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Verb Formation

The English language has a wide menu of verb tenses to describe the happenings or states of being of the noun phrases in a sentence. What follows is a very brief overview of verb tenses, formation, and use.

Simple Tenses

An English verb formation can consist of one word, as in the "simple present" and "simple past" tenses. In the first sentence below, the present tense eats expresses a fact that is a habitual action. In the second sentence, the past tense shocked expresses an event that occurred as some point in the past.

I eat turnips.
The news shocked the nation.

The "simple future tense" is really the combination of the helping (modal) verb will along with the plain (base) form of the main verb:

Sara will receive her diploma next May.

Progressive Verb Tenses

The progressive verb tenses are composed of an -ing form of the main verb following a helping (auxiliary) verb, specifically a form of the verb be. These formations describe an event in process. The first sentence expresses a present event in process. The second sentence expresses an event that was in process in the past.

Joanne is making a quilt.
Sally was working as a receptionist until she moved.

Perfect Verb Tenses

The "perfect verb tenses" are composed of a form of the auxiliary verb have followed by the -ed or -en form of the main verb. The "present perfect" can express an event that started in the past and still continues into the present:

Bob has worked at NTID for twenty years.

The "past perfect" can be used in a sentence when two past events are compared. In the next sentence, both events are in the past, but the past perfect had danced signals that this event occurred prior to Twyla's becoming a manicurist:

Twyla had danced with the ballet for many years before she became a manicurist.