verb denotes the mode or manner in which it is used. Thus
if it is used in its widest sense without reference to person or number,
time or place, it is in the Infinitive Mood; as "To run." Here we are
not told who does the running, when it is done, where it is done or
anything about it.
When a verb is used to indicate or declare or ask a simple question or
make any direct statement, it is in the Indicative Mood. "The boy loves
his book." Here a direct statement is made concerning the boy. "Have you
a pin?" Here a simple question is asked which calls for an answer.
When the verb is used to express a command or entreaty it is in the
Imperative Mood as, "Go away." "Give me a penny."
When the verb is used to express doubt, supposition or uncertainty or
when some future action depends upon a contingency, it is in the
subjunctive mood; as, "If I come, he shall remain."
Many grammarians include a fifth mood called the potential to express
power, possibility, liberty, necessity, will or duty. It is
formed by means of the auxiliaries may, can, ought and must, but
in all cases it can be resolved into the indicative or subjunctive. Thus,
in "I may write if I choose," "may write" is by some classified as in the
potential mood, but in reality the phrase I may write is an indicative
one while the second clause, if I choose, is the expression of a
condition upon which, not my liberty to write, depends, but my actual
Verbs have two participles, the present or imperfect, sometimes called
the active ending in ing and the past or perfect, often called the
passive, ending in ed or d.
The infinitive expresses the sense of the verb in a substantive form,
the participles in an adjective form; as "To rise early is healthful."
"An early rising man." "The newly risen sun."
The participle in ing is frequently used as a substantive and
consequently is equivalent to an infinitive; thus, "To rise early is
healthful" and "Rising early is healthful" are the same.
The principal parts of a verb are the Present Indicative, Past Indicative
and Past Participle; as:
Love Loved Loved
Sometimes one or more of these parts are wanting, and then the verb is
said to be defective.
Present Past Passive Participle
Can Could (Wanting)
May Might "
Shall Should "
Will Would "
Ought Ought "
Verbs may also be divided into principal and auxiliary. A principal
verb is that without which a sentence or clause can contain no assertion
or affirmation. An auxiliary is a verb joined to the root or participles
of a principal verb to express time and manner with greater precision
than can be done by the tenses and moods in their simple form. Thus, the
sentence, "I am writing an exercise; when I shall have finished it I
shall read it to the class." has no meaning without the principal verbs
writing, finished read; but the meaning is rendered more definite,
especially with regard to time, by the auxiliary verbs am, have,
There are nine auxiliary or helping verbs, viz., Be, have, do,
shall, will, may, can, ought, and must. They are called
helping verbs, because it is by their aid the compound tenses are formed.
The verb To Be is the most important of the auxiliary verbs. It has
eleven parts, viz., am, art, is, are, was, wast, were, wert; be, being
The active voice is that form of the verb which shows the Subject not
being acted upon but acting; as, "The cat catches mice." "Charity
covers a multitude of sins."
The passive voice: When the action signified by a transitive verb is
thrown back upon the agent, that is to say, when the subject of the verb
denotes the recipient of the action, the verb is said to be in the
passive voice. "John was loved by his neighbors." Here John the subject
is also the object affected by the loving, the action of the verb is
thrown back on him, hence the compound verb was loved is said to be in
the passive voice. The passive voice is formed by putting the perfect
participle of any transitive verb with any of the eleven parts of the
verb To Be.