1.7 Correct Verbs

People who are new to English often experience confusion about which verb forms can serve as the verb in a sentence. An English sentence must include at least one verb or verb phrase and a tense that relays the time during which the action is taking place. Verbals (such as gerunds and infinitives) should not be confused with verbs.

  • A sentence with a gerund must also have another verb.


Correct example: Roger enjoys driving the RV.

Incorrect example: Roger driving the RV.

  • A sentence with an infinitive must have another verb.


Correct example: Kyle decided to write a long message.

Incorrect example: Kyle to write a long message.

  • Verbs must match the timing indicated by the other words in a sentence.


Past tense correct example: Yesterday, I called you at 5:00 p.m.

Past tense incorrect example: Yesterday, I call you at 5:00 p.m.

Future tense correct example: The next time it rains, I will bring my umbrella.

Future tense incorrect example: The next time it rains, I bring my umbrella.

Present tense correct example: Come in and get warm.

Present tense incorrect example: Come in and got warm.

See Chapter 15 “Sentence Building”, Section 15.2 “Choosing Appropriate Verb Tenses” for a more extensive overview of verb tenses.

Adapted from Appendix A, “Writing for Nonnative English Speakers” in Writer’s Handbook v 1.0  used according to Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

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