Right Form of Verbs

Right Form of Verbs

For better understanding, the content of this post has been discussed (divided) into 3 parts —
Part 1: Subject-Verb Agreement
Part 2: Tense
Part 3: Non-finite Verb

Now the details —

Part 1: Subject-Verb Agreement

Right Form of Verbs

1. Subjects and verbs must agree in number.

The dog barks 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.

Example: 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. 

Example: The colours 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 Rahman usually drink milk? Where are the pieces of this puzzle?

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

Example: 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. 

Example: Red beans and rice is my mom's favourite dish.

8. If one of the words ‘each’, ‘every’, or ‘no’ comes before the subject, the verb is singular. 

No smoking or 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.

Example: Jessica or Tina 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 or time. 

Example: Four liters of octane 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.

Example: 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 words ‘or’, ‘nor’, ‘neither’/ ‘nor’, ‘either’/ ‘or’, and ‘not only’/ ‘but also’, you use the verb form of the subject that is nearest the verb.

Either the bears or the lion has escaped from the zoo. 
Neither the lion nor the bears have escaped from the zoo.

14. Indefinite pronouns (everybody, nobody, somebody) typically take singular verbs. 

Example: Everybody wants to be loved.

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

Example: Few were left alive after the flood.

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

Example: 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 drums are my hobbies.

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

Example: The herd is stampeding.

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

Example: The Aguner Parashmoni is a movie starring Bipasha Hayat.

Right Form of Verbs


Incorrect: A bouquet of yellow roses lend color and fragrance to the room.
Correct: A bouquet of yellow roses lends ... (bouquet lends, not roses lend)
  • My aunt or my uncle is arriving by train today.
  • Neither Jamal nor Rahman is available.
  • Either Kamal or Salam is helping today with stage decorations.
  • Neither the plates nor the serving bowl goes on that shelf.
  • Neither the serving bowl nor the plates go on that shelf.
  • Neither she, I, nor my friends are going to the festival.
  • OR
  • She, my friends, and I are not going to the festival.

Breaking and entering is against the law.
The bed and breakfast was charming.

In those sentences, ‘breaking and entering’ and ‘bed and breakfast’ are compound nouns.

  • The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.
  • Excitement, as well as nervousness, is the cause of her shaking.
  • Three miles is too far to walk.
  • Five years is the maximum sentence for that offense.
  • Ten dollars is a high price to pay.
  • BUT
  • Ten dollars (i.e., dollar bills) were scattered on the floor.

If the noun after ‘of’ is singular, use a singular verb. If it is plural, use a plural verb.


A lot of the pie has disappeared.

A lot of the pies have disappeared.

A third of the city is unemployed.

A third of the people are unemployed.

All of the pie is gone.

All of the pies are gone.

Rules of Conditionals 
If Jamal were here, you'd be sorry.
I wish it were Friday.

Right Form of Verbs

Fill the gaps with appropriate verbs:

I don’t (understand) ___ the assignment.

These clothes (be) ____ too small for me.

Palash (do not) ____ like vegetables.

Sugar and flour (be) ___ needed for the recipe.

My mom or dad (be)___ coming to drop me off.

Neither Nila nor I (be) ___ going to college today.

Each (get) ___ a trophy for playing.

Everybody (enjoy) ___ a good book.

The committee (meet) ____ here every Thursday.

Basketballs (roll) ____ across the floor.

Answer Key










Lesson 2 : Tense

Structurally, verbs can be classed in two categories:
  1. Finite Verb
  2. Non-Finite Verb

Finite Verb:

Finite Verb consists of Auxiliary Verb and Main/Principle Verb. It is always the finite verb which speaks of time (Tense means time).

However, the structure of tense also depends on the voice of the sentence. According to the rules of voice, sentence is of two kinds: Active Sentence and Passive Sentence. 

Active Sentence means the subject of the sentence is the doer of the action.

He (subject: doer) plays football.

Passive Sentence means the subject of the sentence is not the doer of the action. In three situations, passive is mandatory:
  1. When the subject is unknown
  2. When the subject is unnecessary to mention
  3. When the speaker wants to hide the subject

He (subject: non-doer) was arrested last night.

Note: Here the doer is the police which is hidden in the meaning and it is unnecessary to mention this subject.

Right Form of Verbs

Primarily, tense (time) are of three kinds:
— Present
— Past
— Future

Each three of these are of 4 kinds:

  1. Present Indefinite/Simple
  2. PastIndefinite/Simple
  3. FutureIndefinite/Simple
  4. Present Continuous
  5. PastContinuous
  6. FutureContinuous
  7. Present Perfect
  8. PastPerfect
  9. FuturePerfect
  10. Present Perfect Continuous
  11. Past Perfect Continuous
  12. Future Perfect Continuous

So, in total, there are 4x3=12 kinds of tenses.

As there are two kinds of sentence structures in Finite Verb (Active and Passive), each 12 tenses have 2 structures. So, there are 12x2 = 24 kinds of tense. 

Here is the list of 24 structures:

(Finite Verb Structure)

Finite Verb Structure

1. Present Simple
Active: v1
Passive: am/is/are + v3

2. Present Continuous
Active: am/is/are + v1 + ing
Passive: am/is/are + being + v3

3. Present Perfect
Active: has/have been + v1 + ing
Passive: has/have + been + v3

4. Present Perfect Continuous
Active: has/have been + v1 + ing
Passive: has/have + been + being + v3

5. Past Simple
Active: v2
Passive: was/were + v3

6. Past continuous
Active: was/were + v1 + ing
Passive: was/were + being + v3

7. Past Perfect
Active: had + v3
Passive: had + been + v3

8. Past Perfect Continuous
Active: had been + v1 + ing
Passive: had been + being + v3

9. Future Simple
Active: will + v1
Passive: will be + v3

10. Future Continuous
Active: will be + v1 + ing
Passive: will be being + v3

11. Future Perfect
Active: will have + v3
Passive: will have been + v3

12. Future Perfect Continuous
Active: will have been + v1 + ing
Passive: will have been + being + v3


V1: base form of verb (for instance: go, do, eat)

V2: past form of verb (for instance: went, did, ate)

V3: past participle form of verb (for instance: gone, done, eaten)

Auxiliary Verb:

Auxiliary Verb means helping or supporting verb. It is a part of the finite verb. It helps the main verb. It also can work like main verb. It also suggests time (Tense).

I have a car.
Here ‘have’ is used as main verb.
I have done the work.

Here ‘have’ is used as helper to the main verb ‘done’.

In total, there are 34 auxiliary verbs. These verbs can be divided in 4 categories:

1. Verb to be (10): am, is, are, was, were, shall be, will be, be, being, been

2. Verb to have (4): have, has, had, having

3. Verb to do (3): do, did, does

4. Modal Verb (17):
shall, will, may, can, could, would, should, might, need, must, used to, ought to, had better, had rather, would better, would rather, dare

  1. Modal Verb will have no suffix like --- ‘s, es, t, ed, ing...’
  2. After Modal Verb ‘to’ (preposition) or ‘to’ (infinitive) will never sit.
  3. ‘Base form’ (v1) of verb is used after Modal Verb.

1.  Present Simple/Indefinite

We use present simple in the following cases -
  1. Everyday action
  2. Habitual act
  3. Universal truth

The adverbs that help us identifying a present simple tense are---

Regularly, off and on, often, everyday, sometimes


Active Present Simple: (Subject+v1)

I often visit my uncle’s home.

The sun rises in the east.

I take bread and butter in breakfast.

Passive Present Simple: (Subject + am/is/are + v3)

The homework is done.

It is said that tortoise live longer than elephants.

2.  Present Continuous

We use present continuous in the following case---

When the action is on-going --- occurring at that moment when spoken The adverbs that help us identifying a present simple tense are---

At present, now, at the moment


Active Present Continuous: (Subject + v1 + ing)

At present, women are joining in multi-national companies.

Ria is 3 years old. 
Look, she is walking now.

Passive Present Continuous: (Subject + am/is/are + being + v3)

Clothes are being displayed in the exhibition now.

3.  Present Perfect

We use present perfect---

To suggest that the action has just finished. The effect of the action is still present. The adverbs that help us identifying a present simple tense are---

Yet, recently, just, already, ever, never


Active Present Perfect: (Subject + has/have + v3)

I have just done the work.
He hasn’t arrived yet.
Have you ever been to Cox’s Bazar?

Passive Present Perfect: (Subject + has/have + been + v3)

The work has been completed recently.
This has been already complained to the authority.

4.  Present Perfect Continuous

We use present perfect continuous in the following cases---

When the action has started in past and still going on in present

When the action has just ended, but when it was going on it was a continuous action The prepositions that help us identifying a present simple tense are--- Since, for


Since means --- when the period began

For means --- how long the period is


Active Present Perfect Continuous: (Subject + has/have + been + v1 + ing)

I have been writing a novel since a month.

He has been waiting there for 2 hours.

Passive Present Perfect Continuous: (not applicable)

Passive form of Present Perfect Continuous is not used.

5.  Past Simple

We use past simple to mean a past usual activity.


Active Past Simple: (Subject + v2)

I visited the place a week ago.

Passive Past Simple: (Subject + was/were + v3)

The window was broken yesterday.

6.  Past Continuous

We use past continuous when an action continuously happened in past.


Active Past Continuous: (Subject + was/were + v1 + ing) 

While he was travelling, he met his childhood friend in the bus.

Passive Past Continuous: (Subject + was/were + being + v3)

Door was being knocked for a long time when I arrived.

7. Past Perfect

Past perfect is used before past simple action. An action that happens before simple past is past perfect.


‘After’ or ‘Before’ are the conjunctions that helps us to identify the time of past simple and past perfect.


Active Past Perfect: (Subject + had + v3)

I had done the work before my father came.
I went to bed after I had finished my work.

Passive Past Perfect: (Subject + had + been + v3)

It had been done before he came.

8.  Past Perfect Continuous

Past perfect continuous is used before past simple action. An action that happens before simple past is --- past perfect. The difference between past perfect and past perfect continuous is --- past perfect continuous has to be a continuous action as well.


‘After’ or ‘Before’ are the conjunctions that helps us to identify the time of past perfect.


Active Past Perfect Continuous: (Subject + had + been + v1 + ing)

I had been driving car when our eyes met.
He had been eating dinner when I called him.

Passive Past Perfect Continuous: (not applicable)

Passive form of Past Perfect Continuous is not used.

9.  Future Simple

We use future simple in 6 situations:

Will you come to the party?

I think Bangladesh will win the match.

You dropped your pen. I will help you.

I will pay you next week.

Instant Decision:
There is a chocolate shop over there! I will buy some.

I will be 18 next month.

Active Future Simple: (Subject + will + v1)

I will join the party tomorrow.

Passive Future Simple: (Subject + will be + v3)

The work (subject non-doer) will be done, I guarantee.

Compare auxiliary + going to + v1 and Future Simple:

Future Simple

Auxiliary + going to + v1

Instant decision: There is a chocolate shop over there! I will buy some.

Pre-decided action: There is a chocolate shop over there! I am going to buy some chocolates after an hour.

Example: I think Bangladesh will win the match.

Prediction with proof:
Example: The sky is cloudy. I think it is going to rain.

10. Future Continuous

We use future continuous to mean a continuous action in future. Usually, it speaks the future on-going time-length and sometimes it expresses a starting time of the action.

Active Future Continuous: (Subject + shall be/will + v1 + ing)

Next week at noon, I will be lying on the beach.

Passive Future Continuous: (Subject + shall be/will be + being + v3)

Results will be being announced from 3pm tomorrow.

11. Future Perfect

We use future perfect when the sentence gives an end-time of the action in future. To put an end-time, it uses a preposition ‘by’.

Active Future Perfect: (Subject + shall/will + have + v3)

I will have finished the book by tomorrow noon.

Passive Future Perfect: (Subject + shall/will + have + been v3)


My bi-cycle will have been repaired by next Friday.

12. Future Perfect Continuous 

We use future perfect continuous tense in the followings cases---

Action that started in past, still going on, and will end in future

  • To put an end-time, it uses a preposition ‘by’
  • To express the time-length, it uses ‘since’ or ‘for’

Active Future Perfect Continuous: (Subject + shall/will + have + been + v1 + ing)

By next January, I will have been teaching here for 2 years.

Passive Future Perfect Continuous:

Passive form of this tense is not in use.

Exercise A
Present Tense

Fill the gaps with appropriate verbs:

I (play)____ tennis.

The train (leave) ____ tonight at 6 PM.

Rina (go)____ to school.

Ritu (score)____ 10 in her examination.

I (live) ____ in Dhaka for ten years.

Exercise B

Past Tense

Fill the gaps with appropriate verbs:

I (see) ____ a movie yesterday.

My parents (come) ____ to visit me last July.

Riha (work) ____ on her homework when I saw her.

He came after I (leave) ____ the place.

Luna (write) ____ her book for a year.

Exercise C
Future Tense

Fill the gaps with appropriate verbs:
I (send) ____ you the information when I get it.

Nila (go)___ to university next year.

I (see) ____ you off are the airport tomorrow.

By next November, I (receive) ____ my promotion.

Father will be tired when he gets home because he (jog) ___ for over an hour.

Answer Key



is going

has scored

have been living



was working

had left

had been writing

will send

will be going

will be seeing

will have received

will have been jogging

Part 3 : Non-finite Verb

There are three kinds of non-finite verbs:
  1. Gerund
  2. Participle
  3. Infinitive



1. As a subject of the verb: 

Swimming is a good exercise. 
Giving is better than receiving.
Seeing is believing.
Rising early is a good habit.

The bold subjects in the above sentences are gerund --- non-finite verb.

2. Object/predicate of a transitive verb: 

Stop writing.
I like reading poetry. 
Working is praying
My hobby is reading.
I could not help laughing like. 
Don’t give up trying.

The bold objects (predicates) in the above sentences are gerund --- non-finite verb.

3. Object of Preposition:

I am fond of catching fish. 
I am tired of writing.
They are punished for telling a lie.

In the above sentences, after preposition ‘of’ and ‘for’ --- nonfinite verb gerund is used (verb+ing)

4. Compound Noun:

This is my sleeping room.
I have lost my walking stick. 
Put aside your reading materials.

These are not adjectives because the room can’t sleep, the stick can’t walk and the materials can’t read. 

Here ‘sleeping room’ ‘walking stick’, ‘reading materials’ are a compound noun or noun phrase.

5. By + Gerund:    

By eating a balanced diet, you can live well. 
By drinking milk, you can get vitamins. 
By being curious, he can learn many things.

6. Without + Gerund:

Without working hard, you cannot success.

7. On/in/at/of/for + Gerund: 

She aimed at passing the exam. 
They succeeded in doing the work. 
She excels in drawing pictures.

8. As Verbal Noun (The + Gerund + of): 

The reading of history is interesting.
The making of dolls/the taking of exercise...

9. Gerund after particular Finite Verbs:

Mind, drop, practice, finish, delay, forbid, endure, excuse, consider, stop, fancy, suggest, present, prefer, deny, enjoy, miss, forgive, avoid, pardon.

10. After these finite (principal) verbs --- if another verb (action word) sits, it takes the structure of gerund (verb+ing).

We enjoyed playing football.
We stopped working.
I suggest doing it.
She forbade doing this.
I have finished reading.


Participle is a non-finite verb. It is used as an adjective. 

There are three kinds of participle:

Present Participle: When ‘verb+ing’ works as an ‘adjective and verb’, it is called Present Participle.

Example: sleeping child, burning home, crying baby

Past Participle: When ‘v3’ works as ‘non-finite verb’, it is called past participle.

Example: The burnt house is not ours.

Perfect Participle: When ‘having’ is used as ‘adjective and verb’ is called perfect participle.

Example: Having done the work, I slept.


1. It takes an object like a verb: 

Hearing a noise, he woke up. 
I saw a boy mending his shoes.

The participle took objects (‘a noise’, ‘his shoes’) like a verb.

2. Modified by an adverb:

Loudly knocking at the gate, he went off. The book is very interesting.

‘Loudly’ and ‘very’ are adverbs which are modifying the participle.

3. Modifies a noun/pronoun:

lying person should be punished. 
sleeping fox cannot catch a hen. 
rolling stone gathers no moss.
The glass is broken.
This story is exciting.
The girl is good-looking.

Here the participles are modifying the nouns (subjects) like adjectives.

4. It can be compared like an adjective: 

She in more charming than her sister.
This is the most amusing story I have ever heard. 
Here the participles are compared like adjectives.

5. Absolute Nominative (it means --- not having any relation with Finite Verb): 

The sky being clear, the plane took off.
I know nothing regarding the matter.

Finite Verbs in the above sentences are --- ‘took’, ‘know’, ‘was’, and participles have no direct connection with the finite verbs. Here the participles are --- ‘being’, ‘regarding’.

6.  Noun phrase + Present Participle = Adjective:

I met a girl carrying a basket of flowers.
I found her crying.
I saw him going up the hill.

Here the bold italic words are participles which are used as adjectives --- describing the nouns.


Structure of Infinitive: Finite Verb + to + base form of verb (v1)

After the following verbs infinitives take place:

Decide, desire, expect, promise, wish, want, offer, hope, refuse, and swear.

She promised to speak the truth.
I desire to go abroad.
We decided to go there.
She refused to help me.

After the following words ‘to’ remains invisible (hidden):

had better, had sooner, than, but, except

You have nothing to do but weep.
He is better able to sing than recite.

After the following verbs, ‘bare infinitive’ (zero/invisible infinitive) takes place:

Make, know, feel, hear, dare, bid, need, behold, watch, notice, see.

Let him stay
I watched them play.
Did you hear me call you?

Bare infinitive

A bare infinitive is used in the following contexts:

1. As a complement of the following verbs:
bid, behold, feel, find, hear know, let, make, notice, see, watch
  • We felt the earth shake.
  • I heard her sing.
  • We saw the plane land.
  • He made us laugh.
  • I let them play in the park.


a) These verbs take full infinitive in the passive voice:

She was made to sing. (not, sing)
He was heard to murmur. (not, murmur)

b) But let is used without to even in passive construction:

I let him go. (Active Voice)
He was let go. (Passive Voice)

2. As complement of have (meaning want/wish)

I would have you learn manners. (i.e. to learn)
I like to have them reach in time. (i.e to reach)
I wound have him keep his promise. (i.e. to keep)


Prefer … rather than

I prefer to die rather than beg.
I would prefer to fight rather than surrender.

In this construction ‘prefer’ takes a full infinitive but ‘rather than’ takes a bare infinitive.

as …. As/not so/not as …. As/comparative form … than

If is as easy to run as swim.
If is not so easy to than cook.
If is easier to eat than cook.
The second ‘as’ takes a bare infinitive.

why/why not?

Why hire a taxi?
Why not start now?

These elliptical expressions take a bare infinitive.


He helped me carry/to carry the luggage.

She helped me find/to find my purse.

‘Help’ can be used with to or without to. Without ‘to’ is used mostly, especially in British English.

Anaphoric to

Sometimes ‘to’ alone is used instead of ‘to + verb’ (full infinitive). It is called an anaphoric use of ‘to’ because it has a backward reference, that is, a reference to an earlier mention of the verb:

  • Would you like to have a cup of tea?
  • She wanted to lock up the house but she forgot to.
  • I didn’t want to go to the cinema but I had to.

This device is used to avoid the repetition of a verb.

Split infinitive

When a ‘to + verb’ is split into two parts and an adverb is put between the two, it is called a split infinitive:

He asked me to briefly state my case.

Here to has been separated from the verb ‘state’ and an adverb (briefly) inserted between them.

Infinitive: forms

a) Simple
To + verb: to write

b) Progressive
To + be + verb + ing: to be writing

c) Perfect
To + have + past participle: to have written

c)  Perfect Progressive
To + have been+ present participle: to have been writing

d) Passive
To be + past participle: to be written

e) Perfect Passive
To have been + past participle: to have been written

Verbs that take an infinitive as object or complement are:

  • The earth appears to stand still.
  • He seems to know the secret.
  • He hopes to win a medal.

Adjective + infinitive

Adjectives that take an infinitive are:

Able, anxious, easy, eager, glad, happy, hard, ready

  • He isn’t able to run fast.
  • We are eager to know the result.
  • They are ready to fight.

Verb + object + infinitive

Verbs that take object + infinitive are:


  • I asked him to wait a minute.
  • He compelled/forced me to open the door.
  • I made him sing a song. (bare infinitive)
  • We saw/watched the plane land. (bare infinitive)

Exercise: Right Form of Verbs

Fill the gaps with appropriate verbs:
  1. I hate (camp) ____
  2. Jamal wants (go) ___ to Sri Lanka.
  3. Who ate the (roast) ____ chicken?
  4. The baby started (scream) ____ as it was hungry.
  5. By (work) ____ hard, you can shine in life.
  6. Kamal had a great time (tour) ____ Kuakata.
  7. He made a new record by (catch)____ the biggest fish.
  8. Do you like (read) _____?
  9. I struggle (understand) ____ this math problem.
  10. The freshly (pick) ____ tomatoes look delicious.

Answer Key
  1. camping
  2. to go
  3. roasted
  4. screaming
  5. working
  6. touring
  7. catching
  8. reading
  9. to understand
  10. picked
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