English Language Guide: Verb

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Verbs form the second largest word class after nouns. Verbs denote "actions, events, processes, and states." Consequently, "smile," "stab," "climb," "confront," "liquefy," "wake," "reflect" are all verbs. Some examples of verb endings, which while not dead giveaways, are often associated, include: "-ate" ("formulate"), "-iate" ("inebriate"), "-ify" ("electrify"), and "-ize" ("sermonize"). There are exceptions, of course: "chocolate" is a noun, "immediate" is an adjective, "prize" can be a noun, and "maize" is a noun. Prefixes can also be used to create new verbs. Examples are: "un-" ("unmask"), "out-" ("outlast"), "over-" ("overtake"), and "under-" ("undervalue"). Just as nouns can be formed from verbs by conversion, the reverse is also possible:
  • "so are the sons of men snared in an evil time"
  • "[a national convention] nosed parliament in the very seat of its authority"
Verbs can also be formed from adjectives:
  • "To dry the old oak's sap, and cherish springs."
  • "Time's glory is to calm contending kings"
Regular and irregular verbs
A verb is said to be regular if its base form does not change when inflections are added to create new forms. An example is: base form: climb; present form: climb; -s form: climbs; -ing form: climbing; past form: climbed; -ed participle: climbed.
Irregular verbs are ones in which the base form changes; the endings corresponding to each form are not always unique. Examples:
  • base form: catch; present form: catch; -s form: catches; -ing form: catching; past form: caught; -ed participle: caught.
  • base form: choose; present form: choose; -s form: chooses; -ing form: choosing; past form: chose; -ed participle: chosen.
The verb "be" is the only verb in English which has distinct inflectional forms for each of the categories of grammatical forms: base form: be; present form: am, are; -s form: is; -ing form: being; past form: was, were; -ed participle: been.