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Lesson 1.4 Verbs

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Verbs are more than action words or states. How are verbs different from other parts of speech? Only verbs can convey tense. In English, we indicate past tense and present tense on verbs.


Test for Verbs: Can take -ed to indicate past tense.


            She walked to school.

            She blerked the zongot.

            She ambled down the lane.


There are other irregular ways of marking past tense: catch-caught, read-read.


Activity: Come up with more irregular past tense verbs. Are there patterns? Groups of words that take the same kind of irregular past tense? Make up some words. What are their past tense forms? Think of some slang or other newish words. What are their past tense forms? (All of the new words will likely take the -ed. The other forms, which we now think of as irregular, were members of larger groups of words that formed their past tense in different ways in older forms of English.)


There are plenty of other affixes that turn words into verbs (or attach to verbs to make a verb with a different meaning). Here are just a few. (These are all derivational affixes, distinct from the tense-marking inflectional affixes.)


dis-           disappear

re-            rediscover


-ate           activate

-ize            regularize, maximize, realize

-en            tighten, deepen, thicken


After attaching these affixes, the past tense -ed can then attach to any of the resulting words to mark tense (always at the end, after the other affixes).


[Teacher note: Though English doesn’t, many other languages indicate future tense on the verb itself. English must use a modal verb to express future (I will eat.) You could use students’ other language for comparison; Spanish has a future tense that can be expressed on the verb, as does Hindi.  Also see Lesson 1.4g on modal verbs and Lesson 2.7 on future.


hablaré ‘I will speak’                       hablaremos ‘we will speak’

hablarás ‘you will speak’                hablaréis ‘y’all will speak’

hablará ‘he/she will speak’             hablarán ‘they will speak’


mai pita rahunga ‘I will be drinking’                                        hum pite rahenge  ‘we will be drinking’

tu pita rahega/tum pite rahoge ‘you will be drinking’            aap pite rahenge  ‘you will be drinking’

voh pita rahega ‘he/she/it will be drinking’                             ve pite rahenge  ‘they will be drinking’



key words: verbs, parts of speech, morphology, past tense


CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.1a: Explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences. 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.1e: Form and use the simple (e.g., I walked; I walk; I will walk) verb tenses. 


Here is this lesson as a pdf.



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