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UCI Extension

Paper-Based TOEFL Workshop

Verbs
Structure and Written Expression Skills 30-36
Longman Preparation Course for the TOEFL Test
Tutorial prepared by Marla Yoshida

Forms of verbs
Every verb can have several different forms. In grammar
books, we often see lists of irregular verbs that include these
three forms: base form, past form, and past participle. (For
example, go went gone, come came come, eat ate eaten,
or walk walked walked.
The base form can also be called the plain form or the
present form.
For regular verbs, the past and past participle forms add ed
to the verb. However, there are many irregular verbs whose
forms are hard to predict. We just have to memorize those.
Verbs also have a present participle form that ends in ing
(going, coming, eating).

Forms of verbs
For example, here are the main forms of a few verbs:
Base form

Past

Past Participle

Present Participle

Regular:
walk
love
rob
explain

walked
loved
robbed
explained

walked
loved
robbed
explained

walking
loving
robbing
explaining

Irregular:
be
have
do
sing
cut

was, were
had
did
sang
cut

been
had
done
sung
cut

being
having
doing
singing
cutting
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Verb tenses
We can combine these forms with helping verbs like be and
have to make all the verb tenses of English. Here are the verb
tenses related to present time:
Verb Tense
Simple present
Present progressive
(present continuous)

Example

Meaning*

I often walk to school.


He often walks to school.
I am walking now.
He is walking now.

A habitual or repeating
action.
A current action.

An action that began in the


I have already walked five
past but continues to be
miles.
Present perfect
true. A past action
He has already walked five
(indefinite time) that could
miles.
happen again.)
An action that began in the
Present perfect progressive I have been walking for an
past but is continuing now
(present perfect
hour. He has been walking
(with emphasis on the fact
continuous)
for an hour.
that it is still happening.
* Explanations of meanings are from Keys to Teaching Grammar to English Language
Learners by Keith S. Folse. University of Michigan Press, 2009.

Verb tenses
Here are the verb tenses related to past time:
Verb Tense
Simple past

Past progressive
(past continuous)
Past perfect

Past perfect progressive


(past perfect continuous)

Example
I walked to school
yesterday.
He walked to school
yesterday.
While I was walking to
school, I stopped at
Starbucks.
I had walked to school
many times before I bought
a car.
I had been walking for two
hours by the time I
stopped.

Meaning*
A single past event.
A past action that was
happening (when it was
interrupted by another).
A past action that was
completed before a second
past action.
An action that began in the
past before a second past
action (with emphasis on
the duration of the action).

Verb tenses
Here are the verb tenses related to future time:
Verb Tense

Example

Future with be going to

I am going to walk soon.


He is going to walk soon.

Future with will

Future progressive
(future continuous)
Future perfect

Future perfect progressive


(future perfect continuous)

Meaning*

An event in the future,


especially one already
planned.
An event in the future,
I will walk tomorrow.
especially one that is
Ill walk with you if you want scheduled or expresses
me to.
strong desire to do
something.
I will be walking at 10:00
An action that will be taking
tonight.
place at some point in the
He will be walking too.
future.
By the time I graduate, I
An action that will be
will have read 100
finished by a specified time
textbooks.
in the future.
How long an action has
By the time I get to school,
been happening at a future
I will have been walking for
point; focus is on the
an hour.
duration.

Things to watch out for: Have as a helping verb


With the helping verb have or one of its forms (have, has, had,
having), use a past participle to form one of the perfect tenses.
We have finished our homework already.
Had he heard that song before?
I dont remember having heard that song.
Be careful not to make mistakes like these:
We have finishing our homework already.
Have you saw that movie?
The students begun to study.
Tom might have finish his homework.

Things to watch out for: Be as a helping verb


With the helping verb be or one of its forms (am, is, are, was,
were, be, been, being), use a present participle to form one of
the progressive tenses:
We are watching a movie right now.
Were you studying in the library all day yesterday?
Or use a past participle to form the passive voice:
These pictures were drawn by Mrs. Smiths students.
Nobody enjoys being laughed at.
Be careful not to make mistakes like these:
Everyone listening to music.
The soccer players were play all afternoon.
My hamburger was ate by my dog.
The dog is scolds by its owner.

Things to watch out for: Modals


These words are called modals. Theyre a kind of helping verb.
can
could

will
would

shall
should

may
might

must
had
better

Modals do not add s when the subject is he, she, or it.


We might go to the beach tomorrow.
Tom might go to the beach. He might go to the beach.
After modals, use the base form of the verb.
Most soccer players can run very fast.
Youd better learn those irregular verb forms.
Be careful not to make mistakes like these:
I might to buy a new car sometime soon.
That composer cans write beautiful music.
That composer can writes beautiful music.
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Things to watch out for: Mixing verb tenses


Make sure the verb tense matches the meaning. Dont change
tenses without a reason.
If you see a sentence that has both present and past tense
verbs, it might be a mistake, like these:
When I visited Las Vegas, I see a show.
In this sentence, it would be better to use all past or all present:
When I visited Las Vegas, I saw a show. (in the past) OR
When I visit Las Vegas, I see a show. (every time)
Sometimes its OK to mix verb tenses, if that fits the meaning of
the sentence.
I did my homework yesterday, so now I have free time.
Everyone is talking about what they did yesterday.

Things to watch out for: Present & past perfect


The present perfect tense is formed with have + past participle. It
often describes events that started in the past and last until now.
Bob has studied French for four years (until now).
The past perfect tense is formed with had + past participle. It
describes events that happened before another event in the past.
Bob had studied French for four years (before he stopped).
Be sure to use the correct tense to fit the meaning. Some
combinations dont work together:
Bob had studied French before he decides to stop.
(Past perfect and present dont usually go together.)
Bob has studied French for four years until he stopped.
(Present perfect and past dont usually go together.)

Things to watch out for: Time expressions


Some time expressions are usually used with particular
tenses. Even though these rules dont work 100% in real
life, they are commonly followed on the TOEFL.
Simple Past

Present Perfect or
Pres. Perf. Progressive

Past Perfect or
Past Perf. Progressive

(two years) ago


last (year)
in (1920)

since (1920)
by now
lately
recently
for (ten years)

by (1920) (time in the


past)
by the time + past
for (ten years, ending in
the past)

Bob studied French last year.


Bob has studied French for four years (until now).
Ive been studying a lot lately.
By last night, I had already studied three chapters.
Bob had lived in Ohio for a year before he moved here.
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Things to watch out for: Time expressions


Be especially careful not to use the present perfect tense
when a specific time is indicated:
They have visited Disneyland last Saturday.
I have lived in Tokyo in 1978.

Things to watch out for: Verbs in noun clauses


Sentences with verbs like say, tell, believe, and know, or with
expressions like It is certain that, It is obvious that are
often followed by noun clauses.
We all know [that we need to study]. (now)
We all know [that we will need to study]. (in the future)
We all knew [that we needed to study]. (in the past)
It was obvious [that he hadnt gotten enough sleep].
It was obvious [that he would have to get more sleep].
The tense in the noun clause depends on two things:
1. Whether the action in the noun clause happened before,
during, or after the action in the main clause and
2. The tense in the main clause.

Things to watch out for: Verbs in noun clauses


Main clause Noun clause time
time

Noun clause
tense

Example

Present

Before main clause


Same as main
clause
After main clause

Past
Present
Will + VERB

I know that yesterday was Friday.


I know that today is Saturday.
I know that tomorrow will be Sunday.

Past

Before main clause


Same as main
clause
After main clause

Past perfect
Past
Would +
VERB

I knew that Tom had gone home.


I knew that Tom was still there.
I knew that Tom would go home soon.

Dont use will in a noun clause when the main verb is past:
We all thought [that the party will be a lot of fun].
Dont use would in a noun clause when the main verb is
present:
We all think [that the party would be a lot of fun].

Summary
In this section, you have learned about these things:
Verbs have several different forms.
Verbs can be used in many different tenses.
Its important to form verb tenses correctly and to
use them with appropriate time expressions.