Most verbs denote action or state. However, there are some verbs which have other meanings. They are modal verbs, causative verbs, some impersonal verbs, relational and link-verbs. They present a system of finite and non-finite forms, except for modal verbs, which have no non-finite forms.
The verb in its finite forms possesses the morphological categories of person, number, tense, aspect, perfect, voice and mood. Its syntactical function is that of the predicate.
The non-finite forms (or verbals) are four in number, they are: the infinitive, the gerund, participle I and participle II.
Non-finite verb forms possess the verbal categories of perfect, voice and to a certain extent aspect. Owing to the richness of its morphological categories, the flexibility of its syntactical functioning and wide combinability, the verb is of the greatest importance in the structure of the sentence.
The morphological categories of the verb are interrelated, that is every verb form expresses all these categories simultaneously.
Formation of verb categories
English morphological categories are formed in two ways, synthetically and analytically.
Synthetic or simple forms are those the formal elements of which are to be found within one word from which they are inseparable. These are the present and the past indefinite affirmative (sing, sings, sang); the non-perfect common aspect forms of the infinitive, participle I, the gerund, participle II (sing, singing, sung); the imperative mood (sing!).
Analytical or compound verb forms consist of at least two verbal elements, an auxiliary verb and a notional verb; the latter is presented by participle I, participle II, or the infinitive.
An auxiliary verb is devoid of its lexical meaning, its role is purely grammatical. It may be finite or non-finite, thus showing whether the whole verb form is finite or non-finite as in:
Jane is singing.
Someone seems to be singing in the next room.
The auxiliary verbs in English are not numerous, they are seven: to do, to be, to have, shall, will, should, would.
The notional verb of a compound verb form is always non-finite, it carries the lexical meaning of the whole verb form.
The analytical verb forms are the forms of the continuous aspect, the perfect forms, the passive forms, the future forms, the future in the past forms, some forms of the subjunctive mood, the interrogative, negative and emphatic forms of the present and past indefinite.
The meaning of the analytical form as a whole is the result of the complete fusion of the auxiliary and the non-finite form.
According to their morphological composition verbs can be divided into simple, derivative, compound and phrasal.
Simple verbs consist of only one root morpheme: to ask, to build, to come.
Derivative verbs are composed of one root morpheme and one or more derivational morphemes (prefixes and suffixes). The main verbforming suffixes are -ize, -fy, -en, -ate, as in: to criticize, to justify, to blacken, to enumerate.
Compound verbs consist of at least two stems: to overgrow, to undertake.
Phrasal verbs consist of a verbal stem and an adverbial particle, which is sometimes referred to as postposition. The adverbial meaning is evident in phrasal verbs of the type to come in, to look out, whereas it is quite lost in the verbs to give up, to give in, to bring up.
Basic verb forms
Among the synthetic verb forms there are those which are used independently and those which are used to build other verb forms. They are four in number:
- the infinitive – work, rise;
- the past indefinite- worked, rose;
- participle II – worked, risen;
- participle I – working, rising.
The infinitive stem and participles I and II are employed to build other verbal forms. The past indefinite is the only basic form that is not used to build other forms.
Regular and irregular verbs
Owing to the historical development of the verb system the English verbs fall into two groups:
regular and irregular verbs.
The regular verbs, which go back to the Germanic weak verbs, constitute the largest group. The past indefinite and participle II of these verbs are formed by means of the dental suffix -ed added to the stem of the verb. This is the productive pattern according to which all new verbs form their past indefinite and participle II.
The irregular verbs form their past indefinite and participle II according to some fixed traditional patterns going back partly to the Germanic strong verbs, partly to the weak verbs, which underwent some changes in the process of history.
The irregular verbs are about 250 in number. They can be arranged according to sound changes.
Pronunciation rules of the suffix –ed
The suffix -ed is pronounced in three ways:
1) [id] when the verb stem ends in the dental consonants [d] or [t]:
skate – skated chat – chatted
decide – decided end – ended
2) [d] when the stem ends in any voiced sound except [d]:
live – lived travel – travelled
stay – stayed change – changed
3) [t] when the stem ends in any voiceless sound except [t]:
talk – talked stop – stopped
wish – wished place – placed
Spelling rules of the verb forms with the suffix –ed
1) The letter -d is added to stems ending in -e: skate – skated free – freed
2) In all the other cases the letters -ed are added: stay – stayed talk – talked
The final consonant letter is doubled if it is single and follows a short vowel in a stressed syllable:
nod – nodded stop- stopped stir – stirred
permit – permitted refer – referred compel- compelled
The final – l is doubled even in an unstressed syllable (British English): travel – travelled cancel – cancelled
In some words the final -p is doubled in the same position:
kidnap – kidnapped handicap – handicapped