A verb is a word that says something about a person or thing.

Children play in the park.
The water is boiling.
I am a student.
My brother has a car.
The picture was painted.

Here the words play, is boiling, am, has, and was painted tell us something about persons or things. They are verbs.

Verbs: their function

A verb says

(a) what the subject (of the sentence) does:

           Fire burns.
          The thief ran away.

(b) what the subject is:


           Sultan is a painter.
           Shakespeare was an English poet.

(c ) what is done to the subject:


          The tiger was killed by the hunter.
          English is spoken all over the world.

(d) what the subject has:


         Africa has large forests.
         I had a car last year.

(e) what happens to the subject:


        Our pet cat has died.
        The leaves of the tree are falling.


Verbs are of three kinds:

  1. Transitive
  2. Intransitive
  3. Auxiliary 

Transitive verbs: A verb is transitive when the action passes over from the subject to the object.


    The tiger killed the deer.

In this sentence the tiger is the subject. And the action of the killing passes over from the subject tiger to the object, deer. The sentence will be incomplete if the object is absent.

We can’t say,

  The tiger killed.

Kill is a transitive verb and always requires an object.

Other Examples:

  My brother broke his arm.
  He is reading a book.
  He gave me a book.
  My mother cooked lunch for me.

Here are some verbs that are used only transitively: bring, seek, expect, require, order, request, demand, question, love, ate, desire etc.

Intransitive verbs : A verb is intransitive when it does not require an object because the action denoted by the verb does not pass over to anything else.


   The dog died.
   The children laughed.
   We live here.

Here are some verbs that are used only intransitively: die, go, come, fall, lie, occur, rise, care, etc.

A large number of verbs can be used both transitively and intransitively.


Transitive use                                                           Intransitive use
She sang a song.                                                    She sang beautifully.
He stopped the ball.                                             The ball stopped.
Men fly aeroplanes.                                              Birds fly in the sky.
He burnt his hands.                                                The lamp is burning.

Note: Some intransitive verbs can be used transitively with the help of a preposition. In such cases, verb+preposition form a unit which functions as a verb. And like a transitive verb, this unit takes an object after it. This unit is often called prepositional verb.


   He examined the accounts.
  He went into the accounts.

In the first sentence, examine is a transitive verb which takes a direct object after it i.e. the accounts. In the second sentence, go is an intransitive verb. But when into is added to it , it functions as transitive verb and takes the object the accounts.

Other Examples:

Look after= to take care of.

We must look after our parents.

Point out= show, call attention to.

The teacher pointed out my mistakes.

Think of  (something)

I have thought of a new plan.

Auxiliary verb: An auxiliary verb is a helping verb. It is used along with the main verb to form tenses, moods, and voices.

The auxiliary verbs have 24 finite forms.

Present tense
Past tense
Present tense
Past tense

Be, is, am, are,
Has, have
Do, does

Was, were
Used (to)

*** The auxiliaries listed in the 3rd and 4th columns are often called Modals or Modal auxiliaries.

Auxiliaries are used—

(a) To form tenses.

   She is working in the hospital.
   He has gone to college.
   I have been studying hard.
(b) To forms mood—
   Do you like him?
   You may go.
   Don’t make noise.

(c ) To form voices—

   English is understood in most parts of the world.
   The box has not been opened.
   He will be defeated this time.


Most English verbs have four forms. We shall illustrate these forms with the help of the verb play.

1. Verb/Verb+ -s:

(a) Present Tense
 First person: I play.
                    : We play.
 Second person: You play.
Third person (singular): He plays
Third person (plural)   : They play.
(b) Imperative 
                         : Play with me.
                         : Don’t play with me.
(c ) With auxiliaries
                                : You can play.
                                : They may play.
                                : I will play.

2. Verb + -ed.

(a) Past tense
 First person         : I played.
                             : We played.
 Second person  : You played.
 Third person        : He /She played.
                              : They played.
(b) Past participles
                               : I have played.
                               : You have played.
                               : He/She has played.

3. to + verb.

               :   I want to play.
               :   You want to play.
               :    He wants to play.

4. Verb+ -ing.

(a) Present participle
                      : I saw him playing.
(b) Gerund   
                    : Playing is good for health.
                    : I am not interested in playing. 
(c ) Progressive /Continuous tense
                    : I am playing.
                    : I was playing.
                    : They will be playing.

Regular and irregular verb

Regular verbs are those that form their past tense and past participle by the addition of –d or –ed to the verb.

Examples of some regular verbs:

Verb               Past tense                  Past  participle
Play                played                       played
Agree            agreed         agreed
Clean                        cleaned                    cleaned
Plan                planned                    planned
Cry                  cried                          cried
Reply              replied                       replied

Irregular verbs are those that form their past tense or past participle or both in a way other than by adding –d or –ed to the verb.

Verb               Past tense                  Past participle
Show              showed                     shown
Think              thought                    thought
Cut                 cut                             cut
See                 saw                            seen
Begin             began                       begun


Negatives are formed in the following ways:

(a) Look at the following sentences:

 Affirmative                                      Negative
She is  intelligent.                           She is not intelligent.
You are weak in English.              You are not weak in English.
He was late                                      He was not late.

The sentences in the left are affirmative sentences while those on the right are negative sentences. We have made the sentences negative by adding not after the verbs. The verbs in these sentences are forms of verb Be and they are used here as main verbs. In other words, when we use the forms of Be as main verbs, we can form negatives by simply adding not after them.

(b) Have as main verb also takes not after it in negative constructions. We normally use the contracted form n’t here.


Affirmative                                                   Negative
She has a good dress.                              She hasn’t a good dress.
I have a sister.                                             I haven’t a sister.
We had a pet cat.                                                We hadn’t a pet cat.

Has, have, had, are different forms of the verb have. These sentences can also be written by using do, does, did as helping verbs.

Affirmative                                                   Negative

She hasn’t a good dress.                         She doesn’t have a good dress.
I haven’t a sister.                                      I don’t have a sister.
We hadn’t a pet cat.                              We didn’t have a pet cat.

(c ) All other main verbs required do  or does (in the present tense) and did ( in the past tense) to form negatives.

Affirmative                                                   Negative

He works here.                                            He does not work here.
I know him                                                   I do not know him.
She came yesterday.                               She did not come yesterday.
You saw him.                                              You did not see him.

(d) Look at the following sentences:

Affirmative                                                   Negative

Ali is reading a book.                                Ali is not reading a book.
He has finished his work                            He has not finished his work.
He had left.                                                  He had not left.
You may leave now                                 You may not leave now.
She will pass.                                                She will not pass.

*** All the sentences above (d) use auxiliaries. We form negatives by putting not between the auxiliary and the main verb.

Contracted form with Pronouns and in negative Constructions.

Look at the following sentences:

I am writing a letter.
She is doing her homework.
They are coming tomorrow.

In speech, the auxiliary verb am, is, are, are contracted and combined with pronouns-
I’m writing a letter.
She’s doing her homework.
They’re coming tomorrow.

There are eight auxiliary verbs which can be contracted and combined with subject-pronouns. These are –is, am, are, have, has, had, will, would.

Contracted Form: Be
Full form
Contracted form
Full form
Contracted form
I am
He is
She is
It is
We are
You are
They are
I am not
He is not
She is not
It is not
We are not
You are not
They are not
I’m not
He isn’t,  He’s not
She isn’t,  She’s not
It isn’t.,  It’s not
We aren’t,  We ‘re not
You aren’t,  You’re not
They aren’t,  They’re not

Contracted Form: Have
Full form
Contracted form
Full form
Contracted form
I have
We have
They have
You have
She has
He has
It has
I had
We had
You had
They had
He had
She had
It had

They ‘ve
You ‘ve
I have not
We have not
They have not
You have not
She has not
He  has not
It has not
I had not
We had not
You had not
They had not
He had not
She had not
It had not
I’ve not,      I haven’t
We’ve not,     We haven’t
They haven’t,   They’ve not
You haven’t,   You’ve not
She hasn’t,     She’s not
He hasn’t,    He ‘s not
It hasn’t,     It’s not.
I hadn’t,   I ‘d not
We hadn’t,   We’d not
You hadn’t,  You’d not
They hadn’t, They’d not
He hadn’t, He’d not
She hadn’t, She’d not
It hadn’t, It’d not

Contracted Form: Will, Would

Full form
Contracted form
Full form
Contracted form
I will
I would
I will not
I would not
I won’t,   I’ll not
I wouldn’t,  I’d not

** The forms for all other pronouns are like the forms for “I”.

Other auxiliary verbs combine with the contracted form of not=n’t. They have no contracted form in combination with pronouns.

Full Form                                           Contracted Form
Do not                                               don’t
Does not                                           doesn’t
Did not                                              didn’t
Cannot                                             can’t
Could not                                         couldn’t
May not                                            mayn’t
Might not                                         mightn’t
Must not                                           mustn’t
Need not                                          needn’t
Shall not                                            shan’t
Should not                                       shouldn’t
Ought not to                                  oughtn’t to
Dare not                                           daren’t
Used not to                                      usedn’t to/ didn’t use to


Examine the following sentences:

Affirmative                                       Interrogative
She is intelligent.                             Is she intelligent?
I am late.                                          Am I late?
The children are safe.                   Were the children safe?

All these sentences use the different forms of Be as main verbs. You will notice that in forming interrogatives we have shifted the verb to the front position. Note the word order.

Affirmative sentence

Subject                      +          Verb   +          Complement

He                                          was                     absent.

Interrogative sentence

Verb               +          Subject                      +          Complement

Was                +             he                           +           absent?

Similarly, when we use have,has, had as main verbs, we shift the verb to the front position to form interrogatives.

Affirmative                                       Interrogative

He has money.                                Has he money?
They have good books.               Have they good books?
She had fever.                                Had she fever?

We can also form interrogatives of these sentences by using do, does, or did as helping verbs.

Does he have money?
Do they have good books?
Did she have fever?

The word order in this case is:

Helping verb                       Subject                      Main verb     Complement

Does                                             he                             have              money?



All other main verbs require the use of do or does in the present tense, and did in the past tense to form interrogatives. The word order is the same as that indicated above. Interrogatives can also be formed in stages.

Ali works hard.
Ali does work hard.
Does Ali work hard?

Children play here.
Children do play here.
Do children play here?

He failed.
He did fail.
Did he fail?


In the above section we have seen how Yes/No questions are formed.
(a) Now let us see how questions are formed by using what we call question-words.

Mr. Ali?
your father

He is at home.
He is a friend of mine.
He was here for a meeting.
He is better.

Each of these questions begins with a question word, where, who, why, how. Each seeks information that cannot be given in a simple yes or no. Section B of the table indicates the information required by each of these questions. Look at the first question again.
Where is he? Where requires information about the place. This is answered by the phrase at home.

The words have been arranged in the following manner.

Question-word     +    Be(am/is /are/was/were)    +   Subject     +     Object/Complement

    Where                                       is                           he?

How do we form such questions? This could be done in the following stages.
Stage 1.        He is at home.
Stage 2.         Is he at home?
Stage 3.         Is he where?
Stage 4.         Where is he?

Another Example:

Stage 1.        His name was Ali.
Stage 2.         Was his name Ali?
Stage 3.         Was his name what?
Stage 4.         What was his name?

(b) Forming questions from sentences which have both the auxiliary and the main verb. Look at the sentences in the following table.

Question-word           Auxiliary               Subject            Verb       Object/Complement
When                           will                       he                come               back?
Where                          can                       I                   buy                  vegetables?
Why                             has                       he                 left                   the meeting?
How                             should                 we                go                     there?
What                            must                    we                do                     now?
Which shirt                  have                    you              bought?
What time                   is                         the train       leaving?            

In such questions the main verb stays in its place while the auxiliary verb is put between the question-word and the subject.

How to form these questions.

Stage 1.         He will come back in the evening.
Stage 2.         Will he come back in the evening?
Stage 3.         Will he come back when?
Stage 4.         When will he come back?

(c ) Forming questions by using do, does, did, as auxiliary verbs. Look at the sentences in the following table.

Auxiliary verb
Which pen
How much
the train
the machine

so loudly?

for this blanket?

How to form such questions.

Stage 1.         He lives here..
Stage 2.         He does live here.
Stage 3.         Does he live here?
Stage 4.         Does he live where?
Stage 5.         Where does he live?

Note: How can be combined with many adjectives and adverbs to form question-words: how much, how many, how often, how few, how large, how fast, how broad, how long, how late, etc.

(d) Forming questions with who, what, which in subject position. Look at the sentences in the following table:

Question-word (in subject position)
this book?
at the meeting?
your coat?

You will notice that in these questions, what, who, which come in place of the subject. They are used to seek information about the subject.

How to form these questions.

Stage 1.         Ali came here.
Stage 2.         Who came here?

Another Example:
Stage 1.         This is your coat.
Stage 2.         Which is your coat?

(e) Forming questions with prepositions at the end. Look at the following examples:

Auxiliary verb

the money


Each of these questions ends with a preposition. Let’s see how such questions are formed.

Stage 1.         He is waiting for a bus.
Stage 2.         Is he waiting for a bus?
Stage 3.         Is he waiting for what?
Stage 4.         What is he waiting for?

Another example:

Stage            1.         He wanted the money for books.
Stage            2.         He did want the money for books.
Stage            3.         Did he want the money for books?
Stage            4.         Did he want the money for what?
Stage            5.         What did he want the money for?


Look at the following sentences:

You are coming tomorrow, aren’t you?

In this sentence the speaker has said something and the added a short question. He expects the listener to say yesand seek confirmation. This short question is called a question-tag. Question-tags are very common in conversation.

1.      The verb in the question tag is either the auxiliary used in the statement or the proper form of do,does,did.
2.      If the statement is affirmative, the question-tag is negative. The negative is formed by combining the auxiliary with n’t . But if the statement is negative, the question-tag will be positive.
3.      There is always a comma between the statement and the question –tag. And of course there is a question market the end of the sentence.

Examples: Positive statements:

                  He is naughty, isn’t he?
                  You have finished writing, haven’t you?
                  They speak English at home, don’t they?
                  You will stay with us, won’t you?
                   You must buy the tickets in advance, mustn’t you?

               Negative statement:

                 I am not at fault, am I?
                 You haven’t any books on painting, have you?
                 He doesn’t understand French, does he?
                 We can’t go on living like this, can we?
                 We shan’t go with them, shall we?

Exercise 01
Turn the following statements into (a)negatives and (b) questions:
  1. His father is a teacher.
  2. She can speak French.
  3. I am strict.
  4. She must take this medicine.
  5. They have faith in god.
  6. We shall miss the train.
  7. He will pass the examination.
  8. The tiger is hunting the deer.
  9. George had enough money.
  10. You have received the letter.
  11. She has tickets for this show.
  12. The bottle was quite empty.
  13. The boat has reached the other side.
  14. She ought to come here.
  15. Girls are more noisy than the boys.

Exercise 02
Turn the following statements into (a)negatives and (b) questions by using do, does, did.
  1. She sells sea shells.
  2. George likes coffee.
  3. They read English well.
  4. He prefers tea to coffee.
  5. The sky looks blue during the day.
  6. The stars shone brightly.
  7. It rained heavily that day.
  8. It grows hot in the afternoon.
  9. I sing well.
  10. He lived long.
  11. The player hit the ball with force.
  12. She hurt herself

Exercise 03
Turn the following statements into (a)questions and (b) negative questions (c)contracted negative questions.
  1. I must tell him about this.
  2. She knows you well.
  3. They have won the final match.
  4. I am early.
  5. He will give you permission to study there.
  6. They are at home.
  7. He has done well this time.
  8. He brought his wife to the party.
  9. American went to the moon earlier than the Russians.
  10. I look healthy.
  11. Every wife loves her husband.
  12. You can swim to the other end of the pool.
  13. They were happy with their new house.
  14. There were two ministers at the function.
  15. They ought to help the poor children.
  16. You should write it again.
  17. It would cost a great deal of money.
  18. She was eager to meet you.
  19. You could give her a job.
  20. She had enough time to learn it.

Exercise 04
Turn the following statements into questions using the question-words who, where, what, how, why. The question-word must replace the word/words in italics.
  1. Your father is a doctor.
  2. The boat is in the lake.
  3. She is unwell.
  4. He is our neighbour.
  5. Mr. Smith was here on a business trip.
  6. He is better now.
  7. The books were on the table.
  8. George was a friend of mine.
  9. You were in the library in the morning.
  10. He is here to receive you.
  11. She was angry because the tea was bad.
  12. The score is two one.

Exercise 05
Turn the following statements into questions using question-words.
  1. He is writing a letter.
  2. She is leaving tomorrow.
  3. We can reach there by taking a taxi.
  4. We should take him to the hospital.
  5. He has gone to the airport to receive his friend.
  6. Sam was going to the station.
  7. They were eating sandwiches.
  8. She has gone home to see her mother.
  9. One can improve one’s English by constant practice.
  10. He can get this book next Sunday.

Exercise 06
Turn the following statements into questions using question-words and do, does, did
  1. She lives near my home.
  2. He sent his application by post.
  3. They reach here in the morning.
  4. Sam walks slowly.
  5. His uncle gave him a watch.
  6. She wants to meet the manager.
  7. He bought a blue pen.
  8. She goes there for swimming.
  9. The servant broke a cup.
  10. They go to their village in summer.
  11. They go to their village in summer.
  12. She paid a dollar for this pen.
  13. Smith wants a transfer for health reasons.
  14. He brushes his teeth twice a day.
  15. She told the police the whole story.
Exercise 07
Turn the following statements into questions.
  1. Shahjahan built the Taj Mahal.
  2. Shakespeare wrote ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
  3. Marconi invented the radio.
  4. This is his umbrella.
  5. That was George’s home.
  6. Nothing happened at the meeting.
  7. Flattery makes everyone happy easily.
  8. John won the first prize.
  9. The 9 o’ clock bus will go straight to the city.

Exercise 08
Turn the following statements into questions.
  1. He is looking for his purse.
  2. George has got all his apples from his orchard.
  3. He is shouting at his servant.
  4. They were talking about the film.
  5. He bought it for two pounds.
  6. The students are interested in films.
  7. All these people have come from the countryside.
  8. He is laughing at his sister.
  9. He was speaking to his teacher.
  10. The bottle is full of oil.

Exercise 09
Write short answers to the following questions using auxiliary verbs. Write both affirmative and negative answers.
  1. Can you speak English?
  2. Do you like garlic?
  3. Is he at home?
  4. Did they admit you?
  5. Have I made a mistake?
  6. Will she try again?
  7. Has George returned your money?
  8. Was it a good film?
  9. Is the baby still crying?
  10. Were you at the meeting yesterday?
  11. Must I go with you?
  12. Were those people warned in time?
  13. Could you lend me your book?
  14. Can you hold it a little longer?
  15. Had she an extra pen with her?
  16. Will you like another glass?
  17. Does she smoke heavily?
  18. Are you still in that office?
  19. Am I to blame for this mistake?
  20. Has she been to her home town?
  21. Need I yell you anything more?
  22. Should we employ him again?
  23. Does your father play tennis?
  24. Was there anyone in the room?
  25. Were there many people in the meeting?

Exercise 10
Add question-tag to the following sentences.(Write full sentences)
  1. All these are your children.
  2. He is thirsty.
  3. She isn’t very punctual.
  4. We aren’t allowed to smoke here.
  5. It’s rather cold here.
  6. Your father was a doctor.
  7. I am the first to come.
  8. It wasn’t a clean place.
  9. They hadn’t much to sell.
  10. They were only joking.
  11. We had a good time.
  12. You can’t walk all the way.
  13. There weren’t many animals in the zoo.
  14. He has five sisters.
  15. He hasn’t done her homework..
  16. I am not the only one invited.
  17. You will take my message to her.
  18. This paint will dry soon.
  19. She wouldn’t come here.
  20. The roof won’t leak again.
  21. We used to swim daily.
  22. We must invite all of them.
  23. I needn’t come with you.
  24. We need their help.
  25. They should raise our wages.

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