What are Verbs Forms: Definition, Types, Examples

what are verbs

The Versatile World of Verb Forms

Juggling Your Ways to Clarity is about distinguishing yourself in the world by conjugating your way to clarity.

Verbs are the engines of every language. They are the words that push the sentences forward, making them about actions, happenings, and even states of being. But what makes verbs truly fascinating is their ability to transform, taking on different forms to convey a range of nuances. This article explores the sphere of verb forms, thus, you will be given the knowledge to move around their intricacies and use them properly in your writing and speech.

What is a Verb?

Before we start the verb forms, we should lay the foundation of our knowledge of what a verb is. A verb is a word that signifies a process (run, jump, speak), a phenomenon (happen, develop, change), or a condition (exist, seem, appear). Action verbs are particularly important as they create a sense of movement and progression in a sentence. In the sentence "The child laughed," the verb "laughed" is the action that the child is doing. 

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The Many Faces of Verbs: A Breakdown of Verb Forms

Verbs do not exist in isolation; they take on various forms depending on their role in a sentence. Here is a breakdown of some key verb forms: 

  • Base Form (or Infinitive): This is the most basic form of a verb, often preceded by "to. " Examples include "to run," "to speak," and "to be. " While infinitives can sometimes function as nouns, they don't express tense.
  • Finite Forms: Finite verbs are the workhorses of a sentence. They are conjugated (change form) to indicate tense (past, present, future), aspect (simple, continuous, perfect), and mood (indicative, imperative, subjunctive). Examples include "runs," "speaks," and "is" (present tense), "ran," "spoke," and "was" (past tense), and "will run," "will speak," and "will be" (future tense).
  • Gerunds: Gerunds are verb forms that function like nouns. They end in "-ing" and can be the subject of a sentence, the object of a preposition, or the complement of a linking verb. Consider the sentence "Learning a new language is challenging. " Here, "learning" acts as the subject of the sentence.
  • Participles: Participles are verb forms that function as adjectives. They come in two main flavors: present participles (ending in "-ing") and past participles (usually ending in "-ed" or "-en"). Present participles describe an ongoing action ("The singing bird perched on the branch"), while past participles describe the state of having completed an action ("The broken window needed repair").

Examples to Illustrate Verb Forms in Action

Let us see how different verb forms work in context 

  • Base Form (Infinitive): "She wanted to travel the world" (The infinitive "to travel" expresses her desire).
  • Finite Verb: "He plays basketball every weekend" (The finite verb "plays" indicates present tense action).
  • Gerund: "Studying improves your memory" (The gerund "studying" acts as the subject).
  • Present Participle: "Smiling, she greeted her friends" (The present participle "smiling" describes her action).
  • Past Participle: "Exhausted from the hike, they rested" (The past participle "exhausted" describes the state of being).

Understanding Verb Forms Makes You a Better Writer

Mastering verb forms elevates your writing in several ways: 

  • Clarity: Using the correct verb form ensures your sentences are unambiguous.
  • Precision: Different verb forms convey subtle differences in time and meaning.
  • Sentence Flow: Varying verb forms create a more dynamic and engaging writing style.

Although you would now have the tools for improvement, you only become consistent through consistent practice. 98thPercentile's English classes implement a whole approach to grammar, and verbs form an integral part of that. Students will learn to conjugate verbs as well as to use them properly. By combining interactive activities and guidance from content experts, you become resilient to yield verbs sharply, refining both your writing and communication skills in the process. Click here to book your Free Trial Today!


Q1: Can a sentence have multiple verb forms?

Ans: Absolutely! Sentences often combine different verb forms to express complex ideas. For example, "Having finished his homework, he went outside to play" uses a past participle ("having finished") and a finite verb ("went").

Q2: How do I identify the verb form in a sentence?

Ans: Ask yourself what function the word performs. If it expresses an action, occurrence, or state of being, it is likely a verb. Then, consider its tense and whether it functions like a noun or adjective to determine the specific form.

Q3: What are irregular verbs?

Ans: Irregular verbs are verbs that do not follow the standard pattern for forming the past tense and past participle. These verbs need to be memorized (e.g., "go)

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