Modal Verbs: an overview with examples $ links

Must – to have to, or to be highly likely. Must can be used to express 100% certainty, a logical deduction or prohibition depending on the context.

  • It must be hard to work 60-hours a week. (probable)
  • You must listen to the professor during the lecture. (necessity)
  • She must not be late for her appointment. (necessity)
  • It must not be very hard to do. (probable)

Can – to be able to, to be allowed to, or possible. Can is a very common modal verb in English. It’s used to express ability, permission and possibility.

  • It can be done. (possible)
  • She can sleepover at Sara’s house this weekend. (allowed to)
  • The car can drive cross country. (able to)
  • It cannot be done. (impossible)
  • The doctor said he cannot go to work on Monday. (not allowed to)
  • She cannot focus with the car alarm going off outside. (not able to)

Could –to be able to, to be allowed to, or possible. Could is used when talking about an ability in the past or for a more polite way to ask permission.

  • Mark could show up to work today. (possible)
  • Could I come with you? (allowed to)
  • When I was in college I could stay up all night without consequence. (able to)
  • Mark could not come to work today. (possible/allowed)
  • Last night I could not keep my eyes open. (able to)

May – to be allowed to, it is possible or probable

  • May I sit down here? (allowed to)
  • I may have to cancel my plans for Saturday night. (possible/probable)
  • She may not arrive on time due to traffic. (possible)

Might – to be allowed to, possible or probable. Might is used when discussing something that has a slight possibility of happening, or to ask for permission in a more polite way.

  • Chris might show up to the concert tonight. (possible/probable)
  • Might I borrow your computer? (Many people don’t say this in American English, instead they would say Can I borrow your computer? Or May I borrow your computer?)

Need – necessary

  • Need I say more? (necessary)
  • You need not visit him today. (not necessary)

Should – to ask what is the correct thing to do, to suggest an action or to be probable. Should usually implies advice, a logical deduction or a so-so obligation.

  • Should I come with her to the dentist? (permission)
  • Joe should know better. (advice/ability)
  • It should be a very quick drive to the beach today. (possibility)
  • Margaret should not jump to conclusions. (advice)

Had better – to suggest an action or to show necessity

  • Evan had better clean up the mess he made. (necessity)
  • Megan had better get to work on time tomorrow. (necessity)

Will – to suggest an action or to be able to

  • John will go to his second period class tomorrow. (action)
  • It will happen. (action)
  • She will see the difference. (be able to)
  • Eva will not drive the Volkswagen. (not do an action)
  • Joe will not study tonight because he has to work. (not be able to)

Would – to suggest an action, advice or show possibility in some circumstances

  • That would be nice. (advise/possibility/action)
  • She would go to the show, but she has too much homework. (action)
  • Mike would like to know what you think about his presentation. (action)
  • modal auxiliaries

Here are some useful links:-


Present Continuous

The present continuous is used to talk about present situations which we see as short-term or temporary . We use the present simple to talk about present situations which we see as long-term or permanent.

In these examples, the action is taking place at the time of speaking.

  • It’s raining.
  • Who is Kate talking to on the phone?
  • Look, somebody is trying to steal that man’s wallet.
  • I’m not looking. My eyes are closed tightly.

In these examples, the action is true at the present time but we don’t think it will be true in the long term.

  • I’m looking for a new apartment.
  • He’s thinking about leaving his job.
  • They’re considering making an appeal against the judgment.
  • Are you getting enough sleep?

In these examples, the action is at a definite point in the future and it has already been arranged.

  • I’m meeting her at 6.30.
  • They aren’t arriving until Tuesday.
  • We are having a special dinner at a top restaurant for all the senior managers.
  • Isn’t he coming to the dinner?



gerunds and infinitives

Both gerunds and infinitives can be nouns, which means they can do just about anything that a noun can do. Although they name things, like other nouns, they normally name activities rather than people or objects. Here are five noun-uses of gerunds and infinitives (and one additional non-noun use, the adjective complement, that we throw in here, free of charge).

Gerunds and infintives can both function as the subject of a sentence:

  1. Playing basketball takes up too much of her time.
  2. To play basketball for UConn is her favorite fantasy.

It is not impossible for an infinitive to appear at the beginning of a sentence as the subject (as in Ib), but it is more common for an infinitive to appear as a Subject Complement:

  1. Her favorite fantasy is to play basketball for UConn.

The gerund can also play this role:

  1. Her favorite fantasy is playing basketball for UConn.

Both of these verbal forms can further identify a noun when they play the role of Noun Complement and Appositive:

  1. Her desire to play basketball for UConn became an obsession.
  2. I could never understand her desire to play basketball for UConn.
  3. Her one burning desire in life, playing basketball for UConn, seemed a goal within reach.

The infinitive is often a complement used to help define an abstract noun. Here is a very partial list of abstract nouns, enough to suggest their nature. Try following these adjectives with an infinitive phrase (their desire to play in the championship game, a motivation to pass all their courses, herpermission to stay up late, a gentle reminder to do your work) to see how the phrase modifies and focuses the noun.


Infinitive phrases often follow certain adjectives. When this happens, the infinitive is said to play the role of Adjective Complement. (This is not a noun function, but we will include it here nonetheless.)

  1. She was hesitant to tell the coach of her plan.
  2. She was reluctant to tell her parents, also.
  3. But she would not have been content to play high school ball forever.

Here is a list of adjectives that you will often find in such constructions.


Although we do not find many infinitives in this next category, it is not uncommon to find gerunds taking on the role of Object of a Preposition:

  1. She wrote a newspaper article about dealing with college recruiters.
  2. She thanked her coach for helping her to deal with the pressure.

Two prepositions, except and but, will sometimes take an infinitive.

  1. The committee had no choice except to elect Frogbellow chairperson.
  2. What is left for us but to pack up our belongings and leave?

And, finally, both gerunds and infinitives can act as a Direct Object:

Here, however, all kinds of decisions have to be made, and some of these decisions will seem quite arbitrary. The next section is about making the choice between gerund and infinitive forms as direct object.

Verbs that take other verb forms as objects are called catenatives (from a word that means to link, as in a chain). Catenatives can be found at the head of a series of linked constructions, as in “We agreed to try to decide to stop eating between meals.” Catenatives are also characterized by their tendency to describe mental processes and resolutions. (Kolln)

Although it is seldom a serious problem for native English speakers, deciding whether to use a gerund or an infinitive after a verb can be perplexing among students for whom English is a second language. Why do we decide to run, but we would never decide running? On the other hand, we might avoid running, but we would not avoid to run. And finally, we might like running and would also like to run. It is clear that some verbs take gerunds, some verbs take infinitives, and some verbs take either. The following tables of verbs should help you understand the various options that regulate our choice of infinitive or gerund.

The verbs in the table below will be followed by an infinitive. We decided to leave. He manages, somehow, to win. It is threatening to rain. Notice that many, but not all, of these verbs suggest a potential event.

Some of the verbs in the following table may be followed by a gerund if they are describing an “actual, vivid or fulfilled action” (Frodesen). Welove running. They began farming the land. These are described, also, below.

Choice or Intent
Initiation, Completion, Incompletion
Mental Process
know how
learn remember
Request and Promise
seem tend

The verbs in the next table will often be followed by an infinitive, but they will also be accompanied by a second object. We asked the intruders to leave quietly. They taught the children to swim. The teacher convinced his students to try harder.

The verbs in blue, with an asterisk, can also follow the same pattern as the verbs in the table above (i.e., the second object is optional). We allwanted to go. They promised to be home early.

would like*

Gerunds accompany a form of the verb to go in many idiomatic expressions: Let’s go shopping. We went jogging yesterday. She goes bowlingevery Friday night.

The following verbs will be followed by a gerund. Did I mention reading that novel last summer? I recommend leaving while we can. I have quit smoking These verbs tend to describe actual events.

Initiation, Completion and Incompletion
get through
give up
Continuing Action
can’t help
keep on
don’t mind
can’t stand
Mental Process
can’t see

The verbs in the following table can be followed by either an infinitive or a gerund, and there will be virtually no difference in the meaning of the two sentences. I like to play basketball in the park. I like playing basketball in the park.

can’t stand

The verbs in this next, very small table can be followed by either an infinitive or a gerund, but there will be a difference in meaning. I stopped smoking means something quite different, for instance, from I stopped to smoke. The infinitive form will usually describe a potential action.

forget remember stop

Finally, the verbs below will be followed by either a gerund or a simple verb and a second subject will be required. I saw the team losing its composure. I overheard my landlord discussing a rent increase. (I heard Bill sing/singing.) These verbs involve the senses.

Verbs Involving Senses
listen to
look at

Verbs of perception — hear, see, watch — and a handful of other verbs — help, let, and make — will take what is called the bare infinitive, an infinitive without the particle “to.” This is true of these verbs only in the active voice.

  1. We watched him clear the table.
  2. They heard the thief crash through the door.
  3. She made me do it.
  4. We helped her finish the homework.

Using Possessives with Gerunds

Do we say “I can’t stand him singing in the shower,” or do we say “I can’t stand his singing in the shower”? Well, you have to decide what you find objectionable: is it him, the fact that he is singing in the shower, or is it the singing that is being done by him that you can’t stand? Chances are, it’s the latter, it’s the singing that belongs to him that bugs you. So we would say, “I can’t stand his singing in the shower.”

On the other hand, do we say “I noticed your standing in the alley last night”? Probably not, because it’s not the action that we noticed; it’s the person. So we’d say and write, instead, “I noticed you standing in the alley last night.” Usually, however, when a noun or pronoun precedes a gerund, that noun or pronoun takes a possessive form. This is especially true of formal, academic writing.

There are exceptions to this. (What would the study of language be without exceptions?)

  • When the noun preceding the gerund is modified by other words, use the common form of that noun, not the possessive.
  1. Federico was pleased by Carlos’s making the Dean’s List for the first time.
  2. Federico was pleased by Carlos, his oldest son, making the Dean’s List for the first time.

When the noun preceding the gerund is plural, collective, or abstract, use the common form of that noun, not the possessive.

  1. Professor Villa was amazed by her students working as hard as they did.
  2. The class working collaboratively was somebody else’s idea.
  3. It was a case of old age getting the better of them.

There are certain situations in which the possessive and the gerund create an awkward combination. This seems to be particularly true when indefinite pronouns are involved.

  1. I was shocked by somebody’s making that remark.
    This would be greatly improved by saying, instead . . .
  2. I was shocked that somebody would make that remark.

This is also true when the “owner” of the gerund comes wrapped in a noun phrase:

  • I was thankful for the guy next door shoveling snow from my driveway.



Possessive Adjectives

Definition: Possesive adjectives are used to show ownership or possession.

The possessive adjectives are:

Subject Pronoun Possessive adjectives
















For example:

  • That’s my folder.
    * ” My” is an adjective which shows that I am the owner of the folder.

A possessive adjective is similar or identical to a possessive pronoun; however, it is used as an adjective and modifies a noun or a noun phrase.

For example:

  • I can’t complete my assignment because I don’t have the textbook.
    * In this sentence, the possessive adjective “my” modifies the noun “assignment”.
  • What is your phone number?
    * Here the possessive adjective “your” is used to modify the noun phrase “phone number”
  • The cat chased its ball down the stairs and into the backyard.
    * In this sentence, the possessive adjective “its” modifies “ball”.



Prepositions-‘since’ and

What are the prepositions for and since?
The prepositions for and since express the duration of an action or situation. For example:

Paul: How long have you lived in Australia?
Jen: I have lived here for one year.

Nicole: How long have you worked downtown?
Kevin: I have worked there since 2007.

Both answers explain how long the action or situation has continued.

Here we will look at for and since only with the present perfect tense. When used with the present perfect,for and since mean that the events haven’t ended yet. So in the above examples, Jen is still in Australia and Kevin is still working downtown.

What is the sentence structure?
The structure is relatively easy. Always make sure the sentences use the present perfect, which consists ofhave + past participle. For example: I have lived in Australia for one year.

S + V + O/C  | for  | period of time

I have dated him  | for  | two months.
He has lived at home  | for  | almost one year.

S + V + O/C  | since  | starting point

I have dated him  | since  | October.
He has lived at home  | since  | last February.

In addition, the starting point may be expressed as a complete sentence in the past tense.

I have dated him  | since  | I graduated high school.
He has lived at home  | since  | he lost his job.

How are these prepositions used?
As previously stated, for and since express the duration of an action or situation. There is the added meaning that the action has continued up to now and the action will continue into the future. When you want to emphasize how long the action has continued, then use for.  When you want to emphasize when the action started, then use since. Let’s look at the following:

Hugh has studied medicine for three years.
This sentence focuses on the duration of Hugh’s studies, which is three years. He began in 2005, is still there in 2008 (now), and will continue to be there for the foreseeable future.

Hugh has studied medicine since 2005.
This sentence focuses on when Hugh started his studies, which was in 2005. Because we know when he began medical school, we also know how long he has been there.

Hugh has studied medicine since his mother died.
This sentence also focuses on the start of Hugh’s studies. The reference point is on an action rather than a date, and the description since his mother died provides additional information. Here the event (the death of Hugh’s mom) may provide the reason for his medical studies.

Is there additional information on for and since?
Yes, there is one point. For and since both place emphasis on the duration of the action, and may be used with other perfect tenses. But when used with a perfect progressive tense, a little more emphasis is placed on the action than the duration.


Preposition- ‘with’


1. With means in the company of.

Pattern 1: verb + with + noun
She is with her sister.
I danced with him.

Typical verbs used before with:
be, chat, converse, dance, drink, eat, go, leave, live, play, stay, study, talk, travel, walk, work


Pattern 2: verb + noun + with + noun
She spent the weekend with us.


Typical verbs used with this pattern:
dance, drink, eat, leave, play, spend, study


to be tied up with—to be occupied with at the moment
He can’t come to the phone; he is tied up with a client.
to be in a discussion with—to be talking seriously to
The boss is in a discussion with the manager right now.


With means in the same place as.


Pattern 1: be + with + noun
My hat is with my scarf.


Pattern 2: verb + noun + with + noun
Put your coat with mine.
She left her children with the babysitter.


Typical verbs:
keep, leave, put, store


3. With can mean added together.


Pattern: noun + with + noun
She always drinks her coffee with sugar.
The hotel with meals will cost 200 dollars a day.


4. With can describe something by indicating what it has.


Pattern 1: noun + with + noun
Did you see a woman with a baby a few minutes ago?
I have an article with pictures for my presentation.


Pattern 2: be + past participle + with + noun
You will be provided with two sets of keys.


Past participles used with this pattern:
caught, discovered, found, furnished, provided, seen



to be blessed with—to be lucky to have
He is blessed with good health and good looks.


5. With can describe a manner of behavior.


Pattern 1: verb + with + noun
Please handle the piano with care.
They accepted the proposal with enthusiasm.


Typical nouns used after with:
anger, care, compassion, courage, delight, discretion, disdain, distress, enthusiasm, fear, feeling, glee, grace, gratitude, happiness, hatred, humility, indifference, kindness, joy, love, optimism, pleasure, pride, regard, sadness, shame, skill, sympathy, tenderness, thanks, understanding


Pattern 2: verb + noun + with + noun
She greeted us with a big smile.
He always starts work with a grumble.


Typical nouns used after with:
air, cry, expression, frown, greeting, grumble, grunt, handshake, hug, kiss, look, promise, question, shudder, sigh, smile, smirk, thank you, word


Pattern 3: be + adjective + with + noun (thing)
Please be careful with the piano.
I hope he is successful with the mission.


Typical adjectives:
awkward, careful, clumsy, creative, dexterous, quick, skillful, slow, successful, talented, unsuccessful


Pattern 4: be + adjective + with + noun (person)
She is very patient with me.
He hasn’t been sympathetic with her problems.


Typical adjectives:
awkward, belligerent, curt, flexible, forthcoming, frank, friendly, generous, helpful, honest, impatient, open, patient, stiff, sympathetic, truthful


6. With can describe someone’s feelings about something.


Pattern: be + adjective + with + noun
The child was bored with her toys.
They are very happy with their new home.


Typical adjectives used with this pattern:
bored, comfortable, content, delighted, disappointed, frustrated, happy, impressed, pleased, satisfied, thrilled, uncomfortable, unhappy, upset


to be in love with—to have a romantic feeling toward
He is (madly) in love with her.


7. With can indicate a working relationship.


Pattern 1: be + with + noun
She is with a real estate company.


Pattern 2: be + past participle + with + noun
He is involved with that organization.
They are not concerned with our group.


Pattern 3: work + with + noun
His mother works with us.


8. With can indicate the instrument or tool used for an action.


Pattern 1: verb + with + noun
She writes with a pen.


Typical verbs used before with:
color, clean, cut, dig, draw, eat, paint, serve, sweep, wash, write


Pattern 2: verb + noun + with + noun
The boy drew a flower with his crayons.
I swept the garage with a big broom.


Typical verbs:
attach, clean, clear, cut, dig, draw, dry, eat, erase, fasten, hit, move, nail, open, paint, plow, season, serve, sweep, wash, write


9. With can indicate a noun that covers or fills an area.


Pattern: verb + noun + with + noun
She filled the pitcher with lemonade.
They planted the bed with white flowers.


Typical verbs:
cover, cram, fill, frost, heap, ice, pack, paint, plant, smear, spread, sprinkle, stuff


10. With can indicate struggle


Pattern 1: verb + with + noun
My colleague disagrees with the management.
He is always fighting with his brother.


Typical verbs:
argue, clash, compete, conflict, differ, disagree, fight, quarrel, wrestle


to have it out with—to express anger verbally
After two years of frustration, he finally had it out with his boss.


Pattern 2: have + a + noun + with
She has an argument with him every morning.
They are having a quarrel with the neighbors right now.


Typical nouns:
argument, bout, contest, disagreement, fight, match, quarrel

Pattern 3: be + in + noun + with
She is in competition with him for the promotion.
It’s too bad your ideas are in conflict with those of the majority.


11. With can indicate support or cooperation.


Pattern 1: verb + with + noun
They are cooperating with the authorities.
You have to comply with the rules.


Typical verbs:
agree, collaborate, comply, concur, cooperate, empathize, harmonize, help, negotiate, sympathize, work


to get along with—to cooperate with
I get along with my roommate, even though she is not my best friend.
to be with—to support
Don’t be nervous when you are giving your speech; we are all with you.


Pattern 2: verb + a + noun + with + noun
She signed a contract with us.


Typical nouns:
agreement, business, contract, friendship, partnership, relationship


to do business with—to have negotiations with
We don’t do business with them anymore.


Pattern 3: be + in + noun + with + noun
Are you in agreement with the decisions they made?


Typical nouns before with:
accord, agreement, cahoots, concert, collaboration, compliance, concurrence, cooperation, harmony, partnership, sympathy


12. With means at the same time as.
He rises with the sun.
They opened the show with a song.


Typical verbs:
begin, celebrate, close, dedicate, end, start


13. With means at the same rate as.
Wine improves with age.
Wisdom comes with experience.
With time, you will forget.


14. With means in the same direction as.


Pattern: verb + with + the + noun
It will take longer because we will be with the traffic.
They drifted down the river with the current.


Typical verbs used before with:
be, cruise, drift, drive, float, go, ride, sail


Typical nouns used after with the:
current, flow, tide, traffic, wind


15. With can indicate separation.


Pattern: verb expression + with + noun
I hate to part with my old books.
Our company severed relations with that client years ago.
He is through with her; he doesn’t want to see her again.


Typical verb expressions used before with:
be finished, be through, break up, cut ties, fall out, part, part company, sever relations, split up


16. With is used in a comparison or contrast.


Pattern 1: noun + verb + with + noun
Your blouse clashes with your skirt.


Verbs commonly used with this pattern:
clash, compare, contrast, go, look good


Pattern 2: compare/contrast + noun + with + noun
Let’s compare this computer with that one.


17. With can indicate equality.


Pattern: be + adjective + with + noun
This side is not even with that side.
Our team is tied with theirs: the score is two to two.


Typical adjectives used before with:
comparable, even, level, on a par, parallel, tied


18. With can indicate the cause of a condition.


Pattern 1: adjective + with + noun
The branches of the trees were heavy with snow.
The girl’s face is wet with tears.


Pattern 2: verb in gerund form + with + noun
The newlyweds were beaming with happiness.


Typical verbs used before with:
aching, beaming, crying, dancing, fuming, screaming, shouting, smiling, trembling


Typical nouns used after with:
anger, fear, glee, happiness, joy, mirth, rage, shame, zeal


Pattern 3: with + the + noun
With the traffic in this city, it takes a long time to get to work.
Their lifestyle changed completely with the birth of their first baby.


Typical nouns used after with the:
arrival, bills, birth, change, crime, death, decrease, departure, guests, increase, move, problems, rain, traffic, trouble, worries


Pattern 4: with + (all) + possessive noun or pronoun + noun
With all his talent, he should be famous.
She is quite popular, with all her beauty and charm.


Typical nouns after with:
beauty, charm, education, influence, intelligence, money, power, talent


19. With can mean despite.


Pattern: with + (all) + possessive noun or pronoun + noun
I love him with all his faults.
With all her problems, she is quite serene.


20. Expressions


to be with someone—to follow or understand
Please repeat that; I’m not with you.


to be charged with something—to be formally accused of a crime
The boy was charged with breaking and entering.


Down with something—a rallying call to eliminate oppressors
Down with the tyrants!


Off with someone—a call for someone to leave
Off with you, and don’t come back!


21. Phrasal verbs


(get) on with (nonseparable)—to start something right away
Let’s get on with this job; I want to go home early.
On with the show!


get away with—escape a misdeed without penalty
He tore up his parking fine and got away with it.


put up with—tolerate
The house is beautiful, but I can’t put up with the noise of the airplanes.






The preposition-‘for’

1. with the object or purpose of: to run for exercise.
2. intended to belong to, or be used in connection with: equipment for the army; a closet for dishes.
3. suiting the purposes or needs of: medicine for the aged.
4. in order to obtain, gain, or acquire: a suit for alimony; to work for wages.
5. (used to express a wish, as of something to be experienced or obtained): O, for a cold drink!
6. sensitive or responsive to: an eye for beauty.
7. desirous of: a longing for something; a taste for fancy clothes.
8. in consideration or payment of; in return for: three for a dollar; to be thanked for one’s efforts.
9. appropriate or adapted to: a subject for speculation; clothes for winter.
10. with regard or respect to: pressed for time; too warm for April.
11. during the continuance of: for a long time.
12. in favor of; on the side of: to be for honest government.
13. in place of; instead of: a substitute for butter.
14. in the interest of; on behalf of: to act for a client.
15. in exchange for; as an offset to: blow for blow; money for goods.
16. in punishment of: payment for the crime.
17. in honor of: to give a dinner for a person.
18. with the purpose of reaching: to start for London.
19. contributive to: for the advantage of everybody.
20. in order to save: to flee for one’s life.
21. in order to become: to train recruits for soldiers.
22. in assignment or attribution to: an appointment for the afternoon; That’s for you to decide.
23. such as to allow of or to require: too many for separate mention.
24. such as results in: his reason for going.
25. as affecting the interests or circumstances of: bad for one’s health.
26. in proportion or with reference to: He is tall for his age.
27. in the character of; as being: to know a thing for a fact.
28. by reason of; because of: to shout for joy; a city famed for its beauty.
29. in spite of: He’s a decent guy for all that.
30. to the extent or amount of: to walk for a mile.
31. (used to introduce a subject in an infinitive phrase): It’s time for me to go.
32. (used to indicate the number of successes out of a specified number of attempts): The batter was 2 for 4 in the game.



1) We use the preposition in to indicate something physically inside a place.

  • See you in the classroom!
  • I like swimming in the sea.
  • We meet every day in that bar at ten o’clock.

2) We use the preposition on to indicate the position on a surface of something.

  • Your mobile is on the television.
  • There is an old big tree on the top of the hill.
  • I like surfing on the waves.

3) We use the preposition at to indicate a reference point.

  • See you at the Cinema Luxor.
  • The shop is at the top of the steps.
  • They have a little house at the end of the street.

Time Expressions

1) We use the preposition in for years, seasons, months and moments of the day.

in the twentieth century
the 1880s
spring/ summer
the morning/ the evening

– I usually go to Sardinia in the summer.
– They worked in a restaurant in 1998.

2) We use the preposition on for completed dates, days of the week, holiday days.

on 21 April
Christmas Day
Saturday night

– I often stay with my parents on Christmas Day.
– We usually play tennis on Sunday.

3) We use the preposition at for a reference point in time.

at six o’clock

– See you at ten o’clock near the school.
– What do you usually do at night?



Rules in Subject Verb Agreement

1. Subjects and verbs must agree in number. This is the cornerstone rule that forms the background of the concept.

The dog growls when he is angry. The dogs growl when they are angry.

2. Don’t get confused by the words that come between the subject and verb; they do not affect agreement.

The dog, who is chewing on my jeans, is usually very good.

3. Prepositional phrases between the subject and verb usually do not affect agreement.

The colors of the rainbow are beautiful.

4. When sentences start with “there” or “here,” the subject will always be placed after the verb, so care needs to be taken to identify it correctly.

There is a problem with the balance sheet.Here are the papers you requested.

5. Subjects don’t always come before verbs in questions. Make sure you accurately identify the subject before deciding on the proper verb form to use.

Does Lefty usually eat grass? Where are the pieces of this puzzle.

6. If two subjects are joined by and, they typically require a plural verb form.

The cow and the pig are jumping over the moon.

7. The verb is singular if the two subjects separated by and refer to the same person or thing.

Red beans and rice is my mom’s favorite dish.

8. If the words each, every, or no come before the subject, the verb is singular.

No smoking and drinking is allowed.Every man and woman is required to check in.

9. If the subjects are both singular and are connected by the words or, nor, neither/nor, either/or, and not only/but also the verb is singular.

Jessica or Christian is to blame for the accident.

10. The only time when the object of the preposition factors into the decision of plural or singular verb forms is when noun and pronoun subjects like some, half, none, more, all, etc. are followed by a prepositional phrase. In these sentences, the object of the preposition determines the form of the verb.

All of the chicken is gone.All of the chickens are gone.

11. The singular verb form is usually used for units of measurement.

Four quarts of oil was required to get the car running.

12. If the subjects are both plural and are connected by the words or, nor, neither/nor, either/or, and not only/but also, the verb is plural.

Dogs and cats are both available at the pound.

13. If one subject is singular and one plural and the words are connected by the wordsor, nor, neither/nor, either/or, and not only/but also, you use the verb form of the subject that is nearest the verb.

Do your sisters or your girlfriend want any pizza?

14. Indefinite pronouns typically take singular verbs.

Everybody wants to be loved.

15. * Except for the pronouns (few, many, several, both) that always take the plural form.

Few were left alive after the flood.

16. If two infinitives are separated by and they take the plural form of the verb.

To walk and to chew gum require great skill.

17. When gerunds are used as the subject of a sentence they take the singular verb form of the verb, but when they are linked by and they take the plural form.

Standing in the water was a bad idea.Swimming in the ocean and playing drumsare my hobbies.

18. Collective nouns like herd, senate, class, crowd, etc. usually take a singular verb form.

The herd is stampeding.

19. Titles of books, movies, novels, etc. are treated as singular and take a singular verb.

The Burbs is a movie starring Tom Hanks.

20. Final Rule – Remember, only the subject affects the verb!

Long forms, contracted forms (short forms)

Long forms, contracted forms of to be (am, are, is) – detailed explanations

to be (am, are, is)

affirmative negative
long form short form long form short form
I am I’m I am not I’m not
he, she, it:
he is he’s he is not he isn’t
we, you, they:
we are we’re we are not we aren’t

to be (was, were)

affirmative negative
long form short form long form short form
I, he, she, it:
he was he was not he wasn’t
we, you, they:
we were we were not we weren’t

have got

affirmative negative
long form short form long form short form
I, we, you, they:
we have got we’ve got we have not got we’ve not got,  we haven’t got
he, she, it:
he has got he’s got he has not got he’s not got , he hasn’t got


affirmative negative
long form short form long form short form
every time regardless the subject (I, he, she, it, we, you, they):
I had I’d I had not I hadn’t


affirmative negative
long form short form long form short form
I, we, you, they:
I do I do not I don’t
he, she, it:
he does he does not he doesn’t


affirmative negative
long form short form long form short form
every time regardless the subject (I, he, she, it, we, you, they):
I did I did not I didn’t

Modals (can, could, must, might, will, would, shall, should, ought to)

affirmative negative
long form short form long form short form
can cannot can’t
could could not couldn’t
must must not mustn’t
might might not
need need not needn’t
will ‘ll will not won’t
would ‘d would not wouldn’t
shall shall not shan’t
should ‘d should not shouldn’t
ought to ought not to oughtn’t to

The short forms ‘s and ‘d have two different long forms:
he’s = he is , he has
he’d = he would , he had

We seldom use short forms after names and nouns.
Peter has got a book. = Peter‘s got a book.
The children have visited London. = The children‘ve visited London.

When have is a full verb, we do not use the short form.
They have breakfast at 6 o’clock.



Comparison of Adjectives



To compare people, places, events or things, when there is no difference, use as + adjective + as:

  • Peter is 24 years old. John is 24 years old. Peter is as old as John.

More examples:

  • Moscow is as cold as St. Petersburg in the winter.
  • Ramona is as happy as Raphael.
  • Einstein is as famous as Darwin.

Conditional sentences (conditionals)


  • If I go to a friend’s house for dinner, I usually take a bottle of wine or some flowers.
  • When I have a day off from work, I often go to the beach.
  • If the weather is nice, she walks to work.
  • Jerry helps me with my homework when he has time.
  • I read if there is nothing on TV.
  • When I had a day off from work, I usually went to the beach.
    I regularly had days off from work.
  • If I had a day off from work, I usually went to the beach.
    If I had owned a car, I would have driven to work. But I didn’t own one, so I took the bus.
  • She would have traveled around the world if she had had more money. But she didn’t have much money, so she never traveled.
  • I would have read more as a child if I hadn’t watched so much TV. Unfortunately, I did watch a lot of TV, so I never read for entertainment.
  • Mary would have gotten the job and moved to Japan if she had studied Japanese in school instead of French.
  • If Jack had worked harder, he would have earned more money. Unfortunately, he was lazy and he didn’t earn much.
  • A: What would you have done if you had won the lottery last week?
    B: I would have bought a house.
  • A: What city would you have chosen if you had decided to move to the United States?
    B: I would have chosen Seattle.
  • If I went to a friend’s house for dinner, I usually took a bottle of wine or some flowers. I don’t do that anymore.
  • When I had a day off from work, I often went to the beach. Now, I never get time off.
  • If the weather was nice, she often walked to work. Now, she usually drives.
  • Jerry always helped me with my homework when he had time. But he doesn’t do that anymore.
  • If I went to a friend’s house for dinner, I used to take a bottle of wine or some flowers. I don’t do that anymore.
  • When I had a day off from work, I used to go to the beach. Now, I never get time off.
  • If the weather was nice, she used to walk to work. Now, she usually drives.
  • Jerry used to help me with my homework when he had time. But he doesn’t do that anymore.

EXCEPTION Conditional with Modal Verbs

There are some special conditional forms for modal verbs in English:

would have + can = could have

would have + shall = should have

would have + may = might have

The words “can,” “shall” and “may” cannot be used with “would have.” Instead, they must be used in these special forms.


  • If I had gone to Egypt, I could have learned Arabic.
  • If she had had time, she might have gone to the party.

The words “could,” should,” “might” and “ought to” include Conditional, so you cannot combine them with “would have.”


  • If I had had more time, I could have exercised after work.
  • If he had invited you, you might have gone.

Present Conditionals

Present Real Conditional


[If / When … Simple Present …, … Simple Present …]

[… Simple Present … if / when … Simple Present …]


The Present Real Conditional is used to talk about what you normally do in real-life situations.


  • If I go to a friend’s house for dinner, I usually take a bottle of wine or some flowers.
  • When I have a day off from work, I often go to the beach.
  • If the weather is nice, she walks to work.
  • Jerry helps me with my homework when he has time.
  • I read if there is nothing on TV.
  • A: What do you do when it rains?
    B: I stay at home.
  • A: Where do you stay if you go to Sydney?
    B: I stay with my friends near the harbor.


A preposition describes a relationship between other words in a sentence. In itself, a word like “in” or “after” is rather meaningless and hard to define in mere words. For instance, when you do try to define a preposition like “in” or “between” or “on,” you invariably use your hands to show how something is situated in relationship to something else. Prepositions are nearly always combined with other words in structures called prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases can be made up of a million different words, but they tend to be built the same: a preposition followed by a determiner and an adjective or two, followed by a pronoun or noun (called the object of the preposition). This whole phrase, in turn, takes on a modifying role, acting as an adjective or an adverb, locating something in time and space, modifying a noun, or telling when or where or under what conditions something happened.

Consider the professor’s desk and all the prepositional phrases we can use while talking about it.

You can sit before the desk (or in front of the desk). The professor can sit on the desk (when he’s being informal) or behind the desk, and then his feet are under the desk or beneath the desk. He can stand beside the desk (meaning next to the desk), before the desk, between the desk and you, or even on the desk (if he’s really strange). If he’s clumsy, he can bump into the desk or try to walk through the desk (and stuff would fall off the desk). Passing his hands over the desk or resting his elbows upon the desk, he often looks across the desk and speaks of the desk or concerning the desk as if there were nothing else like the desk. Because he thinks of nothing except the desk, sometimes you wonder about the desk, what’s in the desk, what he paid for the desk, and if he could live without the desk. You can walk toward the desk, to the desk, around the desk, by the desk, and even past the desk while he sits at the desk or leans against the desk.

All of this happens, of course, in time: during the class, before the class, until the class, throughout the class, after the class, etc. And the professor can sit there in a bad mood [another adverbial construction].

Those words in bold blue font are all prepositions. Some prepositions do other things besides locate in space or time — “My brother is like my father.” “Everyone in the class except me got the answer.” — but nearly all of them modify in one way or another. It is possible for a preposition phrase to act as a noun — “During a church service is not a good time to discuss picnic plans” or “In the South Pacific is where I long to be” — but this is seldom appropriate in formal or academic writing.

Is it any wonder that prepositions create such troubles for students for whom English is a second language? We say we are at the hospital to visit a friend who is in the hospital. We lie in bed but on the couch. We watch a film at the theater but on television. For native speakers, these little words present little difficulty, but try to learn another language, any other language, and you will quickly discover that prepositions are troublesome wherever you live and learn. This page contains some interesting (sometimes troublesome) prepositions with brief usage notes. To address all the potential difficulties with prepositions in idiomatic usage would require volumes, and the only way English language learners can begin to master the intricacies of preposition usage is through practice and paying close attention to speech and the written word. Keeping a good dictionary close at hand (to hand?) is an important first step.

Prepositions of Time: at, on, and in

We use at to designate specific times.
The train is due at 12:15 p.m.

We use on to designate days and dates.
My brother is coming on Monday.
We’re having a party on the Fourth of July.

We use in for nonspecific times during a day, a month, a season, or a year.
She likes to jog in the morning.
It’s too cold in winter to run outside.
He started the job in 1971.
He’s going to quit in August.

Prepositions of Place: at, on, and in

We use at for specific addresses.
Grammar English lives at 55 Boretz Road in Durham.

We use on to designate names of streets, avenues, etc.
Her house is on Boretz Road.

And we use in for the names of land-areas (towns, counties, states, countries, and continents).
She lives in Durham.
Durham is in Windham County.
Windham County is in Connecticut.

Prepositions of Movement: to
and No Preposition

We use to in order to express movement toward a place.
They were driving to work together.
She’s going to the dentist’s office this morning.

Toward and towards are also helpful prepositions to express movement. These are simply variant spellings of the same word; use whichever sounds better to you.
We’re moving toward the light.
This is a big step towards the project’s completion.

With the words home, downtown, uptown, inside, outside, downstairs, upstairs, we use no preposition.
Grandma went upstairs
Grandpa went home.
They both went outside.

Prepositions of Time: for and since

We use for when we measure time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years).
He held his breath for seven minutes.
She’s lived there for seven years.
The British and Irish have been quarreling for seven centuries.

We use since with a specific date or time.
He’s worked here since 1970.
She’s been sitting in the waiting room since two-thirty.

Prepositions with Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs.

Prepositions are sometimes so firmly wedded to other words that they have practically become one word. (In fact, in other languages, such as German, they would have become one word.) This occurs in three categories: nouns, adjectives, and verbs.

A combination of verb and preposition is called a phrasal verb. The word that is joined to the verb is then called a particle. Please refer to the brief section we have prepared on phrasal verbs for an explanation.

Idiomatic Expressions with Prepositions

  • agree to a proposal, with a person, on a price, in principle
  • argue about a matter, with a person, for or against a proposition
  • compare to to show likenesses, with to show differences (sometimes similarities)
  • correspond to a thing, with a person
  • differ from an unlike thing, with a person
  • live at an address, in a house or city, on a street, with other people

Unnecessary Prepositions

In everyday speech, we fall into some bad habits, using prepositions where they are not necessary. It would be a good idea to eliminate these words altogether, but we must be especially careful not to use them in formal, academic prose.

  • She met up with the new coach in the hallway.
  • The book fell off of the desk.
  • He threw the book out of the window.
  • She wouldn’t let the cat inside of the house. [or use “in”]
  • Where did they go to?
  • Put the lamp in back of the couch. [use “behind” instead]
  • Where is your college at?

Prepositions in Parallel Form

When two words or phrases are used in parallel and require the same preposition to be idiomatically correct, the preposition does not have to be used twice.
You can wear that outfit in summer and in winter.
The female was both attracted by and distracted by the male’s dance.

However, when the idiomatic use of phrases calls for different prepositions, we must be careful not to omit one of them.
The children were interested in and disgusted by the movie.
It was clear that this player could both contribute to and learn from every game he played.
He was fascinated by and enamored of this beguiling woman.


apologize for
ask about
ask for
belong to
bring up
care for
find out
give up
grow up
look for
look forward to
look up
make up
pay for
prepare for
study for
talk about
think about
trust in
work for
worry about

Adverbs of place

Adverbs of place: ending in ‘-wards’, expressing movement in a particular direction

backwards Examples

He took a step backwards to allow her to pass.

The road slopes gently downwards for a mile or two.

She turned her face upwards to the midday sun.

I am usually at home from 5 o’clock onwards.

After three hours cycling we decided to turn homewards.

The door opens outwards.



Note:- ‘Towards’ is a preposition, not an adverb, so it is always followed by a noun or a pronoun:

  • He walked towards the car.
  • She ran towards me.



Bottom of Form


Adverbs are words that modify

  • a verb (He drove slowly. — How did he drive?)
  • an adjective   (He drove a very fast car. — How fast was his car?)
  • another adverb (She moved quite slowly down the aisle. — How slowly did she move?)

As we will see, adverbs often tell when, where, why, or under what conditions something happens or happened. Adverbs frequently end in -ly; however, many words and phrases not ending in -ly serve an adverbial function and an -ly ending is not a guarantee that a word is an adverb. The words lovely, lonely, motherly, friendly, neighborly, for instance, are adjectives:

  • That lovely woman lives in a friendly neighborhood.

If a group of words containing a subject and verb acts as an adverb (modifying the verb of a sentence), it is called an Adverb Clause:

  • When this class is over, we’re going to the movies.

When a group of words not containing a subject and verb acts as an adverb, it is called an adverbial phrase. Prepositional phrases frequently have adverbial functions (telling place and time, modifying the verb):

  • He went to the movies.
  • She works on holidays.
  • They lived in Canada during the war.

And Infinitive phrases can act as adverbs (usually telling why):

  • She hurried to the mainland to see her brother.
  • The senator ran to catch the bus.

But there are other kinds of adverbial phrases:

  • He calls his mother as often as possible.

Adverbs can modify adjectives, but an adjective cannot modify an adverb. Thus we would say that “the students showed a really wonderful attitude” and that “the students showed a wonderfully casual attitude” and that “my professor is really tall, but not “He ran real fast.”

Like adjectives, adverbs can have comparative and superlative forms to show degree.

  • Walk faster if you want to keep up with me.
  • The student who reads fastest will finish first.

We often use more and most, less and least to show degree with adverbs:

  • With sneakers on, she could move more quickly among the patients.
  • The flowers were the most beautifully arranged creations I’ve ever seen.
  • She worked less confidently after her accident.
  • That was the least skillfully done performance I’ve seen in years.

The as — as construction can be used to create adverbs that express sameness or equality: “He can’t run as fast as his sister.”

A handful of adverbs have two forms, one that ends in -ly and one that doesn’t. In certain cases, the two forms have different meanings:

  • He arrived late.
  • Lately, he couldn’t seem to be on time for anything.

In most cases, however, the form without the -ly ending should be reserved for casual situations:

  • She certainly drives slow in that old Buick of hers.
  • He did wrong by her.
  • He spoke sharp, quick, and to the point.

Adverbs often function as intensifiers, conveying a greater or lesser emphasis to something. Intensifiers are said to have three different functions: they can emphasize, amplify, or downtone. Here are some examples:

  • Emphasizers:
    • I really don’t believe him.
    • He literally wrecked his mother’s car.
    • She simply ignored me.
    • They’re going to be late, for sure.
  • Amplifiers:
    • The teacher completely rejected her proposal.
    • I absolutely refuse to attend any more faculty meetings.
    • They heartily endorsed the new restaurant.
    • I so wanted to go with them.
    • We know this city well.
  • Downtoners:
    • I kind of like this college.
    • Joe sort of felt betrayed by his sister.
    • His mother mildly disapproved his actions.
    • We can improve on this to some extent.
    • The boss almost quit after that.
    • The school was all but ruined by the storm.

Adverbs (as well as adjectives) in their various degrees can be accompanied by premodifiers:

  • She runs very fast.
  • We’re going to run out of material all the faster

This issue is addressed in the section on degrees in adjectives.

Using Adverbs in a Numbered List

Within the normal flow of text, it’s nearly always a bad idea to number items beyond three or four, at the most. Anything beyond that, you’re better off with a vertical list that uses numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.). Also, in such a list, don’t use adverbs (with an -ly ending); use instead the uninflected ordinal number (first, second, third, fourth, fifth, etc.). First (not firstly), it’s unclear what the adverb is modifying. Second (not secondly), it’s unnecessary. Third (not thirdly), after you get beyond “secondly,” it starts to sound silly. Adverbs that number in this manner are treated as disjuncts.

Adverbs We Can Do Without

Review the section on Being Concise for some advice on adverbs that we can eliminate to the benefit of our prose: intensifiers such as very, extremely, and really that don’t intensify anything and expletive constructions (“There are several books that address this issue.”)

Kinds of Adverbs

Adverbs of Manner
She moved slowly and spoke quietly.

Adverbs of Place
She has lived on the island all her life.
She still lives there now.

Adverbs of Frequency
She takes the boat to the mainland every day.
She often goes by herself.

Adverbs of Time
She tries to get back before dark.
It’s starting to get dark now.
She finished her tea first.
She left early.

Adverbs of Purpose
She drives her boat slowly to avoid hitting the rocks.
She shops in several stores to get the best buys.

Positions of Adverbs

One of the hallmarks of adverbs is their ability to move around in a sentence. Adverbs of manner are particularly flexible in this regard.

  • Solemnly the minister addressed her congregation.
  • The minister solemnly addressed her congregation.
  • The minister addressed her congregation solemnly.

The following adverbs of frequency appear in various points in these sentences:

  • Before the main verb: I never get up before nine o’clock.
  • Between the auxiliary verb and the main verb: I have rarely written to my brother without a good reason.
  • Before the verb used to: I always used to see him at his summer home.

Indefinite adverbs of time can appear either before the verb or between the auxiliary and the main verb:

  • He finally showed up for batting practice.
  • She has recently retired.

Order of Adverbs

More Notes on Adverb Order

As a general principle, shorter adverbial phrases precede longer adverbial phrases, regardless of content. In the following sentence, an adverb of time precedes an adverb of frequency because it is shorter (and simpler):

  • Dad takes a brisk walk before breakfast every day of his life.

A second principle: among similar adverbial phrases of kind (manner, place, frequency, etc.), the more specific adverbial phrase comes first:

  • My grandmother was born in a sod house on the plains of northern Nebraska.
  • She promised to meet him for lunch next Tuesday.

Bringing an adverbial modifier to the beginning of the sentence can place special emphasis on that modifier. This is particularly useful with adverbs of manner:

  • Slowly, ever so carefully, Jesse filled the coffee cup up to the brim, even above the brim.
  • Occasionally, but only occasionally, one of these lemons will get by the inspectors.

Inappropriate Adverb Order

Review the section on Misplaced Modifiers for some additional ideas on placement. Modifiers can sometimes attach themselves to and thus modify words that they ought not to modify.

  • They reported that Giuseppe Balle, a European rock star, had died on the six o’clock news.

Clearly, it would be better to move the underlined modifier to a position immediately after “they reported” or even to the beginning of the sentence — so the poor man doesn’t die on television.

Misplacement can also occur with very simple modifiers, such as only and barely:

  • She only grew to be four feet tall.

It would be better if “She grew to be only four feet tall.”

Adjuncts, Disjuncts, and Conjuncts

Regardless of its position, an adverb is often neatly integrated into the flow of a sentence. When this is true, as it almost always is, the adverb is called an adjunct. (Notice the underlined adjuncts or adjunctive adverbs in the first two sentences of this paragraph.) When the adverb does not fit into the flow of the clause, it is called a disjunct or a conjunct and is often set off by a comma or set of commas. A disjunct frequently acts as a kind of evaluation of the rest of the sentence. Although it usually modifies the verb, we could say that it modifies the entire clause, too. Notice how “too” is a disjunct in the sentence immediately before this one; that same word can also serve as an adjunct adverbial modifier: It’s too hot to play outside. Here are two more disjunctive adverbs:

  • Frankly, Martha, I don’t give a hoot.
  • Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Conjuncts, on the other hand, serve a connector function within the flow of the text, signaling a transition between ideas.

  • If they start smoking those awful cigars, then I’m not staying.
  • We’ve told the landlord about this ceiling again and again, and yet he’s done nothing to fix it.

At the extreme edge of this category, we have the purely conjunctive device known as the conjunctive adverb (often called the adverbial conjunction):

  • Jose has spent years preparing for this event; nevertheless, he’s the most nervous person here.
  • I love this school; however, I don’t think I can afford the tuition.

Some Special Cases

The adverbs enough and not enough usually take a postmodifier position:

  • Is that music loud enough?
  • These shoes are not big enough.
  • In a roomful of elderly people, you must remember to speak loudly enough.

(Notice, though, that when enough functions as an adjective, it can come before the noun:

  • Did she give us enough time?

The adverb enough is often followed by an infinitive:

  • She didn’t run fast enough to win.

The adverb too comes before adjectives and other adverbs:

  • She ran too fast.
  • She works too quickly.

If too comes after the adverb it is probably a disjunct (meaning also) and is usually set off with a comma:

  • Yasmin works hard. She works quickly, too.

The adverb too is often followed by an infinitive:

  • She runs too slowly to enter this race.

Another common construction with the adverb too is too followed by a prepositional phrase — for + the object of the preposition — followed by an infinitive:

  • This milk is too hot for a baby to drink.

Relative Adverbs

Adjectival clauses are sometimes introduced by what are called the relative adverbs: where, when, and why. Although the entire clause is adjectival and will modify a noun, the relative word itself fulfills an adverbial function (modifying a verb within its own clause).

The relative adverb where will begin a clause that modifies a noun of place:

My entire family now worships in the church where my great grandfather used to be minister.

The relative pronoun “where” modifies the verb “used to be” (which makes it adverbial), but the entire clause (“where my great grandfather used to be minister”) modifies the word “church.”

A when clause will modify nouns of time:

My favorite month is always February, when we celebrate Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day.

And a why clause will modify the noun reason:

Do you know the reason why Isabel isn’t in class today?

We sometimes leave out the relative adverb in such clauses, and many writers prefer “that” to “why” in a clause referring to “reason”:

  • Do you know the reason why Isabel isn’t in class today?
  • I always look forward to the day when we begin our summer vacation.
  • I know the reason that men like motorcycles.

Authority for this section: Understanding English Grammar by Martha Kolln. 4rth Edition. MacMillan Publishing Company: New York. 1994.

Viewpoint, Focus, and Negative Adverbs

A viewpoint adverb generally comes after a noun and is related to an adjective that precedes that noun:

  • A successful athletic team is often a good team scholastically.
  • Investing all our money in snowmobiles was probably not a sound idea financially.

You will sometimes hear a phrase like “scholastically speaking” or “financially speaking” in these circumstances, but the word “speaking” is seldom necessary.

A focus adverb indicates that what is being communicated is limited to the part that is focused; a focus adverb will tend either to limit the sense of the sentence (“He got an A just for attending the class.”) or to act as an additive (“He got an A in addition to being published.”

Although negative constructions like the words “not” and “never” are usually found embedded within a verb string — “He has never been much help to his mother.” — they are technically not part of the verb; they are, indeed, adverbs. However, a so-called negative adverb creates a negative meaning in a sentence without the use of the usual no/not/neither/nor/never constructions:

  • He seldom visits.
  • She hardly eats anything since the accident.
  • After her long and tedious lectures, rarely was anyone awake.

Three Golden Rules ( Primary Verbs)

Primary verbs can be used as auxiliary verb and main verb:

For example:

I am Joseph.( ‘am’ used as main verb)

I am going to the market. ( ‘am’ used as auxiliary verb)

I have a pen.( ‘have’ used as main verb)

I have bought a pen.( ‘have’ used as an auxiliary verb)

Does Joseph go to the market everyday? ( “do” is used as main verb)

Joseph did that act.( “do” is used as an auxiliary verb)

Three golden rules:

1. When the forms of to be (am, are, is, was, were) used as auxiliary verbs the main verb must be in “ing” form .

2. when the forms of to have (have, has, had) used as auxiliary verbs the main verb must be in past participle form,

When the forms of to do (do, does, did) used as auxiliary verbs, the following main verb must be in infinitive form.

Note: These rules are applicable only in active voice.