Verbals

May 22, 2021

When is a verb not a verb? When it is a verbal.

You remember that in English there are only four forms of each verb: the present, the present participle, the past, and the past participle. Sometimes when you see these forms in a sentence, they are not actually being used as verbs.Definition: A verbal (or non-finite verb) is a verb form that is not being used as a verb. Verbals can act as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. There are three types of verbals: the present participle, the past participle, and the infinitive, which is formed by putting to in front of the present tense form. (A verb being a verb is called a finite verb.)

Verb: We were walking along the midway at the carnival.
Verbal: Walking along the midway at the carnival, we ate our funnel cakes. (present participle)

Verb: All that dancing tired me out.
Verbal: Tired out by all that dancing, I went home and collapsed. (past participle)

Verb: We always sing the National Anthem at the ball game.
Verbal: I really like to sing. (to + present = infinitive)


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