A crash course in verbs

They power every sentence we say and write, but how much do you remember or know about these action-packed parts of speech? Prepare for a refresher.

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Verbs power our sentences. They show action or state of being or indicate the time of that action or state. As professional writers and editors, we sometimes focus so much on choosing the right verbs that we forget the very basics of these powerful and sometimes troublesome parts of speech.

Here’s a brief refresher:

Regular and irregular verbs

Verbs are classified according to form as regular or irregular. A regular verb forms its principal parts by adding d or ed to the present tense to form the past tense and past participle:

An irregular verb forms the past tense and past participle by changing the form of the present tense:


Tense indicates something about the verb’s time frame.

Present tense:

Past tense:

Future tense:

Present perfect tense—the action is complete but still important at the present time:

Past perfect tense—past action occurred before some other past action. (A happened before B happened):

Future perfect tense—the action will occur by the time another future action has occurred:

Auxiliary verbs

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