Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Fear not, Gentle Writer, Mrs. Grammar Person has heard your pleas and is happy to be of assistance--just as soon as she finishes her cup of tea. Ah, much better! Of course, Mrs. G.P. would not be able to hear your plaintive cry nor assist you in any way were it not for the existence of verbs, yes, those versatile words that allow us to take action. Without them, we couldn't budge at all.

Helping out is something Mrs. G.P. adores, which is why she holds a special place in her heart for the helping verbs. Helping verbs can stand on their own, certainly, but they are also kind enough to help out the other verbs. Below is a list of the helping verbs and, should you choose to memorize these verbs as Mrs. G.P. has done, you will never forget them. Even if you cannot for the life of you remember something extremely important, you will always remember the helping verbs. You may wish to take heed of this friendly advice from your favorite grammarian. Now that you have been warned, here is a complete list of the helping verbs:

am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been, have, has, had, do, does, did, can, could, shall, should, will, would, may, might, must.

Whew! Mrs. Grammar Person loves to recite this list as fast as she can; it is one of her daily grammar exercises. An example of a helping verb can be found in the short sentence: "I am going."  How silly of Mrs. G.P. not to notice another example of a helping verb in the previous phrase "can be found"! She can't wait to tell that story at the annual Grammar convention.

Now that you have mastered the helping verbs (and Mrs. G.P. has refilled her teapot), it is time to discuss the trickier verbs, the ones that defy logic, the ones that follow their own rules. Yes, as unpleasant as it may be, we must examine the irregular verbs. To ease you into this topic, our beloved grammarian starts with the easy ones. These verbs are irregular in that they stay the same, no matter what happens. In an ever-changing world, you can always count on these verbs to hold their course. Thus, if Mrs. G.P. were to let you down (which she hopes will never happen), then let remains the same whether she let you down today, she let you down yesterday, or she has let you down in the past (past participle). These verbs are your constant friends and include the words: bet, bid, cost, hit, hurt, let, cut, broadcast, put, and shut. Another verb in this category is the word read, which keeps the same spelling, but changes pronunciation from present to past tense.

The next group of verbs is only a little tricky in that they change form from present to past, but remain the same for past participle. An example is: "Mrs. G.P. holds your friendship dear; she held it dear yesterday, as she has held it dear always.

The verbs that follow this rule are: beat/beat/beaten; bring/brought/brought; build/built/built; burn/burned/burned; buy/bought/bought; catch/caught/caught; dream/dreamed/dreamed; feel/felt/felt; fight/fought/fought; find/found/found; get/got/got; hang/hung/hung; hear/heard/heard; hold/held/held; keep/kept/kept; lay/laid/laid; lead/led/led; learn/learned/learned; leave/left/left; lend/lent/lent; lose/lost/lost; make/made/made; mean/meant/meant; pay/paid/paid; say/said/said; sell/sold/sold; send/sent/sent; sit/sat/sat; show/showed/showed; sleep/slept/slept; spend/spent/spent; stand/stood/stood; teach/taught/taught; think/thought/thought; tell/told/told; understand/understood/understood; wear/worn/worn; and  win/won/won.

Finally, Mrs. G.P. hopes that you have remained true in your devotion to grammar and are prepared to tackle the most irregular of irregular verbs. As she cannot explain their oddness away, Mrs. Grammar Person will simply list them for your future reference:

Awake/awoke/awoken (This verb causes a lot of confusion, indeed!)
Be/was/been ("To be or not to be" was the question that had been on Hamlet's mind)
Become/became/become (That's a strange one)
Begin/began/begun (I begin to see why you began the war you should never have begun)
Bite/bit/bitten (I bite the boy who bit me first and now we have bitten each other)
Blow/blew/blown (The wind blows as much as it blew yesterday, but not as much as it has blown in the past)
Break/broke/broken (I break a different toe than I broke yesterday, but the same one I have broken before)
And here are the rest of them for your edification and enlightenment:
chose/chose/chosen, come/came/come,
do/did/done, draw/drew/drawn, drive/drove/drive, drink/drank/drunk
fall/fell/fallen, fly/flew/flown, forget/forgot/forgotten, forgive/forgave/forgiven, freeze/froze/frozen
give/gave/given, go/went/gone, grow/grew/grown
ride/rode/ridden, ring/rang/rung, rise/rose/risen, run/ran/run
see/saw/seen, sing/sang/sung, speak/spoke/spoken, swim/swam/swum
take/took/taken, tear/tore/torn, throw/threw/thrown
wake/woke/woken (just like awake/awoke/awoken), write/wrote/written.
As much as she lives for the rules of grammar, Mrs. G.P. must admit that she is a tad weary after her foray into the land of irregular verbs. She wishes to take a nap and, being a creature of habit, will lie down in the same place she lay yesterday and has lain whenever she feels the need for respite--the Queen Anne sofa in her drawing room. After all of your hard work, Gentle Writer, you should rest as well. Mrs. G.P. bids you a fond farewell until the next time you meet.

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