Verdant Venerable Verbs: Part Two
Welcome to the second part of Verdant Venerable Verbs! I know I hurt some brains with the first part, so I will try to be more gentle with part two.
Today we’re going to look at the five properties of verbs, which are: Voice, mood, tense, person and number.
Voice only applies to transitive verbs and it is either active or passive. Active voice demonstrates that the subject is the one performing the action, whereas passive voice indicates that the subject is receiving the verb’s action. Compare the following examples:
- The zombie ate some brains.
- The brain was eaten by the zombie.
Passive voice is always formed by adding a form of be (or get in informal use) with the past-participle form of the verb.
Side note: Active voice is typically the preferred voice in writing. In fact, most word processing software will flag any use of passive voice. This doesn’t mean you’re wrong; it all depends on which point of view you are trying to represent.
There are three moods for verbs. The first is indicative, which is the most common. We use indicative mood to ask questions or to express opinions and facts. Here are some examples:
- Zombies smell really bad.
- Does that vampire have red hair?
The second mood is imperative, which we use for commands, requests and permission. The subject of the verb is you, but it is generally implied rather than stated. For example:
- Get thee behind me!
The third mood is subjunctive, which is the least common. We use the subjunctive mood to express mental conceptions that are hypothetical, imagined, desired, etc. It is often signaled by if. Here are some examples:
- If I were you, I’d practice using that stake.
- If only we lived in a world without zombies.
Verb tense indicates the time that an act, state, or condition happens or happened. In English, tense is divided into three major sections: present, past and future. (Each of these also includes a perfect tense, which refers to a comparatively more remote time, but we won’t look at those today.)
Present tense, unsurprisingly, usually indicates something that happens in the present. However, it can also indicate habitual actions, general truths and timeless facts. It is formed by using the verb’s stem (also called the infinitive, as we learned in Part One).
- I chop off zombies’ heads with a machete.
- Vampires hunt at night.
Past tense indicates something that happened in the past. It is typically formed by adding –ed or –d (for regular verbs — see Part One for information on irregular verbs).
- Buffy staked many vampires in Sunnydale.
- I slapped the impertinent human.
Future tense indicates something that is expected to happen in the future. It is typically formed by adding will or shall to the verb stem.
- If Hector turns into a zombie I will cut off his head.
- You shall obey me.
Verb person indicates who is acting. There are three options in English: first person (I or we), second person (you) or third person (he, she, it or they). Here are examples of each:
- I staked the vampire.
- You decapitated the zombie
- They quaked in fear.
The last property is number. A verb will be either singular or plural and it must agree with its pronoun. Check out the following example:
- I was relieved it was over.
- They were relieved it was over.
Okay, you can exhale. We’re finished with verbs for now! Once you’ve all had some time to recover — perhaps in a couple of months — we’ll look at conjugating verbs. For now, pat yourself on the back if you read this entire post and remember than mental gymnastics are really good for your brain, even if it hurts!
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