Lesson 3: More Verbs, Two Most Important Parts of a Sentence and How to Find Them in One, and Review
©MM Pollard, December, 2012

You have the feeling that the verb kept things simple for you after talking to the noun. You go back and ask in more questions.

1. Verb, did you keep things simple for your part of speech when we first talked?
Guilty. The principal parts of verbs are enough to send some people over the grammar edge, so I didn’t mention helping verbs.

2. What are helping verbs and what do they help?
There are 23 helping verbs in English. The first eight of these helping verbs are is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been. They help form progressive tenses when they are used with the present participle, the one ending in –ing.
Example: I was walking to school yesterday when I saw the fire.
They help form the passive voice when they are used with the past participle.
Example: My dog is walked by me every afternoon.

The next three join with the past participle of the main verb to form the perfect tenses – have, has, had.
He has seen her before.
He had called her, but she didn’t return his call.

The next three are used to form a negative expression, to ask a yes or no question, or to emphasize the main verb – do, does, did, done
Example: Did you call Sharon?
I did finish my homework!
The last nine are modal auxiliary verbs with their own functions -- may, might, must, shall, should, will, would, can, could. Will also forms the future tenses. These verbs do have only the base form and a past form. These verbs DO NOT add –s to agree with singular subjects.

3. What do modal auxiliary verbs do?
Will, would – intention – Joe will stop by later.
Shall, should – obligation – Ed should study.
May – permission – Meredith may request a tutor.
Might – possibility – Bobby might need some help.
Must– necessity – Sarah must go to school.
Can– ability – Barb can see the TV.
Could – ability – Abby could learn the job if she had a better supervisor.

We interrupt this interview for one of MM’s pet peeves.
I see could misused all the time.
Incorrect: Bill could see him standing in the hallway.
Just because you have the ability to do something doesn’t mean you do it. If you mean that Bill saw him in the hallway, then say that.

Correct: Bill saw him standing in the hallway.
Search your manuscript for could. If deleting the word makes no difference in the meaning of the sentence, delete it.

Now we return you to your regularly scheduled interview.

4. Verb, anything else I need to know about you?
If you have about three weeks, I could explain tenses to you.

5. Three weeks? You’re joking, right?!
No. There are simple tenses and perfect tenses. There are progressive tenses in both simple and perfect tenses.
Forming them is the easy part. Knowing when to use them – that’s the hard part.

If you are curious, you can log onto http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/verbtenseintro.html. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and you’ll see examples of tenses. Continuous is the same as progressive, so don’t let that confuse you. This site has a verb tense tutorial and many exercises to practice using tenses correctly.

Or-- SHAMELESS PROMOTION ALERT -- you can join MM in October in her workshop on verb tenses on Workshops with MM.

Finding Subjects and Verbs in Sentences
6. Anything else before I close this interview?
Do you know how to find us and subjects in a sentence?

7. Ah, not sure, please explain.
Verbs and nouns have real meaning only in a sentence. It is important to be able to identify subjects (nouns or pronouns) and predicates (verbs) in sentences so that you can be sure that they agree in number.

Remember, the rule I gave you: singular subject in third person,-s or –es on the verb in the present tense. If you can’t find subjects and verbs and tell their number, then you can’t make them agree with each other.

Here is a sentence: Our cat runs after the mouse about this time every day.

Ask these questions to find subjects and verbs.
To find the subject, ask Who or what is the sentence about?
Answer – cat.
To find the verb, ask what does the sentence say about the cat?
Answer – runs.
It helps to remember in English, subjects usually come before the verb in sentences with normal word order.

Another example: George answered the phone.
Subject? Who or what is the sentence about? – George
Verb? What does the sentence say about George? – answered

One more example: The girls are best friends.
Subject? Who or what is the sentence about? – girls
Verb? What does the sentence say about the girls? Are – no action here.

Now you try it.
Review Lessons 1, 2, and 3 to complete this homework. The due date to Thursday, midnight, PDT. After you have finished the work, check your answers below and post the number correct over total. If you have any questions, please leave them in the Lesson 3 homework and questions thread. Homework goes here, too. J

Here are the ten sentences you will be working with for these exercises.
1. Five best friends were standing outside of Susie and Carol’s house one afternoon.
2. A snazzy red Mustang GT came down the street toward them.
3. The friends had not seen this car before in their neighborhood.
4. Susie and Carol waved at their brother in the Mustang GT.
5. Their brother Tom groaned aloud at their sisters’ attention-getting antics.
6. Tom, the driver, hit the gas and tagged the car in front of him.
7. His sisters ran inside and told their mom about the accident.
8. Tom paid for the reckless driving ticket.
9. There has been no forgiveness in his heart toward his sisters for a while now.
10. Poor Tom, his sisters are such tattletales.

Exercise 1: give all nouns you find in the ten sentences. Label each noun as singular or plural. I’ve done the first one for you. Remember nouns are names of people, places, things, ideas, and emotions.
1. Friends -- plural, house -- singular, afternoon – singular

Exercise2 : label each noun you found in the sentences as common or proper. I’ve done the first one for you. Remember that proper nouns are capitalized in English.
1.Common: friends, house, afternoon

Exercise 3: give the subject in each sentence. Remember to ask, Who or what is this sentence about? A sentence has more than one subject. HINT: look for AND. I’ve done the first one for you.
#9 is tricky. THERE is not the subject.

Exercise 4: give the main verb in each sentence. Include the helping verbs here. Ask, What does this sentence say about the subject? A few sentences have more than one verb. HINT: look for AND. I’ve done the first one for you.
1.Were standing – include any helping verbs you find with the main verb.

Exercise 5: give the predicate and its principal part. Do not include the helping verbs here. I’ve done the first one for you.
1. Standing – present participle

Answers are here. Here are the sentences again. Total points possible – 116 points -- if not, remember I'm an English major. Exercise 1: nouns, singular or plural –56 points possible, one point for noun and one point for the label
2. Mustang GT --singular, street –singular
3. Friends – plural, car– singular, neighborhood -- singular
4. Susie – singular, Carol – singular, brother– singular, Mustang GT – singular
5. Brother – singular, Tom – singular, antics – plural (sisters’ is an adjective here, not a noun.)
6. Tom – singular, driver – singular, gas – singular, car – singular
7. Sisters – plural, mom– singular, accident – singular
8. Tom – singular, ticket – singular
9. Forgiveness –singular, heart –singular, sisters – plural
10. Tom – singular, sisters – plural, tattletales – plural

Exercise 2: nouns, proper or common – count just proper and common, not the noun – 28 points possible
2. Mustang GT – proper, street – common
3. All are common.
4. Susie, Carol, Mustang GT – proper, brother– common
5. Tom – proper, brother and antics –common
6. Tom – proper, driver, gas, car –common
7. All are common.
8. Tom – proper, ticket– common
9. All are common.
10. Tom – proper, sisters, tattletales –common

Exercise 3: subjects of sentences –10 points possible
2. Mustang GT
3. friends
4. Susie, Carol
5. Brother
6. Tom
7. Sisters
8. Tom
9. Forgiveness
10. Sisters

Exercise 4: Predicates in sentences –11 points possible
2. Came
3. Had seen
4. Waved
5. Groaned
6. Hit, tagged
7. Ran, told
8. Paid
9. Has been
10. Are becoming

Exercise 5: Principal parts of verbs–11 points possible
2. Came – past
3. Seen – past participle
4. Waved – past
5. Groaned – past
6. Hit – past, tagged –past
7. Ran – past, told –past
8. Paid – past
9. Been – past participle
10. Becoming – present participle