English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

What is the base form of a verb? (with examples)

What is the base form of a verb? (with examples)

The base (or root) form of a verb is the form that appears in the dictionary.

It is the version of the verb without endings (endings like -s, -ing and ed). The base form is the same as the infinitive (eg walk, paint, think) but without the to.

Let’s see the five forms of the verb“to take“:

1 Basic form take
2 The -S Form
(also called Third Person Singular Present Tense Form)
3 Past form took
4 The -ING form
(also called present participle form)
5 The past participle form taken

Examples of basic forms of verbs

These are some examples of the basic forms of verbs:

  • see
    (These are not the base form: see, seen, seeing).
  • sing
    (These are not the base form: sing, singing.)
  • play
    (These are not the base form: games, played, playing.)
  • agree
    (These are not the base form: concurs, concurred, concurring.)

The base form appears in the present tense

The base form of a verb appears in all versions of the present tense except the third person singular. For example:

Conjugation Example 1 Example 2
1st person singular I play I agree
2nd person singular you play you agree
3rd person singular He plays
She plays
He plays
He agrees
She agrees
She agrees td>
first person plural we play _ we agree
2nd person plural you play you agree
third person plural they play they match

The base form appears in the infinitive form

The base form of a verb appears in the infinitive (including the zero infinitive form, ie without the word to). For example:

  • It is easier to fight for one’s own principles than to live according to them. (Alfred Adler, 1870-1937)
  • A musicologist is a man who can read music but cannot hear it. (Thomas Beecham, 1879-1961)

The Base Form Appears in Imperative Mood (i.e. Commands)

The base form is used for commands (that is, the imperative mood. For example:

  • Eat a live toad first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.
  • Create a definite plan to carry out your desire and start right away, whether you’re ready or not. (Napoleon Hill)

The Base Form Appears in the Subjunctive Mood

The base form of a verb appears in the subjunctive mood. For example:

  • He demands that you keep quiet .
  • I propose that you stay with us.

The five verb forms

The following table shows the five verb forms in English.

Type of verb 1
The Base Form
(also known as“Forma Simple“ o “Form Without Flexions“)
The -S form
(also known as“Third person singular present tense form“)
past form
(also known as“The shape of the past tense“)
The -ING form
(also known as present participle form)
The Past Participle Form
Regular perform plays played playing played
Regular use uses used using used
Regular marry gets married married get married married
Irregular bring bring brought bringing brought
Irregular run races ran run run
Irregular autumn falls fell descending fallen
Irregular drink drinks drank Drinking drunk

Why should I care about the base form?

Understanding the forms of verbs (including the base form) is useful when learning English because it allows teachers and students to talk about the components that make up the different tenses.

For example, with some verbs, the base form, the past form, and the past participle form are the same (eg, let, I let, I had let). However, with others, everyone is different (for example, I took, I took, I took).

Knowing the various verb forms is a great starting point for learning these complex rules and exceptions.

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