Basic Grammatical Categories of the Verb
1.Non-finite verb forms – the verb is a part of the predicate and it shows the action that the subject is doing. There are some forms however that look like verbs but they are not. Such forms are the infinitive, the participle and the gerund. Forms like these do not show an action and do not have tense.
*The infinitive is the basic form of the verb and can easily be recognized by the conjunction „to“ before it. The functions of the infinitive include:
-subject: To confess immediately would be best.
-adverbial modifier: We drank wine to relieve the boredom.
-a modifier of nouns: The conference to be attended is of great importance.
*Participles – there are two types of participles: the -ing participle (running, playing, cheating) and the -ed participle(smoked, cooked, wrapped).It can function as:
-adjective: playing children, roasted marshmallows
-a modifier of verbs: The children came running.
*Gerund – the gerund resembles the participle because it too ends in -ing but it is a noun and can serve either as a subject or an object in the sentence. Running is a very healthy habit . My brother hates skiing.
2.The Category of Transitivity/Intransitivity – verbs which require an object are called transitive (My son made a cake; I recommend the fish) and those which do not require an object are called intransitive(Susan smiled. He laughed.) Some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive: John smokes. vs John smokes cigars.
2.1. Types of transitive verbs.
a)monotransitive – The Subject is an agent and the Object an affected entity:
The dog bit the little boy.
b)ditransitive – here the Indirect Object represents the recipient:
He gave her a rose. He gave the door a kick.
c)complex transitive – When the Direct Object is granted a quality or property:
They considered him a fool. They made him a lieutenant.
3.The category of voice – in English there are two categories of voice – active and passive. When the subject is the performer of the action in a sentence the voice is active:
Tom shot the tiger. I broke the vase.
Reversely, if the subject in the sentence is the recipient of the action, or, in other words, the subject is the one acted upon, the voice is passive:
The tiger was shot by Tom. The vase was broken by me.
3.1. Types of Passive – since there are three types of Object (direct, indirect, prepositional), accordingly there are three types of passive voice – primary, secondary, tertiary.
a)primary passive – the function of the subject is performed by the Direct Object in the corresponding active voice structure:
We built our house 3 years ago. –> Our house was built 3 years ago.
b)secondary passive – the subject function is performed by the Indirect Object in the corresponding active voice structure:
My friend showed me some beautiful flowers. –> I was shown some beautiful flowers by my friend.
c)tertiary passive – the subject function is performed by the Prepositional Object in the corresponding active voice structure:
The doctor took good care of my dog. –> My dog was taken good care of.
4. Modality – if a writer wishes to indicate a degree of certainty or to influence the reader in various ways he would use a Modal verb.
Modal verbs that express an absolute certainty are: will, won’t, shall, shan’t, must, can’t. Those that express possibility are may, might, could.
A strong obligation is expressed by must, have to, need to.
A weak obligation is expressed by should and ought to.
No obligation: needn’t, don’t need to, don’t have to.
Permission: can, may, could, might.
No permission: can’t, may not, must not.
Request: will, would, could.
Ability: can, could.
5. The simple tenses – tense relates to the time of the event. There are two tenses in English – present and past.
5.1. Present tense is used when the time of the action is now, at the present moment. Uses of the present tense include:
-situations which occupy a much longer period of time than the present moment:
The Eiffel Tower stands in Paris. The Earth revolves around the sun.
-general facts: Two and three is five.
-instantaneous use as in sports commentary (He shoots the ball straight at the goalkeeper);
-demonstrations (I click „save“ and close the document);
-exclamations (Here they come!)
-recurrent situations: It often snows in January.
-habitual action/event: He goes to work every morning.
-typical feature of the subject: He plays tennis very well.
-futuristic events: I start work next week.
-historic present where past events are portrayed as if they happen in the present time: A guy walks into a bar with a duck on his head…
5.2. The past tense locates the verbal situation reported in a moment prior to the moment of speaking. The past tense is used in cases like:
-the situation takes place before the present moment: I lived in Washington, DC for five years.
-the time of the action is defined by the speaker: She visited us in July.
-when a situation took place over a period of time: He worked for the Government in 1993.
-a single action/event that happened in the past: The snow thawed. She locked the door and went to sleep.
6. Aspect – it refers to how an event or an action is to be viewed with respect to time rather than its actual location in time. We can distinguish two aspects in the English language: perfective and progressive.
David has fallen in love.
David is falling in love.
6.1 Perfective aspect – the term „perfect“ refers to past situations with a relevance in the present: He has broken his arm.
a) Present Perfect – the reference point is identical with the speech moment (the present): John has bought a new car.
b) Past perfect – the reference point is earlier than the speech moment (in the past): John had bought a new car when I met him last week.
6.2. Progressive aspect – when an event is unfolding in time and the action is still in progress and not yet completed we use the progressive aspect.
If the action happens in the present we make the progressive aspect by combining the verb in the present tense + ing:
He is telling a story. – the action is still in progress at the moment of speaking.
If the action happens in the past we use was + ing form of the verb:
He was telling a story. – the action is in progress but it happened in the past.
7. Futurity – English provides several ways of referring to events which are to take place later than the speech moment. Each of them has its own modal meaning, since no one can be sure if that is going to happen.
a) will / shall – they can be used to express:
-prediction: It will start raining soon.
-spontaneous decision: A: There’s no beer left. B: I’ll go get some.
-volition: Will you come to the party tonight?
b) will + progressive form
-expresses on-going temporary activity at a fixed point in the future: This time next week I’ll be strolling along the avenues of Paris.
-indicates that a predicted event will happen: He will be sitting for the exam soon.
c) be going to is used to express:
-future culmination of present intention: What are you going to do with the money?
-future culmination of present cause: The skies are overcast. It’s going to rain.
d) present progressive
-future outcome of present arrangement: We are moving to London next week.
-strong determination: I’m not signing that contract.
e) present tense
The lecture starts at 10:15 tomorrow. We launch the project next week.
Basic Grammatical Categories of the Verb