English Help‎ > ‎Grammar‎ > ‎


MORE: Verbs

(Each link opens in a new page.)
A good overview of all the tenses and how they are different. Lots of excercises. (englishpage.com)
Another good overview of the tenses. (leo.stcloudstate.edu)
A long, but good, description of all the tenses (writingcentre.uottawa.ca)
Take action! (Or just be)

Every sentence must have a verb.

Read this, and tell me about what is going on:

The woman room

Huh!? I don't know what's going on, because there's no verb. In English, every sentence must have a verb.

Here is one of the shortest sentences in the English language.


How can it be a sentence? It only has one word! Yes, that's true. But the word is a verb. The sentence is a command. As you can see, every sentence must have a verb. Some sentences only have one a verb!

Verb forms: The base and the infinitive

Verbs have 4, 5, or 6 forms. (The exception is the verb to be, which has 9 forms.)

It will take you a while to learn all the verb forms! Let's start with the base form and the infinitive form.

The base form of the verb is the one we use for the Simple Present tense (except third person singular.)

The infinitive form is the base form with the preposition to in front of it. We use the infinitive with another verb.

When we talk about a verb "in general" we talk about either the base form or the infinitive. Your teacher will say, "Tell me about the verb "prepare." Or she will ask, "What is the past tense of the verb "to try?"

 Base Sentence using the Present Tense (same as Base)
 Infinitive Infinitive in a sentence
 I walk to work.
 We cook every night.
 You think about it.
 They sing in the choir.
 to walk
 to cook
 to think
 to sing
 I like to walk to work.
 We want to cook dinner tonight.
 You need to think about it.
 They like to sing!

Verb Tenses

All the other forms of a verb are grouped into tenses. Verb tenses tell us when the action or state takes place (past, present, or future), or tell us about imaginary or expected conditions under which the action takes place in the past, present, or future (conditional tenses.)

The Simple Past tense

The simple past tells us about something that happened, and is now over.

 Base Simple Past
 Sentence using the past tense
 I walked to work this morning.
 We cooked dinner last night.
 You thought about it, didn't you?
 They sang loudly.

Other tenses

The most important tenses to learn are the Simple Past, the Simple Present, and the future using "going to". You can find out more about these tenses, and more complex tenses in other pages in this section.