Grammar Clinic: Notes and Exercises on Verbs


A verb is either a linking word or an action word. A verb is the only obligatory element of a clause or sentence. A verb confers meaning on a clause or a sentence.

Types of Verb

Basically verbs are divided into two.

i.  Lexical Verb

ii. Auxiliary Verb

1.  Lexical Verbs: refers to what the dictionary called action verb and it is an open ended type of verb. that is it has so many examples e.g. sleep, beat, eat, go, take etc.

2.  Auxiliary Verbs: can be divided into two,

i   Primary Auxiliary verb

ii   Secondary Auxiliary verb or modal operator

3. The DO Form of Primary Auxiliary Verb.

The DO form of primary auxiliary verb has three families which are: Do, Does, Did

  Present Past Perfect Progressive
I Do Did Have/had done Are/were doing
You Do Did Have/had done Are/were doing
We Do Did Have/had done Are/were doing
They Do Did Have/had done Are/were doing
He Does Did Have/had done Are/were doing
she Does Did Have/had done Is/was going
If Does Did Have/had done Is/was going

ii. Secondary Auxiliary Verb or Modal Operators

The members of the secondary auxiliary verb or modal operators are as follows

(i) Will/would

(ii) Shall/should

(iii) Can/could

(iv) May/might

(v) Must/had to

(vi) Ought to/heed to

Shall  can only take I/We, 1st  Personal Singular and 1st person plural.


(i) Peter must have forgotten his phone at home

(ii) The man would have written his will before his death

(iii) They should have known the road is not motor able

(iv) The tailor could have closed for the day

(v) The thief may have been arrested

(vi) She might have seen you

(vii) I shall sing etc.


a.  Make two sentences with the following  

1. Used to                                   2. Have to

3. Had to                                     4. Will have to

5. Must                                        6. Ought to

7. Need to                                   8. May

9. Might                                      10. Had better

11. Can                                       11. Could

13. Shall                                     14. Should

15. Would have to                       16. You’d better

17. Wish/Wishes                          18. Hope / Hopes

19. Want/wants                           20. Would like / prefer / rather

Verb Forms

Finite and non-finite verb

Finite verb

A finite verb is a verb form which changes when there is It has three members namely:

1st member is V + O

2nd member is V + S

3rd member is V + D

(1) V + O: is the first member which is the base form, i.e. Simple present tense. E.g. dance, ding, eat, cook, play, write etc.

(2) V +S: is the second member which is the 3rd person singular of the simple present tense, e.g. goes, eats, comes, cooks, write, plays, and sings etc.

(3)  V + D: is the third member which the simple past tenses. E.g. went, danced, ate, sang, cooked, played, etc.

Non-Finite Verbs

Non-finite verbs are type that is used in a sentence but it has its peculiarities. It is known as the verb that does not change according to number, person tenses. It is not limited by any factor. It serves as aiding or helping verb. Member of infinitive verb are three:

  •  V + ing
  • To + V
  •  V + en
  •  Verb + ing: This is a continuous tense or progressive tense e.g. going, cooking, dancing,


i. I am going to church

ii. She is dancing to the music

iii.  Mummy is cooking rice

2. To + verb: this is an infinity verb. E.g. To sing, to write, to cook, to play, to eat.

3. Verb + en: This is a participle form of non – finite verb. E.g. Taken, Eating, Written, cooking.


(i) He has written the letter

(ii) The patient has taken the drug.

(iii) She has eaten her food.

Non – finite verbs cannot stand on its’ own. That is why there is need for a helping verb like, an, is, are etc.

Regular and irregular verb

1. Regular verb

Regular verbs are those verbs that change their form to past tense and past participle with the addition of surfix ‘ed’ or ‘d’ .


Clean cleaned Cleaned
Say said Said
Cry Cried Cried
Shy Shied Shied
Dance Danced Danced
Laugh Laughed Laughed
Play Played Played
Work Worked Worked
Hang Hanged Hanged
Kill Killed Killed
Cook Cooked Cooked
Sow Sowed Sowed
Sew Sewed Sewed/sewn
Hew Hewed Hewed/hewn
Mow Mowed Mowed/mown
Shave Shaved Shaved/shaved
Pay Paid Paid
Try Tried Tried
Fry Fried Fried
Hear Heard Heard
Show showed Showed/shown
Strew strewed Strewed/strewn
Saw sawed Sawed/sawn

Eight verbs in the above are kind of different because they have alternative past participle forms but it does not mean that they are not regular verbs.

Irregular Verb

Irregular verb are said to be the verbs which their verb form changes when used in the past tense. this means that, irregular verb change their form when used in the past tense and past participle respectively. They change in the following ways:

1. Change in the Vowel


Verb Past Tense Past participle
Run ran run
Sit sat sit
Ring rang rung

2. Change in the consonant

Verb Past Tense Past participle
Make made Made
Build Built Built
Have Had Had

3. Changing the word altogether

Verb Past Tense Past participle
Go Went Gone
Buy Bought Bought
Seek Sought Sought

4. Verbs ending in t or d, no change at all

Verb Past Tense Past participle
Put Put Put
Cut Cut Cut
Cost Cost Cost

5. Other examples of Irregular verbs are:

Verb Past Tense Past Participle
Break Broke Broken
Freeze Froze Frozen
Bleed Bled Bled
Fed Felt Felt
Eat Ate Eaten
Dwell Dwelt Dwelt

Transitive and interactive verbs

Transitive verbs

Transitive verbs are specialized verb in the sense that they go with object. This means that, transitive verbd are the object. These verbs cannot be written without an object or subject beside it. E.g. lick, write, kill, dream, wash, etc, this is so because these verbs go with noun and as such they pass their actions to these nouns.


i. The boy want to write a letter to his mother

ii. She will dust the library tomorrow

iii. She puts some money in her bag everyday

Intransitive Verbs

These are verb that need no direct object to be able to make meaning in sentence. This means that, intransitive verb will not need noun in them for a sentence with intransitive to the meaning. Intransitive verb do not take object or noun. Examples are: rise, laugh, cry, die, travel, sleep, eat, etc. these verbs mention can stand in a sentence without object or noun and convey the message it  intended to convey.


The baby is smiling

The birds are flying

The goat is died

The president is talking

I am laughing


a. complete each of the following sentences with the proper form of the verb in brackets 

  • We have                            the work (do)
  • Peter is                     to see me (come)
  • The farmer has                   planting the yams (finish)
  • I have not                   you since last year (see)
  • She                            to see her mother (go)
  • The pastor has                              to the congregation (preach)
  • The president has                            the nation. (Address)

b.     Say the following sentence is a transitive and intransitive according to the function performed by the verb in  the sentence.

  1. Bolt runs very well
  2. Goats eat grasses
  3. Ducks drinks water
  4. John walks fast
  5. Timothy has cut down a tree
  6. The old woman is selling locust beans
  7. Paul plays football every evening
  8. Kate bought some chocolate
  9. Debby, please, cook enough food for the families
  10. He lived and died as a philanthropist

(b) Name the objects in the sentences that are transitive above.

(c)  Give three examples of the three members of finite verb i.e V + O, V + S, V+ D and use it in sentences.

(d)  With three examples use the three member of non-finite verbs in sentences + ing, To + verb, verb + en

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top