Kinds of Verbs
Verbs can be divided into the following three categories—
(1) Transitive Verbs
(2) Intransitive Verbs
(3) Auxiliary Verbs / Modal Verbs
Transitive Verbs :
“A Verb is Transitive if the action does not stop with the agent, but passes from the agent to something else.” (J. C. Nesfield)
- I read a book.
In this sentence the sense is not complete with ‘I read’ only, until it is known what I read. The sense is complete only when we say “I read a book”. The action, thus, passes on to the book. In this way the Person or Thing with which the action of the verb ends is called its Object. A Transitive Verb must have its Object.
Intransitive Verbs :
“A Verb is Intransitive when the action stops with the agent, and does not pass from the agent to anything else.” (Nesfield) I sleep. The sense of this sentence is complete. Its action does not pass on to any other thing. Therefore it needs no object. An Intransitive Verb has no object.
Auxiliary / Modal Verbs :
Auxiliary or Modal Verbs are also called Helping Verbs because they help the Principal verb. “An Auxiliary Verb is one which
(a) helps to form a tense or mood of some Principal Verb, and
(b) forgoes its own significance as a Principal Verb for that purpose.”
- He has gone.
In this sentence has is auxiliary verb and gone Principal Verb. Here has has helped the Principal Verb in making its Present Perfect Tense, and in so doing it has lost its own identity as a Principal verb.
Number of Auxiliary / Modal Verbs
Auxiliary or Modal Verbs are 27 in number. They are :
Is, was, were, am, are, will, would, shall, should, do, does, did, can, could, may, might, must, ought, has, have, had, need, dare, used, be, been, being.
These verbs (excluding be, been, being) are also called Anomalous Verbs.
Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
Regarding Transitive and Intransitive verbs it is necessary to remember that most verbs are neither Transitive nor Intransitive in themselves. This distinction depends upon their use. A Transitive verb can be used as an Intransitive verb, and an Intransitive verb can be used as a Transitive verb. Therefore Wren and Martin observe :
“Most Verbs can be used both as Transitive and as Intransitive Verbs. It is, therefore, better to say that a Verb is used Transitively or Intransitively rather than that it is Transitive or Intransitive.”
Rule 1. Transitive and Intransitive Use As we have said above, most verbs can be used both as Transitive and Intransitive verbs. As—
Kinds of Verbs
Transitive Use Intransitive Use
1. He speaks the truth. 1. He speaks softly.
2. I feel a severe pain in my backbone. 2. How does he feel now ?
3. He can drive any car. 3. He drives very cautiously.
4. Please ring the bell. 4. The bell rings.
5. He stopped the bus. 5. The bus stopped.
6. They fought the enemy back. 6. They fought bravely.
7. I read a book. 7. I read slowly.
8. They drink country liquor. 8. They never drink.
9. Change your clothes. 9. They will never change.
10. He invited you. 10. I was not invited.
Rule 2. Intransitive Verbs used as Transitive Verbs
(i) When an Intransitive Verb is used in the Causal / Causative sense ( in getting or causing an action done), it becomes a Transitive verb.
1. A bird flies. 1. He flies a kite. (i.e. causes a kite to fly.)
2. He drives very cautiously. 2. He drives the cattle away from the field. (i.e. causes the cattle to run away.)
3. The sportsmen marched in a line. 3. The captain marched the sportsmen in a line. (i.e. caused them to march in a line.)
4. The boat floated. 4. I floated the boat. (i.e. caused the boat to float.)
(ii) Some Intransitive Verbs become Transitive with the addition of a Preposition with them. In that case the Preposition becomes a part of the verb and cannot be separated from it. As :
- I have carefully gone through (i.e. i.e. read) your representation.
- Please look into (i.e. investigate) the matter carefully.
- He runs after (i.e. pursues) money at all costs.
- All his friends laughed at (i.e derided) him.
- I ask for (i.e. request) your kind favour.
- There is none to look after (i.e. take care of) him.
Note—Somethimes an Intransitive verb becomes Transitive with the addition of a Preposition before it. As :
- He will overcome all his difficulties.
- The river is overflowing its banks.
- He is bold enough to withstand the attack.
Rule 3. Transitive Verbs used Intransitively Some Transitive Verbs can be used as Intransitive verbs under the following conditions :
(i) When a verb is used in such a wide sense that the need of using its object is not felt. As—
- Men eat to keep alive.
- On the battlefield soldiers have to kill.
(ii) When the Reflexive Pronoun of the verb is kept concealed. As—
- He turned (himself) to the door and bolted it.
- Please keep (yourself) quiet.
- He drew (himself) near her.
- The bubble burst (itself).
(iii) Some Transitive Verbs can be used as Intransitive verbs also. As—
1. He broke the glass. 1. The glass broke.
2. He closes the shop at 8 p.m. 2. The market closes at 8 p.m.
3. He burns the dry leaves. 3. Dry leaves burn.
4. He opens the office at 10 a.m. 4. The office opens at 10 a.m.
Auxiliary / Modal Verbs : Their Functions
As we have said above, there are in all 27 Auxiliary / Modal verbs. They have the following 6 functions :
To form different Tense Forms
Different Tenses are formed with the help of Auxiliary verbs. As—
- He is going.
- He will go.
- He has gone.
- He must go.
- He had already gone.
- He does not go.
To make Interrogative sentences
Some Interrogative sentences are formed with the help of Auxiliary Verbs. As—
- Is he going ?
- Has he gone ?
- Will he go ?
- Can he go ?
- Does he go ?
- Did he go ?
- Do you go ?
To form Question-tags and Short Answers
Question–tags and short answers are also formed with the help of Auxiliary verbs. As—
- He plays football, doesn’the ?
- He is a good man, isn’t he ?
- Are you going home ? Yes, I am / No, I am not.
- Do you like this book ? Yes, I do / No, I don’t.
They are also used to show agreement or disagreement with a certain statement. As—
- The weather is very fine. Yes, it is.
- The day is very hot. Yes, it is.
- He is a rich man. No, he isn’t.
- He likes to read novels. Yes, he does / No, he doesn’t.
Certain ideas are also expressed by using them. As—
- He may come. (Possibility)
- He can help you. (Ability)
- He must come in time. (Obligatory)
- He has to remain at home. (Obligatory)
- I have got a good house. (Possession)
- He does not know. (Negative)
Negative Verbs are also formed with their help. As—
- He does not go. (‘He goes not’ is wrong.)
- He did not laugh. (‘He laughed not’ is wrong.)
Uses of Auxiliary Verbs
Verbs “to be” : am, is, are, was, were
Rule 1. Is and am Both these are Singular Verbs of the Present Tense, but ‘is’ is used with the Third Person and ‘am’ with the First Person. Therefore we cannot use am with He or is with I. As—
- He / she is a student.
- Ram is a lawyer.
- I am a student.
- I am a lawyer.
Rule 2. As Intransitive Verbs without Predicate/ Complement
Structure—Subject + Verb ‘to be’
Such sentences show the existence of a person or thing. As—
- God is. = God exists.
- Stars are. = Stars exist.
Rule 3. As Intransitive Verbs with Predicate / Complement
Structure—Subject + Verb ‘to be’ + Complement In these sentences verb ‘to be’ (is, am, are, was, were) must be followed by a Complement (Noun/Pronoun/Adjective/Adverb).
The sentence would be incomplete without the complement. As—
- He is a gentleman. (Complement ‘Noun’)
- You are a sportsman. (Complement ‘Noun’)
- This book is mine. (Complement ‘Pronoun’)
- The weather is fine. (Complement ‘Adjective’)
- He was there. (Complement ‘Adverb’)
- He is inside. (Complement ‘Adverb’)
- They were happy. (Complement ‘Adjective’)
Rule 4. Subject + Verb ‘to be’ + Infinitive
The structure of some sentences is as follows— Subject + is / am / was / were / are + Infinitive (Present or Perfect) As :
- He is to come tomorrow.
- I am to leave tomorrow.
- They are to assemble here.
- They were to play a match here.
- You are to see me tomorrow.
- He was to have come only yesterday.
Rule 5. It + is / was + adjective / infinitive / gerund / clause
Some sentences have the structure as noted above. As—
- It is easy to reach there.
- It was to happen.
- It is foolish talking like this.
- It is good that he reached in time.
Rule 6. Subject + Verb to be + Principal Verb + ‘ing’
The continuous form of every tense is made with the help of verb to be. As—
- He is reading.
- He was reading.
- He will be reading.
- They are going.
- They were going.
- I am going.
Rule 7. Passive Voice is also made with the help of Verb to be. As—
- The servant was called.
- The servant is being called.
- He was invited.
- They were invited.
- I am invited.
Rule 8. Subject + was / were + Perfect infinitive
Some sentences have the above structure. These sentences express the sense that a certain work was to have been completed in the past, but this could not be done.
- They were to have left yesterday but had to postpone their departure for a week.
- He was to have been promoted only last year but that could not be done.
Rule 9. Making of Interrogative sentences
Some Interrogative sentences are also made with the help of Verbs to be. An Interrogative sentence begins with a Verb to be and then comes its Subject. As—
- Is he a good man ?
- Are you going ?
- Was he absent ?
- Am I a fool ?
- Were they invited ?
Rule 10. Were for supposition or impossible desire
Some sentences begin with “were”. These sentences express just imaginary or impossible wishes. These sentences have the following structure. Were + Subject + Complement / Predicate As :
- Were I a king !
- Were I a bird !
- Were she young !
- Were I there !
Note—Such sentences are also correct in the following structure : If + Subject + Were + Complement / Predicate As :
- If I were a king !
- If I were a bird !
- If she were young !
- If I were there !
Have = have / has / had
Rule 1. Formation of Perfect Tenses
The Perfect forms of all the Tenses (Present, Past and Future) are made with the help of has / have / had. These sentences have the following structure :
Subject + have / has / had + Past Participle As :
- I have finished my work.
- He has gone.
- They have finished their work.
- He had gone to Kanpur by that time.
- You had already taken your book.
Note—It should be remembered in this connection that ‘have’ is used with I, you, We and Third Person Plural in the Present Tense, ‘has’ with Third Person Singular in the Present Tense, and ‘had’ with all Persons (First, Second, and Third) in the Past Tense in both Singular and Plural Numbers.
Rule 2. Present Perfect + Expressions of Time
Care should be taken not to use any phrase or expression suggestive of Past Tense while writing a sentence in the Present Perfect Tense.
Some popular phrases expressive of Past Tense are these:
Yesterday, last evening, / night / week / month / year / summer / winter, the other day, a little while ago, a moment / minute ago, a few moments / minutes / days / months / years / ago, etc.
The use of such phrases / expressions with the Present Perfect Tense would make a funny mingling of the Present and Past Tenses, which must be avoided. The only expression that can be used with the Present Perfect Tense is ‘just now.’ Therefore never make sentences such as these :
- I have come yesterday.
- I have passed M.A. last year.
- He has left a few minutes ago.
- He has met me last winter.
The use of ‘expressions of time’ in all these sentences is wrong. If these expressions have to be used, the verb should be used in the Simple Past Tense. As :
- I came yesterday.
- I passed M.A. last year.
- He left a few minutes ago.
- He met me last winter.
The use of ‘just now’ is correct. As :
- I have come just now.
- He has left just now.
Rule 3. Present Perfect + Adverbial/ Prepositional phrase
Some sentences of the Present Perfect Tense are so constructed that with the help of an Adverbial or a Prepositional phrase the Past is connected with the Present. In other words, they show an action that started in the Past and continues to the Present moment. Some popular Adverbial or Prepositional phrases that show this continuity are these :
Since, for, yet, just, already, ever, never, often, several times, today, lately, recently, so far, until now, upto the present, this day / week / month, etc.
Their structure is like this :
Subject + have / has + Past Participle + Adverbial / Prepositional phrase As :
- I have not seen him since July.
- I have lived in Canada for many years.
- He has not yet come.
- He has recently built a new house.
Note—The following Adverbs of Time are always used with the Present Perfect Tense, not with the Simple Past Tense : Already, yet, since, uptil now, so far As :
- He has already gone home. ( Not, ‘already went home’)
- You have not done any work so far. (Not, ‘did not do any work so far’)
Rule 4. Perfect continuous Tense
The Perfect continuous form of every Tense is also formed with the help of have / has / had. Their structure is as follows :
Subject + have / has / had / will have / shall have + been + Present Participle + Time Phrase As :
- I have been living in this house since 1990.
- He has been living in this house for many years.
- He had been living in this house for many years before he built his own house.
- He will have been living in this house for five years by now.
Rule 5. Past Perfect Tense
The sentences written in Past Perfect Tense have two parts—one part written in the Past Tense, and the other part in the Past of the Past Tense. That is, these sentences indicate the occurrence of two actions at two points of time in the Past.
In these sentences one action takes place in the near Past and the other in the distant Past. The action that occurs in the near Past is written in Simple Past Tense and that occurring in distant past is written in Past Perfect Tense. These two parts of the sentence are joined with one of the following Conjunctions—When, before, after. As :
- The train had left before I reached the station.
In this sentence the action of the ‘train leaving the station’ is earlier in point of time and therefore written in the Past Perfect Tense, and the action of ‘my reaching the station’ is later in point of time and therefore written in Simple Past Tense.
- The patient had died before the doctor reached.
- He had left Kanpur before I reached there.
- The fire had engulfed the house before the fire-brigade arrived there.
Note—Some sentences in the Past Perfect Tense can also be constructed thus :
- He had already spent the whole money.
- He had given the message much earlier.
Rule 6. Subject + have / has / had + Infinitive or Subject + have/has/had got + Infinitive
Some sentences are constructed as above. These sentences express the idea of necessity, compulsion or obligation. As :
- He has to obey me. He has got to obey me.
- He has to borrow money. He has got to borrow money.
- He had to borrow money.
- They will have to follow me.
Note—The Negative of the above sentences is formed thus :
(i) Subject + have/has/had + not + Infinitive
(ii) Subject + do / does / did + not have + Infinitive As :
- He has not to obey me.
- He does not have to borrow money.
- They do not have to follow me.
- I do not have to follow you.
Rule 7. Causative use of ‘Have’ : Subject + have + Object + Past Participle
In some sentences the subject does not act himself : he gets the work done by others. Such sentences are constructed as below with the help of have / has / had used causatively : Subject + have / has / had + Object + Past Participle As :
- I had him punished for his fault.
- He has a house built.
- I have my essay corrected.
- I shall have my letter typed.
- They can have their furniture repaired.
Note—In the above construction get / got can also be used in place of have, has, had. As :
- I got him punished.
- I shall get my essay corrected.
- He gets his furniture repaired every year.
- I am getting my house whitewashed.
Rule 8. ‘Have’ showing possession
Have / has / had are also used to show ‘Possession’ in the following form : Subject + have / has / had + Noun Subject + have / has / had got + Noun As :
- I have a book.
- He has a pen.
- They have a big house.
- I had a good friend.
- I will have a house very soon.
- I have got a new book.
- They had got many good chances.
Note—(i) The use of got before have / has / had increases emphasis.
(ii) Such sentences also show relationship. As :
- A chair has four legs.
- I have two brothers.
- A cow has two horns.
(iii) They also express the idea of take / give / enjoy / experience.
- I have my breakfast at 8 a.m.
- He had his bath very early in the morning.
- I have two years’ experience of working in the field.
- We had a good day.
- I have some friends there.
(iv) When ‘have’ means give / take / do, it can be used in Present Continuous Tense also. As :
- We are having a party today.
- They are having very difficult times these days.
But we should not write such sentences :
- I am having a book.
- She is having a small baby.
- This book is having six chapters.
Rule 9. Negative Sentences with ‘Have’
Negative sentences with have / has / had can be framed in the following two patterns : (i) Subject + have / has / had + no + Noun or Subject + have / has / had + not any + Noun As :
- I have no house.
- He has no house.
- You had no house.
- I have not (haven’t) any house.
- He has not (hasn’t) any house.
- They had not (hadn’t) any house.
(ii) Subject + do / does / did + not + have + Noun
- I do not have any pen.
- He does not / did not have any pen.
- They do not / did not have any friend.
Note—Remember that after do not / does not / did not we always use ‘have’ (not has or had) whether the subject is Singular or Plural, or of any Person.
Rule 10. Interrogative sentences with ‘Have’
Interrogative sentences are formed in two ways with the help of have / has / had :
(i) Have / has / had + Subject + remaining words
- Have you (got) a pen ?
- Has he (got) a pen ?
- Had they (got) a house ?
(ii) Do / does / did + Subject + have + remaining words
- Do I have a big house ?
- Does he have a big house ?
- Do they have no house ?
- Did you have a big house there ?
Note—As we have said above, we always use ‘have’ (not has or had) after do / does / did with every kind of subject.
Rule 11. Past Perfect + Infinitive
There are some verbs which, if used in Past Perfect Tense, would indicate incompletion of action. These verbs express hope, wish, desire, imagination. They are :
Wish, hope, want, expect, intend, suppose, think.
Also remember that an Infinitive is used after the Past Perfect form of these Verbs.
- I had expected to find him here. (But could not find him here.)
- She had hoped to pass in the first division.
- I had wished to buy a new car.
Note-In place of simple Infinitives can also be used Perfect Infinitives : As :
- I had expected to have found him here.
- She had hoped to have passed in the first division.
- I had wished to have bought a new car.
Rule 12. Have had, has had, had had, will have had
Sometimes have had, has had or had had are used together. First time they are used as Auxiliary Verbs and second time as Finite Verbs. As :
- I have had my breakfast.
- She has had her breakfast.
- She had had her breakfast very early.
- He will have had his breakfast by now.
Rule 13. Sometimes Had is also used to express condition, wish or imagination. As :
- Had I been a king !
- Had I seen the Olympic games !
- Had I won a lottery !
- He behaved as if he had been my master.
Rule 14. Has been + Noun / Noun with Preposition
These sentences show that some action started in the Past and also ended in the Past, and is not continuing in the Present. As :
- I have been a Professor. (i.e. I am not a Professor now.)
- I have been to England. (i.e. I am not there now.)
- He has been a sportsman.
Rule 15. Go = Lose
Sometimes ‘Go’ is used in the sense of ‘Lose’. In that case we should write is gone / was gone or is lost / was lost, but not has / had gone or lost.
- My suitcase is lost / is gone.
- My suitcase was lost / was gone in the train.
May / Might
Rule 1. May May expresses two ideas :
- To give or take permission
- To express Possibility / Probability or Doubt
For taking permission : May + Subject + Verb in the Present Tense As :
- May I come in, sir ?
- May I sit on this chair ?
For giving Permission/expressing Possibility or Doubt.
Subject + may + Verb in the Present Tense
- You may come in. (Permission)
- You may sit on this chair. (Permission)
- It may rain. (Possibility)
- He may be late. (Doubt)
Note—We can also use can in place of May for giving or taking permission.
Rule 2. Might
Might is the Past Tense of May. It is used to express very little possibility or much doubt. In May there is normal possibility or doubt, but in Might the possibility is very little or doubt very much. Its structure is : Subject + might + Verb in the Present Tense As :
- It might rain. (very little possibility)
- He might come today.
- He might pass.
- He might change his mind.
Rule 3. Might in Interrogative Sentences
Might shows more courtesy than May. This courtesy goes to the extent of doubt and hesitation. Such sentences are always written in Interrogative form and begin with Might. Their structure is :
Might + Subject + Verb + Object / Other words As :
- Might I use your pen, please ?
- Might I borrow your pen for an hour ?
- Might I go now ?
Note—Might can be used to show more courtesy in giving permission also.
- You might go now.
Rule 4. May for Purposem or Wish May is used to express purpose or wish also: As :
- May you live long ! (Wish)
- May God help you ! (Wish)
- I came so early that I may find you at home. (Purpose)
- Workhard so that you may pass. (Purpose)
Rule 5. May + Perfect Infinitive In some sentences May is used with Perfect Infinitive or Past Participle. These sentences express the idea that there was much possibility of an action being completed in the past, but whether the action was really completed or not is not known.
The structure of such sentences is this :
Subject + may + Perfect Infinitive (‘to’ of the Infinitive remaining concealed) or Subject + may + have + Past Participle
- He may have submitted his application.
- He may have given him some help.
Rule 6. Might + Perfect Infinitive These sentences show that there was much possibility of an action to have been completed in the past, but it could not be. Their structure is :
Subject + might + Perfect Infinitive or Subject + might + have + Past Participle As :
- The robber might have killed him. (He escaped being killed.)
- He might have robbed me.
- The thief might have escaped from the police custody.
Rule 7. Might in Indirect Narration While converting a sentence from Direct into Indirect Narration, May is changed into Might if the Reporting Verb is in the Past Tense. As :
- He said, “My father may come today.”
- He said that his father might come that day.
Rule 8. Might for Dissatisfaction or Reproach Might is also used to express the sense of dissatisfaction or reproach towards a person for not doing his work satisfactorily or to his full capacity. As :
- You might pay a little more attention to your studies.
- You might come a little earlier.
Can / Could
Rule 1. Can /Could for Power, Ability or Capacity Can / Could express someone’s Power, Ability or Capacity. The structure of such sentences is this :
(i) Subject + Can + Verb in the Present Tense As :
- He can read.
- You can play.
- She can sing.
(ii) Negative Sentences will be formed thus :
- He cannot / can’t read.
- You cannot / can’t play.
- She cannot / can’t sing.
(iii) Subject + could + Verb in the Present Tense
Could is the Past Tense of Can. It expresses the idea that someone had the power, ability or capacity in the past. As :
- He could read.
- You could play.
- She could sing.
(iv) Negative Form :
- He could not / couldn’t read.
- You could not / couldn’t play.
- She could not / couldn’t sing.
Rule 2. Can / Cannot
Can or cannot expresses the idea of a possibility being or not being there.
- It can rain today. It cannot / can’t rain today.
- He can win the prize. He cannot win the prize.
- He can lose the game. He cannot lose the game.
Rule 3. Can / Could Can/Could are also used for taking or giving permission like May / Might. In American English can / could are more popular. As :
- Can I go now ?
- Yes, you can go. No, you cannot go.
Rule 4. Can’t expresses the sense of negation (no) :
- You can’t meet her.
- You cannot / can’t enter the premises.
Rule 5. Can / Could for forming Interrogative sentences
Can/Could are also used for making Interrogative sentences. Their structure is : Can /Could + Subject + Verb in the Present Tense
- Can you help me ?
- Can a horse swim ?
- Can he speak French ?
Could is used for extreme courtesy.
- Could you lend me your pen ?
- Could you give me a lift by your car ?
Rule 6. Can / Could in Indirect speech Can becomes Could in Indirect Narration when the Reporting Verb is in Past Tense. As :
- He asked me, “Can you help me ? (Direct) He asked me if I could help him. (Indirect)
- He said, “I cannot go there.” (Direct) He said that he could not go there. (Indirect)
Rule 7. Can have + Past Participle
This structure expresses the idea of possibility or uncertainty about an action to have been done in the Past. Can have has the same sense as may have.
Its structure is : Subject + can have + Past Participle As :
- He can have reached by now. (“He may have reached by now” has also the same meaning.)
- He can have heard the news.
- He can have sold the horse.
Rule 8. Could + have + Past Participle / Perfect Infinitive Sentences of this structure show that someone or something had the power or ability to do a certain work, but still he could not do it. As :
- He could have passed the examination. (But he could not.)
- You could have reached in time. (But could not.)
- He could have avoided the accident.
Rule 9. Can in the Negative sense Can is used in Negative (as cannot) or Interrogative sentences, but May is used in Affirmative sentences only.
- Can he come ? (‘May he come ?’ is wrong.)
- No, he cannot come. (‘may not come’ is wrong.)
- He may come.
- Can this happen ?
- No, this cannot happen.
Shall / Should Will / Would
Rule 1. I / We + shall For Ordinary Future Tense shall is used with First Person Pronoun (I / We). As :
- I shall do it.
- We shall do it.
- I shall go to office.
- We shall go by bus.
Note—But these days the use of ‘will’ with all persons is becoming popular.
Rule 2. You / Third Person + will Second and Third Persons (you/he/they) take ‘wi l l ’ to express Ordinary Future Tense. As :
- You will go tomorrow.
- They will not do it.
Rule 3. Shall with Second / Third Persons Second and Third Persons take shall to express command, promise and threat in the Future Tense. As :
- He shall not do it again.
- You shall get your share.
- He shall be punished for his misbehaviour.
Note—These days ‘will’ is being used in place of ‘shall’ in such sentences also.
Rule 4. Shall with Second and Third Persons for Permission ‘Shall’ is used with Second and Third Persons to obtain Permission.
- Shall I lock the gate ? (i.e. Do I have your permission to lock the gate ?)
- Shall I bring my father tomorrow ? (i.e. Do I have your permission to bring my father tomorrow ?)
- Shall he be allowed to go ? ( Will he have your permission to go?)
Rule 5. Use of Will Will is used in the following cases also :
(1) With First Person (I / We) to express determination :
- I will keep my promise.
- I will never be late now.
- We will fight to the end.
(2) To express possibility or probability :
- He will need a bigger house.
- He will not reach in time.
- That will be my letter.
- You will get through.
(3) For invitation, request or favour :
- Will you have tea with me ?
- Will you lend me your pen for a minute ?
- Will you not support me ?
Note—In the above sentences in place of ‘Will’ we can also use would, woudn’t, or would you mind. As :
- Would you have tea with me ?
- Wouldn’t / won’t you have tea with me ?
- Would you mind having tea with me ?
Remember that ‘would’ shows more courtesy.
(4) To indicate some characteristic habit :
- He will only talk about his sons.
- He will play upon his guitar till midnight.
Rule 6. Will have + Past Participle Will have + Past Participle express possibility likelihood of an action having taken place in the Past. As :
- The train will have crossed Allahabad.
- He will have left the office by now.
Rule 7. Would have + Past Participle Would have + Past Participle express the idea of a work that could not be completed in the Past. As :
- If he had worked a little harder, he would have secured first division.
- Had he come a few days earlier, he would have seen his mother.
Rule 8. ‘Would’ also expresses the idea that a certain action occurred occasionally in the Past. As :
- He would often spend his evenings in the club.
- He would often go for swimming.
Rule 9. Would rather / Would sooner These phrases express Preference.
- I would rather remain at home.
- I would rather break than bend.
- I would sooner give up my claim.
Rule 10. ‘Should’ expresses the sense of Duty, goodwill, and desirability or propriety of some thought or action. As :
- We should be kind to the animals.
- You should serve your parents.
- You should not come late.
- He should be more reasonable.
Rule 11. ‘Should’ also expresses the sense of Advice or Opinion. As :
- You should regularly go for the morning walk.
- You should not read in dim light.
Rule 12. Will / Would / Should They express the sense of guess, assumption or probability. As :
- She should be in class IV.
- She would be around sixteen years of age.
- I see a boy coming. He will / would / should be my class-mate.
Rule 13. Should have + Past Participle Should have + Past Participle express the or sense that some person or thing could not complete its allotted task in the Past. As :
- They should have built their own house.
- He should have completed his work before going home.
- The tree should have borne fruit by now.
Rule 14. Should sometimes expresses the sense of ‘If’. As :
- Should you come in time, I would give you a prize.
- Should I seek his help, he would certainly help me.
Rule 15. Shall/Will changed into should / would in Indirect Narration While converting a sentence from Direct to Indirect Narration, ‘shall’ becomes ‘should’ and ‘will’ becomes ‘would’.
- He said, “I shall do it willingly.”(Direct) He said that he should do it willingly. (Indirect)
- You said, “You will not go there.” (Direct) You said that you would not go there. (Indirect)
Rule 16. Shall / Should, Will / Would help in making Interrogative sentences. Their structure is :
Shall / Should / Will / Would + Subject + Verb in the Present Tense
- Shall we go now ?
- Shall I be allowed to go now ?
- Will he come today ?
- Would you now go ?
Rule 17. Would like / Should like
‘Should like’ is used with First Person (I / We) and ‘would like’ with Second and Third Persons. Their structure is :
Subject + would like/should like + Infinitive
- I should like to know your future plan.
- He would like to know your future plan.
Note—(i) In colloquial and American English ‘would like’ can be used in place of ‘should like’.
(ii) There are some other expressions also which are used like would like / should like :
Would / should care / prefer / be glad / be inclined
- I should prefer to travel by bus.
- He would be glad to meet you.
- I should be inclined to go with you.
Rule 18. Shall / Will = Going to
In some sentences ‘going to’ can be used in place of shall / will for Future Tense. But it should be remembered that ‘going to’ is used to express the sense of ‘immediate Future’ only (not ‘distant Future’).
- He will travel by car. Or He is going to travel by car.
- I shall have my dinner at the Imperial Hotel. Or I am going to have my dinner at the Imperial Hotel.
Rule 19. Would after wish If ‘would’ is used after ‘wish’, it expresses strong desire.
- I wish you would not refuse me.
- I wish you would study science.
Note—After ‘wish’ we do not use ‘will’.
Must / Ought
Rule 1. Must / Ought express compulsion or necessity. As :
- You must come to office at 10 O’clock.
- You ought to come to office at 10 O’clock.
Note—Remember that after ought the Infinitive comes with ‘to’, but after must the Infinitive is used without ‘to’.
Rule 2. Must not / Mustn’t Or Ought not / Oughtn’t
They convey the sense of Negative compulsion or Prohibition (i.e. emphatic ‘no’ or restraint)
- You mustn’t jump out from a moving train.
- You oughtn’t to jump out from a moving train.
Rule 3. Must / Ought
They express the sense of Assumption or Likelihood. As :
- This book must be very popular.
- This book ought to be very popular.
Rule 4. Must / Ought
They also express the sense of Duty and Obligation. As :
- We must love our country.
- We ought to love our country.
- We must / ought to be kind to the poor.
Rule 5. Must / Ought They also convey the sense of Advice or warning.
- You must drive cautiously.
- You ought to drive cautiously.
- You must avoid strong drinks.
- You ought to avoid strong drinks.
Rule 6. Must have + Past Participle
This structure conveys the idea that a certain action must have been completed in the Past. As :
- He laboured very hard. He must have secured first division.
- He started very early. He must have caught the train.
Rule 7. Must be / Must have been also convey the sense of certainty.
- He talkes very proudly. He must be an arrogant person.
- He spoke very fluently. He must have been an orator.
Rule 8. Ought to have This expression conveys the sense that a certain action ought to have been completed in the Past, but it could not be. As :
- He ought to have appeared at the examination.
- He ought to have told the whole truth.
- He ought to have come out in your support.
Need / Needn’t
Rule 1. Need denoting ‘Necessity’ When Need is used in the simple sense of necessity, it is used as an ordinary verb; i.e. in the Present tense, third person, singular it is needs, and in the Past Tense, it is needed. As :
- I need a pen.
- You / they need a pen.
- He needs a pen.
- I / you / he / they needed a pen.
- I don’t need a pen.
- She doesn’t need a pen.
Rule 2. Need in Negative Sentences
In Negative sentences wherein need is followed by a Negative word (not, never, none) or a Semi-Negative word (scarcely, hardly), we use need (not needs) even with Third Person, Singular in the Present Tense. And after that comes the Infinitive without ‘to’. As :
- He need not fear me.
- He need never fear me.
- He need hardly take my help.
- He need scarcely demand any more help.
Rule 3. Need in Interrogative Sentences In Interrogative sentences beginning with Need also we use only need (not needs) even with Third person, Singular. And then we use Infinitive without ‘to’. As :
- Need he go there ?
- Need he try again ?
Rule 4. Need in ‘Do’ Interrogatives In Interrogative sentences beginning with Do / does / did, we use the Infinitive with ‘to’. As :
- Do I need to go with him ?
- Does he need to go with you ?
- Did you need to behave like this ?
Rule 5. Needn’t Needn’t expresses the sense of not binding. We use needn’t both with the Singular and Plural. As :
- You needn’t work so hard.
- He needn’t go there.
- They needn’t go there.
Rule 6. Needn’t have + Past Participle This construction means that an action completed in the past was either not necessary or not proper. As :
- He needn’t have gone there. (unnecessary)
- He needn’t have behaved like this. (improper)
Dare / Daren’t
Rule 1. Dare denoting ‘Challenge’ When Dare is used in the sense of challenge, we use it as an ordinary verb. That is, it is used according to the Number and Person of the subject in the Present Tense as either dare or dares. The Infinitive is used with ‘to’. As :
- He dares me to climb to the peak.
- I dare you to compete with me.
- They dare me to move this boulder.
Rule 2. ‘Dare’ in Negative Sentences
In Negative sentences when dare is followed by a Negative word (not, never, none) or Semi-Negative word (hardly, scarcely), we use dare (not dares) even with Third Person, Singular in the Present Tense. Also, the Infinitive is used without ‘to’. As :
- He dare not fight with me.
- I dare not stand before you.
- They dare not question my integrity.
- He dare hardly speak before me.
Rule 3. ‘Dare’ in Interrogative Sentences
In Interrogative sentences beginning with Dare, we use dare (not dares) even with Third Person, Singular in the Present Tense. Also, the Infinitive coming after it is used without ‘to’. As :
- Dare he speak before you ?
- Dare he repeat the mistake ?
Rule 4. ‘Dare’ in ‘Do’ Interrogatives
In Interrogative sentences beginning with Do / Does / Did, the Infinitive is used with ‘to’. As :
- Does he dare to challenge you ?
- Did he dare to argue with you ?
- Do I dare to stand before him ?
Rule 5. Daren’t In Negative sentences both with Singular and Plural subjects we use daren’t (not daresn’t). As :
- He daren’t come before me.
- I daren’t go there alone.
Rule 6. Daren’t have + Past Participle
This construction means that an action completed in the Past was either not necessary or not proper. As :
- He daren’t have gone alone in the deep wood.
- You daren’t have challenged him like this.
Rule 1. Used to carries the sense that an action was done either continually or habitually.
- He used to work on daily wages.
- He used to quarrel with his neighbour.
- He used to play football in his school days.
Rule 2. Negative and Interrogative of ‘Used to’ Negative and Interrogative sentences with used to are formed as given below :
- He used not to live in this house.
- Used he to live in this house ?
Rule 3. Subject + Verb ‘to be’ + used to + Noun / Gerund
These sentences express the idea of being habituated to a certain matter or action. As :
- He is used to hard life.
- I am used to reading till late in the night.
- They are used to travelling in crowded buses.
Rule 4. Do + use to In colloquial and spoken English we make Negative or Interrogative sentences with do / does / did followed by use to (not used to). As :
- He did not use to live in this house.
- Did he use to live in this house ?
Two Auxiliaries and Principal Verb
Rule 1. Two Auxiliaries + Principal Verb
Sometimes two Auxliary Verbs can be used with One Principal Verb only. But this is possible only when the same form of the Principal Verb may be used with both the Auxiliaries. As :
- He neither can nor will help you.
- He did not and should not tell a lie.
The use of Auxiliaries and the Principal Verb is correct in both these sentences. In the first sentence the Auxiliaries are, can and will and with them the use of the same form of the Principal Verb help is grammatically correct. In the second sentence the Auxiliaries are ,did and should both of which would take the same form of the Principal Verb “tell”.
But if the Auxiliaries in the sentence are such as would need different forms of the Principal Verb, the same form of the Principal Verb would not serve the purpose. In that case, different forms of the Principal Verb with each Auxiliary will be needed. As :
- He neither has helped nor will help you.
- He has not told and should not tell a lie.
In the first sentence there are two Auxiliary Verbs—has and will. They will take two different forms of the Principal Verb :
- Has will take ‘helped’ and will ‘help’.
Therefore the Principal Verb will be used separately in the proper form with each helping Verb. In the same way, in the second sentence has will take ‘told’ and should ‘tell’ separately with each Auxiliary Verb.
We cannot write the above sentences as below :
- He neither has nor will help you.
- He has not and should not tell a lie.
Such errors are common and should be avoided.
Position of Subject, Verb, Object and Complement
Rule 1. Subject + Tr. Verb + Object
Simple Affirmative sentence has the following structure :
- He killed a snake.
- She loves her home.
Rule 2. Subject + Tr. Verb + Object (Indirect) + Object (Direct)
There are some verbs which may take two objects. One of these objects is generally living (animate) and the second is inanimate. The animate object is called Indirect Object and the Inanimate object is called Direct object. As :
- He gave me a book.
In this sentence m e (animate) is Indirect Object and book (inanimate) is Direct Object. In such sentences Indirect Object is used first and Direct Object at the second place.
In some cases both the objects may be Inanimate. The question would then arise which of the two inanimate objects is Direct object and which is Indirect object. In this regard it should be remembered that the object with which we may use ‘to’ or ‘for’ within the sentence would be Indirect Object, and that with which ‘to’ or ‘for’ may not be used is Direct Object. As :
- He has given his car a new look.
- We have given your village a new approach road.
In the first of these two sentences we can use ‘to’ before the object his car, but we cannot use ‘to’ or ‘for’ before the second object look. In the same way, we can use ‘to’ before village in the second sentence, but not before road. Therefore in these two sentences car and village are Indirect objects, and look and road are Direct objects.
Now the question is whether Direct object should be used first or the Indirect one in such cases. The general rule, as we have said above, is that Indirect object comes first and the Direct object later. But over and above this rule two more points should be kept in mind :
The object to which we want to give more importance should be used first. With the change of emphasis, the sense of the whole sentence also changes a little. Look at the following sentence :
- ‘He gave me a book.’
In this sentence the emphasis has been laid on me because it has been used as the first object. The sentence, therefore, means that he gave the book to me alone and to none else. But if we write the same sentence thus :
- ‘He gave a book to me.’
Now the emphasis has been changed from me to book. The sentence now means that he gave me only a book and nothing else.
(2) Another point to be kept in mind is that between the two objects, the one which is smaller (in fewer words) is used first, and the bigger one (in more words) is used later. As :
- ‘He gave sweets to every member of the family.’
Here ‘sweets’ is the smaller object and therefore used first, and every member of the family, being the bigger object (in number of words), is used later (although it is Indirect object).
Rule 3. Subject + Tr. Verb + Object + Complement
Remember that complement is used after the object. As :
- I nominate you member of the committee.
- Here you is object and member is complement.
Rule 4. Causative Verbs (make / get / have) Causative Verbs are those in which the Subject itself does not act, but causes something or someone else to act on its behalf. The structure of these sentences is as follows :
Subject + Make / get / have + Object + remaining part
- He made him run away.
- I got him dismissed.
- He had the orders passed.
Rule 5. Verb + Preposition / Adverb + Noun
There are some sentences in which the Verb is used along with some Preposition / Adverb (up / on / off / in / down / out / away). At the same time the Verb also has a Noun or a Pronoun for its object.
Now the question is whether the Preposition / Adverb is to be used earlier or the object. For this the general rule is that if the object is small (of one word only), it should be used before the Preposition / Adverb, but if the object contains more words, it should be used after the Preposition / Adverb. As :
- Turn him out. (Object before the Preposition)
- Bring him in. (Object before the Preposition)
- I’ll see you off. (Object before the Preposition)
- Take your coat off. (Object before the Preposition)
- Put your shirt on. (Object before the Preposition)
- Turn out the dirty beggarly man. (Object after the Preposition)
- Bring in my very dear friend. (Object after the Preposition)
- Put on your blue sport shirt. (Object after the Preposition)
Question-Tags / Tail Questions
Question–tags or Tail Questions are often used in conversational or Colloquial language. Question–tags are often placed after some statement, request, proposal or command. They are always in Question form. As :
- You love me, don’t you ?
- Let us now play, shall we ?
- You don’t love me, do you ?
- Don’t go there, will you ?
The following are the rules for framing Question-tags :
Rule 1. With Positive statement / request we add Negative Question-tag and with Negative statement or request we add Positive Question-tag. Positive Negative Negative Positive As :
- He is a good man, isn’t he ?
- He is not a good man, is he ?
- He doesn’t work hard, does he ?
- He works hard, doesn’t he ?
Note—Semi-negative words As : few, little, hardly, scarcely, rarely, seldom, etc. are also believed to be Negative and therefore we use Positive Question–tags after them. As :
- He rarely comes here, does he ?
- Few people are interested in this scheme, are they ?
Rule 2. The subject of a Question–tag is always a Pronoun (not a Noun). The rules for this are :
(a) When the subject of the statement is None / anyone / someone / every one / everybody / anybody / nobody, the subject of the Question–tag would be ‘he / they.’ As :
- No one will come, will he / will they ?
- Any one can come, can’t he / can’t they?
(b) When the subject of the Statement is All of us / some of us / none of us / one of us / most of us, the subject of the question–tag would be ‘we.’ As :
- All of us will go, shall we not ?
- None of us has done it, have we ?
(c) When the subject of the statement is All of you / some of you / none of you / one of you / most of you, the subject of the Question–tag would be ‘you.’ As :
- All of you can do it, can’t you ?
- None of you can do it, can you ?
(d) When the subject of the statement is All of them / some of them / none of them / one of them / most of them, the subject of the question–tag would be, ‘they’. As :
- All of them were present, weren’t they ?
- None of them were present, were they ?
(e) When the subject of the statement is Nothing / something / everything / anything, the subject of the Question–tag would be ‘It’. As :
- Everything is lost, isn’t it ?
- Nothing is lost, is it ?
(f) If the subject of the statement is I am, and the statement is affirmative, the subject of the Question–tag would be aren’t I (not, ‘am not I’), but if the statement is Negative, we use ‘am I ?’ As :
- I am only a student, aren’t I ?
- I am not a student, am I ?
(g) When the statement has this pattern : There + Auxiliary Verb + Subject, the Question–tag would have ‘Verb + there’ (not Verb + Pronoun). As :
- There is no good college, is there ? ( Not, Is it there ?)
- There is a good college, is not there ? ( Not, Is it not there ?)
(h) When the statement has need / needs, the Question–tag would have don’ t / doesn’t, and with used to, we use didn’t. As :
- I need a book, don’t I ?
- He needs a book, doesn’t he ?
- He used to live here, didn’t he ?
(i) For positive request / command, we use will you / won’t you ? in the Question– tag, but for negative request / command, we use only will you ? As :
- Ring the bell, will you ? Or won’t you ?
- Don’t ring the bell, will you ?
(j) If the statement begins with Let, it may have two meanings, and with them two different types of Question–tags are added :
(i) If the statement suggests Proposal or Suggestion, the Question–tag will have Shall we ?
- Let us now go for dinner, shall we ?
- Let us form a society, shall we ?
(ii) If the statement suggests Permission, the Question–tag will have will you ? As :
- Let them read here, will you ?
- Let her take the book, will you ?