Grammar: Verbs

Posted December 21, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Grammar Explanations, Self-Editing, Writing

Revised as of:
19 Jan 2017

Verbs are movement. Without them, we wouldn’t get anywhere, feel anything, taste anything, smell anything. There would be no desire, no hatred. Of course, all this movement could be passive, like lying in a hammock. It could also be active: scaling a cliff, running in front of a raging bull, cooking breakfast, making love, trolling for that elusive big fish!

Verbs come in so many different flavors, they could be the Baskin-Robbins of grammar. For the most part, it’s good to know what the various parts, tentacles, roots, etc., are of the various parts of grammar, if only so you will understand what an editor is saying about your manuscript.

Grammar Explanations is…

…an evolving list of the structural rules and principles that determines where words are placed in phrases or sentences as well as how the language is spoken. Sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better or another “also known as”. Heck, there’s always a better way to explain it, so if it makes quicker and/or better sense, I would appreciate suggestions and comments from anyone… Are there areas of grammar with which you struggle?

If you’d like to track it, bookmark this page. And consider sharing this Grammar Explanation with friends by tweeting it.

Verb
Credit to: Towson.edu; Purdue OWL: Sequence of Tenses; One Stop English; University of Michigan; Guide to Grammar and Writing; Grammar Girl; English Club; Wilson, 110-111; Edu Find
Definition: Words that show action or a state of being.

Base Form:
Definition: The base form of a verb, in its simplest form, uses first-, second-, or third-person singular and the plural present tenses. It has no prefix, suffix, or past tense ending. The base form can function as the infinitive (with or without the to) or the imperative or subjunctive moods. A good tip-off is that it’s the form you’ll see in a dictionary entry.

Post Contents:
Three Verb Groups:

  1. Normal Verbs
  2. Non-Continuous Verbs
  3. Mixed Verbs

Verb Forms

Inflection
Cases

Verb Properties

Verb Aspect:

Verb Types:

Verbal

Verb Phrases (VP)

Verb Agreement

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Three Verb Groups
Normal Verbs Definition: Physical actions which you can see somebody doing. These verbs can be used in all tenses.

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to drink
to run
to slide
to walk
+++++
Non-Continuous Verbs Definition: These verbs are usually things you cannot see somebody doing — they are about state, not action — and are rarely used in continuous tenses, as they cannot express the continuous or progressive aspect.

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Abstract Verbs Emotion Verbs Possession Verbs
to be
to care
to contain
to cost
to exist
to need
to owe
to seem
to want
to dislike
to envy
to fear
to hate
to like
to love
to mind
to belong
to own
to possess
Mixed Verbs Definition: Verbs with more than one meaning, with each meaning a unique verb. Some meanings behave like non-continuous verbs, while other meanings behave like normal verbs.

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to appear
to feel
to have
to hear
to look
to miss
to see
to smell
to taste
to think
to weigh
Examples:
Non-Continuous Meaning Normal Meaning
Donna appears confused.

Donna seems confused.

My favorite singer is appearing at the jazz club tonight.

My favorite singer is giving a performance at the jazz club tonight.

I have a dollar now.

I possess a dollar.

I am having fun now.

I am experiencing fun now.

She hears the music.

She hears the music with her ears.

She is hearing voices.

She hears something others cannot hear. She is hearing voices in her mind.

Nancy looks tired.

She seems tired.

Farah is looking at the pictures.

She is looking with her eyes.

John misses Sally.

He is sad because she is not there.

Debbie is missing her favorite TV program.

She is not there to see her favorite program.

I see her.

I see her with my eyes.

I am seeing the doctor.

I am visiting or consulting with a doctor.

The coffee smells good.

The coffee has a good smell.

I am smelling the flowers.

I am sniffing the flowers to see what their smell is like.

The coffee tastes good.

The coffee has a good taste.

I am tasting the cake.

I am trying the cake to see what it tastes like.

He thinks the test is easy.

He considers the test to be easy.

She is thinking about the question.

She is pondering the question, going over it in her mind.

The table weighs a lot.

The table is heavy.

She is weighing herself.

She is determining her weight.

Joe is American.

Joe is an American citizen.

Joe is being very American.

Joe is behaving like a stereotypical American.

The massage feels great.

The massage has a pleasing feeling.

I am not feeling well today.

I am a little sick.

Verb Form
Definition: A verb that has meaning on its own. It can be the only verb in a sentence or used with one more more helping verbs and are used to make verb tenses in three to eight different ways (see the table below).

Lexical, or main, verbs can be broken down into regular and irregular verbs, linking verbs, action, i.e., dynamic verbs, and stative verbs.

A.k.a., lexical verb, main verb

Base
V1
Verb 1
3rd Person Singular
Present Simple
Past Simple
V2
Verb 2
Past Participle
V3
Verb 3
Present Participle # of Forms
Regular Verb work works worked working 4
Irregular Verb cut cuts cut cut cutting 3
make makes made making 4
sing sings sang sung singing 5
have has had having 4
do does did done doing 5
eat eats ate eaten eating 6
Base Present Simple
(3 forms)
Past Simple
(2 forms)
Past Participle Present Participle # of Forms
be am
are
is
was
were
been being 8
The headword for any given verb entry in a dictionary is always in the base form (English Club).

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Verb Tenses
Definition: Describes action taking place today, in the past, or in the future. There are indicative, subjunctive, and imperative verbs.

Continuous verbs, a.k.a., progressive verbs, combine different verbs to create a conditional clause reflecting real and unreal situations as well as reflecting situations in past, present, and future.

Present
Simple Present Definition: Indicative: What’s happening at this moment whether it’s an action, an event, or condition that is occurring in the present, at the moment of speaking or writing. Use this when the precise beginning or ending of a present action, event, or condition is unknown or is unimportant to the meaning of the sentence.

Subjunctive.

A.k.a., present

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I talk
you talk
s/he/it talks
we talk
they talk
Examples
He talks about you all the time.

She runs four miles every day.

I see him now!

They go out to dinner with the Petersons every Friday.

Jenni takes the test today.

Harry works in his garage on Sunday afternoons.

Present Perfect Definition: A two-word past tense that combines a past participlehas or have—and describes an action which began in the past but which continues into the present or its effect still continues.

Can be indicative or subjunctive.

It’s aspect is present perfect.

A.k.a., conversational past, imperfect past, perfect

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I have talked
you have talked
s/he/it has talked
we have talked
they have talked
Examples
I have listened to you for the past two hours; now it’s my turn to talk.

It has rained for a week.

They have been married for fifty years.

Mark and Helen have spent every Christmas with their children.

Present Continuous / Progressive Definition: An indicative verb, it emphasizes the continuing or progressive nature of an incomplete act, event, or condition. It generally uses dynamic or normal verbs.

The progressive is also considered a verb aspect.

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  1. Express the idea that something is happening now or not happening now, at this very moment (now can mean this second, today, this month, this year, this century ++)
  2. Express the idea of doing a longer action which is in progress; however, we might not be doing it at this exact second
  3. Indicate that something will or will not happen in the near future, especially with verbs that convey the idea of a plan or movement from one place or condition to another
  4. The use of always or constantly to express the idea that something irritating or shocking often happens. The meaning is like simple present, but with negative emotion
    • Use always or constantly between be and verb+ing

Form:
am / is / are + -ing (present participle)

A.k.a., continuous tense, present progressive

I am talking
you are talking
s/he/it is talking
we are talking
they are talking
Examples:
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the present tense to be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

We are hiking Tamalpais this summer.

She is reading The Hobbit this week.

I am being so happy about my birthday today.

We are going to the movies this afternoon.

Jamie is acting up again these days.

Now of Happening / Not Happening
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the present tense to be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

You are learning English now.

You are not swimming now.

Are you sleeping?

I am not standing.

Is he sitting or standing?

They are reading their books.

They are not watching television.

Why aren’t you doing your homework?

Now of Longer Actions in Progress
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the present tense to be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

I am not studying to become a dentist.

I am reading the book Tom Sawyer.

I am not reading any books right now.

Are you working on any special projects at work?

Aren’t you teaching at the university now?

Near Future
I am meeting some friends after work.

I am not going to the party tonight.

Is he visiting his parents next weekend?

Isn’t he coming with us tonight?

Repetition and Irritation with Always
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the present tense to be
  2. Blue indicates the present participle
  3. Pale green indicates the always, because, or constantly

She is always coming to class late.

He is constantly talking. I wish he would shut up.

I don’t like them because they are always complaining.

Present Perfect Continuous / Progressive Definition: An indicative verb that generally uses dynamic verbs.

  1. Describes an action, event, or condition that has begun in the past and continues or progresses into the present AND it stresses the on-going nature of that incomplete action, condition, or event
  2. Frequently used to describe an event of the recent past and is often accompanied by just
  3. Lately or recently are used without a duration to emphasize a more general meaning

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Form:
have/has + been + -ing (present participle)

The perfect progressive is also considered a verb aspect.

A.k.a., present perfect continuous

I have been talking
you have been talking
s/he/it has been talking
we have been talking
they have been talking
Examples:
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the present perfect verb
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

I have been working in the garden all morning.

George has been painting that house for as long as I can remember.

I have just been finishing up.
You have been waiting here for two hours.

Have you been waiting here for two hours?

You have not been waiting here for two hours.

Duration from the Past Until Now
They have been talking for the last hour.

She has been working at that company for three years.

What have you been doing for the last 30 minutes?

James has been teaching at the university since June.

We have been waiting here for over two hours!

Why has Nancy not been taking her medicine for the last three days?

Recently, Lately
Recently, I have been feeling really tired.

She has been watching too much television lately.

Have you been exercising lately?

Mary has been feeling a little depressed.

Lisa has not been practicing her English.

What have you been doing?

Literary Present Definition: Uses the present tense when:
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Exceptions include:

  • Using a direct quote
  • Writing about actual events that happened in the past
“In her essay, ‘In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens’, Alice Walker discusses the history of African American women and describes how ‘they dreamed dreams no one knew — not even themselves, in any coherent fashion — and saw visions no one could understand’ as a result of the silence inflicted upon them by lack of education and prejudice (232)” (Harvard).
Past
Simple Past Definition: Describes an action, an event, or condition that happened in the past, some time before the moment of speaking or writing.

Can be indicative or imperfect subjunctive.

A.k.a., past, narrative past, sometimes confused with the preterit

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I talked
you talked
s/he/it talked
we talked
they talked
Examples:
Jan ran over to the goalposts.

Teddy rode his horse to the finish.

They drove to Washington state from Wisconsin in a day-and-a-half.

We watched the movie for ten minutes before we left in disgust.

Preterite Definition: Very similar to simple past, it describes someone is reporting or referring to a single completed action in the past.

It contrasts with imperfect, which refers to a continuing or repeated event or state.

A.k.a., preterit

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the preterit

I met Jane last week.

He refused to meet with me.

She told him that Mary had blue eyes and long blonde hair.

I succeeded in finishing my book!

Imperfect,

(IPFV, IMPV)

Definition: Describes a reference to a past time (past tense) + a reference to a continuing or repeated event or state (imperfective aspect) with an emphasis on aspect as opposed to tense (Chalker, 199).

YearlyGlot.com had the best definition: Imperfect refers back (the past part) to a time when you were doing something, that it was ongoing, incomplete, at that time (the imperfect part).

It contrasts with preterit, which refers to a single completed event in the past.

Because imperfect is a combination of past tense with a specific progressive aspect, it refers more commonly to past progressive (was doing or were doing).

A.k.a., past imperfective, imperfective

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I was talking
you were talking
s/he/it was talking
we were talking
they were talking
Examples:
Mary was driving when she hit the raccoon.

We were visiting family this past Christmas.

That pig was eating all the chocolate when we got in.

Historic Past Definition: When the present tense is used instead of the past in vivid narrative to give a sense of immediacy.

Two conventions exist:

a.k.a., dramatic present, narrative present, historic present, historical present

Credit to: Michael Hait’s post, “Historical writing and when to use present tense; Oxford Dictionaries

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People & Events From the Past
Rule: Use past tense because it happened in the past
On May 10, 1889, the boat log lists a Françoise Melieu entering Canada from Cannes.
Documents & Records From the Past
Rule: Use present tense because you may be reading documents or records which were written days, years, centuries ago, but you are reading them today.
The death certificate we found states that John James died in 1933.

The federal census from 1870 indicates there were two adults and five children living in the household.

Exceptions to documents or records in present tense include jokes, titles, informal speech:
So I says to the guy…

So a priest, a rabbi, and an imam walk into a bar…

The Empire Strikes Back

Past Continuous / Progressive Definition: An indicative verb, it describes actions ongoing in the past, which often take place within a specific time frame and no immediate or obvious connection to the present using dynamic verbs. The actions took place well before the time of speaking while something else was happening.
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  1. Indicates that a longer action in the past was interrupted, whether it was a real interruption or an interruption in time
  2. Uses a specific time as an interruption
  3. Expresses the idea of parallel actions that are both happening at the same time in the same sentence
  4. Uses a series of parallel actions to describe the atmosphere at a particular time in the past
  5. Uses always or constantly to express the idea that something irritating or shocking often happened in the past or to poke fun at or criticize an action that is sporadic but habitual in nature. The meaning is similar to the expression used to but with negative emotion
    • Place always or constantly between be and verb + ing

The progressive is also considered a verb aspect.

Form:
was / were + -ing (present participle)

A.k.a., past continuous

I was talking
you were talking
s/he/it was talking
we were talking
they were talking
Examples:
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the past tense of to be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

I was being held prisoner while injured.

We were going to the movies at eight yesterday.

She was writing a letter for two hours.

You were saying something about a package coming yesterday?

Matilda was always climbing trees when we were little.

Interrupted Action in the Past
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the past tense of to be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

I was watching TV when she called.

When the phone rang, she was writing a letter.

While we were having the picnic, it started to rain.

Whatwere you doing when the earthquake started?

I was listening to my iPod, so I didn’t hear the fire alarm.

You were not listening to me when I told you to turn the oven off.

While John was sleeping last night, someone stole his car.

Sammy was waiting for us when we got off the plane.

While I was writing the email, the computer suddenly went off.

What were you doing when you broke your leg?

I was snowboarding.

Specific Time as an Interruption
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the past tense of to be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

Last night at 6 pm, I was eating dinner.

At midnight, we were still driving through the desert.

Yesterday at this time, I was sitting at my desk at work.

Parallel Actions
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the past tense of to be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

I was studying while he was making dinner.

While Ellen was reading, Tim was watching television.

Were you listening while he was talking?

I wasn’t paying attention while I was writing the letter, so I made several mistakes.

What were you doing while you were waiting?

Thomas wasn’t working, and I wasn’t working either.

They were eating dinner, discussing their plans, and having a good time.

Atmosphere
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the past tense of to be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

When I walked into the office, several people were busily typing, some were talking on the phones, the boss was yelling directions, and customers were waiting to be helped. One customer was yelling at a secretary and waving his hands. Others were complaining to each other about the bad service.

Repetition and Irritation with Always
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the past tense of to be
  2. Blue indicates the present participle
  3. Pale Green indicates the always, because, or constantly

She was always coming to class late.

He was constantly talking. He annoyed everyone.

I didn’t like them because they were always complaining.

Past Perfect Definition: Describes something started in the past and continued up until another time or action in the past. It does not matter which event is mentioned first — the tense makes it clear which one happened first.

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Durations such as for five minutes and for two weeks can be used and stops before something else in the past.

Used in sentences expressing condition and can be indicative or subjunctive.

Form: had + past participle of the main verb

Think of the perfect as completed, finished, perfected.

A.k.a., pluperfect, perfective

I had talked
you had talked
s/he/it had talked
we had talked
they had talked
Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the past perfect
  2. Blue indicates the conditional

She had given up on George calling.

She hadn’t asked if he would marry her.

I had never seen such a beautiful beach before I went to Kauai.

I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet.

We were not able to get a hotel room because we had not booked in advance.

John had gone out when I arrived in the office.

I had saved my document before the computer crashed.

When they arrived, we had already started cooking.

Past Perfect + Just Rule: Just is used with the past perfect to refer to an event that was only a short time earlier than before now.

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Examples:
The train had just left when I arrived at the station.

She had just left the room when the police arrived.

I had just put the washing out when it started to rain.

Past Perfect Continuous / Progressive Definition: Shows a continuous action that started and stopped in the past:

  1. Something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past
    • Typical durations use for five minutes and for two weeks
  2. Says what had been happening before something else happened, showing cause-and-effect
  3. Reporting things said in the past

The perfect progressive is also considered a verb aspect.

Form:
had + been + -ing (present participle)

A.k.a., past perfect progressive

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I had been talking
you had been talking
s/he/it had been talking
we had been talking
they had been talking
Situation in Progress
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the past tense modal + been verbs
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

I hadn’t been feeling well, so I sent him away.

Simon had not been expecting a positive answer when he got a job.

The hikers hadn’t been walking long before they got lost.

I had been working in the garden all morning.

George had been painting his house for weeks, but he finally gave up.

You had not been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived.

Duration Stops in the Past
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the past tense modal + been verbs
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

They had been talking for over an hour before Tony arrived.

She had been working at that company for three years when it went out of business.

Mike wanted to sit down because he had been standing all day at work.

James had been teaching at the university for more than a year before he left for Asia.

How long had you been studying Turkish before you moved to Ankara?

I had not been studying Turkish very long.

Cause and Effect
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the past tense modal + been verbs
  3. Blue indicates the present participle
  4. Pale Green indicates the because

It had been snowing for a while before we left.

We had been playing tennis for only a few minutes when it started raining.

Jason was tired because he had been jogging.

Sam gained weight because he had been overeating.

Betty failed the final test because she had not been attending class.

Reporting Things Said in the Past
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the past tense modal + been verbs
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

She said she had been trying to call me all day.

They said they had been shopping.

I told you I had been looking for some new clothes.

Future
CAUTION: Future tenses cannot be used in clauses beginning with time expressions such as:

after
as soon as
before
by the time
if
unless
when
while
Simple Future Definition: Describes what will happen; actions that will take place after the act of speaking or writing.
Return to top I will talk
you will talk
s/he/it will talk
we will talk
they will talk
Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates will + verb

Jake will run in the next race.

She will take the test in a couple of hours.

Will you wake me up when the baby cries?

Suggest a Voluntary Action
  • Something one offers to do for someone else
  • Respond to someone else’s complaint or request for help
  • When requesting someone to help or volunteer to do something

English Page.

I will send you the check when the work is done.

Karen will translate the text from the German to prepare it for an English publication.

Mom, Jamie won’t help me put the leaves in the dining table.

Your father will not take sides on this issue.

Will you bake the cupcakes for Cheyenne’s party tomorrow?

Express a Promise.
I will invite you when I know the date.

I will make sure you get that promotion.

Yes, yes, yes, I promise I won’t tell him anything.

Promise me you‘ll be careful.

I will tell everyone what you did.

Future Continuous / Progressive Definition: An indicative verb generally using dynamic verbs, it describes continuing and incomplete actions that will be happening or going on at some point in the future in the future.

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  1. This can be a real interruption
  2. Specific time interrupts the action
  3. Expresses the idea of parallel actions will be happening at the same time in the same sentence
  4. Expresses a series of parallel actions to describe the atmosphere at a specific point in the future

The progressive is also considered a verb aspect.

Two Forms:

  1. will be + (present participle)
  2. to be (am/is/are) + going to be + (present participle)

These forms are usually interchangeable.

CAUTION: Use present continuous instead of future continuous when a time clause is used in the sentence.

A.k.a., future progressive

I will be talking
you will be talking
s/he/it will be talking
we will be talking
they will be talking
Examples:
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the future
  2. Green indicates the modal verb + be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

John will be taking part in the Ironman Triathalon next year.

The decision for artist-of-the-year suggests that Karen will be winning the award by September 15.

Interrupted Action in the Future
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the interrupted action
  2. Green indicates the modal verb + be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

Note that arrives is simple present and not simple future.
Will you be waiting for her when her plane arrives tonight?

You will not be waiting for her when her plane arrives tonight.

Specific Time as an Interruption in the Future
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the specific time
  2. Green indicates the modal verb + be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

Tonight at 6 pm, I am going to be eating dinner.

I will be in the process of eating dinner.


At midnight tonight, we will still be driving through the desert.

We will be in the process of driving through the desert.

Parallel Actions in the Future
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the future time
  2. Green indicates the modal verb + be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle
  4. Purple indicates the time clause

I am going to be studying, and he is going to be making dinner tonight.

Tonight, they will be eating dinner, discussing their plans, and having a good time.

While Ellen is reading, Tim will be watching television.

Atmosphere in the Future
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the future time
  2. Green indicates the modal verb + be
  3. Blue indicates the present participle
  4. Purple indicates the time clause
  5. Pale green indicates the always

When I arrive at the party, everybody is going to be celebrating. Some will be dancing. Others are going to be talking. A few people will be eating pizza, and several people are going to be drinking beer. They always do the same thing.

While I am finishing my homework, she is going to make dinner.

Future Perfect Definition: Describes action that will have been completed at a specified time in the future. May also refer to an action that will be completed sometime in the future before another action takes place.

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I will have talked
you will have talked
s/he/it will have talked
we will have talked
they will have talked
Examples
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the completion time in the future
  2. Green indicates the will have
  3. Blue indicates the past participle
  4. xx

I will have talked to my source by then.

Will she have finished painting the room by then?

Henry will have proposed to Mary by tomorrow afternoon.

Won’t Mac have closed the case this afternoon?

Future Perfect Continuous / Progressive Definition: An indicative verb, it describes a continuing or progressing action that will be completed at some specified time in the future — a duration that stops — at or before a reference point in the future.

It generally uses dynamic verbs, although this tense is rarely used.

It must include for xx amount of time, as in for ten minutes, for eight days, for two centuries, since last Friday, etc.

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CAUTION: It cannot be used in clauses beginning with time expressions. Use present perfect continuous.

The perfect progressive is also considered a verb aspect.

Form (usually interchangeable):

  1. Something that will continue up until a particular event or time in the future
  2. Shows cause and effect before another action in the future

A.k.a., future perfect progressive

I will have been
you will have been
s/he/it will have been
we will have been
they will have been
I am going to have been
you are going to have been
s/he/it is going to have been
we are going to have been
they are going to have been
Two Different Forms
Until a Particular Event or Time Shows Cause & Effect Before Another Action
I will have been talking since noon.

You will have been taking out the garbage for the past two years.

He will have been sorting out the recyclables for almost an hour.

We will have been flying a kite in competitions for three years.

They will have been traveling for days.

Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the will have been
  3. Blue indicates the present participle
I am going to have been reading since this morning.

You are going to have been flying for two hours.

She is going to have been driving for six hours.

We are going to have been scuba diving for the past five years.

They are going to have been working in the yard since 2 p.m..

Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the am/is/are + going to have been + present participle
  3. Blue indicates the present participle
Duration Before Something in the Future
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the will have been OR the to be + going to have been
  3. Blue indicates the present participle

The movie will have been playing for over an hour by the time Karen arrives.

She is going to have been working at that company for three years when it finally closes.

James will have been lecturing at the university for over a year by the time he leaves for Italy.

How long will you have been writing your novel before you finish it?

Cause-and-Effect in the Future
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the duration
  2. Green indicates the will have been OR the to be + going to have been
  3. Blue indicates the present participle
  4. Pale green indicates the because

Janet will be exhilarated when she finishes her painting because she will have been working on it for over three weeks.

Jason’s pottery skills will be improved when he returns because he is going to have been attending that seminar for six months.

Jason will be tired when he gets home because he will have been jogging for over an hour.

Claudia’s English will be perfect when she returns to Germany because she is going to have been studying English in the United States for over two years.

Inflection Definition: Modifies a word (not just a verb!) “to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, and case” (Princeton University).

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When inflecting verbs, it is called conjugation.

When inflecting nouns, adjectives, and pronouns, it is called declension.

A.k.a., inflexion

Examples:
Verbs Nouns
sing
sang
sung
sings
singing
Singular:
singer
song
songstress
Plural:
singers
songs
songstresses
Exceptions
Definition: Some words are invariant or uninflected and are not affected by case, never taking a suffix or changing form.
Examples of Exceptions:
must
Basic Examples of Nouns & Verbs Affecting Case:
Rule: Concord or agreement is all about a singular noun being paired with a singular verb OR a plural noun paired with a plural verb.
the choir sings
Verb Case
Definition: Case is normally all about nouns, BUT verbs assign case while nouns get case and is determined by what the word does in the sentence. Each plays off the other.

There are four types of case:

Dative Case Definition: When the noun or pronoun is the indirect object of a verb.

The indirect object receives the direct object. Find the direct object by finding the verb and asking what? or whom?

Know that some pronouns will change (Grammar Monster).

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the what? you should ask (direct object)
  2. Orange indicates the verb
  3. Blue indicates the recipient of the direct object (dative case)

She gave the postman a letter.

Barney will send him the presentation tomorrow.

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers. – Pablo Picasso

Thank you for sending me a copy of your book. – Moses Hadas

Object of Prepositions Definition: In the dative case, prepositions take the objective case.

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Examples:
Yes No
with me
with her
with him
with them
with I
with she
with he
with they
by us
by whom
by whomever
by we
by who
by whoever
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the preposition
  2. Blue indicates the pronoun in the objective case

So, tell me about me, handsome.

Pshaw, you can’t get that by us.

How is that concerning you?

Peabody, you’re with him.

Are you excepting her?

Who else is coming besides them?

By whomever…” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand.

And by whom is that said?

Genitive Case Definition: When a noun, pronoun, or adjective shows possession, it is in the genitive case.

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Nouns use either ‘s or of in front of a noun.

Personal pronouns may also be in the genitive case.

A.k.a., possessive case, second case

Credit to: Grammar Monster

Examples:
Mary’s brush
book’s pages
cat’s meow
edge of the table
our house
use yours
my life
his bike
your obstinacy
her hairspray
its place
is hers
their dreams
whose kids

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the possessive noun
  2. Orange indicates the adjective
  3. Blue indicates the possessive pronoun
Nominative Case Definition: A noun or pronoun that is the subject of a sentence or when it completes a being (Grammar Monster; Daily Writing Tips).

A.k.a., subject case, subjective case

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the subject of the verb
  2. Blue indicates the verb

He sang his poem.

Who rang the bell?

Maria will open the school.

Objective Case Definition: A noun or pronoun that receives the action of a transitive verb or serves as the object of a preposition and functions as an object (Grammar Monster):

Who and whom are also in the objective case.

A.k.a., accusative case

Direct Object of a Verb Definition: A noun that receives the action and usually follows the verb

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the verb
  2. Blue indicates the direct object

Please pass the butter.

Indirect Object of a Verb Rule: A noun to which the verb happens.

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the verb
  2. Blue indicates the indirect object

Please pass the butter to Simon.

Please pass Simon the butter.

Object of a Preposition Rule: Noun which follows a preposition, e.g., in, on, at, near, or by.

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the preposition
  2. Blue indicates the noun

She lives near Brighton.

Are you going by the market anytime soon?

She’s on the television.

I told you it was in your inbox.

Object Complement Rule: Noun, pronoun, or adjective which follows a direct object and renames it or tells what the direct object has become. It is most often used with verbs of creating or nominating such as make, name, elect, paint, call, etc.

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Object Complement No object complement
Williams is the mayor

painting a door red

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the object complement

Mayor Williams

painting a red door

Subject of an Infinitive
(to + verb)
Definition: When a pronoun stands in front of an infinitive.

A personal pronoun is in the objective case when it is a subject of the infinitive.

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the infinitive
  2. Orange indicates the personal pronoun
  3. Blue indicates the subject of the infinitive

We wanted Bill to go to the airport.

Simon helped me to record the data.

No one saw the prisoner escape.

Simon helped me record the data.

10 Verb Types:
Action, a.k.a., Dynamic Definition: Shows physical or mental action and are either transitive or intransitive. They can also be used in a continuous tense.

Dynamic verbs are the opposite of stative verbs.

Three major types of dynamic verbs, and they all denote events:

  1. Accomplishment verbs
  2. Achievement verbs
  3. Activity verbs

CAUTION: Ambitransitive verbs have both a transitive and an intransitive function while ditransitive verbs are found in sentences which have both a direct object and an indirect object in it.

A.k.a., dynamic, fientive, event

Accomplishment Dynamic Verb Definition: Expresses action that has a logical endpoint; events take place over a period of time and then end (Jim Miller, An Introduction to English Syntax. Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2002).

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Examples:
Van Gogh painted a picture.

We built a hay bale house.

Achievement Dynamic Verb Definition: Expresses action that occurs instantaneously (Jim Miller, An Introduction to English Syntax. Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2002).

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Examples:
I recognize George from last night at the dance.

Hannah found her ring.

Activity Dynamic Verb Definition: Expresses action that can go on for an indefinite period of time with no built-in boundary. There is no terminal point — a point before which the activity cannot be said to have taken place, and after which the activity cannot continue (Jim Miller, An Introduction to English Syntax. Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2002)

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Examples:
Hank cut down the tree.

Mary baked two dozen types of cookies and three pies yesterday afternoon.

They painted the living room a gorgeous sea green.

We swam all afternoon.

Intransitive and Transitive Verbs Transitive Action
(followed by a Direct Object)
Intransitive
(watch for the prepositional phrase)
Return to top Definition: Expresses an action that someone or something does to something or someone. Definition: Expresses an action that happens by itself.
Rule: Always followed by a noun, infinitive (to + verb), or pronoun functioning as a Direct Object

Because it is used with an object, a passive form can be used.

Rule: Never followed by a Direct Object, but, may be followed by Adjectives, Adverbs, or Prepositional Phrases.

Because it does not take an object, no passive form can be used.

Examples:
He swallowed hard candy.
She sells seashells.
Helene paints the canvas.
Helene envisions the final painting.
Helene is wearing her painting clothes.
He swallowed hard.
He sat there quietly.
Helene paints.
Helene paints beautifully.
Helene paints for an hour.
Ambitransitive Verb Definition: Can be both transitive and intransitive without changing the verb.

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Transitive
(with direct object)
Intransitive
(with indirect object)
I read my newspaper. I always read in bed.
Ditransitive Verb Definition: Takes both a direct object and an indirect object.

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Rule: If the direct object ± a personal pronoun, then it doesn’t matter if the direct or indirect object is first.

Rule: If the direct object is first, the indirect object is preceded by a preposition.

Rule: In the passive voice, either of the two objects can be the subject of the sentence, AND if the direct object is the subject of the passive sentence, the indirect object is preceded by a preposition.

List of Ditransitive Verbs
allow
ask
award
bake
bring
build
buy
charge
cook
forgive
give
grant
hand
leave
make
offer
order
owe
pass
pay
promise
read
save
sell
send
show
teach
tell
throw
write
Examples:
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the direct object
  2. Green indicates the ditransitive verb
  3. Orange indicates the indirect object
  4. Blue indicates the preposition
  5. Pale green indicates the subject of the passive sentence

He gave her the letter.

The company paid the customer $500 as compensation.

The company paid $500 to the customer as compensation.

The compensation was $500, and the company paid it to the customer without delay.

The customer was paid $500 as compensation.

Five hundred dollars was paid to the customer as compensation.

(Sentence deconstruction courtesy of Grammaring)

Ergative Definition: Can be both transitive and intransitive depending upon whether the noun becomes the object (makes the verb transitive) or if the noun is the subject (makes the verb intransitive) (Chicago Manual of Style, p 5.99).

A.k.a., unaccusative verb

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Examples:
Intransitive Transitive
The door opened. I opened the door.
The drapes were drawn. I drew the drapes.
The books shipped on August 15. The company shipped the books on August 15.
Intransitive Verb Definition: A verb that does not take a direct object.
Intransitive Verb Phrase: Rule: The phrasal verb cannot take a direct object.

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Verb + Particle It Means Example
Catch on To understand After I explained the math problem, she began to catch on.

She began to catch on the math problem

She began to catch on to the math problem.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the preposition required to separate the phrasal verb from the direct object
Transitive Verb Definition: A verb that takes one or more direct objects.

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Examples:
I threw.
I drank.
I fell.
He ate a hamburger.
I slept.
I drove.
I understand.
I read a book.
I see dead people.
I dreamt.
I opened the door.
Factitive Verb Definition: A type of transitive verb that can take two objects.

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Partial List of Factitive Verbs
choose
elect
judge
name
make select
Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the direct object
  2. Blue indicates the second object

They judged Henry’s dog Best of Show.

The men elected Frickfrack the new shop foreman.

U.S. News and World Report named our college the best in the northeast.

Auxiliary Verb
Definition: “A verb used to add functional or grammatical meaning to the clause in which it appears—for example, to express tense, aspect, modality, voice, emphasis, etc. Auxiliary verbs usually “help” a main verb, the main verb providing the main semantic content of the clause in which it appears (Wikipedia: Auxiliary verb).

Form: helping verb + main verb

Auxiliary verbs are further separated into primary and modal.

A.k.a., Helping verbs, helper verbs, or (verbal) auxiliaries

Principal Auxiliary Verb Definition: Marked for tense, person, or number (CMOS 5.123). They add information on tense and aspect.

Rule: principal auxiliary verbs can function as main verbs or combine with secondary verb forms and modal auxiliary verbs to form an inflected auxiliary verb phrase.

Return to top List of Principal Auxiliary Verbs
be do have
am don’t haven’t
are / aren’t does / doesn’t has / hasn’t
is / isn’t did / didn’t had / hadn’t
was / wasn’t doing having
were / weren’t done
being
been
Inflected Auxiliary Verb Phrase
Definition: A combination of a principal auxiliary verb + a secondary verb OR a modal verb.
Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the secondary verb
  2. Blue indicates the principal auxiliary verb
  3. Orange indicates the modal verb

I am walking.

Take an umbrella because it might be raining.

Could it have been stopped?

It has to work.

It does take time.

Modal Definition: An auxiliary verb that tells you more about the mood or attitude of the action verb. Modal verbs create different impressions depending on the verb used. Just consider the different interpretation you would have when you heard I may go, I should go, or I would go.

Form: [modal verb] + [bare to infinitive]

Return to top Each modal verb can express two kinds of meaning:

  1. Extrinsic meaning – People express their ideas or thoughts about what is or isn’t going to happen and describes prediction or possibility
  2. Intrinsic meaning – Gives the idea that people have some control over the actions or events and describes a necessity, permission, or willingness

It is continuing to evolve over time and differently in different places, as is typical of the English language.

Don’t forget that the modal verbs all started life as fully paid up lexical verbs, e.g., will meant the same as want (and still does, in some restricted senses, if you will).

Rule: A modal verb cannot act as a main verb and does not use an inflectional ending (-s, -ed, -ing, or -en; it’s always a helping verb.

When a modal verb is used with a principal auxiliary verb, the modal verb is always in front of the primary.

List of Common Modal Verbs
can / can’t
could / couldn’t
may / mayn’t
might / mightn’t
must / mustn’t
need to
ought to
shall / shan’t
should / shouldn’t
used to
will / won’t
would / wouldn’t
Can, may, must, shall, and will have only finite forms, no infinitives or participles (English Club).

There is a great deal of detailed information on modal auxiliary verbs at Guide to Grammar and Writing.

Modal Auxiliary Verb Phrase
Rule: The modal verb always precedes the main verb.
Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the modal verb
  2. Blue indicates the bare infinitive

Camilla may become queen.

Can mean Camilla is likely to become queen AND Camilla is allowed to become queen.

Only the context will make it clear which meaning is intended.

Extrinsic
(prediction or possibility)
Description Examples
certain or real possibility John’s not here yet. He must be stuck in traffic.
possibly true I think I might be coming down with the flu.
possibly true That may be a better solution.
Intrinsic
(necessity, permission, or willingness)
Description Examples
necessity The authorities must do something about the traffic congestion
permission Might I ask whether it would be a problem to resume the discussion at a later date?
permission Can I help you?
Linking Definition: An auxiliary verb that describes conditions and completes, equals, identifies, links a subject with its complement.

It is the opposite of an action verb which shows actions that can be accomplished.

A.k.a., copula, copular

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appear
become
feel
grow
look
remain
seem
smell
sound
taste
Basic Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the linking verb
  2. Blue indicates the action verb

The linguine tastes delicious.

Paul became a physician.

That dress becomes you.

Herbert smelled the cake.

The cake smelled good.

Catenative Definition: Verb that “chains” together other verbs in a sentence, which can result in a series of actions. When more than one verb is used, the first verb is a finite verb and the rest of the verbs are nonfinite, forming nonfinite clauses, and using infinitive, present participle, or gerund forms as its complement.

Rule: Begins with the primary verb and requires a chain verb to hook up the final action with that primary verb.

A.k.a., chain verb, catenative auxiliary, catena

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Blue indicates the primary verb
  2. Green indicates the catenative verbs
  3. Orange indicates the direct object
  4. White-on-Green indicates the verb phrase complement

I decided to try again.

That house needs fixing.

I wanted to go shopping.

I helped to pack her bags.

Women are not allowed to wear shorts here.

You are requested to attend Her Majesty’s celebration.

You shouldn’t be reading in the dark.

Would you mind stopping the car, please?

As a chain Rule: Links a series to to + verbs.
Return to top Examples:
Legend:

  1. Blue indicates the main verb
  2. Green indicates the chain verb

I thought we were going to try to plan to stop for world domination?

We promised to agree to try to make things work this time.

Being Definition: Shows a state of existence, shows thought or opinion, possession, senses, and/or emotions.

A stative verb cannot be used in a continuous tense as they cannot express a continuous (progressive) aspect as they don’t describe an action or activity by you.

The opposite of dynamic verbs.

A.k.a., stative

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Stative/
Being Verb
Words Examples
Being are
be
has
have
had been
is
was
were
will be
Helene is obsessed.

Helene will always be an artist.

Helene has been here for a month.

Helene was away last week.

Communication agree
deny
disagree
mean
promise
satisfy
surprise
I promise I’ll make it up to you.

Don’t you dare disagree with me!

Are you surprised?

Possession belong
concern
cost
depend
get
have
involve
matter
need
owe
own
possess
reach
Does it belong to you?
Senses or Emotions appear
feel
hate
hear
impress
like
love
need
prefer
see
seem
smell
sound
taste
want
wish
He feels the rhythms.

Can you taste the oak?

Thought or Opinion believe
imagine
know
mean
realize
recognize
remember
think
understand
Helene believes in her art.
Causative Definition: A subject indirectly causes things to happen using verbs such as make, get, and have.

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the subject
  2. Blue indicates the causative verb

She made me go to the prom.

I had my car detailed.

Compound A multi-word compound that functions as a single verb — and therefore needs no comma to separate them!

One component of the compound is a light verb or vector, which carries any inflections, indicating tense, mood, or aspect, but provides only fine shades of meaning.

a.k.a., complex predicate

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Legend:

  1. Green indicates the compound verb phrase

Jill was accepted to Harvard but went to Yale instead.

Before mixing the ingredients for his world-famous cookies, Bobby swatted a fly buzzing around the kitchen and crushed a cockroach scurrying across the floor.

Before mixing the ingredients for his world-famous cookies, Bobby swatted a fly buzzing around the kitchen, crushed a cockroach scurrying across the floor, shooed the cat off the counter, picked his nose, scratched his armpit, licked his fingers, and sneezed.

Finite Definition: Makes an assertion or expresses a state of being and can stand by itself as the main (and only finite) verb of a complete sentence (Guide to Grammar and Writing; About.com). Any verbs following that finite verb in an independent clause are nonfinite verbs.

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Finite verbs may also be:

  • Active or passive
  • Singular or plural

General Rule: It is the main verb of an independent clause, which changes depending upon the subject or noun of the sentence.

Examples:
She walks to school.
He drives to school.
She spins the yarn.
She walked to school.
He drove to school.
She spun the yarn.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the finite verb
Nonfinite Definition: verb which is unfinished — usually descriptive — and cannot be the primary verb by itself. Nor does it provide even a hint at the person, number, or tense.

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Sometimes referred to as verbals.

Used alone as the main verb in a dependent clause, it becomes a nonfinite clause simply because the verb used is nonfinite, and it may function as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

General Rule: A verb which is never used alone in an independent clause and doesn’t act like a verb. Nor does it have mood, tense, number, aspect, or person.

One or more nonfinite verbs may be associated with a finite verb in a finite clause as one of the elements of a verb catena.

Nonfinite Verb Types
Gerunds Infinitives Participles
verb turned noun,
-ing
base verb,
to __
verb turned adjective,
-ing or -ed)
I hate hiking.

While walking to school, she spotted a bluejay.

I started screaming at my parents for trying to send me to camp.

Arriving late, I saw the other kids, and they seemed to be excited.
(Grammarist)

I want to fly there. We ate our roasted chicken.

We watched our roasting chicken.

The sagging oak…

The panting girl…

Legend with nonfinite verbs highlighted:

  1. Gray indicates the dependent clause
  2. Green indicates the gerund
  3. Blue indicates the infinitive
  4. Orange indicates the participle
A comparison of finite versus nonfinite:
Finite Nonfinite
The dog sleeps.
The dog slept.
The sleeping dog

The sleeping dogs

The sleeping people

The sleeping tree

A complete sentence in present and past tense, even if it is short. Incomplete as we have no idea why we’re being told about a dog that is sleeping nor does the verb change simply because the subject changes
When a complete clause has more than one verb, only the first one is finite. The rest are nonfinite. (English Club).
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the finite verb
  2. Blue indicates the nonfinite verb

The dog sleeps, eats, and howls.

I am going out to get groceries.

Coming around the corner, she saw a man breaking in to her house.

Iterative Definition: Indicates an action that repeats, is repeated, i.e., repetitive action, or habitual. Think of verbs ending in -er and -le that suggest repeated or habitual action.

A.k.a., frequentative, habitual, iterative activity, iterative aspect

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List of [Some] Iterative Verbs
babble
banging
battering
beeping
blabber
blinking
bobble
cackle
chatter
chuckle
clamber
clutter
crackle
crumble
curdle
dabble
dazzle
dribble
drizzle
fizzle
flashing
flitter
flutter
fondle
gamble
glimmer
gobble
gruntle
haggle
jiggle
joggle
jostle
muddle
nestle
nodding
nuzzle
paddle
patter
prattle
prickle
pucker
putter
rattle
scuffle
scuttle
sizzle
skipping
slither
sniffle
snuggle
sparkle
spatter
speckle
straddle
stutter
stammer
suckle
swaddle
swagger
tickle
tootle
topple
trample
twinkle
waddle
waggle
wrestle
Examples:
She chattered incessantly.

It sounded like a well-rehearsed patter.

The old witch cackled and clattered.

If that kid rattles his crib one more time…

The brook babbled and swirled merrily on its way.

Listening to him stutter and stammer his way through that speech is maddening.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the iterative verb
5 Verb Properties
The five properties are:

Verb Moods
Indicative Definition: States facts or asks questions: what is happening (present); what happened (past); and, what will happen (future).

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Examples:
He comes.
I ran.
We will look.
Imperative Definition: Issues a command or makes a firm request. Always drops the subject. Expresses a command

It can end in a full stop or an exclamation mark, depending on the forcefulness of the command (Grammar-Monster.com).

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Examples:
(you) Talk.
(we) Let’s talk.
Rule: Using a period at the end of the sentence keeps it polite or in the form of advice.
Hang up the phone.
Put it down.
Get out.
Smell this rose.
Move those boxes.
Hang a left at the big oak.
Rule: Using an exclamation mark makes this a forceful or excited command.
I hate you!
Stop!
Get out!
Turn left!
Clean your room now, young man!
Subjunctive Definition: States possibilities; usually found in a clause that starts with if or a clause following a verb that expresses doubt, a wish, regret, a request, a demand, or a proposal; or, what someone else said, thought, or believed.

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It uses the same tense as the indicative for present and past, while the third person singular (it can be a single noun or a third person singular pronoun) drops the -s or -es to use any tense BUT the third person singular. It is also completely different for to be (Burckmyer, 14-15)).

This is also a verb type.

It has been referred to as the “subjective”. Doesn’t exist. The proper term is subjunctive.

How To Be, Was, and Were Fit in the Subjunctive
Be Was Were
(Hypothetical Subjunctive) (Fact Only) (Hypothetical Subjunctive)
Present tense Past tense of to be for first & third person singular Past tense of to be for second person singular and plural AND first and third person plural
I ask that you be in Hawaii next week for the conference. Last week, I was in Hawaii. Helen and George wish they were in Hawaii. Heck, I wish I were in Hawaii.
So be a movie star if you want! When I was younger, I wanted to be a movie star. If she were younger, she would want to be a movie star.
Gregory’s preference is that your mother be his English teacher. Your mother was my English teacher in high school If I were still in high school, I’d want your mother to be my English teacher.
Examples of How It’s Wrong
YES NO
If I were you, I’d run. If I was you, I’d run.
I wish he were able to pitch more accurately. I wish he was able to pitch more accurately.
His requirement is that everyone be computer literate. His requirement is that everyone is computer literate.
He recommended that each driver report his tips. He recommended that each driver reports his tips.
Examples of Doing It Right
Expresses a condition
contrary to fact
Requests, demands,
or suggests
If I were a wealthy man (but I’m not), I’d fly us to Bali.

If he were arriving tomorrow, we could go to the concert (but he’s not coming until next week.

I ask that you be dignified and refrain from laughing.

I ask that Shelly refrain if possible from weeping.

Roger recommended that Larry be on hand to launch the catboat.

The evil pirate king commanded that Davy walk the plank.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the subjunctive clause
  2. Blue indicates the verb
Verbs Followed by the Subjunctive Expressions Followed by the Subjunctive
to advise (that)
to ask (that)
to command (that)
to demand (that)
to determine (that)
to desire (that)
to insist (that)
to move (that)
to order (that)
to pray (that)
to prefer (that)

to propose (that)
to recommend (that)
to regret (that)

to request (that)
to require (that)

to suggest (that)
to urge (that)
to wish (that)
It is best (that)
It is crucial (that)
It is desirable (that)
It is essential (that)
It is imperative (that)
It is important (that)
It is recommended (that)
It is urgent (that)
It is vital (that)
It is a good idea (that)
It is a bad idea (that)
Quick Look at”to be” as a Subjunctive
  Present Past
Singular I be
You be
he, she, it be
I were
You were
he, she, it were
Plural we be
they be
we were
they were

It was commonly used in Elizabethan England as can be seen in writings by Shakespeare, Jonson, and others.

For example:

If snow be white, why then her breast are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
– Shakespeare
OR
If she be not so to me
What care I how fair she be?
– Ben Jonson.

Number
Rule: The tense of the verb must agree with the noun, whether it’s singular or plural. A plural noun requires a plural verb and vice versa.

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Examples:
I write
you write
s/he, it writes
we write
they write
I climb
you climb
s/he, it climbs
we climb
they climb
the truck runs
the trucks run
boat floats
boats float
Person
Definition: Refers to who is speaking, distinguishing speakers and addressees from one another and from other individuals:

  • First person – I, we
  • Second person – you, y’all
  • Third person – he, she, it, them, they

You must pay attention to verb agreement between person and verb.

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Person,
Point-of-View
Number Personal Pronoun Conjugating
To Be Regular Verbs
First person singular I I am
I was
I were
I talk
Second person singular & plural you you are
you were
you talk
Third person singular she
he
it
she is / was / were
he is / was / were
it is / was / were
she talks
he talks
it talks
First person plural we we are
we were
we talk
Third person plural they they are
they were
they talk
Voice
Definition: Shows if the subjects acts or is acted upon — and always with a transitive verb. If the sentence is in the active voice and performs the action or the passive voice and receives the action (Chicago Manual of Style, p. 5.112-13).
Active Voice Definition: The subject of the sentence is what is doing the action while the thing receiving the action is the object.
Passive Voice Definition: The subject of the sentence receives the action, they’re acted upon with the thing doing the action sometimes included near the end of the sentence. The key is that the passive voice is always formed by some form of to be (actual or implied) or using the colloquial get + the past participle of the verb.

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The current style of writing abjures the passive voice, but Chicago states that it can be useful “if you think that the thing receiving the action is more important or should be emphasized. You can also use the passive form if you do not know who is doing the action or if you do not want to mention who is doing the action”.

[Thing receiving action] + [be] + [past participle of verb] + [by] + [thing doing action]

Active Voice Passive Voice
The car crashed into the guardrail. The guardrail was crashed into by the car.
Johnny pulls his wagon. The wagon is pulled by Johnny.
The lawyer advised his client to settle. The client was advised by his lawyer to settle.
We gave the matter careful consideration. The matter will be given careful consideration.
Performative Definition: A verb that performs the act itself.

You can figure out if a verb is performative by using the hereby test:

  • I hereby confer upon you…
  • I hereby promise to…

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Partial List of Performative Verbs
baptize
bequeath
bet
confer
do (wedding vow)
give
move
name
order
perform
promise
quit
resign
sentence
stop
swear
Examples:
I resign performs the act of resignation
I baptize thee performs the act of baptism
I name… performs the act of naming
Prepositional Rule: All prepositional verbs are transitive and have direct objects because a preposition always has an object.

The structure of a prepositional verb is [ verb ] + [ preposition ]

CAUTION: Prepositional verbs cannot be separated. Do not put the direct object between the two parts. For example, we must say look after the baby and not look the baby after.

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Partial List of Prepositional Verbs
agree to
agree with
believe in
break down
drive through
drop back
knock at
laugh at
listen to
look after
look at
look for
rely on
sail through
talk about
talked to
wait for
There’s a really great list with tons more verb + preposition combinations at Bedava Ingilizce.com.
Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the direct object
  2. Blue indicates the prepositional verb

I believe in a rigorous run in the morning.

Can you look after my dog for a few days?

Everyone is talking about that new movie.

Wait for me!

Regular and Irregular Verbs Definition: Regular verbs are also known as weak verb forms and form their past tense and past participle with by adding -d, -ed, and sometimes -t to its base form.

Irregular verbs are also known as strong verb forms; they are considered irregular because their past tense and past participle forms are all over the place.

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Base Past Past Participle Gerund
be was, were been being
find found found finding
go went gone going
know knew known knowing
lie lay lain lying
steal stole stolen stealing
tear tore torn tearing
write wrote written writing
Reporting Definition:
Reporting verbs vary in strength from weak to neutral to strong. To suggest is weaker than to argue while reveal would be neutral.
Neutral Definition: Verbs that do not indicate a judgment and are used to say what the writer does and does not do.

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Partial List of Neutral Reporting Verbs
advise + [question clause *]ask if
ask + [object] + [to infinitive] ask whether
assume
believe (unless this is a strong belief)
decide + [object] + [to infinitive]decide + [question clause *]decide that
demonstrate
describe
describe + [question clause *]discover + [question clause *]discuss + [question clause *]examine
expect + [object] + [to infinitive]except that
explain + [question clause *]explain that
forget + [question clause *]go on to say that
indicate
know if
know + [question clause *]know whether
learn + [question clause *]mention
mention that
note
observe
point out
realize + [question clause *]remember if
remember + [question clause *]remember whether
report
report that
reveal
reveal + [question clause *]reveal that
say if
say + [question clause *]say that
say whether
see if
see + [question clause *]see whether
show
state
study
take into consideration
understand + [question clause *]understand that
* Clause that starts with a question word.
Tentative, a.k.a., Weak Definition: The writer has an inclination to believe something but is hesitant.

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Partial List of Tentative Reporting Verbs
add that
admit that
advise + [object] + [to infinitive]agree that
beg + [object] + [to infinitive]claim that
comment that
doubt that
guarantee + [object] + [to infinitive]guarantee that
guess + [question clause *]hope + [object] + [to infinitive]hope that
hypothesize
imagine + [question clause *]intimate
imply
invite + [object] + [to infinitive]moot
posit the view that
postulate
propose
propose that
question the view that
recommend
speculate
suggest
suggest + [question clause *]suggest that
teach + [object] + [to infinitive]teach + [question clause *]tell + [object] + [to infinitive]tell + [question clause *]tell that
think + [question clause *]think that
wonder + [question clause *]
* Clause that starts with a question word.
Strong Definition: The writer puts forth strong arguments and is absolutely sure of his or her ground.

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Partial List of Strong Reporting Verbs
argue that
assert
boast that
challenge
claim
command + [object] + [to infinitive]confirm that
contend
counter the argument that
counter the view that
deny
emphasize
forbid + [object] + [to infinitive]insist that
instruct + [object] + [to infinitive]
maintain
negate
promise + [object] + [to infinitive]promise that
refute
reject
strongly believe that
support the view that
swear + [object] + [to infinitive]swear that
theorize
threaten + [object] + [to infinitive]threaten that
warn + [object] + [to infinitive]warn that
* Clause that starts with a question word.
Subjunctive While the subjunctive is a verb type, it is also a mood.

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You’ll find the details about subjunctive in Verb Moods.
Verb Aspect
Definition: Frequently confused with verb tense, aspect is about the flow of time in a given situation whether it’s an action, event, or state — a single point of time, a continuous range of time, or a sequence of discrete points in time, in other words, is the action going on or is it completed.

Aspect tells duration, completion, or frequency and how it relates to the time of actiona temporal how — whereas tense tells the time of a situation compared to a different time — a distinct temporal when, its location in time (Princeton University).

Aspect also demonstrates how the speaker views the situation and how they convey their view through speech.

There are four types of aspect:

  1. Simple
  2. Perfect
  3. Perfect Progressive
  4. Progressive
TENSE Simple Perfect Progressive Perfect Progressive
Present I go I have eaten I am eating I have been eating
Past I ate I had eaten I was eating I had been eating
Future I will eat I will have eaten I will be eating I will have been eating
Simple Aspect Definition: No emphasis of completed or on-going action; no aspect.

A.k.a., unitary and bounded, indefinite aspect, present simple, present indefinite

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Examples:
I listen
we hear
they go
Perfect Aspect Definition: Action is completed.

It’s tense is present perfect.

It’s very handy for describing foregrounded actions within the scene in a story.

Form: have + -ed (of the main verb)

A.k.a., complete aspect, perfective, on-going and unbounded

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the present perfect
  2. Blue indicates the past tense of the main verb

She has eaten it.

We had left.

When will you have finished?

The tsunami had slammed into the shore, swept buildings off their foundations, and torn through the village.

Progressive Definition: Describes action that is on-going and can be habitual (describes an event or state that occurred over a period of time).

It’s very handy for setting the background scene in a story.

Form: be + -ing (of the main verb)

Explore the tenses: Present Progressive, Past Progressive, or Future Progressive

A.k.a., continuous, continuing aspect, imperfective

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Examples:
I was eating.

They are calling the next band.

I am reading.

Were you shouting?

He will be sitting over there.

The snow was blowing everywhere.

Habitual Aspect Definition: Describes action that occurred over a period of time.

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Examples:
He used to live here.

She used to call me every night.

We used to go dancing every weekend.

Henry used to walk for miles.

Iterative Aspect Definition: Describes the uncountable repetition of an event or state.

A.k.a., repetitive, frequentative

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Examples:
He was sniffling all day.

The baby was coughing and coughing.

The constant flickering of the monitor was giving me a headache.

Mom, he’s kicking me.

The blinking light of my alarm clock was keeping me awake.

Perfect Progressive Definition: Action is on-going, and then finished.

Form: have + past participle of be] + [verb-ing of the main verb]

Explore the tenses: Present Perfect Progressive, Past Perfect Progressive, or Future Perfect Progressive.

A.k.a., continuing relevance

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Examples:
I have been eating all day.

She has been crying off and on for hours.

We have been eating dinner.

Subject-Verb Agreement
Definition: The subject and verb must agree in number, in other words, if the noun is singular then the verb must be singular, if the noun is plural, so must the verb be plural.

Rule: Do NOT switch tenses within a sentence! Sentences require a subject and a verb, and these two items must agree.

Caution: Some nouns can be interpreted two different ways: singular OR plural. This is considered notional agreement.

Since verbs don’t add an s to form a plural, the trick is to run through the he / they pronouns and try the verb out.

he gives gives is singular
they give give is the plural
YES NO
Getting ready to scale the wall, Eleanor uncoiled the climbing rope, nearly 200-feet long. She put on her harness, then knotted the rope onto it. At last she began her ascent. Getting ready to scale the wall, Eleanor uncoiled the climbing rope, nearly 200-feet long. She put on her harness, then knotted the rope onto it. At last she begins her ascent (Burckmyer, 12).
The president shares a light moment with the prime minister, who is wearing his country’s traditional headgear and robe.
OR
The president shared a light moment with the prime minister, who was wearing his country’s traditional headgear and robe.
The president shares a light moment with the prime minister, who was wearing his country’s traditional headgear and robe (Burckmyer, 12).

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the verbs that must agree
  2. Strikethrough indicates the verb in the wrong tense
Rule: Pay attention to whether actions are in the near past, the past, or the far past. It will affect the tense you use.
YES NO
She was every inch a queen and had been raised to be so.

Well, she had been raised to be a queen before she actually became one.

She was every inch a queen and was raised to be so (Burckmyer, 12).
I learned that Meg’s husband had died far from home in Pakistan.

His death happened first; the writer learned about it later on.

I learned that Meg’s husband died far from home in Pakistan (Burckmyer, 13).

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the verbs that must agree
  2. Strikethrough indicates the verb in the wrong tense
Rule: An exception is “unvarying truths”—”writing in the past BUT speaking of something that has always been and always will be the case uses present tense” (Burckmyer, 13).
Examples:
Galileo was a follower of Copernicus, who stated that the earth revolves around the sun.

I reminded Miranda that it takes two to make an argument.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the present tense
  2. Blue indicates the verbs that must agree
Rule: Different tenses create different effects (Bruckmyer, 21
Examples:
Forceful sounding:
I expect your report on cryogenic metallurgy by Thursday.

A gentler version:
I am expecting your report on cryogenic metallurgy by Thursday.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the verb

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Notional Agreement Definition: Some nouns can be interpreted as being singular OR plural collective nouns. If you see the noun as a single unit, then the verb is singular. If your interpretation of the noun is that it involves a group of individual units, then it’s plural and requires a plural verb.

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Noun/Verb
Singular
Interpreted As… Noun/Verb
Plural
Interpreted As…
The government is considering the proposal. Government is seen as a unit, a single group. The government are considering the proposal. Government is seen as a collection of individual people.
The jury has awarded custody to the grandmother. The jury is acting as one unit. The jury members have been arguing for five days. The focus is on the individuals within the jury.
Politics is an interesting subject. Looks at politics as a single topic. The politics of the situation were complicated. There are many different aspects to the situation.
The pair of scissors is on the table. Pair is the operative verb here, and it’s singular. The scissors are on the table. Scissors is a plural form, and therefore needs a plural verb.
My favorite topic is Poems by Longfellow. The reference is to a single topic. Poems by Longfellow are my favorite topic. All of Longfellow’s poems are his favorite topic; it’s a plural noun, so it takes a plural verb.
None of you claims responsibility for this incident? None of you implies a group of people, however they are being addressed as one unit. None of you claim responsibility for this incident? Even though none of you is still a group, they are being addressed as individuals.
Verbal
Definition: Verbals are forms of verbs used as other parts of speech such as nouns; adjectives; adverbs; infinitives; gerunds; participles; acts as a subject; or, creates verbal phrases, but remember that a verbal ceases to act as a verb unless “used with one or more auxiliary verbs“.

Verbals may also “carry objects or take modifiers and complements” (Nordquist) and can nontraditionally be applied to finite and nonfinite verbs.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the verbal
As Gerund Definition: A verbal can function as a noun. See Gerund for more details.

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Examples:
We can only learn to love by loving (Nordquist; Iris Murdoch).
As Infinitive Definition: A verbal that can function as an adjective, adverb, or noun (see Infinitive for more details).

It’s usually recognizable as a to verb.

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Examples:
We can only learn to love by loving (Nordquist; Iris Murdoch).
As Participle Definition: A verbal turned into a noun that is used as an adjective using the participle endings of -ed and -ing. See Participle for more details.

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Examples:
The eagles swooped and hovered, leaning on the air, and swung close together, feinting and screaming with delight (Nordquist, N. Scott Momaday).

My reading group is looking forward to next month’s choice.

Using the Verbal…
Explore the Purdue OWL Lab for more information on gerunds and infinitives as subjects and objects.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the verbal
  2. Blue indicates the subject or direct object
  3. Pale green indicates the indirect object
  4. Gray indicates a preposition
As Subject Verb Definition: Functioning as a noun, a verbal will occupy a noun’s position within a sentence.

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Examples:
Reading is my favorite indoor sport.
Traveling might satisfy your desire for new experiences.
As Subject Complement Definition: Adjective or a noun that renames or defines the subject in some way. See the post on Complement.

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Examples:
My cat’s favorite activity is sleeping.
As Object Verb Definition: The verbal functions as the object of the verb.

A.k.a., verbal object

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Examples:
They do not appreciate my singing.
I like to read all the time.
We intended to leave early.
Phil agreed to give me a ride.
They were asked to bring some food.
As Object of Preposition Definition:

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Examples:
The police arrested him for speeding.
Verb Phrase
Definition: A main verb + objects/complements. A verb phrase consists of a verb plus any modifiers, complements, objects, infinitive markers, particles, operators, progressives, perfects, passive, and modals (Linguistics Girl).

Two grammatical forms function as the verb phrase complement:

  1. Prepositional phrases
  2. Verb phrases

A.k.a., verb string, verbal group

Verb Phrase Head Definition: Words that are the heads or primary verb of verb phrases.

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the verb head

has stimulated
have been running
will eat
has been running
was swimming
must be heading out

Verb Phrase as Prepositional Complement Definition: It’s a verb phrase introduced by a preposition followed by a gerund or present participle.

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the preposition
  2. Blue indicates the verb phrase
  3. Pale Green indicates the gerund or present participle

Mama says I have to write you a thank-you for giving me the Legos.

Craig dumped me because of my laughing at him.

We find out what equipment is needed for roasting the pig.

The guys’ll kill the vampire by jamming a stake through his heart.

Verb Phrase as Verbal Complement Definition: A verb phrase in the form of an infinitive or base form.

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Examples:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the infinitive
  2. Blue indicates the base form

The students have to pass the test.

She intends to attend the ceremony.

My neighbors happen to own a hot air balloon.

Grandpa can come start the fire for the barbecue.

He helps manage the student workers.

Would you come wash the dishes?

Phrasal Verb
Definition: A type of verb consisting of two-parts: a verb + a particle/preposition/adverb or a combination of an adverb and a preposition.

It frequently means something different from the original verb, creating an idiomatic meaning.

There are separable, inseparable, and intransitive phrasal verbs (Purdue OWL).

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Verb + Particle It Means Example
Drop off Decline gradually

Fall asleep

Stop and give something to someone

The hill dropped off near the river.

He dropped off while watching TV.

Would you drop this off with Mary, please?

Drop out Cease to participate He dropped out of school.
Separable Verb: Rule: The verb and the particle can be separated so that a noun or pronoun can be inserted in between.

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Verb + Particle It Means Example
Add up To add She added up the total on her calculator.

She added it up on her calculator.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the separated verb and particle
Inseparable Verb: Rule: The verb and the particle cannot be separated.
Verb + Particle It Means Example
Get around To evade She always gets around the rules.

She always gets the rules around.

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