The Sunday News
WHEN learners see this title, they quickly remember the simple definition of what a verb is. It is a doing word or it describes an action.
There is nothing wrong with that, but they need to know that there is more to verbs than mere definitions. They go with the simple, past and future tenses.
You need to investigate interesting verbs, discuss tenses and how they are formed and the impact of powerful verbs.
Learners can start by collecting and classifying examples of verbs. For example, walk, stroll, saunter, run, chase, sprint, eat, consume, gobble, said, whispered, and shrieked.
You can identify the use of powerful verbs for instance, hobbled instead of went, shriek instead of shout. To understand the verbs further you can group them in a family of verbs, with a family name.
For example, let us try verbs which describe the ways we speak: to say, to whisper, to shout, to mumble, to murmur, to mutter.
Examples of verbs describing ways we move: to walk, to sprint, to jump, to run, to trot, saunter, to stagger, to stroll, to ramble, to meander, to amble, to roam and to wander.
One of the ways to improve your piece of writing is to look at your choice of verbs. Let us examine the following cited sentences: The child fell into the bucket. The cat climbed the tree. Simo smiled when she won the prize.
Use other words for the verbs we find in these sentences – fell, climbed, and smiled. In place of fell you can use: to drop, to sink, to slip or to tumble to mention but a few. In place of climbed you could use to clamber, to scamper, to ascend or to scale.
For smiled you could use to grin, to leer, to laugh, to smirk and to beam. If you were to change the words used in the initial sentences with those suggested what will be the impact on the reader?
For instance: The cat climbed the tree. The cat scampered up the tree. What difference does this make to the reader’s picture of how the cat went up the tree? How do we do that? What verbs could you use instead of to eat? Examples: to gobble, gormandise, munch, etc. What verbs could you use to show what people do in a swimming pool? – plunge, dive, plummet, what verbs could you use to show how people play football? – dribble, swerve, etc.
Other examples: How would I walk if I had a stone in my shoe? I would limp. If I was out for exercise – I would jog. If I was on parade in the army I would march.
Complete the following sentences using interesting verbs: I – out of school when the bell went. I – a moment before I went into the room. I – the kitten from the river. I – six red apples and some juicy strawberries.
Auxiliary verbs/helping verbs. Examples of auxiliary verbs, has, have, is, was, shall, will. How are different tenses formed by using auxiliary verbs? The following sentences are in the simple present tense: I walk, you sing, they run.
These are formed with the use of the infinitive without ‘to be’. Continuous present – I am walking, you are running formed through the present tense of the verb ‘to be’ with present participle – ‘ing’.
Continuous past – I was walking, you were singing. Formation past tense of verb ‘to be’ with present participle – ‘ing’. Perfect past – I have walked, you have sung. Formation – present of verb ‘to have’ with participle – ‘ed’ irregular.
Future tense – I shall walk, you will walk. Formed through the future tense of the verb ‘to be’ with infinitive.
How is the future tense formed: verb ‘to be’ + infinitive. Examples: I shall laugh. You will walk. He will read. She will play.
It will growl. We shall/they will watch. You will write. They will draw. The verb ‘to be’ and the verb ‘to have’ are often used as auxiliary verbs.
You should be aware of the present/ past distinction, but you should also be aware that ‘had’ signals an action further back in time.
For example: She had finished her homework before she left school. You should also be able to identify auxiliary verbs in sentences. Write the following sentence and underline the auxiliary verb in each sentence. Write past, present or future at the end of each sentence. Practice this with your friend.
She was looking for her bag before she went to school. We shall plant more trees next month. The train had left the station before we arrived.
The postman had delivered the letter to the wrong address. They are playing football in the park. The horses were galloping across the field.
These houses were built over a hundred years ago. I have set the table for tea.
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