This is “Correct Verbs”, section 1.7 (from appendix 1) from the book Writers' Handbook (v. 1.0). For details on it (including licensing), click here.

For more information on the source of this book, or why it is available for free, please see the project's home page. You can browse or download additional books there. You may also download a PDF copy of this book (17 MB) or just this chapter (453 KB), suitable for printing or most e-readers, or a .zip file containing this book's HTML files (for use in a web browser offline).

Has this book helped you? Consider passing it on:
Creative Commons supports free culture from music to education. Their licenses helped make this book available to you.
DonorsChoose.org helps people like you help teachers fund their classroom projects, from art supplies to books to calculators.

21.7 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.

Example

Correct example: Roger enjoys driving the RV.

Incorrect example: Roger driving the RV.

  • A sentence with an infinitive must have another verb.

Example

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.

Example

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.