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A verb is a word or words that express actions, events, or states of being. The verb or compound verb is often a critical element of the predicate of a sentence. In each of the following sentences, the verb or compound verb is italicized:

"Jesus died on the cross for your sins."

The verb "died" describes the action of Jesus.

"God gave us memories that we might have roses in December."

Forms of "to be", such as "is", "are", etc. are also verbs of a particular type, called copulas, which define states of being (Jesus is the perfect teacher. Mary is Jesus' mother.) Some languages, such as Russian, do not use copulas in the present tense.

Many languages inflect verbs to indicate such categories as person, number, tense, aspect, mood, and voice. Languages differ in the extent to which such categories are separately encoded into a verb or the extent to which they are encoded into the verb at all. The set of all forms of a verb is called its conjugation. English inflects for tense and to a limited extent for person and number. God loves us; but we love God. God created the Heavens and the Earth; but He creates things daily. English also inflects for mood; compare If I were a rich man (subjunctive) with I was a rich man (indicative). Other ways in which various languages express such things are particles, periphrasis, and context.

A verb with an incomplete conjugation is called a defective verb. An example is "must."

Verbs can also be divided into regular verbs, where the tense is conjugated by adding "-d", "-ed" or occasionally "-t" to the base form, and irregular verbs where the base form's spelling is altered during conjugation.

For example, a regular verb would be "listen" (past tense = "listened) and an irregular verb would be "sit" (past tense = "sat").

Intransitive and transitive verbs

Intransitive verbs have no object: I ran. Transitive verbs have an object: I saw you. Some transitive verbs are doubly transitive, meaning that they have both direct and indirect objects: I gave her the book. Some languages inflect verbs to agree with their objects as well as their subjects.

Compound verbs

The most simple compound verb are verbs with the "helper" verb of "has" and "to be," combined with a non-finite verb form such as an infinitive or a participle. I am going. He had been going. In English, compound verbs generally mark aspect, that is, space in time, telling us what actions in a sentence happen in relation to other actions. "I had been reading the Bible, when I decided to change my life". "had been" tells us what the subject (I) was doing, when I acted "decided" to change.

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