March 19, 2010

6 Verb Pointers

Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to verbs.

Well, for a review, a verb is a word that shows action or a state of being.
  • action: sing, dance, hop
  • state of being: feel, seem, appear

Now that we're reminded of what a verb is, here are the tips:

1) Be consistent with tenses.
  • Paolo stood up and drops his sandwich. (WRONG: stood - past tense; drops - present tense)
  • Paolo stood up and dropped his sandwich. (CORRECT: stood - past tense; dropped - past tense)

2) With regard to infinitives (a verb with the word "to" ahead of it), remember not to put lots of words between the "to" and the verb, otherwise you risk confusing your reader.
  • Genevieve wants to quickly and rapidly, without loss of precious and valuable time, finish the race. (CONFUSING)
  • Genevieve wants to quickly and rapidly finish the race without loss of precious and valuable time. (BETTER)

3) Use the active voice most of the time. You could use the passive voice when:

- the doer of the action is not important or is not known
  • Example: Classes are cancelled today! (Students don't usually bother to know who made the announcement.)

- you want to be polite
  • Example: Your request was not granted. (Instead of saying, "We did not grant your request.")

- emphasis should be given on the thing being talked about
  • Example: A check will be given to the winner of the Megalotto. (Instead of saying, "The winner will receive the check.")

- writing in an impersonal, scientific manner
  • Example: The test samples were organized into three groups. (Instead of saying, "My classmate and I organized the test samples into three groups.)

4) Gerunds (verbs ending in "ing") are usually used with possessive nouns or pronouns.
  • Example: Bea likes my eating spicy food. ("Bea likes me eating spicy food." is not correct).

5) Use the subjunctive mood in "what if" or "if only" sentences, or for suggestions, commands, urgency, and recommendations.
  • If Angel were to win the Lotto, what do you think she would buy?
  • I humbly suggest that we take the second option immediately.

6) Be careful of irregular verbs. While some follow a pattern, others do not.

Examples of those that follow a pattern:
  • blow - blew - blown
  • grow - grew - grown

Examples of those that don't follow a pattern:
  • drink - drank - drunk
  • sink - sank - sunk
  • BUT for "think"... it's not "think" - "thank" - "thunk"; it's rather think - thought - thought

There are many other similarly situated irregular verbs, That's why we have to be careful of these things in the IELTS.

Attribution to Rebecca Elliot and her book Painless Grammar (c) 2006, 1997

Adverb and Adjective Pointers are next.