Verbs- English Grammar Notes on kinds of Verbs and their use with complete exercises and examples

Saif Ullah Zahid


Verb is a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and forming the main part of the predicate of a sentence, such as hear, become, happen.


Finite and Non-finite Verbs

A finite verb is one that has tense. Moreover it has to agree with its subject in person and number. Therefore it changes its form accordingly.
A finite verb is essential in a sentence and it is closely connected to the subject of the sentence. Read the following examples. The words in bold are finite verbs.

1. Stop it at once
2. He tried in vain to escape.
3. The police man asked him to stop the car
4. I will complete the work by this evening.
5. Does she help you with the cooking?
Finite verbs are limited by tense, number or person, whereas non-finite verbs are not limited by any of the three.
A finite verb limited by tense. It can be in past, present or future.
Examples: She comes here once a week. (present)
  She came here twice last week. (past)

A finite verb is limited by number. It can be singular or plural. Depending on the number of the subject, a finite verb has to change its form.
Examples: The boy speaks well. (singular subject)
Those boys speak fluently. (plural subject)

A finite verb is limited by person. i.e. it has to change according to the person.
Examples: I wake up at five o’clock. (‘I’----first person)
He wakes up at six o’clock. (‘He’----third person)


Read the following sentences and identify the finite verbs.
1. He tried to run fast.
2. It is possible to bridge the gap.
3. It will help in resolving the issue.
4. The athlete succeeded in setting a national record.
5. This happens to be the most quoted line.

Non-finite verbs

 Non-finite are those verbs that are not limited by number, person, or tense. They are not essential in a sentence. They are used to express various shades of meanings.
There are three kinds of non-finites: participles, gerunds, and infinitives.

Participles (-ing, -ed, or –en form of verbs used as adjectives)
Participles that end in –ing and represent a continuing or incomplete action are called present participles.
Examples: I saw a man carrying a basket of fruits.

Participles that end in –ed, -d, -en, or –t and represent a completed action or state of the thing spoken of, are called past participles.
Examples: Blinded by the rage, he stormed out of the room.

Participles that take the form of having + past participle, and represent an action completed at some time in the past, are called perfect participles.
Example: Heaving slept late, he could not get up early in the morning.

Gerund (-ing form of verb used as noun)
A gerund is the form of verb which ends in ‘-ing’ and has the force of a noun and a verb
Example: I like reading poetry.
Swimming is good for health.
Infinitives (‘to’ + verb form------ to come, to go, etc)
The infinitive is base of a verb, often proceeded by ‘to’.
Examples: He refused to obey the orders.

Now look at these sentences.
He refuses to give us permission. (‘refuses’ third person singular, present tense)
He refused to give us permission. (‘refused’ third person singular, past tense)

The verb ‘refuse’ is limited by person, number, and tense and it changes its form accordingly. It is a finite verb. But the verb ‘to give’ does not change. It is not limited by person, number and tense. It is an infinitive.
Similarly gerunds are not limited by person, number and tense. See the sentences below.
1. Walking is good for health.
2. She likes walking in the evening.
3. Previously, he liked walking in the evening.
Here walking is a gerund. It is not limited by tense, number or person. The verb ‘like’ is a finite verb. It changes its form according to the tense, number and person of the subject.
Participles are non-finites.
1. His mother has a worried look.
2. They had a worried look.
3. He has a worried look.
4. It is a worrying factor.
The past participle is ‘worried’ and present participle is worrying. They are not limited by person, number and tense.

Exercise-1 based on Lesson-1

Underline the finite verbs and circle the non-finite verbs in the following sentences.
1. Taming of wild animals is cruel.
2. She bought a packet of frozen peas.
3. He was arrested due to mistaken identity.
4. She has a forgiving nature.
5. His kind gesture helped in cooling tempers.
6. The teacher wanted to raise her voice.
7. They demanded a written apology from him.
8. Their parents tried to bring them together.
9. They demolished the ruined building.
10. He took the broken cycle to the repair shop.

 Exercise-2 based on lesson-1

Identify gerunds and participles in the following sentences.

1. Walking on the grass is forbidden.
2. She is fond of listening to old film songs.
3. He soon got tired of waiting for his turn.
4. He saw an aeroplane flying up in the air.
5. Weeping loudly, the girl clung to her mother.
6. I prefer reading to watching television.
7. Soaring prices affect the quality of goods.
8. Waving his bat, Kamran acknowledged the crowd.


Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Verbs can be transitive or intransitive

Transitive Verbs

A verb that takes an object is a transitive verb. The action or event involves another person or thing, referred to as an object.
Examples: He likes cricket. He bought a bat.
The word ‘cricket’ is an object of the transitive verb ‘likes’.
The word ‘bat’ is the object of transitive verb ‘bought’.
 transitive verb shows an action, which passes from the doer or the subject to an object.
Subject                                verb                          Object
She                                         wrote                        a letter.
He                                           had                            his breakfast.
I                                               play                           foot ball.
They                                      bought                      a big packet.

Following transitive verbs takes two objects. The direct object relates to the verb and is affected by the action of the verb. The indirect object indicates the person who benefits from an action or receives something as a result.

teach             ask                 pray               refuse             deny
Offer              promise       tell                  show               give

Read the sentences below and study the use of some of these transitive verbs which take two objects
Subject                    Verb              Indirect Object               Direct Object
He                               asked            her                             a question.
She                             gave               him                            some money.
His mother              promised     him                            a gift.
I                                   offered         Mr. Ali                       some help.

Intransitive Verbs

A verb that has no object is an intransitive verb. It shows an action without an object, or expresses a state of being. Only the performer of the action (the subject) and the action (the verb) are mentioned.
Examples: He laughs often.

An intransitive verb can be followed by a subject complement, a prepositional phrase, an adverb, or an adverbial particle (an element that tells us about the time, manner, etc. of the action of the verb)
Examples:  Sohail is my brother. (subject complement: noun phrase)
My uncle is coming to dinner. (a prepositional phrase)
The maid comes early. (adverb of time)
The train went past. (adverbial particle)
Note: adverbial particles are a group of adverbs with characteristics of their own, e.g. ‘up’, ‘down’, ‘in’, ‘out’, ‘on’, ‘off’, ‘away’, and ‘back’.

Add suitable complements to the following sentences according to the instructions given in the brackets. Choose from the list below.
Fast                                       away                         my good friend
The correct number        a teacher                  without water
Late                                       in                               my younger sister
For three hours                 for excellence        with the work load

They came__________________________. (adverb)
He walked___________________________. (adverb)
Sahar is ______________________________. (subject complement: noun phrase)
Rubab is _____________________________. (subject complement: noun phrase)
It appears to be______________________. (subject complement: noun phrase)
She became __________________________. (subject complement: noun phrase)
The principal walked______________________. (adverbial particle)
We cannot live_____________________________. (prepositional phrase)
The entrance test lasted __________________. (prepositional phrase)
She can’t cope _____________________________. (prepositional phrase)
You should strive__________________________. (prepositional phrase)

Intransitive Verbs Followed by Prepositional Phrases

There are number of intransitive verbs that are followed by prepositional phrase and their objects. The omission of prepositions in such cases will result in incorrect sentences.

I listen to music.
I am looking for a map.
I listen music.
I am looking a map.

Here is a list of verbs with prepositions.
Abstain from          object to          believe in        sympathize with
Apply for/to           depend on       gazing at         reply to
Insist on                   stared at          arrive at          think of/about
write to                    longed for        care for

Fill in the blanks with suitable phrases from the list above.
1. He can ____________ that job.
2. What do you __________ it?
3. I will _________________ my brother.
4. They _______________ the victims.
5. She ___________________ peace and happiness.
6. I hope they will _______________________ some conclusion.
7. One should _____________________ the old and sick.
8. I do not _______________________ superstitions.

 The End

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