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Function of Verb

Posted on: November 15, 2011

Verbs and verb phrases perform nine main grammatical functions within sentences in the English language. Both native English-speaking and ESL students must learn the nine functions to fully and correctly use verbs and verb phrases in both spoken and written English. The first five functions of verbs and verb phrases are:

Predicate
Noun phrase modifier
Adjective phrase complement
Subject
Subject complement

Verbs are traditionally defined as “action or state of being words.” Verb phrases are defined as phrases that consist of one or more verbs and any number of objects, modifiers, and complements including noun phrases, verb phrases, adverb phrases, and prepositional phrases.

Verbs as Predicates

The first grammatical function that verbs and verb phrases can perform is the predicate of clauses. A clause is defined as consisting of a subject and a predicate. For example, the following italicized verbs and verb phrases function as predicates:

My puppy drinks milk.
I am studying linguistics.
The vase was broken by the cat.
We have eaten all the pie.
The students will finish their homework.
She will have earned her degree in May.
Those children have been being bad.

Verbs as Noun Phrase Modifiers

The second grammatical function that verbs and verb phrases can perform is the noun phrase modifier. Noun phrase modifiers are defined as words and phrases that describe a noun or noun phrase. For example, the following italicized verbs and verb phrases function as noun phrase modifiers:

The woman reading the book just yelled at me.
My dog is the puppy chewing on the rawhide.
I saw the man sleeping on the bus.
Do you have a book to read in the car?
The food to eat is on the table.
The most recent news reported by the anchor made me sad.

Verbs as Adjective Phrase Complements

The third grammatical function that verbs and verb phrases in the form of infinitives can perform is the adjective phrase complement. Adjective phrase complements are defined as phrases and clauses that complete the meaning of an adjective phrase. For example, the following italicized verbs and verb phrases function as adjective phrase complements:

You should be excited to study grammar.
My children are sad to see their grandparents leave.
Your professor is curious to know why you dropped her class.
The students are eager to learn about current events.
His coworker is frightened to ask for a promotion.
I am irrationally afraid to fly.

Verbs as Subjects

The fourth grammatical function that verbs and verb phrases can perform is the subject of clauses. Only verb phrases in the form of present participles and infinitives can function as subjects. For example, the following italicized verbs and verb phrases function as subjects:

Swimming is good exercise.
Reading books is educational.
Your eating health food impresses me.
To err is human.
To forget to wear pants is embarrassing.
To never visit the library disappoints librarians.

Traditional grammars generally use the term gerund for present participles that perform nominal functions, or the functions prototypically filled by nouns and noun phrases.
Verbs as Subject Complements

The fifth grammatical function that verbs and verb phrases can perform is the subject complement. Subject complements are defined as words and phrases that follow a copular verb and refer back to the subject. Predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives are both subject complements. Only verb phrases in the form of present participles and infinitives can function as subject complements. For example, the following italicized verbs and verb phrases function as subject complements:

My favorite pastime is reading.
His hobbies are writing and editing articles.
Her weekend chores are washing the dishes and cleaning the bathroom.
My job is to repair damaged books.

The first five functions of verbs and verb phrases in English are predicate, noun phrase modifier, adjective phrase complement, subject, and subject complement. Both English-speaking and ESL students must learn the first five functions to use verbs and verb phrases properly in both spoken and written forms of English.

Verbs can also convey a sense of time.

verb tense

Verbs convey a sense of action or they convey the state of an entity. Verbs may also convey a sense of time. They may convey a sense that an event occurred in the past or that the event is presently occurring or that the event will occur in the future. The spelling of the verb may change for some of the expressions of time or auxiliary words may be required with the verb. The organization of verbs according to sense of time is called conjugation. The word tense means time.

We shall first explore the ways to express time utilizing the verb take for the demonstration. The example sentences have been written in first person (singular). First person is something I do. Second person is something you do. Third person is something she does (or he). Below are examples of the present verb tense, the past verb tense, and the future verb tense.
I take medicine for an allergy. (present tense)

I took medicine for an allergy. (past tense)

I will take medicine for an allergy. (future tense)

Notice the spelling change for past tense and the inclusion of an auxiliary word for future tense.

An expanded set of verb tenses is presented below. Some new grammar terms are also presented. The new terms are potentially confusing. The terms will be explained. However, the way we write the sentences is more important than the verb tense terminology.
present tense

I take medicine for an allergy. (present tense)

I do take medicine for an allergy. (present emphatic tense)

I am taking medicine for an allergy. (present progressive tense)

I have taken allergy medicine. (present perfect tense)

I have been taking allergy medicine for several years. (present perfect progressive tense)

past tense

I took medicine for an allergy. (past tense)

I did take medicine for an allergy. (past emphatic)

I was taking medicine for an allergy. (past progressive)

I had taken medication for sometime before the allergy season. (past perfect)

I had been taking allergy medication, regularly, until I moved here. (past perfect progressive)

future tense

I shall take allergy medicine. (future tense)

I will take allergy medicine. (future emphatic)

I shall be taking medicine for an allergy. (future progressive)

I shall have taken three allergy pills by noon today. (future perfect)

I shall have been taking this allergy medicine for a year by the time the improved product becomes available. (future perfect progressive)

The emphatic form of the verb infers the speaker’s degree of determination. The construction of the verb changes when the emphatic form is used. However, the sense of time does not change when the emphatic verb form is used in place of the less emphatic form.

Emphatic tense is used in a popular ceremony.

Question: Do you take this (person) to be your lawful wedded (spouse)?
Answer: I do. (Emphatically, I do!)

Historically, there has been a distinction between shall and will.
I shall return.

I will return. (emphatic)

The verb applications are reversed when employed in second person.
You will return.

You shall return. (emphatic)

The conventional application of shall and will is not rigorously observed in American English at the beginning of the Twenty-first Century. There is no jail time if you substitute the word will for the word shall.

NOTE: If a person is angry it is easier to pronounce will than it is to pronounce shall. It is probable that an irritated parent would say: You will clean your room before you go to the beach!
verb tense definitions

Grammarians have noticed some subtle differences in meaning when the expanded tense expressions are used. Those differences are identifed below.
present perfect tense
have done something

Present perfect sentences convey a sense that an action started in the past and may have terminated in the past or may be continuing in the present.

Example: I have trained for this job.
present progressive tense
am doing something

Present progressive sentences convey a sense that a present action is continuing.

Example: The butterflies are arriving at the rate of a thousand an hour.
present perfect progressive tense
have been doing something

Present perfect progressive sentences convey a sense that an action started in the past and continues in the present.

Example: I have been learning English grammar since I arrived two years ago.
past perfect tense
had done something

Past perfect sentences convey a sense that an action occurred in the past and was completed before a subsequent past action occurred.

Example: Several attempts to build the Panama Canal had failed before the Americans completed the project.
past progressive tense
was/were doing something

Past progressive sentences convey a sense that a past action occurred over a span of time.

Example: The guards were sleeping while the attack occurred.
past perfect progressive tense
had been doing something

Past perfect progressive sentences convey a sense that a past action started at an indefinite past time and continued until a definite past time.

Example: The peas had been growing on their own until Mendel found them.
future perfect tense
will have done something

Future perfect sentences convey a sense that an action will be completed at or by a future time.

Example: By noon the doctor will have administered the vaccinations.
future progressive tense
will be doing something

Future progressive sentences convey a sense of future continuing action.

Example: I will be coaching the soccer team next season.
future perfect progressive tense
will have been doing something

Future perfect progressive sentences convey a sense that a continuing future action will be completed before another future event occurs.

Example: I will have been teaching three years as of June 7th.

NOTE. Do not dwell on these esoteric definitions. Concentrate on using the verbs correctly.

source : http://heather-marie-kosur.suite101.com/english-verbs-and-verb-phrases-a106135

http://www.iscribe.org/english/verb.html

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