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Verb forms and the formation of verb groups

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Verb forms and the formation of verb groups

R50 Verbs have several forms. These forms can be used on their own or combined with special verbs called auxiliaries. When a verb or a combination of a verb and an auxiliary is used in a clause, it is called a verb group. Verb groups can be finite or nor-finite. If a verb group is finite, it has a tense.




Verb groups are used to refer to actions, states, and processes. The use of verb groups in clauses to make statements is explained in Chapter 3.

R51 Verb groups can be active or passive. You use an active verb group if you are concentrating on the performer of an action, and you use a passive verb group if you are concentrating on someone or something that is affected by an action. Further information on the use of passive verb groups is given in Chapter 10 (  8 to 24).

R52 Regular verbs have the following forms:

• a base form EG walk

• an 's' form EG walks

• a present participle EG walking

• a past form EG walked

The base form of a verb is the form that is used in the infinitive. It is the form that is given first in a dictionary where a verb is explained, and that is given in the lists in this grammar.

The 's' form of a verb consists of the base form with 's' on the end.

The present participle usually consists of the base form with '-ing' on the end. It is sometimes called the '-ing' form.

The past form of a verb usually consists of the base form with '-ed' on the end.

In the case of regular verbs, the past form is used for the past tense and is also used as the past participle.

However, with many irregular verbs (see paragraph R72) there are two past forms:

• a past tense form EG stole

• a past participle form EG stolen

There are rules about the spelling of the different forms of verbs, depending on their endings. These are explained in paragraphs R54 to R70.

Certain verbs, especially common ones, have irregular forms. These are listed in paragraphs R72 to R7

The forms of the auxiliaries 'be', 'have', and 'do' are given in paragraph R80.

R53 Each verb form has various uses.

The base form is used for the present tense, the imperative, and the infinitive, and is used after modals.

The 's' form is used for the third person singular of the present tense.

The present participle is used for continuous tenses, '-ing' adjectives, '-ing' nouns, and some non-finite clauses.

The past form is used for the simple past tense, and for the past participle of regular verbs.

The past participle is used for perfect tenses, passive tenses, '-ed' adjectives, and some non-finite clauses.

R54 The basic verb forms have been described in paragraph R52. The following paragraphs explain how the various forms of verbs are spelled. They also give details of verbs which have irregular forms. The forms of the auxiliaries 'be', 'have', and 'do' are dealt with separately in paragraphs R80 to R8

R55 The 's' form of most verbs consists of the base form of the verb with 's' added to the end.

sing => sings

write => writes

When the 's' follows one of the sounds /f/, /k/, /p/, /t/, or / /, it is pronounced /s/.

break => breaks

keep => keeps

When the 's' follows one of the sounds /s/, /z/, or / /, it is pronounced /ɪz

dance => dances

manage => manages

In most other cases the 's' is pronounced /z

leave => leaves

refer => refers

R56 With verbs whose base form ends in a consonant letter followed by 'y', you substitute 'ies' for 'y' to form the 's' form.

try => tries

cry => cries

R57 With verbs which end in 'sh', 'ch', 'ss', 'x', or 'zz', 'es' rather than 's' is added to the base form of the verb. The 'es' is pronounced /ɪz

diminish => diminishes

reach => reaches

pass => passes

mix => mixes

buzz => buzzes

echo => echoes

R58 With one-syllable verbs which end in a single 's', you add 'ses'.

bus => busses

gas => gasses

R59 Most verbs have present participles formed by adding 'ing' to the base form, and past forms formed by adding 'ed' to the base form.

paint => painting => painted

rest => resting => rested

With all present participles, the 'ing' is pronounced as a separate syllable /

With verbs whose base form ends with one of the sounds /f/, /k/, /p/, /s/, / /, or / /, the 'ed' of the past form is pronounced /t/. For example, 'pressed' is pronounced /prɛst/ and 'watched' is pronounced /wɒʧt/

With verbs whose base forms ends with the sound /d/ or /t/, the 'ed' of the past form is pronounced /ɪd/. For example, 'patted' is pronounced /pætɪd/ and 'faded is pronounced /fɛɪdɪd

With all other verbs, the 'ed' of the past form is pronounced /d/. For example, 'joined' is pronounced /ʤɔɪnd/ and 'lived' is pronounced /lɪvd

R60 With most verbs which end in 'e', the present participle is formed by substituting 'ing' for the final 'e'. Similarly, you substitute 'ed' for the final 'e' to form the past form.

dance => dancing => danced

smile => smiling => smiled

fade => fading => faded

R61 In the case of a few verbs ending in 'e', you just add 'ing' in the normal way to form the present participle. You still substitute 'ed' for 'e' to form the past form.

singe => singeing => singed

agree => agreeing => agreed

Here is a list of these verbs:

age

agree

disagree

dye

free

knee

referee

singe

tiptoe

R62 To form the present participle of a verb which ends in 'ie', you substitute 'ying' for 'ie'.

tie => tying

Note that the past form of such verbs is regular, following the pattern in R60.

R63 To form the past form of a verb which ends in a consonant letter followed by 'y', you substitute 'ied' for 'y'.

cry => cried

Note that the present participle of such verbs is regular, following the pattern in R5

R64 If the base form of a verb has one syllable and ends with a single vowel letter followed by a consonant letter, you double the final consonant letter before adding 'ing' to form the present participle or 'ed' to form the past form.

dip => dipping => dipped

trot => trotting => trotted

Note that this does not apply if the final consonant letter is 'w', 'x', or 'y'.

row => rowing => rowed

box => boxing => boxed

play => playing => played

R65 The final consonant letter of some two-syllable verbs is also doubled. This happens when the second syllable ends in a single vowel letter followed by a consonant letter, and is stressed.

refer => referring => referred

equip => equipping => equipped

R66 In British English, when a two syllable verb ends in a single vowel letter followed by a single 'l', the 'l' is doubled before 'ing' or 'ed' is added to it, even if there is no stress on the last syllable.

travel => travelling travelled

quarrel => quarrelling => quarrelled

A few other verbs also have their final consonant letter doubled.

program => programming => programmed

worship => worshipping => worshipped

hiccup => hiccupping => hiccupped

kidnap => kidnapping => kidnapped

handicap => handicapping => handicapped

R67 All the verbs described in R66, except 'handicap', can have their present participle and past form spelled with a single consonant letter in American English.

travel => traveling => traveled

worship => worshiping => worshiped

R68 Here is a list of the verbs whose final consonant letter is doubled before 'ing' and 'ed' in both British and American English:

ban

bar

bat

beg

blot

blur

bob

brag

brim

bug

cap

chat

chip

chop

clap

clog

clot

cram

crib

crop

cup

dab

dam

dim

din

dip

dot

drag

drop

drug

drum

dub

fan

fit

flag

flap

flip

flop

fog

fret

gas

gel

glut

grab

grin

grip

grit

grub

gun

gut

hem

hop

hug

hum

jam

jet

jig

jog

jot

knit

knot

lag

lap

log

lop

man

mar

mob

mop

mug

nag

net

nip

nod

pad

pat

peg

pen

pet

pin

pit

plan

plod

plug

pop

prod

prop

rib

rig

rip

rob

rot

rub

sag

scan

scar

scrap

scrub

ship

shop

shred

shrug

shun

sin

sip

skid

skim

skin

skip

slam

slap

slim

slip

slop

slot

slum

slur

snag

snap

snip

snub

sob

spot

squat

stab

star

stem

step

stir

stop

strap

strip

strut

stun

sun

swab

swap

swat

swig

swot

tag

tan

tap

thin

throd

tip

top

trap

trek

trim

trip

trot

vet

wag

wrap

abet

abhor

acquit

admit

allot

commit

compel

confer

control

defer

deter

distil

embed

emit

enrol

enthral

equip

excel

expel

incur

instil

occur

omit

outwit

patrol

propel

rebel

rebut

recap

recur

refer

regret

remit

repel

submit

transfer

transmit

handicap

Note that verbs such as 're-equip' and 'unclog', which consist of a prefix and one of the above verbs, also have their final consonant letter doubled.

R69 Here is a list of verbs whose final consonant letter is doubled before 'ing' and 'ed' in British English but not always in American English:

cancel

dial

duel

enamel

enrol

enthral

equal

fuel

funnel

gambol

grovel

hiccup

initial

kidnap

label

level

libel

marvel

model

panel

pedal

pencil

program

pummel

quarrel

refuel

revel

rival

shovel

shrivel

snivel

spiral

stencil

swivel

total

travel

tunnel

unravel

worship

R70 With verbs ending in 'c', 'king' and 'ked' are usually added instead of 'ing' and 'ed'.

mimic => mimicking => mimicked

panic => panicking => panicked

R71 A large number of verbs have irregular past forms and past participles, which are not formed by adding 'ed' to the base form.

With regular verbs, the past participle is the same as the past form. However with some irregular verbs, the two forms are different.

R72 The table opposite gives a list of irregular verbs and their forms.

Note that the past form and past participle of 'read' appear the same as the base form but are pronounced differently. The base form is pronounced /riːd/ and the past form and past participle /rɛd/. See a Cobuild dictionary for the pronunciation, of irregular forms of verbs.

R73 Some verbs have more than one past form or past participle form. For example, the past form and past participle of 'spell' can be either 'spelled' or 'spelt', and the past participle of 'prove' can be either 'proved' or 'proven'.

He burned several letters.

He burnt all his papers.

His bandaged foot had swelled to three times normal size.

His wrist had swollen up and become huge.

R74 Some verbs have two forms which can be used as either the past form or the past participle. Here is a list of these verbs. The regular form is given first, although it may not be the more common one.

burn => burned, burnt

bust => busted, bust

dream => dreamed, dreamt

dwell => dwelled, dwelt

fit => fitted, fit

hang => hanged, hung

kneel => kneeled, knelt

lean => leaned, leant

leap => leaped, leapt

light => lighted, lit

relay => relayed, relaid

smell => smelled, smelt

speed => speeded, sped

spell => spelled, spelt

spill => spilled, spilt

spoil => spoiled, spoilt

wet => wetted, wet

R75 Here is a list of verbs with two past forms:

bid => bid, bade

lie => lied, lay

wake => waked, woke

weave => weaved, wove

Here is a list of verbs with two past participle forms:

bid => bid, bidden

lie => lied, lain

mow => mowed. mown

prove => proved, proven

swell => swelled, swollen

wake => waked, woken

weave => weaved, woven

'Gotten' is often used instead of 'got' as the past participle of 'get in American English.

Note that some verbs appear in both the above lists as they have a different past form and past participle form, each of which has more than one form.

base form

past form

past participle

base form

past form

past participle

base form

past form

past participle

arise

arose

arisen

freeze

froze

frozen

shut

shut

shut

awake

awoke

awoken

get

got

got

sing

sang

sung

bear

bore

borne

give

gave

given

sink

sank

sunk

beat

beat

beaten

go

went

gone

sit

sat

sat

become

became

become

grind

ground

ground

slay

slew

slain

begin

began

begun

grow

grew

grown

sleep

slept

slept

bend

bent

bent

hear

heard

heard

slide

slid

slid

bet

bet

bet

hide

hid

hidden

sling

slung

slung

bind

bound

bound

hit

hit

hit

slink

slunk

slunk

bite

bit

bitten

hold

held

held

sow

sowed

sown

bleed

bled

bled

hurt

hurt

hurt

speak

spoke

spoken

blow

blew

blown

keep

kept

kept

spend

spent

spent

break

broke

broken

know

knew

known

spin

spun

spun

breed

bred

bred

lay

laid

laid

spread

spread

spread

bring

brought

brought

lead

led

led

spring

sprang

sprung

build

built

built

leave

left

left

stand

stood

stood

burst

burst

burst

lend

lent

lent

steal

stole

stolen

buy

bought

bought

let

let

let

stick

stuck

stuck

cast

cast

cast

lose

lost

lost

sting

stung

stung

catch

caught

caught

make

made

made

stink

stank

stunk

choose

chose

chosen

mean

meant

meant

strew

strewed

strewn

cling

clung

clung

meet

met

met

stride

strode

stridden

come

came

come

pay

paid

paid

strike

struck

struck

cost

cost

cost

put

put

put

string

strung

strung

creep

crept

crept

quit

quit

quit

strive

strove

striven

cut

cut

cut

read

read

read

swear

swore

sworn

deal

dealt

dealt

rend

rent

rent

sweep

swept

swept

dig

dug

dug

ride

rode

ridden

swim

swam

swum

draw

drew

drawn

ring

rang

rung

swing

swung

swung

drink

drank

drunk

rise

rose

risen

take

took

taken

drive

drove

driven

run

ran

run

teach

taught

taught

eat

ate

eaten

saw



sawed

sawn

tear

tore

torn

fall

fell

fallen

say

said

said

tell

told

told

feed

fed

fed

see

saw

seen

think

thought

thought

feel

felt

felt

seek

sought

sought

throw

threw

thrown

fight

fought

fought

sell

sold

sold

thrust

thrust

thrust

find

found

found

send

sent

sent

tread

trod

trodden

flee

flew

flown

set

set

set

understand

understood

understood

fling

flung

flung

sew

sewed

sewn

wear

wore

worn

fly

flew

flown

shake

shook

shaken

weep

wept

wept

forbear

forbore

forborne

shed

shed

shed

win

won

won

forbid

forbade

forbidden

shine

shone

shone

wind

wound

wound

forget

forgot

forgotten

shoe

shod

shod

wring

wrung

wrung

forgive

forgave

forgiven

shoot

shot

shot

write

wrote

written

forsake

forsook

forsaken

show

showed

shown

forswear

forswore

forsworn

shrink

shrank

shrunk

R76 In some cases, different past forms or past participle forms relate to different meanings or uses of the verb. For example, the past form and the past participle of the verb 'hang' is normally 'hung'. However, 'hanged' can also be used but with a different meaning. Check the different meanings in a Cobuild dictionary.

An iron Cross hung from a ribbon around the man's neck.

He had been found guilty of murdering his child and hanged.

They had bid down the chemical company's stock.

He had bidden her to buy the best.

Everyone gathered as he relayed the tragic news.

They carefully relaid the pavements.

R77 Some verbs consist of more than one word, for example 'browbeat' and 'typeset', and some consist of a prefix plus a verb, for example 'undo' and 'disconnect'.

His teachers underestimate his general ability.

Physical miracles of out time outdo their creators.

No-one knows better how you mismanage your time than those who live or work with you.

R78 Verbs which consist of more than one word or of a prefix plus a verb usually inflect in the same way as the verbs which form their final part. For example, the past form of 'foresee' is 'foresaw' and the past participle is 'foreseen', the past form and past participle of 'hamstring' is 'hamstrung', and the past form and past participle of 'misunderstand' is 'misunderstood'.

I underestimated him.

He had outdone himself.

I had misunderstood and mismanaged everything.

She had disappeared into the kitchen and reappeared with a flashlight.

R79 With many verbs of this sort, the fact that they consist of two parts does not make any difference to their forms. They follow the normal spelling rules.

Here is a list of verbs whose second part is an irregular verb:

browbeat

broadcast

forecast

miscast

recast

typecast

overcome

undercut

outdo

overdo

undo

withdraw

overeat

befall

forego

undergo

outgrow

overheat

mishear

behold

uphold

withhold

mislay

waylay

mislead

remake

repay

misread

override

outrun

overrun

re-run

foresee

oversee

outsell

resell

beset

reset

typeset

outshine

overshoot

oversleep

misspell

withstand

hamstring

mistake

overtake

retake

undertake

foretell

retell

rethink

overthrow

misunderstand

rewind

unwind

rewrite

underwrite

Note the past forms and past participles of the verbs shown below, whose second part is a verb with alternative past forms and past participles.

refit => refitted => refitted

overhang => overhung => overhung

floodlight => floodlit => floodlit

Here is a list of compound verbs whose second part is an irregular verb:

bottle-feed

breast-feed

force-feed

spoon-feed

baby-sit

lip-read

proof-read

sight-read

ghost-write

R80 The different forms of the auxiliaries 'be', 'have', and 'do' are summarized in the table below.

be

have

do

Simple present:

with 'I'

am

'm

have

've

do

with 'you', 'we', 'they', & plural noun groups

are

're

with 'he', 'she', 'it' & singular noun groups

is

's

has

's

does

Simple past:

with 'I', 'he', 'she', 'it' & singular noun groups

was

had

'd

did

with 'you', 'we', 'they', & plural noun groups

were

Participles:

present participle

past participle

being

been

having

had

doing

done

R81 The present tense forms of 'be' can usually be contracted and added to the end of the subject of the verb, whether it is a noun or a pronoun. This is often done in spoken English or in informal written English.

I'm interested in the role of women all over the world.

You're late.

We're making some progress.

It's a delightful country.

My car's just across the street.

The contracted forms of *be' are shown in the table above.

R82 Contracted forms of 'be' are not used at the end of affirmative statements. The full form must be used instead. For example, you say 'Richard's not very happy but Andrew is'. You can not say 'Richard's not very happy but Andrew's'.

However, you can use a contracted form of 'be' at the end of a negative statement if it is followed by 'not'. For example, 'Mary's quite happy, but her mother's not'.

R83 When 'be' is used in negative clauses, either the verb or 'not' can be contracted. For more information on contractions in negative clauses, see paragraphs 55 to 5

R84 The present tense and past tense forms of 'have' can also be contracted. This is usually only done when 'have' is being used as an auxiliary.

I've changed my mind.

This is the first party we've been to in months.

She's become a very interesting young woman.

I do wish you'd met Guy.

She's managed to keep it quiet.

We'd done a good job.

The contracted forms of 'have' are shown in the table at paragraph R80.

R85 's can be short for either 'is' or 'has'. You can tell what 's represents by looking at the next word. If 's represents 'is', it is followed by a present participle, complement, or adjunct. If it represents 'has', it is usually followed by a past participle.

She's going to be all right.

She's a lovely person.

She's gone to see some social work people.

R86 A noun ending in 's could also be a possessive. It is followed by another noun when this is the case. For more information on possessives see paragraphs 2.180 to 2.192.

R87 'Is' and 'has' are written in full after nouns ending in 'x', 'ch', 'sh', 's', or 'z', although in speech 'has' is sometimes pronounced as /əz/ after these nouns.

R88 'd can be short for either 'had' or 'would'. You can tell what 'd represents by looking at the next word. If 'd represents 'would', it is followed by the base form of a verb. If it represents 'had', it is usually followed by a past participle.

We'd have to try to escape.

'It'd be cheaper to get married,' Alan said.

At least we'd had the courage to admit it.

She'd bought new sunglasses with deep-blue tinted tenses.

Finite verb groups and the formation of tenses

R89 A finite verb group is the kind of verb group that goes with a subject in most clauses that have a subject. It contains a form of the verb that you are using to convey your meaning (the main verb), and often one or more auxiliaries.

A finite verb group has the following structure:

(modal)(have)(be)(be) main verb.

The elements in brackets are chosen according to factors relating to your message, for example, whether you are talking about the past or the present, or whether you are concentrating on the performer of an action or the thing affected by it. They are called auxiliaries.

If you want to indicate possibility, or indicate your attitude to your hearer or to what you are saying, you use a kind of auxiliary called a modal. Modals must be followed by a base form. The use of modals is explained in Chapter 4 (95 to 262).

She might see us.

She could have seen us.

If you want to use a perfect tense, you use a form of 'have'. This must be followed by a past participle.

She has seen us.

She had been watching us for some time.

If you want to use a continuous tense, you use a form of 'be'. This must be followed by a present participle.

She was watching us.

We were being watched.

If you want to use the passive, you use a form of 'be'. This must be followed by a past participle.

We were seen.

We were being watched.

If there is an auxiliary in front of the main verb, you use an appropriate form of the main verb, as indicated above. If there is no auxiliary, you use an appropriate simple tense form.

The verb 'do' is also used as an auxiliary, with simple tenses, but only in questions, negative statements, and negative imperative clauses, or when you want to be very emphatic. It is followed by the base form of the main verb. Detailed information on the uses of 'do' is given in Chapter

Do you want me to do something about it?

I do not remember her.

I do enjoy being with you.

R90 A finite verb group always has a tense, unless it begins with a modal. Tense is the relationship between the form of a verb and the time to which it refers.

This section deals with the ways in which main verbs and auxiliaries can be used to form different tenses. The way in which particular tenses are used to indicate particular times in relation to the time of speaking or to the time of an event is covered in paragraphs 7 to 6

R91 When a verb is being used in a simple tense, that is, the simple present or the simple past, it consists of just one word, a form of the main verb.

I feel tired.

Mary lived there for five years.

For other tenses, one or more auxiliaries are used in combination with the main verb.

I am testing reckless tonight.

I have lived here all my life.

R92 The first word of a finite verb group must agree with the subject of the clause. This affects the simple present tense, and all tenses which begin with the present or past tense of 'be' or the present tense of 'have'.

For example, if the tense is the present perfect and the subject is 'John', then the form of the auxiliary 'have' must be 'has'.

John has seemed worried lately.

She likes me.

Your lunch is getting cold.

R93 In this section the examples given are declarative clauses. The order of words in questions is different from the order in declarative clauses. See paragraphs 10 to 30 for information about this.

R94 Continuous tenses are formed by using an appropriate tense of the auxiliary 'be' and the present participle. Detailed information on the formation of these tenses is included below. The uses of continuous tenses are explained in detail in paragraphs 7 to 6

R95 The formation of active tenses is explained below. The formation of passive tenses is explained in paragraphs R109 to R11

R96 The simple present tense of a verb is the same as the base form with all subjects except the third person singular.

I want a breath of air.

We advise everyone to ring before they leave.

They give you a certificate and then tell you to get a job.

The third person singular form is the 's' form.

Flora puts her head back, and laughs again.

'Money decides everything,' she thought.

Mr Painting plays Phil Archer in the radio serial.

R97 The present continuous is formed by using the present tense of 'be' and the present participle of the main verb.

People who have no faith in art are running the art schools.

The garden industry is booming.

Things are changing.

R98 The simple past tense of a verb is the past form.

The moment he entered the classroom all eyes turned on him.

He walked out of the kitchen and climbed the stairs.

It was dark by the time I reached East London.

R99 The past continuous is formed by using the past tense of 'be' and the present participle of the main verb.

The tourists were beginning to drive me crazy.

We believed we were fighting for a good cause.

At the time, I was dreading transfer.

R100 The present perfect tense is formed by using the present tense of 'have' and the past participle of the main verb.

Advances have continued, though actual productivity has fallen.

Football has become international.

I have seen this before.

The present perfect is sometimes called the perfect tense in other grammars.

R101 The present perfect continuous is formed by using the present perfect of 'be' and the present participle of the main verb.

Howard has been working hard over the recess.

What we have been describing is very simple.

Their shares have been going up.

R102 The past perfect tense is formed by using 'had' and the past participle of the main verb.

The Indian summer had returned for a day.

Everyone had liked her.

Murray had resented the changes I had made.

R103 The past perfect continuous is formed by using 'had been' and the present participle of the main verb.

She did not know how long she had been lying there.

For ten years of her life, teachers had been making up her mind for her.

I had been showing a woman around with her little boy.

R104 There are several ways of referring to the future in English. The one that is usually called the future tense involves using the modal 'will' or 'shall' and the base form of the verb.

It is exactly the sort of scheme he will like.

My receptionist will help you choose the frames.

Don't go scattering seed about or we shall have mice.

In spoken English, the contracted form 'll is usually used instead of 'will' or 'shall', unless you want to be emphatic.

Send him into the Army, he'll learn a bit of discipline.

As soon as we get the tickets they'll be sent out to you.

Next week we'll be taking a look at mathematics.

R105 If the full forms are used, 'will' is generally used if the subject of the verb is not 'I' or 'we'. 'Shall' is sometimes used if the subject is 'I' or 'we', otherwise 'will' is used.

Inflation is rising and will continue to rise.

I shall be away tomorrow.

R106 The future continuous is formed by using 'will' or 'shall', followed by 'be' and the present participle of the main verb.

Indeed, we will be opposing that policy.

Ford manual workers will be claiming a ten per cent pay rise.

I shall be leaving soon.

R107 The future perfect is formed by using 'will' or 'shall', followed by 'have' and the past participle of the main verb.

Long before you return, they will have forgotten you.

Before the end of this era, computer games will have reached such heights of realism.

By that time, I shall have retired.

R108 The future perfect continuous is formed by using 'will' or 'shall', followed by 'have been' and the present participle of the main verb.

By March, I will have been doing this job for six years.

Saturday week, I will have been going out with Susan for three months.

R109 Passive tenses are formed by using an appropriate tense of 'be' and the past participle of the main verb. Detailed information on forming passive tenses is given below.

R110 The simple present passive is formed by using the simple present of 'be' and the past participle of the main verb.

The earth is baked by the sun into a hard, brittle layer.

If your course is full time you are treated as your parents' dependent.

Specific subjects are discussed.

R111 The present continuous passive is formed by using the present continuous of 'be' and the past participle of the main verb.

The buffet counter is being arranged by the attendant.

It is something quite irrelevant to what is being discussed.

Jobs are still being lost.

R112 The simple past passive is formed by using the simple past of 'be' and the past participle of the main verb.

No date was announced for the talks.

The walls of his tiny shop were plastered with pictures of actors and actresses.

A number of cottages were built, all with the most modern of conveniences.

R113 The past continuous passive is formed by using the past continuous of 'be' and the past participle of the main verb.

The stage was being set for future profits.

Before long, machines were being used to create codes.

Strenuous efforts were being made last night to end the dispute.

R114 The present perfect passive is formed by using the present perfect of 'be' and the past participle of the main verb.

The guest-room window has been mended.

Once real progress has been made, the gains are likely to be immense.

The dirty plates have been stacked in a pile on the kitchen cabinet.

R115 The past perfect passive is formed by using 'had been' and the past participle of the main verb.

They had been taught to be critical.

They had been driven home in the station wagon.

R116 The future passive is formed by using 'will' or 'shall', followed by 'be' and the participle of the main verb.

His own authority will be undermined.

Congress will be asked to approve an increase of 47,5 per cent.

R117 The future perfect passive is formed by using 'will' or 'shall', followed by 'have been' and the past participle of the main verb.

Another phase of the emancipation of man from the need to work for his living will have been achieved.

The figures will have been heavily distorted by the continuing effects of the civil servants' strike.

R118 The future continuous passive and the perfect continuous passive are rarely used.

R119 The table below gives a summary of the active and passive tenses. The passive tenses marked with a star are very rarely used.

active

passive

simple present

present continuous

present perfect

present perfect continuous

simple past

past continuous

past perfect

past perfect continuous

future

future continuous

future perfect

future perfect continuous

He eats it.

He is eating it.

He has eaten it.

He has been eating it.

He ate it.

He was eating it.

He had eaten it.

He had been eating it.

He will eat it.

He will be eating it.

He will have eaten it.

He will have been eating it.

It is eaten.

It is being eaten.

It has been eaten.

It has been being eaten.*

It was eaten.

It was being eaten.

It had been eaten.

It had been being eaten.*

It will be eaten.

It will be being eaten.*

It will have been eaten.

It will have been being eaten.*

R120 There are a number of verbs which are not usually used in continuous tenses, and some that are not used in continuous tenses in one or more of their main meanings.

Here is a list of verbs which are not usually used in continuous tenses:

admire

adore

appear

astonish

be

believe

belong

concern

consist

contain

deserve

desire

despise

detest

dislike

doubt

envy

exist

fit

forget

guess

hate

have

hear

imagine

impress

include

involve

keep

know

lack

last

like

love

matter

mean

owe

own

please

possess

prefer

reach

realize

recognize

remember

resemble

satisfy

see

seem

sound

smell

stop

suppose

surprise

survive

suspect

understand

want

wish

Verbs of this kind are sometimes called stative verbs. Verbs which are used in continuous tenses are sometimes called dynamic verbs.

R121 'Be' is not generally used as a main verb in continuous tenses with complements which indicate permanent characteristics, or with attributes which do not relate to behaviour. However, 'be' is used in continuous tenses to indicate someone's behaviour at a particular time.

He is extremely nice.

He was an American.

You're being very silly.

'Have' is not used as a main verb in continuous tenses when it indicates possession, but it is sometimes used in continuous tenses when it indicates that someone is doing something.

I have two dinghies.

We were just having a philosophical discussion.

R122 Some verbs have very specific senses in which they are not used in continuous tenses. For example, 'smell' is often used in continuous tenses when it means 'to smell something', but seldom when it means 'to smell of something'. Compare the sentences 'I was just smelling your flowers', and 'Your flowers smell lovely'.

Here is a list of verbs which are not used in continuous tenses when they have the meanings indicated:

depend (be related to)

feet (have an opinion)

measure (have length)

smell (of something)

taste (of something)

think (have an opinion)

weigh (have weight)

R123 The imperative form of a verb is regarded as finite, because it can stand as the verb of a main clause. However, it does not show tense in the same way as other finite verb groups. It is always in the base form. See paragraphs 31 to 35 for the uses of the imperative.

Stop being silly.

Come here.

Non-finite verb groups: infinitives and participles

R124 A non-finite verb group is an infinitive, a participle, or a verb group beginning with a participle. It cannot be combined with a subject to form a sentence.

Non-finite verb groups are used after verbs in phase structures (see paragraphs 3.193 to 3.213) and are also used in non-finite subordinate clauses (see the section on subordination in Chapter 8). They are also used in some structures with impersonal 'it' (see paragraphs 39 to 41).

'To'-infinitives are also used after some nouns and adjectives (see paragraphs 2.310 to 2.316, and 2.55 to 2.66). Present participles are also used as the objects of prepositions.

Non-finite verb groups can have objects, complements, or adjuncts after them, just like finite verb groups. A clause beginning with a 'to'-infinitives is called a 'to'-infinitive clause, a clause beginning with a present participle is called a present participle clause, and a clause beginning with a past participle is called a past participle clause.

R125 The order of auxiliaries is the same for non-finite verb groups as for finite verb groups (see paragraph R89). Note that modals are never used in non-finite verb groups.

R126 The active 'to'-infinitive consists of 'to' and the base form of the verb. This sometimes called the present infinitive or simply the infinitive.

I want to escape from here.

I asked Don Card to go with me.

R127 The active infinitive without 'to' consists of the base form of the verb. It is sometimes called the bare infinitive.

They helped me get settled here.

R128 Other active infinitive forms are occasionally used.

The present continuous infinitive consists of 'to be' or 'be', followed by the present participle.

It is much better for young children to be living at home.

The perfect or past infinitive consists of 'to have' or 'have', followed by the past participle.

Only two are known to have detected.

The perfect or past continuous infinitive consists of 'to have been' or 'have been', followed by the present participle

I seem to have been eating all evening.

R129 There are also passive infinitives. The ordinary passive infinitive consists of 'to be' or 'be', followed by the past participle.

I didn't want to be caught off guard.

The perfect or past passive infinitive consists of 'to have been' or 'have been', followed by the past participle.

He seems to have been completely forgotten.

R130 The table below gives a summary of infinitives. The passive infinitives marked with a star are very rarely used.

active

passive

present continuous

perfect

perfect continuous

(to) eat

(to) be eating

(to) have eaten

(to) have been eating

(to) be eaten

(to) be being eaten*

(to) have been eaten

(to) have been being eaten*

R131 The present participle is used as a non-finite verb group, usually with an active meaning.

'You could play me a tune,' said Simon, sitting down.

He could keep in touch with me by writing letters.

R132 Combinations beginning with 'having' are occasionally used.

The perfect or past 'ing' form consists of 'having' and the past participle.

Ash, having forgotten his fear, had become bored and restless.

The perfect or past continuous 'ing' form consists of 'having been' and the present participle. It is rarely used.

Having been supporting Tom and Mick on the climb for a week, they needed a rest.

R133 There are also combinations beginning with 'being' and 'having' which have a passive meaning.

The ordinary passive 'ing' form consists of 'being' and the past participle.

fears that patients would resent being interviewed by a medical computer.

The perfect or past 'ing' form consists of 'having been' and the past participle.

Having been declared insane, he was confined for four months in a prison hospital.

Some were shot full of arrows after having been mortally wounded by gunshot.

R134 The table below gives a summary of 'ing' forms. The '-ing' form marked with a star is very rarely used.

active

passive

perfect

perfect continuous

eating

having eaten

having been eating

being eaten

having been eaten

having been being eaten*

R135 The past participle is also used as a non-finite verb group, with a passive meaning.

Stunned by the swiftness of the assault, the enemy were overwhelmed.

When challenged, she started and seemed quite surprised.



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