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Verb Forms and Verb Tenses (#2), by Dennis Oliver

Verb Forms and Verb Tenses (#2):

The Base Form

 

English verbs have five basic forms: the base form, the - S form,
the - ing form, the past form, and the past participle form.

The base form is the verb "with no special endings"--no - s, - ing,
past-tense ending, and so on. Here are the most common uses
of the base form:

1.  

If the verb tense is simple present and if the verb
is not
BE, the base form is used with I, you, we,
and
they.

Examples:

I / you / we / they have a problem.

I / you / we / they speak English.

I / you / we / they like sports.

     
2.  

If the verb tense is simple present or past
and if the verb is not
BE, the base form is used
after
auxiliary verbs in questions and negatives.

Examples:

Do I / you / we / they have a problem?
Does he / she / it
have a problem?

No, I / you / we / they don't have a problem.
No, he / she / it doesn't
have a problem.

_______________________

 

Did I / you / he / she / it / we / they do
what you wanted?

No, I / you / he / she / it / we / they didn't do
what you wanted.

_______________________

 

Do I / you / we / they need anything?
Does he / she / it
need anything?

No, I / you / we / they don't need anything.
No, he / she / it doesn't
need anything.

_______________________

 

Did I / you / he / she / it / we / they
need anything?

No, I / you / he / she / it / we / they
didn't
need anything.

     
3.  

The base form is also used in commands.

Examples:

Leave! / Don't leave!

Do the laundry tomorrow. / Don't do it tonight.

Be quiet! / Don't be so noisy!

Please stay longer. / Please don't leave now.

Please help me. / Please don't ignore me.

Please be on time. / Please don't be late.

     
4.  

The base form is also used directly after modal
auxiliaries (can , could, may, might, must, will,
would, shall, should, and their negative forms).

Examples:

I / You / He / She / It / We / They can, could,
may, might, will, would, shall, should, must
help you.

I / You / He / She / It / We / They can't, couldn't,
may not, might not, won't, wouldn't,
shan't,
shouldn't, mustn't
help you.

     
5.  

In addition, the base form is used directly after
to (the infinitive structure).

Examples:

They want to see the Grand Canyon.

I prefer to leave early today.

He needs to go to a meeting.

     
6.  

Another use for the base form is with make and
have, an object, and another verb. Use a base form
for the second verb when make and have show how
the subject
caused another thing to happen.

Examples:

The made us stay late today.

Please make your dog be quiet!

I'll have someone help you right away.

Has he had someone wash his car?

     
7.  

Another use for the base form is in "that" clauses
after certain verbs that show
requests or commands.

Examples:

He asked that we be careful.

The manager requested that Bob work late.

The supervisor demanded that Jane finish
the report before she left for the day.

The ruler commanded that his subjects
pay higher taxes.

     
8.  

Another similar use for the base form is in "that"
clauses after adjectives that show
urgency.

Examples:

It's important that we be careful.

It's necessary that Bob work late in order to
finish the project on time.

It's urgent that she finish the report today
because it needs to be faxed by 9:00 PM.

It's madatory that the subjects pay higher taxes
because the ruler can ask for whatever he wants.

__________________________________________

 

Special Notes:

1.  

Notice that the base form and the "I / you / we / they"
form for most verbs are the same, but that they are
different for BE:

Come to class on time.
I / You / We / They always come to class on time.

Be on time.
I / You / We / They are always on time for class.

     
2.  

Notice that the negative form of a command with
BE uses
don't:

Be on time.
Don't be late.

Please be quiet!
Please
don't be so noisy!

     
3.   Most of the modal auxiliaries have past forms with
have and a past participle (may have left, could
have helped, would have known, should have done,
etc.). In these combinations,
have is a base form.
     
4.  

When to is part of a phrasal verb, an - ing form
follows
to, not a base form:

I look forward to taking a vacation.

Who put him up to doing that?

We got to talking and forgot about the time.

(There are very few phrasal verbs that end in to, however.)

________________________________________

 

Next:
more on verb forms

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