Tense of Verbs, English Grammar, Advanced English Grammar

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Tense of Verbs

Tense of Verbs :

Verbs have
inflections of tense , person and number and mood. They also have the distinction of voice which is expressed by the help of verb-phrases .

Tense indicates time.

Person and number correspond with person and number in substantives.

Mood shows the manner in which the action is expressed.

Voice indicates whether the subject acts or is acted upon.

Tense of Verbs

The tense of a verb indicates its time.

Verbs have forms of tense to indicate present, past or future time.

1. A verb in the present tense refers to present time.

2. A verb in the past tense refers to past time.

3. A verb in the future tense refers to future time.

The present, the past and the future are called
simple tenses.

Present Tense …… Past Tense …… Future Tense

He lives here. ……He lived here…….He will live here.

The sun shines. ……The sun shone. ……The sun will shine.

I know him. ……I knew him. ……I shall know him.

Forms of The Present and The Past

The present and the past tense have special forms of inflection.

For the moment we will consider the form which the verb has when its subject is the first personal pronoun I.

In the
present tense the verb has its simplest form without any inflectional ending.

1. I like it.

2. I hope for the best.

3. I dwell in the wilderness.

4. I find him amusing.

The past tense is formed in two ways and a verb is classed as weak or strong in accordance with the way in which it forms this tense.

Weak verbs form the past tense by adding ed, d, or t to the present.

Examples :

1. mend, mended
2. select, selected
3. fill, filled
4. glow, glowed
5. talk, talked
6. revere, revered
7. dwell, dwelt

Strong verbs form the past tense by changing the vowel of the present, without the addition of an ending.

Examples :

1. drink, drank
2. begin, began
3. come, came
4. rise, rose
5. bind, bound
6. cling, clung
7. stick, stuck
8. wear, wore

Weak verbs are sometimes called
regular verbs and strong verbs irregular verbs .

Note : The terms strong and weak were first applied to verbs for a somewhat fanciful reason. The strong verbs were so called because they seemed to form the past tense out of their own resources, without calling to their assistance any ending. The weak verbs were so called because they could not form the past tense without the aid of the ending ED, D, or T.

The ending that is written ED is fully pronounced only when d or t precedes (as….(thread and threaded) and (attract and attracted)). Otherwise, E is silent, so that the ending becomes, in pronunciation, d or t (as….entered, pronounced enter’d; rocked, pronounced rockt).

In poetry and the solemn style, however, the silent E in the ending ED is sometimes restored to its ancient rights.

Many weak verbs show special irregularities in the past tense.

1. Make has made in the past and have has had.

2. Some verbs in ND and LD form their past tense by changing this d to t.

Examples :

1. bend, bent
2. send, sent
3. lend, lent
4. rend, rent
5. spend, spent
6. build, built

A few verbs add D or T in the past and also change the vowel of the present. Thus….

Examples :

1. sell…..sold
2. tell…..told
3. shoe…..shod
4. say…..said (pronounced sed)
5. hear…..heard (pronounced herd)
6. bring…..brought
7. buy…..bought
8. catch…..caught
9. seek…..sought
10. beseech…..besought
11. teach…..taught
12. methinks…..methought

Work has an old past tense wrought, common in poetry. Its usual past is worked.

Some verbs that have a long vowel sound in the present have in the past a short vowel sound before the ending T.

Examples :

1. creep, crept
2. keep, kept
3. sleep, slept
4. sweep, swept
5. weep, wept
6. feel, felt
7. deal, dealt (pronounced delt)
8. mean, meant (pronounced ment)
9. lose, lost
10. leave, left

Some verbs in D or T preceded by a long vowel sound have a short vowel in the past but add no ending.

Examples :

1. bleed, bled
2. breed, bred
3. feed, fed
4. speed, sped
5. lead, led
6. read (pronounced reed), read (pronounced red)
7. meet, met
8. light, lit (also lighted)

Some verbs in D or T have in the past the same form as in the present.

Examples :

1. shed, past shed
2. spread, past spread
3. bet, past bet
4. hit, past hit
5. set, past set
6. put, past put
7. shut, past shut
8. cut, past cut
9. hurt, past hurt
10. cast, past cast

Note : The verbs in 5 and 6 might appear to be strong verbs, since they have no ending in the past and some of them change the vowel. They are, however, all weak verbs. Their lack of ending is due to the fact that the d or t of the termination has been absorbed in the final d or t of the verb itself. Thus, the past set was originally settë (dissyllabic) and this form, after the loss of -ë, became indistinguishable in sound from set, the present.

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