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Proper Usage of Verbs

 Rule 1

 In a compound sentence, a single verb can fit in with two subjects, provided the form of the verb agrees with the subject.

For Example :

 His mouth was open, his nose twitching.

 But the following sentence is incorrect:

 His mouth was open, his eyes staring.

 It should be written as :

 His mouth was open, his eyes were staring.

 Note the difference in the verb form.

Rule 2

Two auxiliary verbs can be used with one principal verb, provided the form of the principal verb suits both the auxiliaries.

For Example :

I never can or will hurt a fly.

But the following sentence is incorrect:

He never has and never will refuse a bribe.

It should be written as:

He never has refused and never will refuse a bribe.

Note the difference in the verb form.

Rule 3

One auxiliary verb can be used with two principal verbs, provided its form suits both principal verbs.

For Example :

Several victims have been killed and several buried. 

But the following sentence is incorrect:

A new secretary has been elected and the old resigned.

It should be written as :

A new secretary has been elected and the old has resigned.

Again note the difference in the verb form.

Rule 4

The verb lay and lie are often incorrectly used. The verb lay always takes an object and the three forms of the verb are : lay, laid, laid.

The verb lie (recline) does not take an object and the three forms of the verb are lie, lay and lain.

For Example :

Lay the table.

The table was laid by the servant.

Let the child lie.

The child lay on the bed.

The body has lain for two hours.

Note: Another meaning of the verb lie is "to tell a falsehood". The three forms of this verb are lie, lied, lied. This should not be confused with the lie mentioned above.

For Example :

She is fond of telling lies.

Does she lie often?

Rule 5

The verb rise and raise are also often incorrectly used.

The verb rise means 'to ascend', 'to go up.'

The three forms of the verb are: rise, rose, risen. It does not take an object. 

For Example :

The plane rose very quickly.

The mountains rise above the land.

My uncle has risen in life.

The verb raise means 'to lift up', 'to increase.

The three forms of the verb are : raise, raised and raised.

For Example :

She raised her leg.

I requested the manager to give me a raise.

Do not raise your voice.

Rule 6

Note carefully the use of the following verbs:

Ring, sing, sink, begin, show, flow, hang, awake and fly

The past tense and the past participle of these verbs are often mixed up.

The three forms of these verbs are :

Ring, Rang, Rung.

Sing, Sang, Sung.

Sink, Sank, Sunk.

Begin, Began, Begun.

Show, Showed, Showed/Shown.

Flow, Flowed, Flowed.

Hang, Hung, Hung (a picture)

Hang, Hanged, Hanged (a criminal)

Fly, Flew, Flown.

For Example :

The visitor rang (not rung) the bell.

The ship sank (not sunk) without a trace.

The show has begun (not began).

The river has overflowed (not overflown) its banks

The criminal was hanged (not hung)

The picture was hung (not hanged).

Rule 7

The use of shall and will           

Many of the precise distinctions concerning the use of shall and will have passed out of informal speaking and writing. But formal writing still prohibits the arbitrary use of these two forms of the verb.

Shall is used in the first person and will in the second and third person to express simple futurity.

For Example :

I shall  We shall

You will  They will

However, in order to express determination, compulsion, threat, willingness, command or promise, reverse the order of shall and will. Use will in the first person and shall in the second and third person.

For Example :

I will go tomorrow, come what may.

You shall do this work.

I will try and improve my performance.

They shall go by this afternoon.

Note

(I) Will or shall should not be used twice in the same sentence if both actions refer to the future.

For Example :

Incorrect : I shall reach the office if the bus will come in time.

Correct   : I shall reach the office if the bus comes in time.

                (II) In asking questions, will is not used in the first person.

                For Example :

                Shall I go ?

                Shall we go ?

Rule 8

The use of should and would. Should is the past tense of shall and generally follows the same rules that apply to shall.

Would is the past tense of will and generally follows the same rules that apply to will.

 Both should and would have special uses too. Should is used in all three persons to express obligation. Both ought and should are used interchangeably to express obligation.

For Example :

I should go if I were you.

You should do a good deed everyday.

You ought to be courteous.

Would is used in all three persons to express habitual action, determination and willingness.

For Example :

We would go for a walk every evening.

I would not run away from responsibility.

He would try to do his best.

Rule 9

Use of ought

ought is usually followed by to.

For Example :

You ought to go home now.

ought is used to express :

(a) duty or moral obligation :

The rich ought to help the poor.

(b) probability :

He ought to have come back home by now.

(c) desirability :

You ought to pray before every meal.

Rule 10

May and Might

As a principal verb, may expresses possibility or permission.

For Example :

Let's go, he may be home now.

May I leave now.

As an auxiliary verb, may expresses a wish or purpose.

For Example :

May you succeed in life.

We take medicine so that we may be cured.

Might is the past tense of may

For Example :

He asked if he might leave.

It is also used to express a weak possibility or a polite suggestion .

For Example :

You might find the purse with the peon, but I doubt it.

You might make a suggestion if you want.

Rule 11

Can and Could            

(i) Can expresses ability or capacity

For Example :

I can walk ten miles.

Can you solve this problem

(ii) Con also expresses permission.

For Example :

You can go

In this sentence can has the same meaning as may. The difference is that may is used to express possibility in affirmative sentences. Can is used in interrogative or negative sentences. .

For Example :

It may be true.

Can this be true ?

It cannot be true.

Could is the past tense of can. It also acts as a principal verb when it expresses its own meaning.

For Example :

Inspite of his illness, he could do well in the examination.

Could here relates to ability.

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