Classes of verbs
- There are two classes of verbs in English:
- The auxiliary verbs (auxiliaries): to be, to have, to do; can, could, may, might, must, ought, shall, should, will, would, to need, to dare, and used.
- All other verbs, which we may call ordinary verbs:
To work to sing to pray
- Be, have, do, need and dare have infinitives and participles like ordinary verbs, but can, could, may, might, must, ought, shall, should, will and would have neither infinitives nor participles and therefore have only a restricted number of forms.
Before studying auxiliaries it may be helpful to consider ordinary verbs, most of whose tenses are formed with auxiliaries.
Principal parts of the active verb
|Present infinitive||To work||Not to work|
|Present continuous infinitive||To be working||Not to be working|
|Perfect infinitive||To have worked||Not to have worked|
|Perfect continuous infinitive||To have been working||Not to have been working|
|Present participle and gerund||Working||Not working|
|Perfect participle and gerund||Having worked||Not having worked|
In regular verbs the simple past and the past participle are both formed by adding d or ed to the infinitive. Sometimes the final consonant of the infinitive has to be doubled, e.g. slip, slipped.
The present participle and gerund are always regular and are formed by adding ing to the infinitive. The rule concerning the doubling of the final consonant of the infinitive before adding ing applies here also.
|Continuous||He is working|
|Perfect||He has worked|
|Perfect Continuous||He has been working|
|Continuous||He was working|
|Perfect||He had worked|
|Perfect Continuous||He had been working|
|Future||Simple||He will work|
|Continuous||He will be working|
|Perfect||He will have worked|
|Perfect Continuous||He will have been working|
|Present||Conditional||He would work|
|Conditional Continuous||He would be working|
|Perfect||Conditional||He would have worked|
|Conditional Continuous||He would have been working|
- Affirmative Contractions
The auxiliaries be, have, will, would are contracted as follows:
Note that ‘s can be is or has and ‘d can be had or would:
|He’s going||=||He is going|
|He’s gone||=||He has gone|
|He’d paid||=||He had paid|
|He’d like a drink||=||He would like a drink.|
These contractions are used after pronouns, here, there, some question words and short nouns:
|Here’s your pen.||The twins’ve arrived.||The car’d broken down.|
Affirmative contractions are not used at the end of sentences:
You aren’t in a hurry but I am.
(I’m would not be possible here).
Shall/should, was and were are not written in a contracted form but are often contracted in speech to ʃl, ʃəd, wəz/ and /wə(r)/.
Auxiliaries used to form tenses are normally unstressed. The stress falls on the main verb.
NEGATIVES OF TENSES
- The simple present tense: third person singular does not/doesn’t + infinitive; other persons do not/don’t + infinitive.
The simple past tense negative for all persons is did not/didn’t + infinitive.
Contractions are usual in speech:
He does not/doesn’t answer letters.
They do not/don’t live here.
I did not/didn’t phone her.
She did not/didn’t wait for me.
The negative of all other tenses is formed by putting not after the auxiliaries.
Contractions are usual in speech:
He has not/hasn’t finished.
He would not/wouldn’t come.
- Negative Contractions
The auxiliaries be, have, will, would, shall, should, do are contracted as follows:
|am not||‘m not|
|is not||isn’t or ‘s not|
|are not||aren’t or ‘re not|
|I’m not going and Tom isn’t going/Tom’s not going.|
|We aren’t going/We’re not going.|
Have not and has not contract to haven’t and hasn’t , but in perfect tenses ‘ve not and ‘s not are also possible:
we haven’t seen him/We’ve not seen him.
He hasn’t/He’s not come yet.
Will not contracts to won’t, though ‘ll not is also possible. Shall not contracts to shan’t:
I won’t go/I’ll not go till I hear and I shan’t hear till tomorrow.
Other verb forms are contracted in the usual way by adding n’t. Negative contractions can come at the end of a sentence:
I saw it but he didn’t.
- In English a negative sentence can have only one negative expression in it. Two negative expressions give the sentence an affirmative meaning: Nobody did nothing means that everyone did something.
So never, no (adjective), none, nobody, no one, nothing, hardly, hardly ever etc. are used with an affirmative verb. We can say:
He didn’t eat anything or
He ate nothing.
He doesn’t ever complain or
He never complains.
We haven’t seen anyone or
We have seen no one.
They didn’t speak much or
They hardly spoke at all/They hardly ever spoke.
INTERROGATIVE FOR QUESTIONS AND REQUESTS
- Simple present tense interrogative: does he/she/it + infinitive; do I/you/we/they + infinitive.
Simple past tense interrogative: did + subject + infinitive.
Does Peter enjoy parties? Did he enjoy Ann’s party?
In all other tenses the interrogative is formed by putting the subject after the auxiliary:
Have you finished? Are you coming?
- Contractions of auxiliaries used in the interrgative
- am, is, are, have, had, will and would
after how, what, who, where, why, these can be contracted as shown above.
How will/How’ll he get there? What has/What’s happened?
is and will can also be contracted after when:
when is/When’s he coming?
Will can also be contracted after which:
Which will/Which’ll you have?
When the verb comes first as in A above, it is not contracted in writing except in negative interrogative forms. But in speech it is usually contracted.
- Shall, should, do and did are not written in contracted form, although do you is someties written d’you. In speech shall, should and do you are often contracted to /ʃl, ʃəd, dju:/.
- The interrogative form is used for questions, but it is not used:
- When the question is about the identity of the subject:
Who told you? What happened?
- In indirect speech:
He said, ‘Where does she live?’ = He asked where she lived.
- If we place before the question a prefix such as Do you know, Can you tell me, I want to know, I’d like to know, I wonder/was wondering, Have you any idea, Do you think:
What time does it start? But have you any idea what time it starts?
Where does Peter live? But I wonder where Peter lives.
Will I have to pay duty on this? But
Do you think I’ll have/Do you know if I’ll have to pay duty?
- Requests are usually expressed by the interrogative:
Can/Could you help me? Will/would you pay at the desk?
Would you like to come this way?
Would you mind moving your car?
But here again, if before the request we put a phrase such as
I wonder/was wondering or Do you think, the verb in the request changes from interrogative to affirmative:
Could you give me a hand with this? But
I wonder/was wondering/wondered if you could give me a hand or
Do you think you could give me a hand?
In indirect speech the problem does not arise, as indirect requests are expressed by a verb such as ask with object +infinitive:
He asked me to give him a hand.
- The interrogative is used in question tags after a negative verb:
You didn’t see him, did you?
- When, for emphasis, words/phrases such as never, rarely, seldom, only when, only by, not only, not till are placed first in a sentence the following main verb is put into the inverted (=interrogative) form:
Only when we landed did we see how badly the plane had been damaged.
- This is formed by putting not after the ordinary interrogative:
Did you not see her? Is he not coming?
But this form is almost always contracted:
Didn’t you see her? Isn’t he coming?
Note that not is now before the subject.
am I not? Has an irregular contraction: aren’t I?
- The negative interrogative is used when the speaker expects or hopes for an affirmative answer:
Haven’t you finished yet? Don’t you like my new dress?
CHILD: can’t I stay up till the end of the programme?
I could wait ten minutes. – Couldn’t you wait a little longer?
- The negative interrogative is also used in question tags after an affirmative sentence:
You paid him, didn’t you?
She would like to come, wouldn’t she?