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Dealing With Difficult English Verbs

Unlike many other languages, there are many verbs in English that don’t follow basic rules – making it frustrating for non-native speakers to learn. In many cases, you’re likely to find that irregular verbs are actually more common than ones that follow syntax guidelines! As a result, you may need to rely on sentence cues to determine what, if any, actions are being described. In many cases, even if a verb is irregular, you can still use these cues to arrive at the meaning the author or speaker is trying to convey.

Locating Verbs Based on Noun Position

To begin, if you can recognize a noun within a sentence, chances are you will also find a verb following it that will help you decipher the rest of the sentence. Using this method can help you improve your reading comprehension, as well as eliminate reliance on syntax rules that don’t address many situations.

This method will also help you determine the timing of the sentence and the actions that were taken. In addition, once you know where nouns are in relation to verbs, you’ll also be able to decipher the subject of the sentence.

For example, if you look at the sentence “David washed the laundry”, you’ll immediately realize that David is a noun. “Washed” the next word, is a verb that is describing the action that David is taking. In this case, you can recognize that the word has an “-ed” ending, which indicates that the action – washing – has happened in the past. In another example, “David walks with his dog”, you can again find the verb immediately after the noun.

Using Syllable Structures to Isolate Verbs

In many cases, if you suspect that you are dealing with an irregular verb, you can break the word in question down to syllables. As you put the word back together, you should be able to recognize a root word that is based on some kind of action.

For example, the word “skipping” breaks down into two syllables – “skip” and “ing”. As you can see, once you remove the “-ing” suffix, you are left with a word that describes a specific kind of motion. Unfortunately, the “-ing” ending doesn’t always help you determine the time frame of the action. In order to determine this, once again you’ll need to find out who is taking the action and then look for words that offer a time frame in the sentence. In this case, skipping could be proceeded by “was”, “is”, or even “will be”.

As you can see, each preceding time frame creates an entirely different meaning for the verb.Even though English verbs are some of the most difficult aspects of the language, it’s worth your while to gain proficiency with them. That said, if you’re going to try and learn English based on exact rules, you’ll have a difficult time.

As with any other language, it is important to be able to comprehend what you are hearing or reading in the context of meaning. Breaking words down into fundamental sounds will give you clues about their meaning and importance, enabling you to understand English verb tenses much more quickly.