Sie sind auf Seite 1von 211



Scientific reviewer: Dr. Loredana Pungă

Cover design: Corina Nani




1.1 FORM 1







3.1.1. Regular verbs 3 The pronunciation of regular verb inflection -ed 3 The spelling of past tense, indefinite participle and past 3
participle forms of regular verbs.

3.1.2. Irregular verbs 5 Verbs having two forms for the past participle 5 Verbs having double forms for both the past tense and the 8
past participle Auxiliary verbs 10



3.2.1 Auxiliary verbs 14 Characteristics of auxiliary verbs 15 DO 24 BE 25 HAVE 29 SHALL 32 SHOULD 35 WILL 38 WOULD 40 MAY 43 MIGHT 44 CAN 46 COULD 48 MUST 50 OUGHT (TO) 51 NEED 52 DARE 54 USED (TO) 55

3.2.2. Lexical Verbs 56



3.3.1. Dynamic verbs 59 Activity Verbs 59 Process Verbs 59 Verbs of Bodily Sensations 59 Transitional Event Verbs 60 Momentary Verbs (time-point verbs) 60

3.3.2. Stative verbs 60 Verbs of Mental States and Processes 60 Verbs of Emotional States 60 Verbs of Perception 61 Relational Verbs 61

3.3.3. Verbs with either dynamic or stative use 61



3.4.1. Verbs that Require no Complementation 65 Pure Intransitive Verbs 65 Transitive or Intransitive Verbs with Little Difference in 66
Meaning Transitive or Intransitive Verbs with a Difference in Meaning 66

3.4.2. Verbs that Require Complementation 68 Intensive Verbs (copulas / linking verbs) 68 Monotransitive Verbs 70 Ditransitive Verbs 73 Complex Transitive Verbs 76



4.1.1. Definition 81
4.1.2. Formation of the Passive 81
4.1.3. Use of the Passive 82
4.1.4. Verbs that Allow the Passive Transformation 84
4.1.5. Intensive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs 88
4.1.6. Active Forms with Passive Meaning 88 The Progressive Aspect 88 Transitive Verbs used Intransitively 89 Impersonal Expressions 89 Causative Constructions 89

4.1.7. Translation of the Passive Constructions 89


4.2.1. The Progressive (Continuous) Aspect 93 Dynamic Verbs 93 Stative Verbs 94 Translation of the Progressive Aspect into Romanian 99

4.2.2. The Perfective Aspect 99

4.2.3. The Perfect Progressive Aspect 100



4.4.1. Tenses of the Indicative Mood 105 The Present Tenses 105 Present Tense, Non-Progressive (Simple or Indefinite) 105 Present Tense Progressive 110 Present Perfect Non-Progressive 111 Present Perfect Progressive 114 The Past Tenses 116 Past Tense Non-Progressive (Simple or Indefinite) 116 Past Tense Progressive 118 Past Perfect Non-Progressive 120 Past Perfect Progressive 122 The Future Tenses 124 Future Non-Progressive 125 Future Progressive 126 Future Perfect Non-Progressive 127 Future Perfect Progressive 128 Future in the Past Non-Progressive 129 Future in the Past Progressive 129 The Future Perfect in the Past 129 The Future Perfect Progressive in the Past 130

4.4.2. Tenses of the Conditional Mood 135 Present Conditional 135 Present Conditional Progressive 136 Past Conditional 137 Past Conditional Progressive 138

4.4.3. Tenses of the Subjunctive Mood 143 The Synthetical Subjunctive 143 The Present Subjunctive 143 The Past Subjunctive 145 The Past Perfect Subjunctive 146 The Analytical Subjunctive 147 The Analytical Subjunctive With Should 147 The Analytical Subjunctive With May / Might 149

4.4.4. The Imperative Mood 153



5.1.1. Forms of the Infinitive 159 The ‘Short’ Infinitive 159 The ‘Long’ Infinitive 162

5.1.2. Grammatical Categories of the Infinitive 162 The Category of Mood 162 The Category of Tense 163 The Category of Aspect 163 The Category of Voice 164 The Category of Person 165

5.1.3. Characteristics of the Infinitive 165 Verbal Characteristics 165 Nominal Characteristics 166

5.1.4 Infinitival Constructions 167 The Accusative with the Infinitive 167 The Nominative with the Infinitive 169 The Absolute Infinitive Construction 171 The Split Infinitive 171 The Parenthetical Phrases with the Infinitive 171 The Implied Infinitive 172

5.1.5 Translation of the Infinitive 172


5.2.1. Verbal Characteristics of the Indefinite Participle 175

5.2.2. Participial Constructions 177 The Accusative with the Participle 177 The Nominative with the Participle 179 The Absolute Participial Construction 179 Parenthetical Phrases with the Participle 180 Misrelated Participles 180

5.2.3. Translation of the Participle 181

5.3. THE GERUND 185

5.3.1. Verbal Characteristics of the Gerund 185

5.3.2. Nominal Characteristics of the Gerund 186

5.3.3. Special Uses of the Gerund 187 Genitive plus Gerund 187 Accusative plus Gerund 187

5.3.4. Uses of the Gerund 188

5.3.5. The Gerund and the Participle 190
5.3.6. The Gerund and the Infinitive 191
5.3.7. The Gerund and the Verbal Noun 194
5.3.8. The Translation of the Gerund 194

References 199
The English Verb is a revised edition of the course of lectures
bearing the same title, published in 1982 by Tipografia Universităţii
din Timişoara.
The present volume is intended for students and teachers of
English, and pays more attention to the difficulties that the Romanian
learners of English may encounter in their study of the English verb.
The treatment of the various problems is not exhaustive, but it is as
systematic and practical as possible, containing clear explanations that
use traditional terms, and many examples; also, at the end of the
various chapters, Luminiţa Frenţiu has included many translation
exercises, with a key. The work owes a lot to a well-known reference
book, A Grammar of Contemporary English, by R. Quirk, S.
Greenbaum, G. Leech, and J. Svartvik (Longman 1972) and its
subsequent variants.
The English Verb 1


The teaching of grammar usually begins by dividing words into classes

called "parts of speech", and by attempting to give definitions of these classes. The
definitions are seldom complete, since no agreement has been reached as to what
they should be based on: on form and form change, on meaning, on function in the
sentence or on all of these combined.

1.1. FORM

If form is taken as the basis for the definition of the verb, then the
difference in the expression of the present and the past or the inflection -s in the
third person singular present and the inflection –ed or a root vowel change in the
past might seem applicable criteria in defining the class: consider love vs. loved,
write vs. wrote or love vs. he loves. However, -ed and -s are not endings
characteristic of the verb only;-ed (-d), may also be added to nouns or noun phrases
to form adjectives (e.g. fair-haired, gifted), while -s may be added to nouns to form
the plural (e.g. bird vs. birds). Also, the use of this criterion would leave out words
like cut, cost, put, which have the same form for present and past, or must, ought
to, which are not inflected in the third person singular of the present tense and have
no form for the past tense.


Such words will be easily recognized as belonging to the class of verbs if

their function in the sentence is considered; I must go. Must we go? are parallel
constructions to I shall go. Shall we go?, while Did you cut it? is parallel to Did
you like it? In all these cases, the verb could be defined as the sentence forming
element. It is the verb that makes the utterance a more or less complete piece of
communication. However, if the combination water boils is a complete sentence,
boiling water or to boil water are not, in spite of the fact that our intuition tells us
that boils, boiling, and to boil are closely related and are different forms of the
same word.


Consequently, grammar books find it preferable to define the class of the

verb by meaning or content, although such a definition is not complete or flawless
either. Thus the verb is said to be the part of speech denoting actions (write, run,
2 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

answer, make, build), some state or condition (sleep, remain, lie, stand, live),
existence (be, exist), the appearance of a characteristic (blossom, wither, die, rise)
the modification of an attitude or characteristic (awake, harden), an attitude
(please, scorn, doubt, respect) etc.


The verb forms are either finite (personal) or non-finite (non-personal).


The finite forms have tense distinctions to express grammatical time

relations, have mood, which indicates the speaker's attitude towards the action.
They can indicate the duration, completeness or incompleteness of an action, they
can show whether a person or thing is doing or receiving an action. They can form
the predicate of a sentence by themselves; there is person and number agreement
between the subject and the finite verb, which, with most lexical verbs, is restricted
to a contrast between third and non-third person singular present.


The infinitive, the participle, and the gerund are non-finite forms of the
verb. They have aspect and voice distinctions; they may enter into predicate
relations with a noun, thus forming syntactic units resembling clauses (actually
called "non-finite clauses" by several grammars – see, for example, Quirk et
al.,1972:772 ff., Graver, 1974:294). However, they do not have the categories of
mood, tense, number and person.


In what follows, the classification proposed by R. Quirk et al. (1972) will

be adopted with slight changes, since it ranges among the most complete ones and
presents certain obvious practical qualities. Four criteria are used in the
3.1. The basic forms of the verb
3.2. Te behaviour of the verb in the sentence
3.3 The ability of the verb to occur in the progressive aspect
3.4. Verb complementation
The English Verb 3



The English verb normally has four forms: the base form (often referred to
as the infinitive but which also functions as present indicative, with the exception
of the third person singular, as imperative, and as present subjunctive), the past
tense (or preterite), the past participle and the indefinite participle. Verbs ending
in -ed in the past tense and past participle are called regular verbs (e.g. ask, asked,
asked, asking; finish, finished, finished, finishing), while those which do not end in
-ed in the past tense and past participle are called irregular verbs.

3.1.1. Regular verbs

The regular verb class includes the vast majority of English verbs. If one
knows the basic form of such a verb, one can predict what its other three forms are.
Even relatively new verbs that are coined or borrowed from other languages adopt
this, regular pattern: e.g. bebop, bebopped, bebopped, beboppin; gazump,
gazumped, gazumped, gazumping; psych, psyched, psyched, psyching; zap, zapped,
zapped, zapping, etc. The pronunciation of regular verb inflection -ed

The inflexion -ed, characteristic of the past tense and the past participle of
regular verbs, has three phonetic realizations:

a) [d], after voiced consonants other than [d] and after vowels:
play, played, played [p 1 e i d]
move, moved, moved [m u: v d]
judge, judged, judged [dзdзd]

b) [t], after voiceless consonants, other than [t]

stop, stopped, stopped [s t o p t]
push, pushed, pushed [p u ς t]

c) [id], after the alveolar plosives [t] , [d]

rot, rotted, rotted, [r o t i d]
bud, budded, budded [bdid] The spelling of past tense, indefinite participle and past participle forms
of regular verbs.
4 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

a) The final consonant of the base form is doubled before -ed. if the preceding
vowel is stressed and spelled with a single letter:

bar, barred, barred, barring

beg, begged, begged, begging
chat, chatted, chatted, chatting
clap, clapped, clapped, clapping
rub, rubbed, rubbed, rubbing

Certain consonants are doubled also after single unstressed vowels or c is

doubled by a k:

humbug, humbugged, humbugged, humbugging

traffic, trafficked, trafficked, trafficking
picnic, picnicked, picnicked, picnicking

In British English, but not in American English, there are many other verbs
whose final consonant is doubled after single unstressed vowels as well:

signal, signalled, signalled, signalling

travel, travelled, travelled, travelling
cancel, cancelled, cancelled, cancelling
program(me), programmed, programmed, programming
kidnap, kidnapped, kidnapped, kidnapping
worship, worshipped, worshipped, worshipping (Most verbs
ending in –p observe, however, the main rule: develop, developed; gossip,

b) Verbs ending in -y preceded by a consonant change -y into –i; however –y

remains unchanged in front of –ing:

study, studied, studied, studying

cry, cried, cried, crying
But : play, played, played, playing
employ, employed, employed, employing

c) The final -e of the base form is usually dropped before –ed and -ing:

shave, shaved, shaved, shaving

breathe, breathed, breathed, breathing
agree, agreed, agreed, but: agreeing
The English Verb 5

decree, decreed, decreed but: decreeing

3.1.2. Irregular verbs

Irregular verbs have no –ed inflection in the past tense and the past
participle: generally they are formed by a change of vowel (gradation or "ablaut”).
Many of them have the same form for the base form, the past tense and the past
participle, others have the same form for the past tense and the past participle only,
while with still others it is the base form and the past participle that coincide. Some
irregular verbs keep their root vowel unchanged, adding a -t in their past tense and
past participle, or changing a final -d of the basic form into -t etc.

drive, drove, driven come, came, come

put, put, put run, ran, run
cost, cost, cost swim, swam, swum
hit, hit, hit burn, burnt, burnt
dig, dug, dug weep, wept, wept
dwell, dwelt, dwelt
build built, built

In what follows, only those irregular verbs which have double forms, usually one
regular and one irregular for the past tense and the past participle, or double forms
for the past participle will be discussed. Verbs having two forms for the past participle

a) A number of verbs have two past participle forms, of which one with the ending
-en. In many cases, the –en forms have only an adjectival function:

drink, drank, drunk / drunken

load, loaded, loaded / laden
melt, melted, melted / molten
rot, rotted, rotted / rotten
shrink, shrank, shrunk / shrunken
sink, sank, sunk / sunken
shave, shaved, shaved / shaven

The drunken man collapsed. He had drunk a lot.

One of the trees has rotted. It is a rotten egg.
Your gums have shrunk since you had your teeth extracted.
His shrunken cheeks showed how ill he was.
6 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

The old man’s eyes have sunk. The old man has sunken eyes.
He has shaved off his beard. He is clean shaven.

 The past participle swollen of the verb swell, swelled, swelled / swollen is
commoner in the verbal function but it may be used as an adjective too:

My face has swollen. The lake was swollen with rain.

Swelled is preferred with the meaning “increased”, but swollen is also possible.

The number of students has swelled / swollen from 20 to 25.

The noise swelled and became unbearable.

Note the difference between a swollen head, with a literal meaning, and a
swelled head, meaning conceited.

 Proven, the alternative past participle of prove, proved, has a rather restricted
adjectival use, as in a proven record, not proven (legal terms).

 Both trod and trodden (tread, trod, trod / trodden) can have an adjectival and a
verbal function:

The cattle had trodden a path to the pond.

The trodden flower-beds made her cry.
Many people have trod this ancient road.
This is a well-trod path.

 Gotten is preferred in American English as a past participle of get, got, got,

particularly in the senses of “acquire”, “cause”, “come”:

You’ve just gotten yourself a prize.

In British English, this form is used attributively in one phrase only: ill-gotten

The thief’s ill-gotten gains were confiscated.

 Molten is used only attributively, in connection with hard substances, such as

rock, metal, glass, which have a high melting point:

molten lead, iron, steel; but

The English Verb 7

melted butter, snow, ice.

Sometimes the –en form differs considerably in meaning from the other form.
This applies to the past participle beholden of the verb behold, beheld, beheld /
beholden (“notice”):

I am beholden to you. (indebted, obliged).

b) A number of verbs have two participle forms, of which one is regular and one
ends in –n. Nearly always, as an attributive adjective, the –n participle is used.
In the verbal function both forms are found:

hew, hewed, hewed / hewn

mow, mowed, mowed / mown
saw, sawed, sawed / sawn
shear, sheared, sheared / shorn
sew, sewed, sewed / sewn
show, showed, showed / shown
sow, sowed, sowed / sown
strew, strewed, strewed / strewn

Hewn timber is in high demand. They have hewed / hewn several branches.
I like the smell of new-mown hay. The lawn was mown / mowed yesterday.
This is sown grass. This plot has been sown.
This is hand-sewn. She has sewn /sewed a button on.
You look like a shorn lamb. We have shorn / sheared the sheep.

c) Some past participles have only a very restricted use:

bend, bent, bent / bended – only in on bended knees

bind, bound, bound / bounden – only in my bounden duty
bite, bit, bit / bitten – in the biter bit (the biter bitten)
break, broke, broken / broke –in I’m broke.
bear bore, born / borne – born is used in the passive voice in
connection with birth.

He was born in Bucharest.

In all the other cases borne is used:

She has borne him four children.

8 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

He has borne the situation courageously. Verbs having double forms for both the past tense and the past participle

In many verbs there is an alternation between an irregular form and a

regular one in -ed. The regular forms are gaining ground and different stages of this
development can be seen in various individual verbs. It is interesting to notice that,
in actual usage, the supplanting of the irregular forms by the regular one applies
more in the past tense than in the past participle. There are some verbs for which
double forms are recorded only for the past tense, e.g. quit, quit/quitted, quit; rid,
rid/ridded, rid.
For certain verbs, the regular -ed form is especially characteristic for
American English, while the irregular form – for British English:

bet, bet/betted
burn, burnt/burned
dwell, dwelt/dwelled
kneel, knelt/kneeled
leap, leapt/leaped
learn learnt/learned
smell, smelt/smelled
spell, spelt/spelled
spill, spilt/spilled
spoil, spoilt/spoiled
strive, strove/ strived striven/strived
thrive, throve/thrived, thriven/thrived

This difference is noticeable in the recorded dictionary forms of these

verbs: while a British English dictionary like A.S. Hornby, Gatenby &.
Wakefield's "Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English" (1967) records
these verbs in the order: basic form - irregular past and past participle and regular
past and past participle, the last being sometimes accompanied by the mention
"occasional", or “rarely” as in the case of burned or betted, or not being
recorded at all, as in the case of dwell, smell, strive, leap, kneel, thrive,
"Webster's New World Dictionary of American English", College edition (1966)
mentions, after the base form, the regular form first, and then the irregular one
(with the exception of the verbs bet, dwell, kneel whose irregular form appears
first). The tendency towards regularization in British English is clearly mirrored in
“Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary”, edited by A.M. Macdonald (1978) or
“Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners” (2002), where for most of
these verbs their regular form precedes the irregular one.
The English Verb 9

 There are however verbs whose regular forms seem to be favoured by British
English, while their irregular forms occur only in American English: sweat,
sweat / sweated, wed, wed / wedded.

 Certain verbs are regular in their literal sense, and preferably irregular in their
metaphorical sense: knit, knit / knitted, light, lit / lighted.

She (had) knitted a pair of gloves. This is a well-knit story. She knit her
brows in thought.
He (has) lighted / lit the fire. Where is my lighted cigarette? A smile lit
up her face.

 The verb weave, wove / weaved, woven / weaved behaves differently:

She wove a garland of flowers. (literal sense)

He weaved his way through the crowd. (metaphorical sense)

 The meanings of the same verb may differ or may be narrowed:

 The regular form of bereave is used only of death:

The accident bereaved him of his wife and child.

But: He was bereft of friends. Indignation bereft him of speech.

 Clothe is regular when meaning "cover, provide clothes for” but it is

irregular as a mannered expression instead of "dress", especially of the
appearance of the clothing:

She was fed and clothed at my expense.

She was poorly clad. He was clad in rags.

 Dream is inflected irregularly when it means “to experience things in one’s

mind while one is sleeping”, and regularly when it means “to think about
something that one hopes to have or achieve”, “to imagine”:

Last night I dreamt about a winged horse.

I have always dreamed of visiting France.

 Hang has a regular inflection only of execution:

10 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

He hanged for murder. but

She hung the washing out in the garden.

 The irregular form of heave occurs only in nautical language:

A ship hove (“became visible”) in sight. They hove (“lifted and threw”)
it overboard. But
The old man heaved a groan.

 Shine is regular only in the sense of "polish", particularly in American

English but it is irregular in the sense of "give out, reflect light":

He had his shoes shined.

His face shone with excitement.

 Speed is irregularly inflected when it means “succeed”, while the regular

form means ”increase speed”:

I wonder how he(has) sped.

The car sped / speeded (us) along the road.
He speeded up to work.

Both forms may be used of rapid movement.

 Wrought, the irregular past and past participle of work is employed only in
certain connections:

The war wrought destruction, ruin. Her nerves are wrought up. This is
a wrought iron gate.

 The regular and irregular forms of some verbs can be used indiscriminately:

broadcast, broadcast/broadcasted
chide, chid/chided
shrive, shrove/shrived, shriven/shrived. Auxiliary Verbs

A group apart of irregular verbs is represented by the auxiliary verbs, of

various kinds, of which some have but some of the base forms e.g. may, might,
The English Verb 11

will, would, ought, while others have all the basic forms, e.g. be, was been, being;
have, had, had, having. (see 3.2.1.)


Translate into English:

1. Şi-au sorbit cafeaua şi au sporovăit timp de 4 ore fără să se plictisească.

2. În fiecare vară făceam picnic cu mici şi bere pe malul lacului.
3. De când i-au răpit fiica nu se dezlipeşte de telefon nici chiar pentru a-şi
lua un pahar de apă.
4. Pe măsură ce se apropia de acel loc, respira din ce în ce mai rapid.
5. Prăjitura s-ar fi ars dacă nu mergeam în bucătărie la timp.
6. Fetiţa a plâns de ţi se rupea sufletul când şi-a pierdut jucăria preferată.
7. Am fost la unul din acele restaurante de clasă unde nu te admit dacă eşti
8. Ciocolata topită se toarnă peste amestecul de biscuiţi, nucă şi zahăr.
9. N-am crezut că voi ajunge să văd haine de marcă întrate la apă.
10. Proaspăt tuns şi bărbierit are, în fine, o înfăţişare de om civilizat.
11. E timpul să arunci toată mâncarea stricată din frigider.
12. Apele râului s-au umflat peste nivelul de siguranţă aşa că e pericol de
13. Instanţa are dovezi certe cu privire la vinovăţia inculpatului.
14. A tuns iarba din faţa casei înainte să primească amenda de la primărie.
15. Şi-a cerut iertare în genunchi pentru că mi-a rătăcit valoroasa colecţie de
16. De când e falit nimeni nu-i sună nici la uşă, nici la telefon.
17. E aşa bine îmbrăcată doar de când lucrează la o firmă de confecţii.
18. Haina agăţată în cuier este din blană ecologică.
19. Azi noapte am visat că am rămas fără benzină în mijlocul deşertului.
20. Postul nostru de televiziune a transmis imagini de la locul dezastrului timp
de 24 de ore.
21. Au pariat mulţi bani pe aşa o prostie.
22. Fermierul locuia singur în mijlocul preeriei.
23. I-am explicat că am vărsat cafeaua din cană când am încercat să mă uit
la ceas.
24. Te-au răsfăţat părinţii în loc să te înveţe cu disciplina.
25. Se luptase deja îndeajuns cu situaţia când a hotărât să renunţe.

12 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

1. They were sipping their coffee and chatting for 4 hours without getting
2. Every summer we picnicked on the lake shore with meat rolls and beer.
3. Since his daughter was kidnapped he hasn’t moved away from the phone
for a glass of water.
4. He was breathing faster and faster, as he was getting closer to that place.
5. The cake would have burnt if I hadn’t entered the kitchen in time.
6. The girl wept her heart out when she lost her favourite toy.
7. We went to one of those restaurants where you are not admitted if you are
8. The melted chocolate is poured over the mixture of biscuits, nuts and
9. I have never thought of seeing shrunk brand clothes.
10. Newly trimmed and shaven, he finally looks like a civilised man.
11. It’s time you threw out all the rotten food from the refrigerator.
12. The river has swollen over the safety level, so there is flood risk.
13. The court has proven evidence referring to the defendant’s guilt.
14. He mowed the lawn before getting fined by the town hall.
15. He apologised on bended knees for having lost my valuable stamp
16. Since he got broke, nobody has rung at his door or called him on the
17. She has been well clad only since she started to work for a ready made
clothes company.
18. The coat hung over there is made of ecological fur.
19. Last night I dreamt that I ran out of gasoline in the middle of the desert.
20. Our TV Company broadcast/broadcasted images from the disaster scene
for 24 hours.
21. They bet/betted a lot of money on such a stupid thing.
22. The farmer dwelt/dwelled alone in the prairie.
23. I explained to her that I spilt/spilled the coffee when I tried to look at my
24. Your parents spoilt/spoiled you instead of training you with discipline.
25. He had already striven/strived enough with the situation, when he decided
to give up.
The English Verb 13



A classification of the verbs can be made according to their behaviour in

various grammatical environments. If sentences:

1. He should tell me about it.

2. He must tell me about it.
3. He will tell me about it.
4. He has told me about it.
5. He was telling me about it.
6. He told me about it.

are transformed into questions, in sentences 1-5 inversion between the subject and
the first verb of the predicate will occur, while the last sentence will be formed
with the help of the verb do on the first place in the sentence:

1. Should he tell me about it?

2. Must he tell me about it?
3. Will he tell me about it?
4. Has he told me about it?
5. Was he telling me about it?
6. Did he tell me about it?

A negative transformation of these sentences will be performed by simply inserting

the negation not after the first verb of the predicate in the case of sentences 1-5,
and by resorting to the help of do in sentence 6:

1. He shouldn’t tell me about it.

2. He mustn’t tell me about it.
3. He won’t tell me about it.
4. He hasn’t told me about it.
5. He wasn’t telling me about it.
6. He didn’t tell me about it.

Should, must, will, has, was in sentences 1-5, which behave similarly, may
all be grouped into the class of auxiliary verbs (also known as special finites or
anomalous verbs), while the verb of the last sentence, which requires a form of do
to build its interrogative and negative, is a lexical verb.
14 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

3.2.1 Auxiliary verbs

Auxiliary verbs have no independent existence in the sentence; they

simply help to build various tenses and moods of lexical verbs or to make up
various verb phrases. They can only occur with the concept of a lexical verb
attached either explicitly or implicitly. Auxiliary verbs can be classified according
to the forms which they help to build. Thus we can speak of:

1. Auxiliaries of form: to do
He obviously does not understand it.
He did not come.
Do not go!
Only then did he tell me the truth.
Why does it matter?

2. Auxiliaries of tense: to be, to have, shall, should, will, would

I am thinking of it.
He had never thought of it.
You will come tomorrow.
John said he would come tomorrow.

3. Auxiliaries of voice: to be
He was asked a difficult question.

4. Auxiliaries of aspect: to be, to have

I was watching the TV when the telephone rang.
I have never heard of it.

5. Auxiliaries of mood: should, would, will, may, might, can, could, let
He would do it if he had time.
Close the door so that it will be warm in the room.
Let’s dance now.
I got up early so that I might be there in time.

6. Modal auxiliaries, which express such concepts as probability,

possibility, logical necessity, volition, insistence: be, have, shall,
should, will, would, must, ought, etc.

The book should be where you left it.

They ought to come more often here.
The English Verb 15 Characteristics of auxiliary verbs

1) Semantically, a distinction has to be made between auxiliary and modal

auxiliary verbs. The auxiliaries of form, tense, voice, aspect and mood are
usually devoid of semantic value, while modal auxiliaries have a meaning of
their own. Modal auxiliaries often represent a combination of time or tense
concept and a modal concept. Many modal verbs have more than one meaning,
and in some cases two or more (different) modal verbs have some meanings in
common, but are not completely interchangeable.

2) Most auxiliaries have both strong and weak forms depending on whether they
are pronounced with or (more frequently) without sentence stress.

be [bi:], [bi]; been [bi:n], [bin], am [æm], [əm], [m]; is [iz], [z/s]; are
[ɑ:], [ə]; was [wɒz], [wəz]; were [wə:], [wə];
have [hæv], [həv], [(ə)v]; has [hæz], [həz], [əz], [z/s]; had [hæd], [həd],
[əd], [d];
shall [ʃæl], [ʃəl], [l]; should [ʃud], [ʃ(ə)d], [d];
will [wil], [l]; would [wud], [wəd], [əd], [d];
can [kæn], [k(ə)n], could [kud], [kəd];
must [mast], [məst], [m(ə)s];
do [du:], [du], [də], [d], does [daz], [dəz].

3) Auxiliaries do not need the help of do to build their interrogative and negative

Has she been there already? She hasn’t been there yet.
Must I do it? You mustn’t say such things.

Auxiliaries are the only verbs that take the contracted form of not.
The negation of modal auxiliaries requires some attention, in that here the
scope of the negation may or may not include the auxiliary itself. Therefore,
one must distinguish between auxiliary negation and lexical verb negation.
Certain auxiliaries (can, need) follow the pattern of auxiliary verb negation,
while others (will, shall, must) follow that of the lexical verb negation.

I won't forget. ("I promise not to forget") - lexical verb negation.

He shan't get it. ("I am determined that he does not get it”) - lexical
verb negation.
16 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

It can’t be true ("It is not possible that it is true”) – auxiliary verb

You needn't do it. ("It is not necessary that you do it”) – auxiliary verb

In its "permission" sense, may follows the pattern of auxiliary verb negation, while
in its "possibility" sense, it follows that of lexical verb negation:

People may not pick flowers in this park. ("People are not allowed to
pick flowers”).
John may not pass his examination. ("It is possible that John does not

4) They are not inflected in the third person singular of the present tense, except
for do, be, have.

He ought to give an answer.

It must be rather late.

5) Auxiliaries are followed by the infinitive of a lexical verb, which is usually

bare (without the particle to) except for used, ought, be, and have (all used as
modal auxiliaries):

They should do it properly.

I do not like it.
But He ought to leave at once.
He is to leave at once.
He has to leave at once.
He used to leave at once.

When be and have are auxiliaries of tense, voice, or aspect, they are followed
by the indefinite or the past participle of a lexical verb:

I am studying. He was ordered to leave.

I have been studying English for a long time.
John said that he had never heard of it.

6) Except for be and have, all auxiliaries are defective verbs: they have no
infinitive, no participles. Auxiliaries cannot be conjugated in all the tenses and
moods. Some of them are forms of the present (may, must, can, etc), others are
The English Verb 17

forms of the past (could, would, might, etc). Both present and past forms can be
used in present tense sequence:

I think it may rain. I think it might rain.

When used with the indefinite infinitive of lexical verbs, they generally have a
present or future time reference:

He may / can / shall / must help you immediately / later.

The use of the alternative forms might, could, should, suggests merely a more
tentative attitude on the part of the speaker; it would be misleading to believe
that could is the equivalent in past time of can, that might is the equivalent in
past time of may, etc. Of the four past tense forms (could, might, would,
should) only the first three are used to refer to the past time when followed by
an indefinite infinitive, and then, only within a restricted range of meanings:

He could speak English by the time he was ten.

He was very independent an, would never ask for help.
Try as he might, she couldn’t get the car to start.

In reported clauses, however, the past tense forms of these verbs are
automatically used, even if the past tense form does not normally indicate the
point of the present tense meaning in direct speech:

You may be right. He said I might be right.

If a modal auxiliary in direct speech has no past tense equivalent, then the same
form remains in indirect speech:

You must be tired. I said that they must be tired.

If followed by a perfect infinitive, modal auxiliaries are counted as referring to

the past:

He may have been right.

(I said that) they must have been right.

7) Auxiliaries can take a strong stress for affirmative emphasis:

I háve heard of him. John cán play the piano.

18 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

He doés pay his debts. I shoúld like a holiday now.

Sometimes affirmative emphasis is used when the listener seems to assume a


Why don’t you mind your own business? But I dó mind my own
Why won’t you come? But I wíll come.

For negative emphasis, the strong stress is laid on the negation not immediately
following the auxiliary:

We have nót heard of him. John cannót swim well.

If the lexical verb is emphasised by means of a strong stress, it is the meaning

of the verb that is being stressed, not its affirmative nature:

She boúght the flowers. (She didn’t get or steal them)

He will gíve he the book. (He will not lend or sell it to her)

8) Auxiliaries have the ability to form various types of question phrases and to
occur in various types of responses.

A. Question Phrases

A question phrase is a question added at the end of a statement, by means

of which a speaker wants to make sure that his / her information is correct.

a) Negative question phrase (tag) added to an affirmative statement:

You have finished, haven’t you?

That will be enough, won’t it?
John can help him, can’t he?
He speaks English well, doesn’t he?

b) Affirmative question phrase added to a negative statement:

You haven't finished, have you?

That won’t solve our problem, will it?
John can't help him, can he?
He doesn't speak English, does he?
The English Verb 19

The following remarks must be made here:

 Auxiliaries and modal auxiliaries repeat themselves in the tag, while

lexical verbs are replaced by do.

 If more than one auxiliary occurs in the statement, only the first one
is used in the question phrase:

. You have been doing research, haven't you?

 The subject of the question phrase must be coreferrential with the subject
of the statement. The subject of the question phrase must be a pronoun
or there:

There is someone in the house, isn't there?

Personal pronouns are also used to refer to indefinite pronouns; they

usually replaces everyone, everybody, someone, somebody, no one,

Everything is ready, isn’t it?

Everybody will have another try, won’t they?
Nobody called the police, did they?

The tag subject for this, that is it, while for these, those it is they:

This is the main course, isn’t it?

Those weren’t your shoes, were they?

 If information or confirmation of an opinion is wanted, the question phrase

is said with a rising intonation; when the sentence is the expression of an
opinion or a statement of which no contradiction is expected, the question
phrase is said with a falling intonation.

 Imperatives are made into polite requests by adding a question phrase with
will or shall in the affirmative or the negative.

Sit down, will you / won’t you?

Don’t be late, will you?
Let me have a look, will you / won’t you?
20 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

Let’s read aloud, shall we / shan’t we?

 The positive forms of need and dare are rarely heard in the affirmative
with question tags, but when so used, they are treated as full verbs; notice
also the long infinitive following them:
You need to write it now, don’t you?
He dared to call me a fool, didn’t he?

 Used to has a question phrase with did:

He used to smoke a lot, didn’t he?

 I am usually has the question phrase aren’t I in spoken English:

I’m going there, aren’t I?

c) There is a less common type of question phrase, in which both statement and
question are positive or negative:

(So) John might be late, might he?

(Oh), John loves her, does he?
(So) You haven’t been cheeky, haven’t you?
(So) They didn’t like it, didn’t they?

The question phrase is always uttered with a rising intonation, the statement
is usually preceded by so, oh, indicating the speaker’s arrival at a conclusion
by inference, or by recalling what has already been said. This type of question
phrase may sometimes suggest sarcastic suspicion.

d) A special construction frequently heard in conversation, which actually

combines a short answer and a question phrase, may be used to express
agreement with a negative statement or agreement with an affirmative
statement. The short answer repeats the auxiliary or modal auxiliary of the
statement or, if the latter contains a lexical verb, it replaces it by do. The
question phrase is built on the usual pattern:

"You mustn’t spend it all." " No, I mustn’t, must I?"

"I don’t understand you"." No, you don’t, do you?"
"This chair has been painted"." Yes, it has, hasn’t it?"
"They swam very well"." Yes, they did, didn’t they?"
The English Verb 21

e) A variant of the construction discussed under d) is used when one wishes to

make an ironical, sarcastic or incredulous comment on another man’s
statement. This is built by repeating the auxiliary or modal auxiliary occurring
in the statement or, if the verb in the statement is a lexical verb, by replacing it
with an appropriate form of do, and by adding a question phrase, both being
positive or negative.

"I’m going home." "Oh, you are, are you?"

"I won’t do it"." Oh, you won’t, won’t you?"
"He felt very sorry for her"." Oh, he did, did he?"
"I don’t think this is enough"." Oh, you don’t, don’t you?"

B. Short answers and responses

Auxiliaries and modal auxiliaries are used in short answers and in

responses to avoid repetition of the lexical verb and its complementation. The main
types of short answers and responses are given below:

a) “Yes” or “No” answers to general questions:

Are you coming? Yes, I am.

Will you take care of everything? Yes, I will.
Can we meet tomorrow? No, we can’t.
Has it rained lately? Yes, it has.
Did you buy milk? No, I didn’t.

Note the possible imperative answers with do or don’t to questions like:

May I take it? Yes, (please) do.

Shall I begin now? No, (please), don’t.
Must I take an umbrella? Yes, do.

b) Answers to special questions introduced by an interrogative word, which is the

subject of the sentence or part of the subject:

Who wants some tea? I do.

Who knows the answer? I don't know.
Which of you must leave? We all must.
How many of you can cook? None of us can.
22 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

c) Short answers expressing agreement with an affirmative or a negative

statement. The subject of the short answer has to be coreferrential with that of
the antecedent clause.

- Agreement with affirmative:

You like John. Yes, I do. (simple agreement)

There is a hole in your shoe. So there is. (surprised agreement)
You won’t tell me your secret. Of course I won’t. (agreement with
something obvious)

- Agreement with negative:

They say she can’t swim. No, she can’t.

He shouldn’t utter such words. Of course, he shouldn’t.
Tom doesn’t eat meat. No, he doesn’t.

d) Short answers expressing disagreement with an affirmative or a negative

statement or a special question. (introduced by why or how).

– Disagreement with an affirmative statement:

You have often been to London. But I haven’t.

They can walk home safely. Oh, no, they can’t.
Why are you staring at her? But I am not.
How do you imagine life without electricity? Oh, I don’t.

- Disagreement with a negative statement:

He can’t behave like a gentleman. But he can.

You don’t know anything about this. Yes, I do.
Why haven’t you read the instructions carefully? But I have.
I won't do it. Yes, you will.

Note that in all these types of short answers, the positive response to need is
usually must, and the negative response to must is usually needn’t (if absence
of necessity is expressed). Used to is usually replaced by did.

I needn't go there tomorrow. Yes, you must.

e) Additions to affirmative or negative sentences.

The English Verb 23

I. Affirmative additions are introduced by so meaning also; inversion takes

place between auxiliary and subject.

She must go home. So must I.

John has given the right answer. So has Mary.
Peter came early. So did I.
She will try to be calm. So will I.

II. Negative additions introduced by nor or neither; inversion takes place

between auxiliary and subject.

We couldn’t remember his name. Nor / neither could they.

John oughtn’t to be late. Nor / neither ought your
He doesn’t know the answer to your question. Nor / neither do I.
I'm not going to clean the mess. Nor/neither am I.

A great variation of the auxiliaries is in fact possible in the short answers

and responses, depending on what the speaker means to say. Thus there are cases
when the short answer contains a substitution of the lexical verb in the antecedent
clause by do, although the former is preceded by other auxiliaries. In this way, any
modal colouring attached to the lexical verb is removed in the short answer. There
are cases when the short answer contains an auxiliary different from the one
occurring in the preceding statement or it contains an auxiliary (different from do),
while the predicate of the preceding statement is made up of a lexical verb only.

Some people might like a shower. John does.

We are not complaining about it. Mary will.
John may be asking questions. No one else has.
I study several languages. So should everybody.
John wrote me a letter. Mary may too.

It must be pointed out that auxiliaries and modal auxiliaries may be used to
avoid the repetition of a lexical verb within one and the same sentence.

John doesn’t usually shout but when he does, I get scared.

John swims better than Mary ever will.

Finally, the short answer may contain a combination of several auxiliaries

as well as a substitution of the lexical verb by do.
24 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

Should she have been sending the parcel? Yes, she should (have (been
(doing so))).
John may have heard the birds singing. Yes, he may (have (done so)). DO

As an auxiliary, do has the following forms: do, does (present tense), and
did (past tense). Consequently it is used in the following cases.:
1. In sentences negated by not, where the lexical verb is simple present, past
tense, or imperative:

I do not like it. He does not understand it.

They didn’t like it either. Do not go. Don't be shy.

2. In questions involving inversion, where the lexical verb is in the simple present
or past tense:

Do you like Shakespeare? When did it happen?

However do is not used in special questions where the interrogative word is the
subject or part of the subject:

Which of you is the newcomer? How many came?

3. In question phrases and short answers of various types to replace a lexical verb
in the simple present, or the simple past tense:

Do you understand it? Yes, I do./ No, I don’t.

She likes coffee, doesn’t she?
They didn’t answer, did they?

4. In emphatic or persuasive constructions, where the lexical verb is in the simple

present, simple past or imperative:

Do sit dow! I do enjoy myself.

She did have an appointment.

5. In sentences with inversion required by negative adverbs or negative adverbial

phrases or by an object, complement or adverbial beginning the sentence, when
the lexical verb is in the simple present or past tense:
The English Verb 25

Never did he meet such a generous person.

In vain do they try to reach her.
Not until she got into the car did she realise how scared she was.
So beautiful does she smile at you that you completely lose your head.
Many a sentence does she consider stupid.
Only then did she realize the truth.

6. Do is also a lexical verb having the full range of forms, including the infinitive
(to do), the indefinite participle (doing), and the past participle (done). Its
meaning is "to perform an activity or task".

What were you doing this morning?

He hasn’t done anything so far.
Did you do it?

Note that while do means "to perform an activity", "be engaged in an activity",
make means "to create":

I am doing my homework / the washing up.

She's making a cake. I am making a new dress for her.

Very often the two verbs collocate with different nouns:

do + aerobics, business, the cooking, damage, the dishes, one's duty, a

favour, the flowers, (no) good, one's hair, harm, the housework,
justice, a lesson, research, a service, the shopping, a sum, a
translation, one's work, etc.
make + an accusation, an agreement, a demand, a loss, a mess, a
promise, a proposal, etc. BE

Be is the only verb in English to have 8 (eight) different forms – a special

form for the first and third person singular of the present, and two distinct forms for
the past. The eight forms are: be (infinitive), am, is, are (present), was, were (past),
being (indefinite participle), been (past participle).

As an auxiliary, be may be used as:

26 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

1. An auxiliary of aspect, forming, with the indefinite participle (active or

passive) of lexical verbs, the (continuous) progressive aspect:

They are singing in unison. They were sitting and talking happily in the

2. An auxiliary of voice, forming, with the past participle of lexical verbs, the
passive voice:

We were asked to join the team.

The meeting is being held in the conference room.

3. It is at the same time an auxiliary of tense, forming various passive voice and
progressive aspect tenses:

She is often seen there. (present tense passive voice)

Mary was praised by the teacher. (past tense passive voice)
The neighbourhood is being explored by potential investors.(present
progressive passive voice)

4. As a modal auxiliary, it is followed by a “to” infinitive, and implies futurity,

viewed from the present or from the past, with certain secondary meanings.

 pre-destined future

This is not to happen to anyone who trusts me.

He was to become prime-minister.

 arrangement

They are to leave the apartment before the end of the month.
I was to meet him later that day.

 command

You are to stick to the policy of the company.

The secretary was informed that she was to finish the minutes by
the end of the week.

 duty, necessity
The English Verb 27

We are to repair all the damages.

 supposition

If I am to take a decision I’ll take it right away.

If he were to show up, what would you do?

Be also occurs in certain constructions with a modal colouring:

 Be going to + the infinitive of a lexical verb denotes

o future and intention

What are you going to do? I am going to have a walk in the park.

o future and probability or inevitability in the mind of the speaker

She is going to have a baby.

He is going to collapse if he continues to work in this rhythm.

o unfulfilled intention is suggested by the past form of be going to

For a moment I thought I was going to cry.

I was going to call him when he rang at my door.

o It is not used when the futurity depends on the external circumstances or

the verbs denoting a mental activity; simple future is preferred in such

*If the rain stops, I am going to work in the garden.

If the rain stops, I will be working in the garden.
*I am going to know about it soon.
I shall know about it soon.
*I am going to be 18.
I shall be 18.

 Be about to + the infinitive expresses near future, imminent fulfilment

He is about to retire.
She was about to reveal a secret when we were interrupted.
28 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

Note: As a modal auxiliary, be never occurs in its infinitive form.

5. Be can also be a lexical verb and its meanings are "to exist", "to go / come"
(the latter – especially in its participle form), "to be situated", "to happen", "to
occur", "to attend", "be present":

Whatever is is right.
I think therefore I am.
Have you ever been to London?
There were many accepted solutions.
She is from the US.
The coffee shop is downstairs.
The cocktail is after the opening ceremony.

As a lexical verb, be can also be a copula, functioning as a link between the

complement and the subject. The complement may be a noun or an adjective:

He is ten years old. They are noisy.

The lexical verb be behaves in the sentence like the auxiliary be, in that it does
not need the help of do to form questions and negations:

Are you happy?

He was not present
Were there any questions?

However, do is used with the negative imperative of the copula be:

Don’t be late! Don’t be silly.

Do may be used with the affirmative imperative for the sake of emphasis or

Do be seated. Do be careful.

In the imperative, be is used with adjectives that suggest momentary behaviour,

and not with adjectives that denote states:

Be quiet! Don't be so slow!

*Don't be thirsty! *Don't be pretty!
The English Verb 29

Be is rather seldom used in the imperative when its complement is a noun. If

this happens, its meaning is "act like" or "become":

Be a gentleman and pretend this never happened.

Be a better housewife, or I'll divorce you! HAVE

Have has the following forms: to have, have, has, had, having.
As an auxiliary verb, have may be:

1. An auxiliary of aspect, forming, with the past participle of lexical verbs, the
perfective aspect, active or passive.

Mary has already finished the book.

The website has been updated recently.

2. An auxiliary of tense, forming the various perfect tenses:

We have finished the meeting.

John hadn’t been told about it.
He has been waiting for almost one hour.

3. A modal auxiliary. In this case, it is followed by the “to” infinitive of a lexical

verb, and is used to express compulsion, obligation, or necessity arising from
external circumstances:

You have to answer all the questions on the examination ticket.

I'll have to leave now or I'll miss my bus.

Note that:

 Have to can be conjugated in all the tenses and moods; therefore it is used in
the many situations where must lacks the necessary forms.

I shall have to leave now. (future tense)

He would have to work more. (conditional mood, present)
You would have had to work more if he had insisted. (conditional
mood, past)
No one likes having to pay taxe. (gerund)
30 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

 In spoken English, the alternative forms have got to is commonly used. This
reinforces the idea of external authority:

We had got to give them a straight answer.

You’ve got to be able to communicate.
 The negative of have to (meaning lack of necessity) and its interrogative may
be built with or without do:

Do I have to stay in hospital?

Have I to stay in hospital? / Have I got to stay in hospital?
You don’t have to stay in hospital.
You haven’t to stay in hospital. / You haven’t got to stay in hospital.
Do cannot be used with have got to
*Do you have got to do it now?

Sometimes, the negative and interrogative forms of have to with do may

indicate a habitual action, while those without do (especially have got to) may
indicate one particular occasion. However the distinction is always clear.

I don't have to go there daily.

I haven't got to change my clothes for the party.
Do I have to inform you each time?
Have you got to be there early tomorrow?

 Have occurs in its past form in certain modal expressions: had better, had
rather, had sooner, etc.:

You had better stay away from him.

I think I had better show this to my brother.
I had rather you refused his offer.
I had sooner take a taxi than walk.

In negative sentences, the negative particle not comes after the complete

You had better not go there again.

In interrogative negative sentences, the contracted form of not comes after

The English Verb 31

Hadn’t you rather be liked than feared?

4. Have may also be a lexical verb, having a variety of meanings. For some of its
senses, in colloquial style, got is often added to it. When it denotes possession,
it frequently behaves like an auxiliary, forming its interrogative by inversion
and its negative simply by adding not. The general principle is that have does
not take do when possession is permanent and when one particular occasion is
referred to:

A circle hasn’t any corners.

Has she blue eyes?
Have you a headache (now)?

When the possession is recurring or habitual, do is used:

Do you often have guests for dinner?

In American English, this distinction is not made, and do is used in all these
negative or interrogative sentences:

A circle doesn’t have any corners.

Does she have blue eyes?

In its other meanings ("receive", "take", "experience", "eat", "drink", "enjoy",

"suffer" etc.) have takes do periphrasis.

Do you have tea or coffee for breakfast?

Did you have much difficulty with it?
I didn’t have a good time.
He didn't have a pleasant vacation.
Doesn't she have a cold?

In negative sentences, especially after the modal auxiliaries will and can, have
may have the meaning "to allow", "to tolerate".

I won't have such behaviour in my class.

I can't have you interrupting me all the time.

When followed by an object and an infinitive or a participle (indefinite or

past), have has a causative meaning, i.e. the subject causes the action
32 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

expressed by the participle to be performed by somebody else (in this sense, it

is often replaced by get):

I'll have you know these rules in no time.

She had the child tell her everything about it.
I had them all waiting until the very end.
She will have the students speaking English correctly.
He went to have a cavity filled.
When did you decide to have your house painted?

There is a similar construction, where, in stead of causing the action, the

subject suffers it:

She had her money stolen.

Have collocates with many nouns and the combinations which suggest the
performance of an action for a limited period of action are used in place of the
verbs that belong to the same family of words as the nouns:

to have a drink (=to drink)

to have a walk (=to walk)
to have a talk (=to talk)
to have dinner (=to dine)
to have a rest (=to rest)
to have a dance (=to dance)
to have a dream (=to dream)
to have a fight (=to fight)
to have a swim (=to swim)
to have a shower (=to shower)
to have a try (=to try) SHALL

Shall may be used as:

1. An auxiliary of tense. Normal “pure” or “colourless” future is expressed by

shall, in the first person singular or plural, plus the infinitive of a lexical verb.
This use, however, is not common in American English:

I shall be on holiday next month.

If we leave now, we shall be there in time.
The English Verb 33

I shall have finished my dinner by the time you get home.

I hope we shan’t be late tomorrow too.
I shall be waiting for him all day tomorrow.

The interrogative shall I / we + infinitive does not generally occur with a

“pure” future meaning, since we rarely ask other people about our own future
actions. It may, however be used in a “pure” future sense with verbs denoting
actions or events which do not depend on the speaker for their performance, or
with the passive verbs, since, in this case, the speaker is not asking about
his/her own future activities:

Shall I hear from you soon?

Shall I be told what to do?

In speech, shall [ʃəl] is used in its weak form, 'll is used both in speech and

I'll meet him at 12:15.

The negative short forms are 'll not or shan't:

We'll not accept their point of view.

I shan't go there by myself.

2. An auxiliary of mood, in the literary style, to form the analytical subjunctive:

I am anxious that it shall be done at once.

It has been decided that he shall be appointed for this position.

3. A modal auxiliary. It often happens that in addition to futurity, the possibility

of wish, will, promise, intention, etc. is likely to be present. Shall may express
the following modalities:

 determination, resolution – with the first person singular and plural. It is an

emphatic shall.

I shall make some inquiries and call you back.

I shall be leaving, whatever you may say.
We shall overcome!

 determination, promise, threat, obligation on the part of the speaker – with the
34 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

second and third persons:

You shall get your money back, no matter what.

He shall never be invited here again. (threat)
Very well my dear. You shall have your present. (promise)

 obligation, instructions:

You shall do as you are told.

Passengers shall remain seated until the aircraft stops.
The application shall be written in ink.

 request on the part of the speaker– with the first and third persons in
interrogative sentences to find out the wishes or the opinion of the person)s)

Shall I return the book right away?

Shall they accept the terms of the deal?

 suggestion on the part of the speaker in interrogative sentences:

Shall we talk about something different now?

Shall we discuss the job description?

In British English, but not in American English, the first person interrogative is
almost always shall I. Consider the sentence:

"You’ll never be able to do it”. “Shan’t I?”

"Won’t I?" (I’m determined to do it.)

Finally, it is worth mentioning that it is often difficult to determine whether

shall is a modal auxiliary or simply an auxiliary. It sometimes seems that shall
takes its modal colouring from the lexical verb or the context in which it

I shall kill myself. (threat)

I shall bring you a box of chocolates. (promise)

As stated before, shall is rather infrequent outside British English, and is often
replaced by will. It is only in the first person singular of questions that it cannot
be replaced by will:
The English Verb 35

Shall I call him? SHOULD

Should is considered to be the past tense of shall. However, should does not
in itself express the past, and can be frequently used for the present. Past time
reference is usually expressed by the perfect form of the attached infinitive, which
may indicate that the action denoted by the lexical verb was not fulfilled. Therefore a
sentence like You should have done it easily may be interpreted in two ways: a)
perhaps you have done it easily, at least I suppose so, and b) you didn’t do it, although
I had expected you would.

Should may be used as:

1. An auxiliary of tense, to indicate a future action as viewed from the past; thus it
forms the future in the past indefinite, progressive, and perfect, first person
singular and plural, replacing shall in indirect speech.

I shall settle in the countryside.

I told him I should settle in the countryside.
We shall have heard from him by the end of the week.
We hoped we should have heard from him by the end of the week.
I shall be sleeping when you return.
I told him I should be sleeping when he returned.
When a decision is finally taken next week, we shall have been discussing
this issue for years.
We were aware that, when a decision was finally taken the following
week, we should have been discussing that issue for years.

There is, however, a growing tendency for both shall and should to be used less
and less in the first person. This is due partly to the natural desire for uniformity
in the verbal paradigm, and for easily spoken short forms (‘ll,’d). In reported
speech, where theoretically, I shall should be replaced by I should, there is an
increasing tendency to use only would, probably because of the potential
ambiguity of should in certain contexts. Consider the sentence I said I should
leave tomorrow, where should may be interpreted as a modal verb expressing an
obligation, something I may reasonably be expected to do. If the report is made
by a person other than the original speaker, only would is used to express a future
action as viewed from the past:
36 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

You/he said you/he would leave tomorrow.

2. As an auxiliary of mood to form:

a) The conditional mood, present and past (or perfect) indefinite or progressive,
first person, singular and plural:

If I had time, I should do the cleaning myself.

If we had danced all night, we should have slept the whole morning.
If he behaved nicely, I should be thinking of him all the time.
If he hadn't phoned, I should have still been waiting for him.

b) The analytical subjunctive, all persons, in various kinds of subordinate


It is funny that we should have come across each other in this place.
(subject clause)
People over the world demand that nuclear weapons should be banned.
(object clause)
Mary’s suggestion that the neighbour should water our plants during the
holiday proved useful. (attributive clause)
I usually leave early lest I should be late (final clause)

Many grammars state that, in this case, should is not a “pure” auxiliary, but a
modal auxiliary, expressing some kind of attitude, such as pleasure, astonishment,
surprise, shock, disapproval, indignation, etc. The attitude is in fact suggested by
the adjective or the verb occurring in the main clause rather than by should itself.

3. As a modal auxiliary with all the persons, to express:

 obligation, advice, recommendation, suggestion:

You should give her a chance.

She should stop eating chocolate.
You should try to talk to him.
This writer should be included in the curriculum.
I think you should get in touch with your lawyer.

 probability, uncertainty:

Take an umbrella with you in case it should rain.

They should be here shortly.
The English Verb 37

The book should be where you put it.

It is in this sense that should may be used in ‘if’ clauses:

If Mary should call, tell her I’ll call back later.

 expectation:

This course should be quite interesting for you.

We should have received an answer by now.

 certainty:

I should be very unhappy abroad.

She should do well at the exam; she has studied a lot for it.

 request – with the first person:

I should like a piece of cake, please.

Also in the interrogative, particularly with the first and third persons, it may
express a request on the part of the speaker to find out the wishes or opinion of
the person(s) addressed.

Should she join us?

Should I turn the lights off?

Questions formulated with should are felt to be more polite, more deferential
than those containing shall.

 It may also occur in rhetorical questions, which may suggest surprise,

expectation, disapproval, strong emphasis, etc.:

How should I know?

I went to the supermarket and who(m) do you think I should meet there?

 It may make statements seem less probable in a “weakened conditional”– with

verbs like to say, to think, to suppose, to seem, etc.

I should suppose everyone knows the rules.

This is OK, I should think.
38 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu WILL

Will may be used as:

1. An auxiliary of tense to form the future (indefinite, progressive and perfect)
tenses, second and third persons, of lexical verbs:

Nancy will arrange it.

You will stay at home and I shall go to your office.
The news will have reached him by the time he returns.
She will be working all day tomorrow

The “purest” future occurs when the future action is made to depend upon some
external factors, as with if or when clauses. Also the future referent is particularly
clear when will takes a passive infinitive:

She will be surprised at finding the house empty.

If he is ready he will go.

In the interrogative, will may occur as an auxiliary mainly with the third person.:

Will you be at home on Saturday too?

In American English, and increasingly so in British English will is common in the

first person of the “pure” future:

I will have more time next month, I hope.

2. As a modal auxiliary, with all persons it may express:

 willingness, or unwillingness:

I will take care of this, don’t worry.

I will not hear a word against him.

It is in this sense that will may occur in “if” clauses:

If you will do as I say, everything will be OK.

 determination, promise:
The English Verb 39

I will make you learn these rules.

He won’t forget the party we are going to organize in his honour.

 order, command, firm instruction on the part of the speaker – with the second
and sometimes the third persons:

You will go and get one of your parents immediately.

Will you shut up!
Until we have cured you, you won’t be leaving here.

 offer, polite invitation – with the second, and rather rarely, third persons, in
interrogative sentences:

Will you stay for lunch?

 polite request – in interrogative sentences:

Will you lend me your your umbrella?

When the interrogative sentence is negative, while still expressing polite

request, it also suggests the absence of any objection.

Won’t you take a seat?

A question formed with will followed by the progressive aspect of the infinitive
is no longer a polite request or invitation, but an inquiry about the future
activities of the person(s) addressed (“pure” future):

Will you be giving a paper at the conference?

 general validity, inevitability:

Boys will be boys.

Truth will usually come out.

 frequency, recurrence of the action in the present:

He will sit up late watching TV and drinking beer.

She will talk for hours on the phone.
40 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

 supposition, belief:

You will have heard of their marriage.

This will be your bag, I guess.
You will be already familiar with the use of "will".

 inherent quality or capacity – with a non-human subject in affirmative


The ball room will hold 500 guests.

This money will buy you very little.

 “refusal” to perform the action – with non-human subject, in negative sentences

The door won’t stay closed.

This key won't fit the lock. WOULD

Would may be used as:

1. An auxiliary of tense; would replaces will in reported speech, forming the future-
in-the-past and future-perfect-in-the-past tenses, second and third persons, of
lexical verbs.

She said he would always support child care facilities at work.

She assured me that by the end of the week everybody would have
forgotten about it.

Just like will, would is frequently preferred for the first person.

He threatened that I would never see him again.

2. An auxiliary of mood; would is used to form the present and the past conditional,
indefinite and progressive, second and third persons, of lexical verbs. Would may
also occur with first person subjects:

You would lend him the money if I asked you, wouldn’t you?
It would be most convenient for you to buy that house.
It would have been great if he had been able to come.
The English Verb 41

What would you be doing if you were the head?

I wouldn’t have been working so hard if I had known the truth.

Would may also help to form the analytical subjunctive in final clauses:

She took some sandwiches with her so that she wouldn’t starve.
3. The modal auxiliary would has many modal values that correspond to will.
 It is used with its old meaning "to wish","want", "desire":

Would that it were otherwise. What would you?

Would that they were safe home again.

 lack of willingness, consent, determination, intention (with all the persons):

I would not do it. John would not let me come.

If you would come, I should be very happy.
You would go, in spite of my warning that it was unwise.

 polite invitation or polite request (with the second, and rather rarely, the third
persons, in interrogative sentences):

Would you get me a chair, please?

Would you have some more?

 certainty, characteristic behaviour, inevitability:

She would cry easily.

That’s the sort of thing that would happen to me!

 frequency in the past:

She would (often) tell me fairy tales in the evening.

Would cannot be used of actions that do not depend on the subject’s will or

*I would catch a cold because of the draught in the room.

 assumption, belief:
42 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

You would agree that war should be avoided.

I would think he is about to say “no”.
I would imagine no one will show up for such an event.

 supposition:

This would be the book you are looking for.

The man she is talking to would be her father.

 inherent capacity, in the past – with non-human subject:

That bridge would link two important parts of the city, and the war has
destroyed it.
My bookcase would hold about 1,000 volumes.

 “refusal” to perform the action – with non-human subject:

The car wouldn’t start.

The door wouldn’t open.

 unwillingness:

He wouldn’t help me even when I begged him.

I wouldn’t carry a weapon, although I knew it was unwise.

 frustration of our desires, annoyance - after the verb "to wish":

Would you be a doctor by any chance?

She would be over 25, I suppose?
You wouldn't have seen my glasses anywhere, I suppose?

Would also occurs in certain modal expressions indicating preference or choice:

 Would rather

Will you come with us? Thank you, I would rather not.
Rather than refuse to help you, I would borrow money from my bank.

 Would sooner

He would sooner take responsibility than leave the problem unsolved.

The English Verb 43

Sooner than marry that man, she would earn her living as a waitress. MAY

1. May can be used as an auxiliary of mood to form the analytical subjunctive (in
the literary style), in independent clauses, to express a wish, in final and
concessive clauses, in object clauses, after verbs expressing fear, and in adverbial
clauses of place introduced by wherever:

May they be happy for ever!

Long may they live to see their dreams come true!
I’ll write to him today so that he may know when we arrive.
I fear that this dictionary may be of no use.
I shall find it wherever you may hide it.
I won't do it, whatever he may say.

2. As a modal auxiliary, may expresses:

 permission:

You may leave now!

May I come in? Yes, you may.

 prohibition:

The following items may not be taken in one's hand luggage.

May not, as an answer to a question asking for permission, suggests the

absence of permission, being a polite form of refusal:

May I smoke in here? No, I'm afraid you may not.

A negative answer containing must represents a definite and categorical

interdiction. Don't is also possible as an answer:

May I smoke in here? No, you must not.

No, please don't.

 possibility, supposition:

He may have been late.

44 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

You may be right.

 negative possibility – with the perfect infinitive:

They may not have been ready.

She may not have known the answer.

In this sense may not follows the pattern of lexical verb negation (i.e. not
negates the main verb):

I may not be in time for the opening (=It is possible that I am not in time
for the opening)

Because of the various meanings of may, it is often difficult to distinguish

between may denoting permission and may denoting possibility; context plays
an important part in this case:

He may leàve [as soon as the lesson is over] (permission, the lexical verb
is probably stressed).
He mày leave [even if you don't allow it] (possibility; the auxiliary is
probably stressed).

 uncertainty – with perfect infinitive and in questions:

She may have been absent. I am not sure.

Who may you be? MIGHT

1. Might has the same uses and similar meanings as may. Therefore it can be used as
an auxiliary of mood to form the analytical subjunctive in independent clauses
expressing a wish, or occurring in final and concessive clauses, or in object
clauses, after verbs of "fear" especially in reported speech introduced by a verb in
the past tense:

Might I find him well!

He died so that others might live.
Try as he might, he could not pass the exam.
We were terrified that the owner might show up unexpectedly.
The English Verb 45

2. As a modal auxiliary, might expresses:

 permission. Might suggests greater politeness than may. It also occurs in
reported speech, after a verb in the past:

Might I speak up and tell the truth?

She said I might not go there by myself.

 possibility, supposition:

They might show up later.

The use of might in this case suggests a rather more remote possibility than
may, more reserve or doubt on the part of the speaker.

 possibility in the past – with the perfect infinitive:

A lot of people might have been hurt.

Having the sense of possibility, might replaces may in reported speech, after a
verb in the past tense:

I may not leave tomorrow. → She said she might not leave the following
He may have been tired. → I told them that he might have been tired.

 uncertainty, particularly in questions:

What might one do in such circumstances?

Where might she have put it?

 reproach or annoyance on the part of the speaker:

You might at least wash the dishes.

You might have called me.

 suggestion:

You might as well take the car, look for him and talk to him.
46 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

Sentences containing might may be ambiguous outside a larger context. For


He said I might leave.

may be interpreted as expressing probability ("It is possible that I shall leave, if

nothing turns up") or permission ("He allowed me to leave").

They might have discussed this in detail.

may suggest possibility ("It is possible that they discussed this in detail") or
reproach/annoyance ("I find it irritating that they have not discussed this in
detail"). CAN

1. Can may be used as an auxiliary of mood to form the analytical subjunctive in

final clauses.

We shall take a taxi so that we can get there in time.

2. As a modal auxiliary, can may express:

 physical or mental ability, power, capacity:

She can speak several foreign languages.

I can't lift that box.

 awareness – in association with verbs of perception as an equivalent of the

progressive aspect of these verbs:

I can see someone approaching the building.

 capability or characteristic feature, usually unpleasant, which manifests itself


She can be very rude, you know.

 possibility conditioned by real circumstances:

The English Verb 47

They can only join us later.

He can only stay for a week.

 permission:

You can leave whenever you wish.

Both may and can may suggest permission. Sometimes, however, it is possible
that may implies the permission on agreement of the person addressed, while
can implies permission that depends on existing rules.
You may smoke in this room. (I give you permission.)
You can smoke in this room. (The rules allow it.)

 polite request:

Can I come too?

While both may and can have this meaning, the latter also implies possibility:

May I help you? (Will you allow me to help you?)

Can I help you? (Do you think it is possible for me to help you?)

 prohibition – in the negative:

You can’t talk to her like that!

 doubt, disbelief, surprise, impossibility – usually in negative, interrogative or

exclamatory sentences:

They can’t be here already.

He can't be that old!
Can this be true?
She can't have done it by herself.

 unwillingness:

I can’t let you go.

 suggestion:

Can someone wipe the blackboard?

48 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu COULD

1. Could may be an auxiliary of mood, helping to form the analytical subjunctive in

final clauses, after a past tense verb in the main clause:

She stood up so that she could have a better look at him.

2. As a modal auxiliary could has approximately the same meanings as can:

 physical or mental ability, power, capacity in the past:

I could not get what she was saying.

She felt faint and could not stand.
I could do nothing about it.

 awareness in the past – in association with verbs of perception:

I could hear what was happening in the other room.

 capability or characteristic feature in the past:

He could be very nice when he wanted.

 possibility:

They could easily get offended.

I could show up later.

 permission in the past:

I told you that you could take my necklace.

 polite request, felt to be more deferential than can:

Could we join the party?

 prohibition - in the negative:

I said that they could not go there uninvited.

The English Verb 49

 doubt, surprise, impossibility, disbelief:

Could it be true?
When could he have done all this?
He couldn't have written all this.

 unwillingness:

I couldn’t let him take me by the hand.

 suggestion:

Couldn’t some friend of yours lend you the money?

 strong assertion – with comparatives

He could hardly have felt more ashamed of himself.

 supposition, deduction – with perfect infinitive:

He could have been wrong.

Note that:

 Could may be followed by a perfect infinitive when it expresses supposition,

deduction, refusal to believe:

He could have been wrong.

He couldn’t have said it.

 Could is used as the past of can mainly in some of its senses in indirect speech.
But in most meanings, it signifies the hypothetical, not past time, and refers to the
present. It has in fact the function of a present conditional:

You could accept his offer if you wanted to.

 Could is used instead of can in indirect speech:

She said I could pay her bill.

50 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

 Can and could may be replaced by to be able to in order to refer to an actual

performance, not a potential one:

I was able to climb up four flights of stairs without gasping for breath. (I
actually climbed them.)
I could climb up four flights of stairs if I wanted. (But I haven't.)
(potential performance)

With the negative either could or was able is possible:

He couldn’t / wasn’t able to reach the dictionary on the shelf. MUST

1. Must can only be a modal auxiliary and it implies:

 necessity:

Plants must have water in order to grow.

 obligation – the feeling usually coming from the speaker:

You must go there at once.

 advisability, invitation:

You must see the play; the actors are wonderful.

You must come and see me this weekend.

 emphatic affirmation:

It must be said that she is impossible.

 strong prohibition – in the negative:

You must not open this door.

 certainty:

Such behaviour must eventually lead to one's complete isolation.

The English Verb 51

 supposition, logical conclusion, belief. In this sense, must is used mainly in

the affirmative (the usual negative being can't), and may be followed by the
indefinite, progressive or perfective infinitives:

You must be tired.

She must be crying in the other room.
It must have been very foggy.

 unexpected fact:

Just when I fell asleep, the telephone must start ringing again!

Note that:

 In indirect speech, must can be left unchanged, functioning as a past tense:

He said he must leave at once.

However, without the support of a verb in the past tense, must cannot be
used with a past reference. In that case, it is replaced by have to:

He had to leave at once.

 Instead of must, the verb have to is often used, especially for past, future, or
conditional; while with must the feeling of compulsion, necessity comes from
the speaker, with have to the compulsion is generally determined by external

We must begin before five. (or we shan’t finish in time)

We have to begin before five. (that’s the time arranged)

 The absence of necessity is expressed by needn't:

Must I know this by heart? No, you needn't. OUGHT (TO)

1. Ought to can only be a modal auxiliary which expresses:

 duty, necessity:
52 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

You ought to talk to your parents about it.

 moral obligation:

You ought to tell her the truth; she deserves to know it.

 supposition, probability:

Dinner ought to be ready in a minute, so let's go in.

She ought to have been home by now.

 expectation:

Let's go and see this movie; it ought to be interesting.

 advice, suggestion:

You ought to read all his novels; they are good.

Note that:

 In most cases, ought to can be replaced by should. Of the two, ought to is

rather more emphatic.
 Ought to refers to no particular time, when followed by an indefinite infinitive:

I told him that he ought to do it. (now / in the future)

When used with the perfect infinitive of a notional verb, the action referred
to is a past one:

He ought to have asked you out to dinner. NEED

1. Need can be a modal auxiliary which has one form only, which refers to the
present or to the future. It occurs mainly in negative and interrogative sentences,
in statements that contain negative adverbs or in indirect questions, introduced by
a negative reporting verb.

You need never wait up for him.

I need hardly tell you how happy I am.
The English Verb 53

He didn't ask me when I need go there again.

It may express:
 necessity – in the interrogative mostly:
Need you go so soon?

 lack of necessity, present or past– in the negative:

You needn’t reset the computer.

You needn’t have stayed awake all night.

 Need may refer to a past action if followed by the perfect infinitive. The
action was accomplished, but its necessity is doubted:

We needn't have hurried.

Note that:

 In indirect speech, need may have a past tense value:

I told him that he needn’t worry.

 The affirmative answers to questions with modal auxiliary need are

formulated with must:

Need I come too? Yes. You must..

The interrogative forms must I? and need I? are more or less synonymous,
although need I? often suggests that the speaker hopes for a negative

2. Need can also be a lexical verb, having the full range of forms (to need, needs,
needed, needing) and tenses, being followed by the long infinitive, and
requiring the auxiliary do to build its interrogative and negative:

I don’t need to hurry, do I?

Grammar books usually insist on the differences in meaning between the past
tense, negative form, of the lexical verb to need and the modal auxiliary need,
followed by the perfect infinitive, which also suggests a past action. While the
54 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

former indicates that the action was unnecessary and was probably not
performed, the latter indicates that although something may have occurred or
been done in the past, it was unnecessary:

We didn’t need to buy it. (It was unnecessary for us to buy it, so we did
not buy it).
We needn’t have bought it. (We bought it, but our action was not
necessary). DARE

1. The modal auxiliary dare has two forms: dare for the present, and the rather old
fashioned durst, mostly replaced by dared, for the past. It is used mainly in
interrogative and negative sentences, in affirmative sentences containing a word
with negative implications, after if, whether, and in sentences that indicate doubt.
Its meanings may be:

 courage, impudence:

Dare he come here again?

How dare he say that?
I didn't ask him whether he dared repeat the word or not.

 lack of courage – in the negative:

I daren’t ring Jeremy again.

Nobody dare disturb him.
You daren't do that again.

Note that:

 Dare can be followed by the perfect infinitive, and thus refer to a past action:

He dare not have done it if I had been with him.

In indirect speech, the past tense form dared has to be used:

I knew she dared not try.

 There is an increasing tendency to use dare as a regular verb:

The English Verb 55

Don’t (you) dare (to) say that again.

He didn’t dare to say a word, did he?
I wonder how he dares (to) say such things.

 I daresay (always used with the pronoun I) is an expression which means

"perhaps", "it is probable", "it seems to me probable / likely".

2. The lexical verb dare means "to challenge":

He dared me to jump over the stream. USED (TO)

1. The auxiliary used to is regarded as an auxiliary of aspect; it has one form only
and is employed to express something that existed or was done in the past
(generally a repeated action), but no longer exists or is done now:

There used to be a school here, usedn't there?

Used he to visit you on weekends?

When used to denotes a repeated action completed in the past, it approximates

closely to would + infinitive:

He used to get up at five to catch an early train.

He would get up at five to catch an early train.

The difference is that used to only indicates that the circumstances in question
no longer exist, while would also suggests willingness or voluntary action. So
it would be inappropriate to substitute would for used to in a sentence like:

She used to suffer from severe toothaches.

Note that:

 There is a growing tendency, in colloquial English to treat used to as a

normal lexical verb, which forms its interrogative and negative with to do,
and is replaced by this verb in short answers and tags:

There used to be a house there, didn’t there?

You didn’t use(d) to make such mistakes.
Did you use to smoke so much?
56 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

 Used (to) [ju:s(tə)/(tu)] should not be confused with the lexical verb to use
[ju:z], used, used [ju:zd] or with to be used to [ju:stu]/[ju:stə], meaning ‘to
be accustomed (to)’:

She uses a lot of salt when cooking.

I used several dictionaries for this translation.
Many people have bought used cars.
He is used to delays.
He is used to my being late.

3.2.2. Lexical Verbs

Verbs which need the help of do in order to build their interrogative and
negative forms and are replaceable by do in various types of short answers and
questions are called lexical verbs.

I like swimming, don’t you?

I don’t take the bus, as a rule.
Do you like fish?

In spite of the fact that existential be and have denoting possession behave
or may behave like auxiliaries, they are classed among lexical verbs when they
have independent existence in the sentence or when be functions as a link between
complement and subject.


Translate into English:

1. Ea chiar trebuie să-şi plătească taxele, nu-i aşa?

2. I-ai spus să se aştepte la o reacţie violentă, nu-i aşa?
3. Pot să plec azi mai devreme, nu-i aşa?
4. Ar trebui să priveşti în stânga şi apoi în dreapta înainte de a traversa
strada, nu-i aşa?
5. Nu există nici un loc pentru fumat în această instituţie, nu-i aşa ?
6. Îţi place să cumperi ediţii rare de la anticariat, nu-i aşa?
7. Nimeni nu-şi aminteşte ce s-a întâmplat cu martorii din proces, nu-i
8. Ei toţi vor aprecia alegerea acestui spectacol, nu-i aşa?
9. Toată lumea trebuie să-şi tehnoredacteze proiectul, nu-i aşa?
The English Verb 57

10. Ar prefera ca eu să nu-i mai urmăresc toate mişcările, nu-i aşa?

11. - Doresc să am maşina reparată pâna diseară. - Va fi reparată.
12. Nu avem dreptul să ne dezamăgim copiii.
13. Nu trebuie să te apropii de câine când mânâncă.
14. Poate că a invitat la cocktail mai mulţi musafiri decât bănuim noi, nu-i
15. Nu este nevoie să te grăbeşti cu lucrarea din cauza termenului, nu-i
aşa ?
16. Nu se poate să te fi lăsat de fumat aşa dintr-o dată, nu-i aşa ?
17. S-ar putea ca ea să facă tot ceea ce ai rugat-o, nu-i aşa?.
18. Pot să-ţi pun câteva întrebări despre experienţa neplăcută din
19. Cred că n-ar trebui să existe nici un motiv de îngrijorare dacă lăsăm
copiii cu bona, nu-i aşa?
20. Nu răspunde nimeni la telefon, nu-i aşa ?
21. Numai după ce îşi termină proiectul poate să plece cu tine.
22. Doar nu poţi crede că te-am minţit, nu-i aşa ?
23. Nu voi uita niciodată măreţia acelor clipe? Dar tu?
24. Doar ai văzut că geamul era larg deschis şi putea intra oricine, nu-i aşa?
25. Nu numai că nimeni n-a descifrat aceste documente până acum, dar
nici nu s-a auzit de ele.


1. She really must pay her taxes, mustn’t she?

2. You have told him to expect a violent reaction, haven’t you?
3. I may leave earlier today, may I not?
4. You should look first left and then right before crossing the street,
shouldn’t you?
5. There isn’t any smoking area in this institution, is there?
6. You like buying rare editions from second hand book stores, don’t
7. No one remembered what had happened to the witnesses in that trial,
did they?
8. They all will appreciate the choice of this performance, won’t they?
9. Everyone has to type their project, haven’t they?
10. He’d rather I didn’t watch all his moves, wouldn’t he?
11. "I want to have my car fixed by tonight." "It shall be fixed."
12. We must not fail our children.
13. You mustn’t get near the dog while he is eating.
58 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

14. He might have invited to the cocktail more guests than we imagine,
mightn’t he?
15. You needn’t hurry with your paper because of the deadline, need you?
16. You can’t have quit smoking all of a sudden, can you?
17. She might well do all you asked her to, might she not?
18. May I ask you a few questions about your unfortunate experience in
19. There should be no reason for worry if we leave the children with the
baby-sitter, should there?
20. There is no answer on the phone, is there?
21. Only after he does finish his project he can leave with you.
22. You can’t think I had lied to you, can you?
23. I shall never forget the greatness of those moments. Will you?
24. But you saw that the window was wide open and anyone could get in,
didn’t you?
25. Not only did anybody decode these documents so far, but they have
never been heard of.
The English Verb 59



Two classes of lexical verbs can be distinguished from this point of view:
dynamic verbs and stative verbs (Quirk et al. 1976: 95-96).

3.3.1. Dynamic verbs

Dynamic verbs are more likely to occur in the progressive (or continuous aspect).
They can be grouped lexically into: Activity Verbs

e.g. add, ask, burn, bid, cry, cut, catch, drive, drink, eat, fly, go, knit, learn,
lean, make, pat, play, read, ride, sell, shoot, take, wear, work, etc.

He usually asks silly questions.

He is asking you about an interesting question this time. Process Verbs

e.g. become, broaden, change, deteriorate, get, go, grow, mature, narrow,
prosper, run, speed up, swell, thrive, turn, wake, wither, etc.

She became upset.

This area is becoming dangerous.

Both activity verbs and process verbs are frequently used in the
progressive aspect to indicate incomplete events in progress. Verbs of Bodily Sensations

e.g. ache, bleed, hurt, itch, feel, sting, etc.

These verbs can have either the indefinite or the progressive aspect with
little difference in meaning:

My new shoes hurt me.

My new shoes are hurting me.
60 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu Transitional Event Verbs

e.g. arrive, die, fall, land, leave, lose, hide, kneel, sink, etc.
These verbs may occur in the progressive aspect, but with a change of
meaning compared with their indefinite aspect; the progressive aspect implies that
the transition is not yet accomplished:

Everybody left.
Everybody was leaving. Momentary Verbs (time-point verbs)

e.g. break, burst, catch, drop, grasp, hit, hop, jump, nod, seize, snatch,
strike, sit down, stand up, throw, etc.
As these verbs have little duration, the continuous aspect may sometimes
imply repetition of the action.

He broke the door and got in.

He was breaking glasses furiously.

3.3.2. Stative verbs

Stative verbs do not normally occur in the progressive (or continuous) aspect,
except with a change of meaning. These verbs can be grouped lexically into: Verbs of Mental States and Processes

e.g. (dis)agree, (dis)believe, doubt, feel (=be of the opinion), find, forget,
guess, imagine, impress, intend, know, mean, presuppose, realize, recall,
recognize, recollect, remember, suppose, suspect, think (=believe),
(dis)trust, understand, etc.

I suspect he knows a lot more.

I feel (=am of the opinion) that you are right.
I believe whatever he tells me.
We understand your concern. Verbs of Emotional States

e.g. adore, abhore, astonish, desire, detest, forgive, hate, hope, (dis)like,
loathe, love, mind (=object to), (dis)please, prefer, want, wish, etc.
The English Verb 61

She adores children.

I loathe going there by myself.
The guests preferred ice-cream to cake.
He doesn't mind what I do. Verbs of Perception

e.g. see, hear, smell, taste, feel, notice, observe, recognize, behold, watch,

This bread tastes stale.

I simply do not recognize him.
The girl noticed him staring at her.
They noticed that something was going on. Relational Verbs

e.g. apply to, appear (=seem), be, belong, concern, consist of, contain,
comprise, cost, depend, deserve, equal, find, fit, have, include, involve,
lack, matter, need, owe, own, possess, remain, require, resemble, result,
seem, sound, suffice, tend, etc.

He seemed so friendly.
It tends to be foggy in winter.
They own a beautiful estate.
John resembles his father.

3.3.3. Verbs with either dynamic or stative use

The same verb may have a dynamic use or a stative one, depending on its
I have a room with a nice view. (= I possess – stative use)
I’m having fun. (= I am enjoying myself – dynamic use)
They are my colleagues. (stative use)
They are being very helpful. (= they are behaving - dynamic use)
I think I can do it. (= I believe - stative use)
I’m thinking of buying a new car. (= I am meditating on it -dynamic
62 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu


Translate into English:

1. Nu înţelegeam cine erau oamenii în halate albe.

2. Ne bucuram de orice ieşire din oraş la sfârşit de săptămână.
3. Atât de mult semănau cele două surori că nu le puteai deosebi una de alta.
4. Presupun că ai avut dreptate cu privire la toate problemele discutate.
5. Nu ştiu încotro se va îndrepta după ce termină şcoala.
6. Se încheie o perioadă lungă şi dificilă din viaţa acestui popor.
7. Aparţinea unei clase sociale care nu mai avea mulţi reprezentanţi.
8. Ea se purta întotdeauna mai rău când erau şi părinţii ei de faţă.
9. O auzeam cum râde în timp ce recitea carte ei preferată.
10. Judecătorul audia un martor când i s-au înmânat noile dovezi.
11. Speram că le va păsa de viitorul sistemului de învăţământ.
12. Nu pot veni acum; iau prânzul cu o veche prietenă pe care abia am
13. Simţeam cum mi se pune un nod în gât, când l-am văzut.
14. Spărgea porţelanurile unul după altul şi călca nepăsător pe cioburi.
15. Deşi nu se ridicase încă de jos, femeia îşi pipăia braţul să vadă dacă nu e
16. Scuzele pe care le inventa depindeau de interlocutor şi împrejurare.
17. Renunţam de câte ori observam că soţiei mele nu-i place să aduc vorba
despre asta.
18. Îţi lipseşte o bibliotecă corespunzătoare unui intelectual.
19. Peter nu-şi amintea amănunte despre anii de studenţie.
20. Ştiam cu toţii adevărul dar ne era greu să recunoaştem.
21. Cântecele fetelor se auzeau tare în liniştea nopţii.
22. Mă întreb dacă vedeta îşi va mai aminti de colegii de colegii de şcoală.
23. Vezi şi tu norul acela negru? Eu îl privesc de câteva minute.
24. Înţelegeam cu mintea, dar refuzam să înţeleg cu inima.
25. Credea că noi nu punem preţ pe munca lui şi de aceea era mereu îmbufnat.


1. I couldn’t understand who all those people dressed in white were.

2. We enjoyed every outing at weekends.
3. So much did the two sisters resemble that you couldn’t tell one from the
4. I suppose you were right about all the problems discussed.
5. I don’t know where he is getting after graduating school.
The English Verb 63

6. A long and difficult period in the life of this people is coming to an end.
7. He belonged to a social class which had very few representatives left.
8. She always behaved worse when her parents were present.
9. I could hear her laughing while she was rereading her favourite book.
10. The judge was hearing a witness when he was handed the new evidence.
11. I hoped they would care about the future of the education system.
12. I cannot come right now; I am having lunch with an old friend I have just
13. I felt a lump in my throat when I saw him.
14. He was breaking the china one after another and was stepping carelessly on
the pieces.
15. Although she hadn’t stood up yet, she was feeling her arm to see if it was
not broken.
16. The excuses she would invent depended on the interlocutor and
17. I gave up any time I noticed my wife didn’t like my mentioning that issue.
18. You lack a library fit for an intellectual.
19. Peter could not remember details from his university years.
20. We all knew the truth but it was difficult for us to admit it.
21. The girls’ songs could be heard loud in the silence of the night.
22. I wonder if the star will remember his school mates.
23. Can you also see that black cloud? I have been watching it for a few
24. I could understand with my mind but my heart refused to understand.
25. He thought we set a low value upon his work and therefore he was always
64 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu
The English Verb 65


Complementation refers to the elements of clause structure that are

obligatory for the completion of the verb and sentence meaning. By this we
mean that a sentence is incomplete if one of these elements is omitted after a
given verb which should be followed by such an element. For example, *I put
the book. And *He became are incomplete, therefore unacceptable sentences.
The two sentence elements which must be distinguished for our
purpose here are the object and the complement. Each of them can be of two

a) Object: – direct: John rode his bicycle carefully.

 indirect: He gave his daughter his blessing.

b) Complement: – subject complement : She became a pop star.

 object complement: They elected him chairman.

There are different types of verbs corresponding closely to the

different types of object and complement. The sentences which have subject
complements contain intensive verbs; all other sentences have extensive verbs.

3.4.1. Verbs that Require no Complementation

They fall into three groups: Pure Intransitive Verbs

The pure intransitive verbs do not permit any of the four object and complement
types mentioned above.

His tooth aches.

She has already apologized.
They quarreled awfully.

These verbs may be grouped semantically into existential, positional, event

verbs (e.g., be, exist, lie, loom, sit, stand, happen, occur, etc.), inchoative verbs
(e.g., appear, emerge, bud, bloom, blossom, die, disappear, perish, rot, vanish,
wither, etc.), verbs that denote movement resulting in a change of place or position
(e.g., arrive, dangle, depart, fall, quake, slip, stumble, sway, tremble), light verbs
(e.g., blaze, glow, glisten, gleam, glitter, shimmer), verbs expressing physical
processes about matter (e.g., about liquids: gush, flow, ooze, seethe, trickle), etc.
66 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu Transitive or Intransitive Verbs with Little Difference in Meaning

Verbs which can be transitive or intransitive with little difference in meaning:

e.g. cut, empty, extend, form, open, shut, spread, etc.
I have tried to cut the bread. This knife won’t cut.
Empty your glass, please. The room emptied quickly.
The rain ceased. They ceased their protest. Transitive or Intransitive Verbs with a Difference in Meaning

Verbs which can be transitive or intransitive, but with a difference in meaning

or subject-verb relationship e.g. dive, circulate, float, grow, run, sleep, start, stand,
turn, walk, etc.:

He slept badly. This hotel sleeps 300 guests.

Trains run every ten minutes. He runs the company efficiently. / Run
some water on the dishes.

Note that:

 As one can see from some of the examples under and above,
there are verbs which, when used transitively, take only a [+animate] noun as
subject, while when used intransitively, their subject can be only [-animate].

 There are intransitive verbs whose subject corresponds to a direct object, when
the verb is used transitively. Such verbs are called ergative or middle verbs:
e.g., boil, break, begin, burst, change, continue, cut, drive, drop, melt, read,
start, stop, tear, turn, walk, wash, wind, etc. They are often followed by an
adverbial of manner, and have a passive force:

The door opened. I opened the door.

Her shoes brushed nicely. She brushed her shoes nicely.
This dress irons easily. Mary ironed this dress easily.
The trousers have washed well. I have washed the trousers well.
The clock winds at the back. I have already wound the clock.
The flowers have sold quickly. She has sold the flowers quickly.
Your book reads well. I have read your book.

 Sometimes it is the verbs originally intransitive that can also be used

transitively with a causative force:
The English Verb 67

A boiler burst in the neighbouring flat. The child burst a balloon.

The swallows are flying above the roof. John can fly a plane.
The sheep were grazing on the hills. They shepherd grazed the sheep
on my meadow.
Ten persons may sit at this table. You may sit ten persons at this table.
All his men worked well. He worked his men ruthlessly.
She just stood there, saying nothing. / They stood her on a platform, so
that she could be seen by everybody.
He dived to have a better look at the fish. / He dived his hand into the

 A small number of verbs with causative force were formed in Old English from
intransitive verbs by the modification of their stem vowel:

Intransitive Transitive
to fall, fell, fallen to fell, felled, felled
to lie, lay, lain to lay, laid, laid
to sit, sat, sat to set, set, set
to rise, rose, risen to raise, raised, raised
to bite, bit, bitten to bait, baited, baited
He fell to the ground. They felled the tree.

 The meaning of certain intransitive verbs is completed by cognate objects

(nouns related to the verbs in meaning or belonging to the same family, and, as
a rule, modified by some adjective):

They often fought. They fought a victorious battle.

They smiled cruelly. They smiled a cruel smile.
She frowned. She frowned an angry frown.

Other similar verbs: dance (a dance), dream (a dream), die (a death), laugh (a
laugh), live (a life), run (a race), sigh (a sigh), sleep (a sleep), smile (a smile),
tell (a tale), etc.
Sometimes, the (cognate) object that follows the verb is resultative in meaning:

She cried bitterly. She cried bitter tears.

She wept uncontrollably. She wept hot tears.
It rained heavily. It rained big drops. / It rained a
November drizzle.
He glanced at me. He glanced a question.
Mother nodded. Mother nodded her approval.
68 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

She smiled. She smiled appreciation of my help.

 Certain verbs, originally intransitive, before certain nouns discharging an

adverbial function show a tendency to become transitive. Such uses are often
the result of ellipsis of a preposition:

He lives (in) Baker Street.

She slept the afternoon away. (through the afternoon)
He fled (from) the country.
We walked (along/through) the streets.
He was drumming (with) his fingers on the table. / He was drumming
(on) the table with his fingers.
John swam (across) the river.

Other examples: to jump (over) the fence, to pass (by) a building, to skip (over)
some pages, to talk (about0 business, to turn (around) the corner.

 There are verbs which form idioms with a dummy it object: to pub it, to foot it,
to bus it, to lady it, to taxi it, etc. (see also the comments on monotransitive

They cabbed it across the city.

Prisoners accused him of 'lording' it over them.
They were literally pigging it.

 On the other hand, transitive verbs show a tendency towards intransitiveness,

either by losing their direct object (We have eaten already. / We have eaten
something. Also: cook, drink, hunt, kill, read, sew, write, etc.), by omitting the
reflexive pronoun (Have you washed yet? / Have you washed yourself yet?
Also: bathe, behave, dress, shave, etc.).

3.4.2. Verbs that require complementation

Such verbs fall into four main groups: Intensive Verbs (copulas / linking verbs)

Intensive verbs (copulas / linking verbs) take a subject complement and

have little meaning. They function as a link between the complement and the
subject. The typical, “purest” intensive verb, devoid of any semantic value, is be:
The English Verb 69

He is a student. The floor is clean.

The rest of the intensive verbs are divided into two main classes (Quirk et al. 1976:

a) “Current” copulas (verbs of being, seeming, and remaining): appear, arrive,

continue, feel, float, hold, keep, lie, look, remain, ride, rest, seem, stand, smell,
sound, taste, etc.

Will you stand godmother to my child?

Sea water tastes salty.
It sounds unnatural to me.
Their argument seems forgotten.
Does this still hold true?
The book lay open on my desk.

b) “Resulting” copulas (verbs of becoming): become, come, get, go, grow, fall,
run, turn, etc.

The world has gone crazy.

The courtroom fell silent.
Mary went red in the face.
He has run wild.
May your dreams come true.

As one can see, some verbs that are characteristically intransitive or transitive
can assume an intensive function, and therefore are reclassified as intensive

Intransitive Intensive, “current” meaning

Don’t lie in bed all morning. He lay awake in bed all morning.
The plane arrived at noon. He arrived hungry for affection.
He was riding fast. He was riding high on the wave of
He died last week. He died happy.

Transitive Intensive, “current” meaning

The doctor felt my pulse. Silk feels soft.
Smell these spring flowers. The room smells damp.
Have you tasted the cake? The cake tastes sweet.
He was holding her hand. Please hold still for a minute.
70 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

Intransitive Intensive, “resulting” meaning

He fell into the water. He fell silent.
She ran to meet us. Our supplies are running low.
The kettle is boiling. Don’t let the kettle boil dry.
Prices are not sinking. He sank low in public esteem. Monotransitive Verbs

Monotransitive verbs take one expressed object (direct or prepositional):

abolish, amaze, afford, accept, affect, cover, control, curb, consider, convince,
convert, destroy, define, detest, discuss, describe, employ, examine, formulate,
fascinate, grant, interview, inspect, mean, reveal, ruin, underline, recognize, reject,
seek, support, surprise, shock, etc.

Children seek independence.

The climate affected his health.
I enjoyed the concert.
They asked for my help.

The object can be not only a noun phrase, but also a non-finite form of a
verb, a non-finite clause, with or without an expressed subject, a whole finite

He likes to talk. (infinitival clause without an expressed subject)

He asked her to come. (accusative + infinitive – infinitival clause with
a subject)
He likes collecting stamps. (gerundial clause without an expressed
I remember Mary’s asking this question. (gerundial clause with a
He saw her coming. (accusative + participle - participial clause with an
expressed subject)
I found the seats taken. (accusative + participle - participial clause with
an expressed subject)
I have forgotten whether he wants it or not. (finite clause)
We hope that he will arrive on time. (finite clause)
The English Verb 71

Note that:

 Grammar books used to define transitive verb as a verb expressing a two sided
action: the activity of the subject, and the fact that the activity is directed
towards a direct object, which suffers it. However many verbs have a complex
semantic relation with their complementation. A closer analysis of such
relationships will point out that only in certain cases can one actually speak of
a transitive verb as “affecting” an object:

John beat his brother.

She cut a slice of cake.
My remark angered the crowd.

 Very frequently, the object is the result of the action expressed by the transitive
verb (She draws animals; They have built a house) or is the instrument by
means of which the action is performed (He shrugged his shoulders. She waved
her hand). Sometimes, it is the object that actually carries out the activity
expressed by the verb (John was flying a kite = He made the kite fly; She walks
her dog twice a day = She makes her dog walk), or causes the subject to suffer
it. (He fears that man = That man frightens him).

 Most grammarians nowadays define as transitive (or objective) those verbs

which express an action, a process oriented directly or indirectly to an object
(with or without the help of a preposition), and as intransitive (or subjective)
the verbs that need no complementation, whose activity refers to the subject
only. Consequently both He hurt John and He operated on John can be
considered to contain transitive complementation and so can She made for the
door = She approached the door (prepositional verb), She made up a story =
She invented a story (phrasal verb), and She stood up for her ideals = She
supported her ideas (phrasal prepositional verbs).

 Prepositional and phrasal verbs are a special category where the prepositional
or adverbial particle forms a semantic and syntactic unit with the verb. The
semantic unity can often be manifest if the prepositional or the phrasal verb is
substituted with a single word verb, as seen in the examples above. The
syntactic unity in phrasal and prepositional verbs and their transitivity can be
seen in their acceptance of passivization:

Children should be brought up to respect their parents. (phrasal verb)

Her behaviour was objected to. (prepositional verb)
This practice has been done away with (phrasal – prepositional verb)
72 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

 Phrasal and prepositional verbs display certain phonological and syntactic

differences: (cf. Quirk et al. 1976:811-817)

a) The particle in phrasal verbs is normally stressed, and, in final position, bears
the nuclear tone, while in the prepositional verb it is normally unstressed:

She made úp a story. She made the story úp .The story was made úp.
They objécted to her behaviour. Her behaviour was objécted to.

b) The adverbial particle of a phrasal verb can stand either before or after a noun,
whereas it can only stand after a personal pronoun; with prepositional verbs,
the preposition is allowed only the pre-(pro)noun position:

She made up the story. She made the story up.

She made it up.*She made up it.
He operated on John. *He operated John on.
He operated on him. *He operated him on.

c) Prepositional verbs can take relative pronouns after the preposition, while
phrasal verbs can’t take relative pronouns after the adverbial particle:

John, on whom he operated, is now in intensive care.

*The story, up which she made, is not convincing.

Prepositional verbs can take an inserted adverbial between the lexical verb
and the preposition, while no adverbial may be inserted between the lexical
verb and the adverbial particle in the case of a phrasal verb:

He operated for two hours on John.

*She made quickly up her story.

Phrasal-prepositional verbs are combinations of phrasal and prepositional

verbs: e.g., break in on, catch up on, check up on, lead up to, fly up from, come
down with, come up with, come in for, cut down on, do away with, face up to,
get away with, get down to, keep away from, keep up with, look down on, look
forward to, put in for, put up with, stand up against, turn out for, walk out on,

They are always looking down on me.

(passive: I am always being looked down on.)
The English Verb 73

We must do away with corruption.

(passive: Corruption must be done away with.)
They put up with her, although she was obnoxious.
(passive: Although obnoxious, she was put up with.)

Note, however, that many of these prepositional, phrasal and phrasal-

prepositional verbs are intransitive, as they do not allow the passive

He takes after his mother. (*His mother is taken after)

He always hangs around the place. (*The place is hung around)
I have fallen behind with my work. (*My work has been fallen behind

 A group apart among monotransitive verbs is represented by the idiomatic

constructions made up of a verb and the meaningless object it. The verbs that
occur in this type of phrase are:

- verbs derived through conversion from nouns (to brave it, to boat it, to bus
it, to cab it, to foot it, to hoof it, to lord it, to pig it, to tram it, to train it,
- verbs that are predominantly transitive (to carry it, to catch it, to face it, to
get it, to overdo it, etc.), and
- verbs that are predominantly intransitive (to go it, to fight it, to hike it, to
ride it, to run it, to trip it, to walk it, etc.).

 There are monotransitive verbs of motion, that indicate the position in which
the direct object is placed; they obligatorily require the presence of an
adverbial of place in the sentence; in its absence, the sentence is incorrect:

She leant her elbows on the table.

The dog rested its head on my knee.
He ran a thorn into his finger.
She laid the child on the bed.
I have set the volume in its place. Ditransitive Verbs

Ditransitive verbs take two objects: one is a direct object, the other is an
indirect or a prepositional object. Examples of such verbs are: bring, deny, do,
explain, find, give, grant, hand, leave, lend, , make, offer, order, promise, read,
74 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

reserve, save, say serve, show, spare, throw, accuse of, advise about, blame on /
for, charge with, compare with, congratulate on, confine to, cure of, entrust with,
deprive of, excuse for, forgive, interest in, prevent from, protect from, provide for /
with, refer to, remind of, reproach with, rob of, suspect of, supply for / to / with,
thank for, a.s.o.
a) direct object + indirect object (usually [+animate])

John gave a kiss to Mary. / John gave Mary a kiss.

The lawyer put a difficult question to the witness. /
The lawyer put the witness a difficult question.
Mother bought a blue dress for her daughter. /
Mother bought her daughter a blue dress.

b) direct object (usually [+animate]) + prepositional object

She blamed everybody for her lack of success. /

She blamed her lack of success on everybody.
They deprived pensioners of their rights.
I reminded him of his promise.

One of the objects may be a finite or a non finite clause:

a) direct object clause:

I told you that he would be late.

She explained to her friend how busy she was.
She mentioned to me that she had seen him there.

b) indirect object clause:

I told the truth to who(m)ever was willing to listen.

c) a prepositional object clause (with the preposition deleted in the surface


He persuaded me that she was honest. /

(Compare: He persuaded me of her honesty).

d) a prepositional non-finite clause:

She reminded me of my sister’s saying exactly the same thing.

The English Verb 75

Note that:

 An indirect object, typically animate, marked by the prepositions to or for,

whose usual position in the sentence is after the direct object, may undergo
the dative transformation, i.e. it is moved in front of the direct object, and the
preposition is dropped:

He offered a bunch of flowers to his teacher. /

He offered his teacher a bunch of flowers.
See also the examples under a) above.

There are, however, ditransitive verbs which do not allow the dative
transformation and obligatorily take a prepositional indirect object: accustom,
announce, ascribe, attribute, communicate, confide, convey, deliver, describe,
devote, dictate, explain, introduce, leave, mention, open, prescribe, propose,
prove, repeat, return, reveal, say, submit, suggest, swear, translate, yield.

She could not accustom herself to the noise. /

*She could not accustom the noise herself.
Repeat this word to me. /
*Repeat me this word.
The doctor prescribed some medicine for him. /
*The doctor prescribed him some medicine.
You must confide your problems to a friend. /
*You must confide a friend your problems.
He said something to his sister. /
*He said his sister something.

 A few verbs (ask, envy, forgive), which take a prepositional object, may drop
the preposition:

She envied John for his success. / She envied John his success.
Forgive me for my sins. / Forgive me my sins.
May I ask a favour of you? / May I ask you a favour?

 With many ditransitive verbs, one of the objects may be omitted, the verb thus
becoming monotransitive:

I taught a new rule to the students. / I taught the students a new rule.
I taught the students.
I taught a new rule.
76 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

We owe a lot of money to John. / We owe John a lot of money.

We owe John.
We owe a lot of money.

 A special type of ditransitive verbs are followed by a noun phrase and a

prepositional phrase: the verb, the noun, and the preposition make a very close,
idiomatic unit: catch sight of, give place to, lose sight of, lose touch with, lose
track of, make fun of, make a fuss over / about, make room for, take advantage
of, take care of, etc.:

He took hold of it.

Sorrow gave way to smiles. Complex Transitive Verbs

The complementation of a complex transitive verb represents a fusion of

the mono-transitive and the intensive types of complementation, so it consists of a
direct object and an object complement. Examples of complex-transitive verbs are:
appoint, burst, break, bring up, call, christen, consider, create, crown, declare,
elect, find, make, name, prefer, pronounce, think, want, etc.

We considered him innocent / a genius.

We considered him. He was innocent / a genius.
They painted the house white.
They painted the house. The house was white.

Some complex transitive verbs take a prepositional object complement, the

preposition being usually as or for: accept as, acknowledge as, class as,
characterize as, choose as, consider as, define as, describe as, intend as, interpret
as, know as, mistake for, recognize as, regard as, see as, take as / for, treat as, etc.:

They recognized him as their leader.

He took me for a fool.
I describe it as interesting.

The object complement may be expressed by a noun phrase, an adjective,

an infinitival clause (containing especially the verb be) or a participle:

They christened him Richard. (proper noun)

We declared Richard our leader. (common noun)
I chose him as my adviser. (prepositional noun phrase)
The English Verb 77

I think her beautiful. (adjective)

Keep the children quiet. (adjective)
I regard this as stupid. (prepositional adjectival phrase)
She believes him to be a good example. (infinitival clause)
I would like this table cleaned. (participle)

The direct object may be a finite clause:

I consider what he did foolish.

Note that:

 When the object complement is an adjective, verbs fall into two groups:

- Verbs which select their complements from a very wide range of adjectives
(I think her beautiful / ambitious / cool / shrewd, etc)
- Verbs for which the selection is rather restricted; one and the same verb
cannot co-occur with different adjectives (buy cheap, cut short, freeze
hard, knock senseless, scrub clean, set free, work loose), while the same
adjective can co-occur with many different verbs (burst open, force open,
hold open, kick open, knock open, etc).

 When the direct object is a clause introduced by that, it is usually

extraposed after the object complement, and it is anticipated by it (the rule
of it insertion applies):

I consider that he has shown up a miracle. /

I consider it a miracle that he has shown up.
He found that they had refused foolish. /
He found it foolish that they had refused.

However, with make sure / certain, it-insertion does not apply:

I made sure that she found out about it.

 Many monotransitive verbs may change into complex transitive ones.

Transitive Complex-transitive
He laid the foundations. The earthquake laid the city flat.
I wiped the table. I wiped it clean.
They laughed at John. They laughed themselves silly.
78 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

I have made a cake. This has made me happy.

I have considered my options. I have considered her my best
Intransitive verbs may behave similarly:

She cried bitterly. She cried herself sick.

She laughed at the suggestion. She laughed herself silly.


Translate into English:

1. Ne-am petrecut noaptea într-un hotel de pe malul mării, care putea găzdui
cel puţin 500 de persoane.
2. Deşi îşi invidia vecinul pentru maşina cea nouă, nu se gândea la el cu ură.
3. Jane va trebui să se antreneze din greu pentru a ajunge din urmă colegele.
4. Deşi a dormit toată după amiaza, acum se simte destul de obosită ca să se
culce din nou.
5. Ţine-i pe copii ocupaţi cât poţi de mult, dacă vrei să ai linişte.
6. Sunt îngrijorat de ritmul în care ne scad proviziile.
7. S-au ridicat obiecţii la propunerea senatorului de a mări preţul
8. Napoleon a dat tot bătălii victorioase până a fost înfrânt la Waterloo.
9. Vrei să-mi fii cavaler de onoare la nuntă ?
10. După ce a doborât 10 copaci, de abia mai poate sta în picioare.
11. Aproape că nu l-a mai recunoscut pe Petre, pe care l-a operat cu cinci ani
în urmă.
12. Lumea a înebunit; la primii fulgi de zăpadă intră în alertă.
13. Scrie clar pe etichetă că se spală uşor în apă călduţă.
14. Şterge bine maşina şi apoi lustruieşte-o, dacă vrei să primeşti un ciubuc
15. Cred că e frumoasă, deşteaptă, manierată, dar prea timidă.
16. A fugit din ţară când copiii erau încă prea mici ca să înţeleagă.
17. Toate supărările şi grijile par să fie uitate în acest paradis terestru.
18. Conduce cu succes firma de avocatură de mai bine de 25 de ani.
19. A plâns cu lacrimi amare când a văzut că i-a fost spartă casa şi i-a
dispărut colecţia de artă.
20. Ortopedul mi-a palpat genunchiul şi a decis că nu trebuie operat.
21. Crezusem că s-a lichidat această mentalitate, dar se pare că m-am înşelat.
22. Când în sfârşit l-au recunoscut drept lider de opinie, n-a mai vrut el să
facă parte din grup.
The English Verb 79

23. Deşi are o cotă înaltă de popularitate, albumele ei nu se vând destul de

24. Pilotează acelaşi avion de doi ani şi nu a avut nici o reparaţie până acum.
25. Când s-a apropiat de ea, tânărul cel înalt şi frumos, s-a roşit şi a fugit.


1. We spent our night in a sea shore hotel, which could sleep at least 500
2. Although he envied his neighbour for his new car / Although he envied his
neighbour his new car, he never thought of him with hatred.
3. Jane will have to train hard to catch up with her colleagues.
4. Although she slept the afternoon away, now she feels tired enough to go to
bed again.
5. Keep the children busy as long as you can, if you want to have peace.
6. I am worried about the rhythm in which our supplies are running low.
7. The senator’s proposal to raise the price of the fuel was objected to.
8. Napoleon fought only victorious battles until he was defeated in Waterloo.
9. Will you stand best man to my wedding?
10. After he felled ten trees, he can hardly stand.
11. He almost didn’t recognize Peter on whom he had operated five years ago.
12. The world has gone crazy; they get alert at the first snowflake.
13. It is clearly written on the label that it washes easily in lukewarm water.
14. Wipe the car clean and then polish it, if you want to get a big tip.
15. I think her beautiful, clever, well mannered, but too shy.
16. He fled the country when the children were too young to understand.
17. All the sorrows and worries seem forgotten in this earthly paradise.
18. He has been running this law firm successfully for more than 25 years.
19. She cried bitter tears when she saw that her house had been broken into
and her art collection was missing.
20. The orthopedic surgeon felt my knee and decided it didn’t need an
21. I thought this mentality had been done away with, but I seem to be wrong.
22. When they finally recognized him as their opinion leader, he didn’t want to
be part of their group any more.
23. Although she is riding high on the wave of popularity, her albums don’t
sell well enough.
24. He has been flying the same plane for two years and it has never been
repaired so far.
25. When the tall, handsome young man approached her, she went red and ran
80 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu
The English Verb 81


Verbs have certain features that are not shared by other parts of speech.
They are characterized by the categories of mood, tense, aspect, and voice. The
categories of number and person are also evinced by other parts of speech
(pronouns and nouns).


4.1.3. Definition

Voice is defined as “a grammatical category which makes it possible to

view the action of a sentence in two ways, without change in the facts reported.”
(Quirk et al. 1976: 801). Usually, if the action is carried out by the grammatical
subject of the sentence, that sentence is said to have the verb in the active voice; if
the grammatical subject suffers the action performed by an agent (expressed or
understood), the verb of the sentence is said to be in the passive voice.

The child ate the cake. (active)

The cake was eaten by the child. (passive)

In both voices, the performer of the action is the same; at the clause level,
however, the active subject (the child) corresponds to the passive agent (by the
Grammars distinguish between a syntactic passive and a notional passive
(e.g., Jespersen 1965: 165; Quirk et al. 1976:811). The latter is displayed by
ergative or middle verbs (see 4.1.3. la complementation), i.e. by verbs which, when
used intransitively, are grammatically active, though their meaning is closer to the
passive, as they affect the grammatical subject. Thus, The brand-new car was
driven by John is syntactically as well as notionally a passive sentence, while John
drove a brand-new car and The brand-new car drove easily are both active voice
sentences syntactically, but the former is a notional active, while the latter a
notional passive sentence. Similarly, compare The flowers were sold quickly with
She sold the flowers quickly vs. The flowers sold quickly.

4.1.4. Formation of the Passive

The English passive is formed with the help of the auxiliary be, added to
the verb phrase, and the past participle of the formerly finite active lexical verb. At
the clause level, the active object becomes the passive subject, and the preposition
82 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

by is inserted before the agent (the former active voice subject). The prepositional
agent phrase of passive sentences is optional.
In informal English, get is also regarded as a passive auxiliary, often
conveying “the connotation that the referent of the subject has some responsibility
for the action.” (Greenbaum, Quirk, 1990: 45), and being “restricted to
constructions without an expressed animate agent.” (Quirk et al. 1976: 802).

She got caught too easily.

His poetry got translated into many European languages.

Except by, there are other prepositions that may introduce agents:

I am interested in linguistics. (Linguistics interests me)

I am worried about the future. (The future worries me.)
They were shocked at my attitude. (My attitude shocked them.)
The new law was not known to the people. (People did not know the
new law).

However, such sentences are regarded as containing “quasi-passives” (Quirk et al.

1976: 809) or “quasi-agents” (Quirk, Greenbaum 1993: 160), since the participles
in them also have adjectival properties: they can be quantified, and can be
coordinated with adjectives:

They were terribly shocked at and angry about my attitude.

I am rather worried and pessimistic about the future.

4.1.3. Use of the Passive

The passive voice is not merely a formal variant of the active voice; they
are not exactly synonymous in every respect. For example, Everybody loves
somebody does not have the same meaning as Somebody is loved by everybody.
A change of voice may be accompanied by a change of meaning
particularly in the case of sentences containing auxiliaries of modality:

John cannot take this exam. (lack of ability)

This exam cannot be taken. (by John). (impossibility)
He can’t teach John. (lack of ability on the teacher’s part)
John can’t be taught. (lack of ability to learn on John’s part)

As a rule, the passive voice gives the object of a verb prominence by making it the
grammatical subject of a sentence.
The English Verb 83

The passive is far commoner in English than in Romanian or in other languages

(particularly in scientific and technical texts).

The use of the passive is preferred in the following cases:

1. When the active subject is unknown or cannot be easily stated:

Mary was hurt badly.

The discovery of a new virus has been reported.

Very often, some activity verbs (declarative) or verbs of cognition and inert
perception (say, report, believe, expect, know, understand, etc.), used in the
passive and having a “that” clause as object, take impersonal “it” as subject:

It is reported that another earth satellite has been put into orbit.

2. When the active subject is self evident from the context:

The teacher’s explanation of the rule was listened to with interest.

Many regions have been flooded this week.

3. When we wish to make a statement sound impersonal out of modesty, tact, or

when we have some unpleasant statement to make or an order to formulate:

Enough has been said here about the use of the passive.
This house must be cleaned.

4. When the active form would involve the use of an indefinite or vague pronoun
or noun as subject:

I’ve been cheated. (Someone has cheated on me)

The house had to be painted. (They had to paint the house)
It hasn’t been heard of. (No one has heard of it)
Books must not be taken away. (Readers must not take away books)

In all these cases, (1)- (4), reference to the passive agent, that is the person or
thing that performs the action, is omitted because it is vague or unimportant or
unknown or, on the contrary, made obvious by the context.

5. Even if the active subject is indicated, the passive voice is preferred if one
takes a greater interest in the passive rather than the active subject:
84 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

The house was struck by lightening.

She was hit by a car.

6. Sometimes the passive is used for stylistic reasons, such as sentence rhythm,
syntactic parallelism, emphasis. Thus, for example, it may provide a means of
avoiding an awkward change of subject in the middle of the sentence:

She arrived late last night, and was immediately called back by the
hospital manager.

7. Sometimes the passive is felt to be an equivalent of sentences introduced by an

emphatic it.

I asked John to do it. (active)

It was John that I asked to do it. (active, emphatic)
John was asked to do it.(passive, possibly emphatic)

4.1.5. Verbs that Allow the Passive Transformation

1. Monotransitive verbs can, as a rule, be turned into passive, as they take direct
objects; the particle or preposition of phrasal and prepositional verbs is retained
in the passive construction:

John hit Jim. Jim was hit by John.

They sent for the doctor. The doctor was sent for. (prepositional verb)
They put off the meeting. The meeting was put off. (phrasal verb)

However, not all phrasal and prepositional verbs can take passive
transformation in all contexts:

John agreed with Mary. *Mary was agreed with by John.

He ran for the Presidency. *The Presidency was run for by him.

Many prepositional verbs accept a passive transformation only in their

figurative meaning. Compare:

They arrived at the university. / *The university was arrived at.

They arrived at interesting results. / Interesting results were arrived at.
The judge went into the court-room. / *The court-room was gone into
by the judge.
The English Verb 85

The judge will have to go into the evidence. / The evidence will have to
be gone into by the judge.

Note that:

 When a monotransitive verb is followed by a non-finite (to-infinitive),

subjectless clause, passivization can hardly take place; however with a small
number of verbs (agree, decide) the passive transformation is possible, if the
passive verb is preceded by impersonal “it” and the non-finite clause is

We agreed to start early. It was agreed (by us) to start early.

They decided not to go there. / It was decided (by them) not to go

 When the complementation of a monotransitive verb consists of a non-finite

clause (infinitive, -ing participle) with an expressed subject (a noun/pronoun in
the accusative), the latter becomes the subject of the passive, while the
infinitive/participle remains unchanged:

I heard him come/coming. / He was heard to come/coming.

 Certain monotransitive verbs followed by non-finite infinitival clauses are used

mainly in passive constructions (i.e., they have no active equivalents):

He is reputed to be the best surgeon here.

*They reputed him to be the best surgeon here.

 With certain verbs, a passive – active transformation is possible only by

resorting to an object clause:

He was said to dislike such things.

They said (that) he disliked such things.

 When the object of a monotransitive verb is a whole finite clause, a passive

transformation is possible with the help of impersonal it (see 4.1.3.(1)) or by
applying the rule of subject-subject raising (the subject of the object clause is
raised to the position of subject of the passive verb in the main clause, while
the active voice finite verb of the object clause turns into an infinitive):

They say that he knows something.

86 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

It is said that he knows something.

He is said to know something.
People felt that the students were doing valuable work.
It was felt that the students were doing valuable work.
The students were felt to be doing valuable work.

 Not all monotransitive verbs can undergo a passive transformation in all the
Stative verbs (some in certain senses) like become (= fit), comprise, contain,
cost, fit, face, have, hold, lack, mean, possess, sham, suit, resemble cannot
occur in the passive:

He resembles his father. / *His father is resembled by him.

He shammed death. / *Death was shammed by him.
He lacks confidence. / *Confidence is lacked by him.
I have a car. / *A car is had by me.
The hall holds 300 people. / *300 people are held by the hall.
She possesses a rare intelligence. / *A rare intelligence is possessed by

When, however, such verbs denote actions or processes (i.e. when they are
dynamic), the passive is possible:

This car may be had at a cheaper price elsewhere.

You’ve really been had.

 The passive transformation is blocked by the identity or co-reference between

subject and object, i.e. when the latter is a reflexive or reciprocal pronoun, or
when it has a possessive adjective as determiner, whose grammatical person is
identical with that of the subject:

He examined himself in the mirror. / *Himself was examined in the

mirror by him.
We could hardly hear each other in that noise. / * Each other could
hardly be heard…
She waved her hand. / *Her hand was waved by her.

2. Sentences containing ditransitive verbs have two possible passive

transformations, since either object can be made into a passive subject:

They gave him a present.

The English Verb 87

A present was given (to) him.

He was given a present.

It is, however, more usual to make only the personal object the subject of the
passive sentence, probably since one tends to be more interested in people than in

Note that:

 Ditransitive verbs with a prepositional object usually have only one passive

I thanked him for the present.

He was thanked for the present.
*The present was thanked (for) him.

They reminded him of the meeting

He was reminded of the meeting.
*The meeting was reminded him.

 Ditransitive verbs followed by a noun phrase and a prepositional phrase (the

verb, the noun, and the preposition making a very close idiomatic unit) may
also be turned into the passive; some may have two passive analogues, others
only one, while some active sentences can hardly be said to have a passive

They will take good care of her.

She will be taken good care of.
Good care will be taken of her.

They gradually lost sight of the original purpose.

The original purpose was gradually lost sight of.
???Sight was gradually lost of the original purpose.

I lost touch with John.

???John was lost touch with (by me)
???Touch was lost with him.

I’ll give way to all the pangs of despair.

*All the pangs of despair will be given way to.
**Way will be given to all the pangs of despair.
88 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

 When one of the objects of a ditransitive verbs is a finite or non-finite clause,

only one passive transformation is possible, as a rule, which turns the [+
animate] active object into a passive subject:

He asked me what I was talking about. / I was asked what I was talking
They instructed me not to send the package. / I was instructed not to
send the package.

 If the verb is prepositional, so one object is a prepositional object and the other
is a finite clause introduced by “that”, the latter may become the subject of the
equivalent passive sentence, especially if extraposition and it insertion are

John pointed out to me that she was afraid of spiders.

That she was afraid of spiders was pointed out to me (by John).→
It was pointed out to me by John that she was afraid of spiders.

3. With complex transitive verbs, the direct object becomes subject of the
passive sentence, while the complement is retained:

We declared him innocent/ a genius. / He was declared innocent/ a

They recognized him as their leader. / He was recognized as their
They boiled the eggs hard. / The eggs were boiled hard.

4.1.5. Intensive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs

Intensive verbs and intransitive verbs cannot occur in the passive voice.

4.1.6. Active Forms with Passive Meaning The Progressive Aspect

The progressive aspect of some phrases carries a passive meaning.

The buildings are raising quickly in the new quarter. (are being
The English Verb 89 Transitive Verbs used Intransitively

Some transitive verbs used intransitively (middle verbs) are: eat, iron, peel,
perform, read, sell, wash, wear, etc.

The latest Dacia model sells incredibly well.

This is a stain that washes easily. (= is washed) Impersonal Expressions

Some impersonal expressions, like there is no time, there is no use, there is

nothing, there is work, etc., followed by active infinitives, have a passive meaning.

There is a lot of work to do after the floods.

There is nothing to talk about. Causative Constructions

Causative constructions represent a special group. The agent is some

professional (usually not mentioned) and the action is caused or ordered by the
subject of the sentence. Its structure is: Subject + have/get + direct object + past

I’ll have my sofa and armchairs repaired.

He went to have a cavity filled.
One of these days I’m going to get myself elected to the Parliament.

4.1.7. Translation of the Passive Constructions

A passive verb form can be translated into Romanian

 by a passive form:

Her goddaughter was invited to the wedding.

Fina ei a fost invitată la nuntă.

 by a reflexive passive construction in the case of ditransitive verbs:

They were told the truth.

Li s-a spus adevărul.
90 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

 by a reflexive-passive contruction or a passive form, in the case of

prepositional verbs, and in the case of active verbs with a passive meaning:

The agenda was finally agreed upon.

În cele din urmă a fost aprobată / s-a aprobat ordinea de zi.
These cell phones sell incredibly well.
Aceste telefoane celulare se vând incredibil de bine.


Translate into English:

1. S-a deschis un nou centru comercial în partea de nord a oraşului.

2. Dacă îţi schimbi actele, va trebui să-ţi faci poze noi.
3. Deşi a durat mult, în cele din urmă s-a ajuns la un acord.
4. Se spune că dentistul acesta are mână foarte uşoară.
5. Focul fusese deja stins când a ajuns brigada de pompieri.
6. Anual, mii de oameni sunt răniţi în accidente de maşină.
7. Trimiseseră deja după instalator când au constatat pagubele făcute de
ţeava spartă.
8. Costumul acesta nu se spală pur şi simplu. Va trebui să-l duci la
9. Li s-a promis o mărire de salariu, dar promisiunea a fost încălcată.
10. Se vede o masă mare, unde se servesc bucate alese şi băuturi fine.
11. De ce ţi-ai vopsit părul în culori atât de ţipătoare?
12. Confortul vieţii s-a îmbunătăţit mult în epoca electronică.
13. Se pierde prea mult timp cu lucruri mărunte, când sunt atâtea lucruri
importante de făcut.
14. Conflictul s-ar fi putut preveni, dacă părţile n-ar fi fost atât de intolerante.
15. Când mama a ajuns acasă, supa fierbea pe aragaz, rufele se spălau în
maşina automată şi fratele meu tocmai era hrănit.
16. Se presupune că un nou cutremur de această magnitudine va schimba
geografia planetei.
17. În legătură cu firma menţionată mai sus, s-au raportat nereguli fiscale.
18. Se ştie că George Enescu este cel mai mare compozitor român.
19. De Ziua Mamei se oferă flori şi cadouri mamelor.
20. Se lucrează prea încet la drumuri şi reabilitarea lor durează prea mult.
21. Examenul de traduceri va fi susţinut de mai mulţi candidaţi decât s-a
The English Verb 91

22. Cu toate că s-au demolat multe case vechi, totuşi centrul istoric va fi
23. Jocurile Olimpice de vară din 2016 se vor ţine la Rio de
Janeiro,în Brazilia.
24. Romanele moderne se citesc uşor şi totuşi tinerii preferă ecranizările lor.
25. Maşina i-a fost lovită în parcare şi acum nu ştie cine este răspunzător de


1. A new shopping center has been opened in the northern part of the town.
2. If you change your papers, you will have to get new photographs taken.
3. Although it lasted long, finally an agreement was arrived at.
4. This dentist is said to have a very light hand.
5. The fire had already been put out when the fire squad arrived.
6. Thousands of people get injured in car accidents yearly.
7. The plumber had been already been sent for, when they saw the damage
produced by the broken pipe.
8. This suit doesn’t simply wash. You will have to have it dry-cleaned.
9. They were promised a salary raise, but the promise was broken.
10. A big table, where good food and fine drinks are served, can be seen.
11. Why did you have your hair dyed in such glaring colours?
12. Life comfort has been improved during the electronic era.
13. Too much time is wasted on trifles when there are a lot of important things
to be done.
14. The conflict could have been prevented if the parties hadn’t been so
15. When mother arrived home, the soup was boiling on the cooker, the
laundry was washing in the automatic machine and my brother was being
16. A new earthquake of this magnitude is believed to change the geography of
the planet.
17. Financial disorder has been reported in connection with the above
mentioned company.
18. George Enescu is known to be the greatest Romanian composer.
19. Mothers are offered flowers and gifts on Mother’s Day. / Flowers and gifts
are offered to mothers on Mother’s Day.
20. Road work is done too slowly and rehabilitation takes too long.
21. The translation exam will be taken by more candidates than expected.
22. Although many old buildings had been demolished, the historical centre
will still be restored.
92 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

23. The 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
24. Modern novels read easily and still the youth prefer their film versions.
25. His car was hit in the parking lot and now he doesn’t know who is
responsible for the damage.
The English Verb 93


Aspect reflects the status of the action denoted by a verb (whether an

action is durative/permanent or transitory, finished or unfinished, implies or not a
result, etc.).
Confusion should be avoided between the lexical aspect of verbs, which
means aspect implied by the meaning of the verbs themselves, as lexical elements
(e.g., there are verbs denoting actions or states that last in time, like run, swim,
work, and verbs whose duration is limited in time, like break, nod, knock, jump),
and the grammatical aspect of verbs, expressed by specific verbal forms.
English has two sets of aspectual contrasts: progressive (continuous) / non-
progressive (non-continuous) and perfective (perfect) / non-perfective; the
progressive and the perfective aspects may combine, resulting in a complex verb

4.2.1. The Progressive (Continuous) Aspect

The progressive aspect is formed with the help of the auxiliary be, followed
by the indefinite (-ing) participle of the lexical verb. It generally indicates that an
action (or a series of actions) is in progress (it has already begun, but is not yet
completed), and that the duration of this action is limited, temporary: e.g., I am
dusting the furniture. However, it is important to remember that progressive forms
do not necessarily indicate that an action is being performed at the very moment of
speaking; they may also indicate a temporary action over a more extended period
of time (e.g., John is writing a novel; She is studying English abroad) or a series of
repeated, habitual actions over a limited period of time e.g., This week John is
starting work at eight. He is always waiting for you after work.)
Theoretically, an English verb may be conjugated in all the tenses of the
progressive aspect; in actual usage, however, there are tenses of the progressive
aspect in which verbs never occur (e.g., the future perfect progressive of the active
voice; in the passive, the only tenses of the indicative mood used in the progressive
aspect are the present and the past).
Usually, dynamic verbs, which denote an activity, may occur in the
progressive aspect, while stative verbs, which refer to states, may not (see also
3.3.1 and 3.3.) Dynamic Verbs

Of the activity verbs, the verbs of movement used in the progressive aspect
generally refer to planned actions in the near future. An adverbial of time having a
future time reference is usually present in the sentence.
94 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

John is going to Bucharest next week.

Peter is leaving at the end of the academic year.

This is probably how be + going followed by a to infinitive came to be used to

indicate futurity or future intention (it no longer implies any movement):

I am going to work in the garden this afternoon.

When used in the past, these verbs sometimes refer to plans that did not

I was coming to see you tomorrow. (but now I realize I can’t)

I was going to tell you myself. (but I see you already know, so there is
no need for me to tell you). Stative Verbs

If they undergo a change of meaning, which turns them into dynamic

verbs, stative verbs may be used in the progressive aspect:

a) Verbs of perception

The verbs see and hear are closely associated with look, watch and listen;
the latter denote voluntary activities that may continue over a period of time, are
classed as dynamic, activity verbs, and can be used in the progressive aspect. See
and hear usually denote involuntary actions:

I saw a man go by, but I didn’t look at him.

They heard the teacher say something, but they didn’t listen to him.

However, an effort to perceive may be applied to see and hear; in this case
can/could may be used:

I looked out of the window, but it was dark and I could see nothing.
We listened carefully, but could hear nothing.

When see is used with a meaning different from that illustrated above, the
progressive aspect may be used. See may mean meet, have a talk or interview with;
it may form a phrasal verb together with an adverb or preposition, and thus change
its meaning, as in see somebody off (up, down, out), see to something.
The English Verb 95

I shall be seeing them tomorrow. (= paying them a visit)

John is seeing a lot of Mary. (= meeting her often)
When you saw me at the airport this morning, I was seeing a friend off.
(= accompanying and saying goodbye to my friend who was starting
on a journey)
I was just seeing John out. (= going to the door with him)
Who is seeing to the arrangements? (= attending to, taking care of).

The verb hear may be used of legal cases meaning try, listen to (a case), or
it may mean to pay attention to, listen to (not necessarily in court):

The court was hearing the evidence.

Which Judge is hearing the case?
The students were hearing a course of lectures on phonetics.
I don’t believe what I am hearing!

The progressive forms may also be used with these verbs if we wish to stress
the idea that something is happening by degrees; in this case, the sentence nearly
always contains an adverbial suggesting gradualness: by degrees, gradually:

Now that my eyes are getting used to the dark, I’m seeing things a bit
more clearly.
I'm not hearing as well as I used to.

The verbs smell and taste are used in similar ways. When reference is made
to an involuntary action, the non-progressive aspect or can/could and the infinitive
may be used:

The camels smelt the water a mile off.

Can (do) you smell anything unusual?
Do you taste anything unusual in this soup?

When smell means give out a smell, and taste means have a particular
taste, non-progressive tenses are used:

The flowers smell sweet. Your breath smells of brandy.

It tastes too much of garlic.

When there is a conscious effort of perception, can/could is used:

I can smell something burning.

96 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

If you have a bad cold you cannot taste anything.

When the verbs denote a conscious, voluntary, deliberate use of the sense of
smell or taste, thus indicating an activity that may continue, the progressive aspect
is possible:

I’m just smelling your rose.

I’m tasting the cake to see whether it is sweet enough.

The verb feel can be used in the progressive aspect for a deliberate, conscious

I feel warm (ill/comfortable)

This feels damp. (it is damp when felt)
The doctor was feeling the boy’s arm to see whether the bone was
He was feeling about in the dark for the switch.

b) Verbs of mental states and processes

The progressive tenses indicate an activity that is in progress, in which the

idea of incompletion may be prominent. If someone says I’m learning English, we
understand that his knowledge of English is incomplete; if someone says I know
English or I understand English, s/he tells us that s/he already has adequate
knowledge of English. The essential element in the meaning of these latter verbs is
that of permanence.
Therefore, like the verbs of perception, these verbs are rarely used in the
progressive tenses, except with a change of meaning or when we wish to give
special emphasis to their particular application to a given moment. Certain adverbs
of frequency may accompany them sometimes to denote a repeated action,
particularly one causing annoyance or irritation. Compare the following pairs of

 a change of meaning:

I differ from you on that matter. (= I have a different opinion)

He is always differing with his father. (= he is quarrelling with him)

She thinks (= believes) it’s late. What do you think? (= what is your
What are you thinking about? (= what is going on in your mind?)
The English Verb 97

I’m thinking of (= considering the idea of) changing my job.

I don’t imagine (= think, suppose) that she will come.

She's imagining dangers that do not exist. (= she has an idea that
dangers exist or are happening, when in fact they don’t)

 annoyance, irritation, because of repetition:

I don't doubt your word.

He’s always doubting my word.

I don't foresee any difficulty.

He was constantly foreseeing difficulties that never occurred.

I find (= realize, perceive) that I was mistaken.

You are always finding fault with me.

 gradual activity:

He's finding that English is rather difficult (= he is slowly, gradually

discovering that)

John forgot her name and where she lived.

He’s forgetting his English (a gradual loss of his knowledge of

Oh, I’m forgetting my umbrella (colloquial, meaning “I almost forgot
my umbrella”).

c) Relational verbs

The same holds true of relational verbs. Sentences like I have a car, Who
owns this land? or She resembles her mother contain in their meaning the idea of
permanence. These verbs are also rarely used in the progressive tenses, except with
a change of meaning or when we wish to give special emphasis to their particular
application to a given moment:

 A change of meaning:

She has a baby. (= possess, indicating a relationship)

98 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

She is having a baby. (= give birth to)

We are having a great holiday. (= experience)
They are having lunch at this hour. (= eat)
I’m having important people to the party. (= invite, entertain)
She is a funny person.
She is being funny. (= behave, act temporarily)

 Temporary action:

Basic needs of families in state are costing more now.

A novel study conducted in the UK showed that nearly a third of food
packaging was containing unhealthy levels of latex.

It depends upon circumstances. (progressive impossible).
I depend / am depending upon you.

Note that: in She is deserving of sympathy and in He is lacking in courage,

deserving and lacking are adjectives, the former meaning “worthy” and the latter
“not available”, therefore neither sentence contains the progressive aspect.

d) Verbs denoting emotional states

Liking, disliking, preferring, etc., cannot be started and stopped at will;

therefore the feelings denoted by such verbs are assumed to have no end. If these
verbs undergo a change of meaning or are meant to suggest that the feeling is
temporary or annoying, they may occur in the progressive aspect:

 A change of meaning:

Do you mind (= object to) if I open the window?

John is minding (= looking after) the baby when Mary is out.

 Temporary feeling:

Do you like fish? (a permanent state)

How are liking your new job? (It is assumed that the person has not
arrived at a final state of either like or dislike)
I detest such behaviour.
Suddenly I was detesting life on the camp.
I’m loving it. (I’m enjoying it very much)
The English Verb 99

We’ve had no news from him, but we are still hoping.

 Annoyance (an annoying repetition of the action):

She wants some chocolate.

What is she wanting this time, I wonder? (The person concerned makes
frequent, annoying requests) Translation of the Progressive Aspect into Romanian

The Romanian verbal system does not have marked forms to contrast
progressive and non-progressive actions. The idea of duration is sometimes
suggested by adverbials:

Îşi bea cafeaua la ora asta.

He is drinking his coffee at this hour.

A possible equivalent of the English past progressive can be found in the

Romanian imperfect, which expresses an unfinished action, or an action in
progress, with limited duration in the past:

Elena dormea când ai sunat.

Helen was sleeping when you called.

4.2.2. The Perfective Aspect

The perfective aspect is expressed by a combination of some form

of the auxiliary verb have and the past participle of the lexical verb. The perfect
forms imply two ideas mainly:

 That an action or event occurred before the present, past or future time
indicated by the context or situation: it has happened before now, it had
happened before a certain time in the past, or it will have happened before
a certain time in the future;
 That this action or event has produced, had produced, or will have
produced a result or state of affairs that is/was/will be relevant to the
present/past/future situation.

An important characteristic of perfect forms is, therefore, that they

explicitly link an earlier action or event with the current situation; the exact time of
the action or event is irrelevant, or is at least disregarded. The important elements
100 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

are the occurrence of the action itself and the current results produced by it.
Consequently, we cannot combine a specific reference to the time of a past event
with a verb form that implies a specific reference to its current relevance:

I have never met your friend.

* I haven't met your friend yesterday.

The perfect tenses are often associated with the preposition for together
with a phrase denoting a period of time, to indicate the duration or continuance of
an action up to the time specified by the context or situation, and with since, which
may be a preposition, a conjunction or an adverb, together with a phrase or clause
denoting the beginning of an action, to indicate continuance of that action until the
present, past or future time specified:

I've lived here for three years / since 1990 (preposition) / since I was
born (conjunction) / ever since (adverb).
When he left, he had taught there for three years / since 1990.
By the end of 2014, she will have taught here for four years.

4.2.3. The Perfect Progressive Aspect

There are cases in English when the verbs used in certain sentences are
both perfective and progressive. The perfective is expressed by the auxiliary have
followed by a past participle (invariably been) and the progressive is expressed by
a form of be (been) followed by the indefinite participle of some lexical verb.
Perfect progressive forms indicate that an action or event, which occur before the
time indicated by the context or situation, is at the same time, still in progress at a
given moment in the present, the past or the future. Compare:

He is lying on the floor. (now)

He has been lying there for three hours. (he was there three hours ago
and he is still there)

She said she was writing a letter to her friend. (then)

She said she had been writing letters all morning. (she had started
writing a while ago and had not finished yet)

They will be working on the beltway the whole month.

By the end of August, they will have been working on it for ten years.
(they started working ten years ago, and are still working on it).
The English Verb 101

Activity verbs like fly, learn, lie, live, rain, rest, stay, sit, sleep, stand,
study, wait, etc., are often used in the perfect progressive tenses.
Sometimes a perfect progressive tense is used to emphasize the fact that an
action has been uninterrupted, even if it is no longer in progress:

I’m very tired; I’ve been running all the way here.

The choice between a perfect progressive and a perfect non-progressive

form may depend on the contrast between completed and uncompleted action:

I’ve written three letters since breakfast. (completed up to now)

I’ve been writing letters all morning. (and I’m still writing now)
He has collected much evidence against her. (completed)
He has been collecting much evidence against her (the collecting
began some time before, and may continue some time after the present
102 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu
The English Verb 103


The transmitter of a linguistic communication is not, as a rule, indifferent to

its content; he adopts an attitude towards it. In linguistics, this attitude of the
transmitter towards the content of the communication is often called modality.
A sentence like Our class begins at 4 p.m., which seems rather neutral,
expresses in fact, besides the information it conveys, an intellective attitude, i.e. the
speaker states a real fact whose truth s/he does not doubt.
Modality is rendered by various linguistic means – phonetic, lexical,
grammatical, stylistic.
Of all the phonetic means, intonation is the most important. For example,
depending on how it is sounded, the interjection Oh, can express excitement,
surprise, anger, reproach, disappointment, irony, protest, tiredness, etc.
The lexical means are usually dealt with in lexicology. They are
represented by certain lexical verbs that have modal force, such as like, dislike,
love, hate, intend, decide, order, command, make up one’s mind, by other parts of
speech with modal force, like intention – noun, sure – adjective, firmly – adverb, or
by so-called parenthetic words (adverbs or adverbial phrases, which lend a
colouring of modality to the whole sentence: to be sure, naturally, there is no
doubt about it, undoubtedly, etc.)
The grammatical means by which modality is rendered are two in number,
moods and modal auxiliaries. (for the latter, see 3.2.1.)
Therefore, mood can be defined as the grammatical category by means of
which modality is expressed, i.e. a category that reflects the attitude of the speaker
towards the action or state expressed by the verb.
The question of the number of moods in contemporary English has not
been solved satisfactorily yet; however one of the few standpoints in connection
with which there is some agreement is that there is no question of non-finite moods
(i.e. the infinitive, the participle, the gerund). The number of moods established by
linguists varies between zero and sixteen, probably because moods are no longer
inflectionally very distinct in Modern English (e.g., the imperative has the same
form as the infinitive or the present indicative – except for the third person
singular, or the present subjunctive) or probably because, in some cases, the choice
of a mood is determined not by the attitude of the actual speaker, but by the
relation of a clause to its main clause (cf. Leviţchi, 1970: 172, Ştefănescu, 1978:
253). Many English grammars, well-known for their practical orientation, accept
the existence of three moods only, viz. indicative, imperative, and subjunctive (cf.
Jespersen, 1965: 313, 1966: 293; Eckersley and Eckersley 1967: 225; Hornby
1962: 85; Gleason 1961: 233, etc.). They include the conditional among the
equivalent analytical forms of the subjunctive, without taking into account the
semantic and syntactic differences between them (namely the conditional denotes
104 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

the consequence of a condition, while the subjunctive does not; the conditional is
used in the main clause, while the subjunctive formed with should, would is not).
For didactic reasons, in this course of lectures the existence of four moods
is accepted: the indicative, the conditional, the subjunctive, and the imperative.

a) The indicative is by far the most commonly used mood. It indicates that the
speaker considers the action as real. The real action can be expressed also under
the form of a condition (of the real type) or of a question:

She works all day long.

If you speak English, he will probably understand you.
Do you speak English?

b) The conditional indicates that the speaker considers the action as conditioned or
desirable. If the condition were fulfilled, the action could be accomplished:

He would come more often if we asked him to.

If the condition is not fulfilled, the action is unachievable.
He would have let me know if he had had my address.

c) The subjunctive denotes an action which the speakers consider unreal, a

supposed fact, and which is expressed under the form of a wish, supposition, doubt,
concession, purpose, condition:

Money be hanged!
I wish I were left alone.
I suggest we should stop here.
It is impossible that he should have done it.
They all love ice cream, be it chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, etc.
If this be true, everything is possible.

The subjunctive is a mood that is dying out in contemporary English, and,

in most cases, it cannot form independent clauses.

d) The imperative denotes an order, a piece of advice, a request, an invitation, a

Be quiet!
Read this chapter, it will help you.
Help me, please!
Take a seat.
Have a good day.
The English Verb 105


The words time and tense must not be confused. The former stands for a
well known concept, which is independent of language; the latter varies from
language to language and is a category specifying time relations. Tense forms do
not necessarily correspond to natural chronological time. Thus a tense form like the
one occurring in the sentence He sells books (labeled as present) actually describes
the person’s activities in the past, in the present and in the future. In He leaves
tomorrow, the present tense form is used of a future event. Past tense forms may
refer to present, or future as well as past time:

If she did her homework now!

If she did her homework before she went away tomorrow.
She did her homework last Friday.
It might rain later in the afternoon.

Historically there are only two tenses in English, past and non-past
(present); that is why, because of the absence of future tense inflections, some
linguists do not accept the existence of a future tense in English (see, for instance,
Jespersen 1966 (1933) : 231, 1965: 50; Quirk et al. 1972: 84, 87; Greenbaum,
Quirk 1991: 57; Quirk, Greenbaum 1993: 47, etc.).
Other linguists divide tenses into simple, made up of one verb form only
(i.e. present and past), and compound, made by combining two or more verb forms
(where the future is included as well; see Hornby 1962:83-84; Eckersley and
Eckersley 1967:157). In the present course of lectures, for didactic purposes, the
verb form made up of shall or will, followed by an infinitive is accepted as a future
tense form, even if shall and will often do not merely indicate futurity, but also
have modal meanings. (see also and
One should be aware that in English, as well as in many other languages,
tense forms serve not only for time relation, but also for other purposes: they may
indicate whether an action or state is, was, or will be complete or whether it is,
was or will be in progress over a period of time. Tense does not always appear in
the main, lexical verb, but can appear also in an auxiliary verb of aspect, of voice
or of form.

4.4.1. Tenses of the Indicative Mood The Present Tenses

Present tenses cover different time divisions of which the present moment
is a part. They are represented in English by four forms: the present non-
106 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

progressive (or indefinite), the present progressive (or continuous), the present
perfect, and the present perfect progressive (or continuous).

Voice Present Present Present Present

progressive perfect perfect
Active ask (I) am asking (I) have (I) have been
asked asking
Passive (I) am asked (I) am being (I) have been
asked asked - Present Tense, Non-Progressive (Simple or Indefinite)

The present tense, non-progressive coincides in form with the short

infinitive (i.e. the infinitive without "to"), with the exception of the third person
singular, which usually ends in –s:

I love ice cream.

She writes beautiful stories.

The interrogative and negative forms of the present tense, non-progressive

are built with the help of the auxiliary do, with the form does for the third person
singular, followed by the subject and the short infinitive of the lexi al verb:

Do you approve of it? I do, but she doesn’t.

The following spelling rules concerning the third person singular have to
be observed:

 Verbs ending in sibilants, represented in writing by the letters –ss, -sh, -x, -
(t)ch, -zz add –es (e.g., She dresses well.; She squashes fruits.; He mixes
cocktails.; He always reaches weird conclusions.; He switches the light on as
soon as it gets dark.; It fizzes.)

 Verbs ending in –y preceded by a consonant change –y into –i and add –es.

(e.g., to try: She tries everything once.). If –y is preceded by a vowel, it remains
The English Verb 107

 The verbs doand go and their compounds take –es in the third person singular
(e.g., What does she want again? She goes home at six sharp. She usually
overdoes it . The system undergoes important reforms.)

 The auxiliaries be and have behave differently: be has the form am for the 1st
person singular, is for the 3rd person singular, and are for all other persons;
have takes the form has in the 3rd person singular. All the other auxiliaries have
no –s inflection in the third person singular (e.g., he must, he can, he will, etc.)

Some rules for the pronunciation of the inflection –(e)s must also be

 –(e)s is pronounced [s] after voiceless, non-sibilant consonants (e.g. cook

[kuks], bites [baits]);
 –(e)s is pronounced [z] after voiced non-sibilant consonants, and after vowel
sounds (e.g., begs [begz], leaves [li:vz], plays [pleiz];
 –(e)s is pronounced [iz] after all sibilants or hissing sounds (e.g., kisses ['kisiz],
loses ['lu:ziz]).

The present tense, non-progressive is used:

1. to refer to the existence of a situation or a state which is permanent or is

regarded as such:

The Danube flows into the Black Sea.

A molecule of water has two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen.
Winter comes after autumn.

2. to denote a habitual or everyday activity or situation that includes the present


She works for a private company.

The postman brings us the mail every day.
I (always) get up early and eat my breakfast listening to the radio.
I am (often) awfully busy.

These two uses of the present tense are often associated with adverbials of
time like: always, ever, every day/ week/morning/ year, frequently, generally,
hardly, never, occasionally, often, etc.
108 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

3. to show that an action simply occurs in the present or indicate a general state of

He lives in the countryside, near the Serbian border.

I am a doctor’s daughter.
She is a very good friend. We love her.
She sings beautifully.
John speaks English fairly well.

4. in exclamatory sentences introduced by here or there:

Here are your bananas!

There goes my bus!

5. in stage directions or instructions:

The door opens. John enters.

You go straight ahead and then you turn left at the corner.

6. in reporting what someone said or heard in the recent past:

He tells me that you’re set on leaving the country.

Jane says you invited her to come here.

7. introducing direct or indirect quotations:

The Bible says love of money is the root of all evil.

Shakespeare’s exact lines are the following: “…”

8. The present tense non-progressive may be employed instead of other tenses of

the indicative mood: it may replace the past tense, other present tense forms or
the future:

a) Past
The use of the present with a past time reference makes a description seem
present or vivid (the so-called “historical”, “dramatic” or “narrative” present,
used in the narration of events set in the past):

During his reign, Stephen the Great strengthens Moldavia and

maintains its independence against the ambitions of the Ottoman
Empire, which seeks to subdue the land.
The English Verb 109

Petruchio is determined to marry Katharina and carries his courtship

through, ignoring her rudeness. He humiliates her and appears
dressed like a scarecrow on their wedding day, refuses to attend the
wedding feast, and hurries her off, on a sorry horse, to his home.

b) Present progressive
The present tense, non-progressive is used instead of the present progressive
with certain verbs (see stative verbs, 3.3.2), to indicate an action or situation that
exists right now, at the moment of speaking:

I don’t recognize that handwriting.

The weather continues cold and wet.
I want a breath of fresh air.

Also in radio or television commentaries or in descriptions accompanying

demonstrations, experiments, explanations of the various stages of a process, the
present tense non-progressive may be used instead of the present progressive:

A.G. takes the ball, passes it to D. who hits it, and the ball crosses the
boundary of the playing area.
I chop two onions, cook them in a little oil until they are light brown. I
add chopped carrots and fry a little longer. I now cut the chicken into
pieces and add them to the pot. After I stir them, I add seasoning and
water, and boil for 15 minutes. I now add rice and continue to boil
until rice is cooked

c) Present perfect
The present tense, non-progressive may replace the present perfect of the verbs
hear, forget, learn (= “realize”, “find out”), be told:

I hear that you feel better.

I forget what I wanted to ask you.
We learn from your letter that there is no solution.
I am told that your proposition was not accepted.

d) Future
Verbs of movement are frequently found in the present tense non-progressive
to refer to an action about which a decision has already been taken and which will
take place in the future:
110 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

Our plane leaves tonight at seven.

We arrive there about noon.

Also, reference to the future is made in announcements or in sentences like:

Tomorrow is Wednesday.
The show begins at 7 on Friday.

In subordinate clauses of time and condition, expressing a future action, the

present tense non-progressive is used to refer to the future:

I shall come when I have time.

I shall come if I have time.
Remember me when I am gone.
Supposed she shows up, what will you do? Present Tense Progressive

The present tense progressive is formed with the help of the present tense
of the auxiliary be followed by the indefinite participle of the lexical verb:

He is talking to my best friend outside.

This tense is used:

1. to denote an action that is happening at the moment of speaking:

We are having a meeting. Come and join us.

What am I doing? I’m looking out of the window.

The adverb just is sometimes used with this tense to emphasize the idea of
immediate present. Other adverbs used with a similar purpose are now, right
now, this very moment:

We are just going away. We are going away right now.

2. to denote temporary actions of a general nature, not necessarily in progress at

the moment of speaking:

We’re trying to create a more democratic society.

I’m working on a new project.
The English Verb 111

3. to indicate changes, trends, development, and progress:

His English is improving.

The village is changing slowly.

4. to suggest repeated actions, with adverbs like always, forever and synonyms;
such actions may often cause irritation, annoyance, anger:

You’re always joking with serious things.

She’s constantly disturbing her colleagues.
They are continually complaining.

5. with the verb be, to refer to somebody’s temporary behaviour, at the moment
of speaking:

You are being rather curious.

She isn’t being too friendly, is she?

6. With verbs of movement and other activity verbs, the present tense progressive
may be employed instead of the future, to express a future arrangement:

What are you doing tonight?

You are marrying a very beautiful girl.

For the special uses of the verb go in the progressive, followed by the to
infinitive, see Present Perfect Non-Progressive

The present perfect is probably the commonest tense in the English

language. It is formed with the help of the present tense of the auxiliary have and
the past participle of the lexical verb.

I have heard of it.

It belongs to the group of present tenses, and it indicates an action that began in the
past (no definite date or time is given) and is associated in some way with the
present idea of now. It must never be used if we state or suggest a definite time in
the past (e.g., yesterday, last week, then, in 2009, when, two years ago, etc.).
112 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

The present perfect non-progressive is used:

1. to denote an action performed in the past, no longer continuing at present, but

with results in the present; with activities completed in the immediate past, just
is often used (but not just now, which means “a little time ago”, and is used
with the past tense):

I’ve recovered from my illness.

She has lost her keys.
There has just been an accident.
He has gone to Bucharest. (he is still there)
He has been to Bucharest. (he is back; he can tell you what he did
there; he knows Bucharest now).

2. to indicate that actions begun in the past are still going on in the present, and
may probably go on in the future as well:

We have lived in this house for twenty years.

I haven’t phoned my friend for several weeks.
I haven’t seen her since.

3. to refer to actions that have happened more than once within the speaker’s
experience, before now; however, the exact time of these repeated actions is
not important, therefore it is not specified:

I have always criticized Romanian trains.

He has sent me a message every other day since I returned.
I have used this company several times.

4. to denote an action that begun in the past and continues up to the present

I haven’t seen you for a long time; how are you?

He has received two letters so far.
She hasn’t talked to him before.

5. The present perfect is used instead of the future, to express antecedence in

temporal and conditional clauses, when the verb of the main clause is in the
future tense:
The English Verb 113

We shall fill in the second questionnaire as soon as we have finished

with the first.
I shall be back in time, if I have finished cleaning that place.

There are some time-indicating words and time phrases that are usually
associated with the present perfect tense:

a) until now, up to now, up to the present, so far, lately, yet, hitherto, before,
already, etc.

Nothing has happened so far.

I have heard this story more than once lately.

b) this moment, this time, this morning / evening / afternoon / week / year, etc. or
these days / weeks / months/ years, etc.

I have lost five pounds this month.

They have written two essays this week.
It has been exceedingly hot these days.

However, adverbials like this morning, this afternoon, this month, this year,
today, recently can be associated with the past tense as well, if this period of
time is already over (cf. Quirk et al. 1972: 92):

I met him at the university this morning. (a statement made in the

I had two phone calls this afternoon. (a statement made in the evening)

c) the preposition and the conjunction since, followed by a phrase or a clause

indicating the beginning of a period of time, or the adverb since; the
preposition for, followed by a phrase indicating a period of time:

I haven’t heard from him since. (adverb)

I haven’t played tennis since last Tuesday. (preposition)
I haven’t written a word since you went out. (conjunction)
I haven’t played tennis for a week.
I haven’t written a word for three hours.

Note that, when since is a conjunction, the time clause that it introduces has its
verb in the past tense, while the present perfect occurs in the main clause. Also,
time phrases emphasized by it, like It is a long time since …, It is three days
114 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

since…, It is five years since…, usually have the verb be in the present tense,
although the conjunction since is used:

It is a long time since I talked to him.

It is five years since I visited London.

d) The present perfect also occurs in ‘that’ clauses, introduced by this / that / it is
the first/ second/third etc. time that ...; this / that / it is the only … that …; this /
that / it is the + superlative that … :

This is the third time that you have asked me this question.
It is the only invitation that I have received.
That is the most wonderful interpretation of the sonnet that I have

Note that:

Have got is used as an equivalent of have, to indicate possession, and is no longer

regarded as the present perfect of the verb get:

You have got wonderful friends.

If get has other meanings, then have got is treated as the present perfect:

I have got a weird phone call from him. (= “have received”)

The weather has got warmer. (= “has become”)
The police have got him. (= “have caught”) Present Perfect Progressive

The present perfect progressive is formed of the present perfect of the

auxiliary be and the indefinite participle of the lexical verb. It establishes a link
between a past moment and the present moment, underlining the idea of progress,
of continuity and indicating that the duration of the action is limited.

This tense is used:

1. to denote actions of duration, begun in the past and continuing in the present:

John has been dancing with Mary since 9 o’clock.

The secretary has been typing letters for two hours.
The English Verb 115

2. to denote actions begun in the past and continuing up to the moment of

speaking (recent happening):

Have you been waiting long?

You deserve a rest, as you have been studying all day.

3. to denote repeated actions and suggesting irritation, reproach, disapproval,

wonder, etc.:

You’ve been trying very hard to convince me that you were right.
They’ve been asking us to go over for a visit. In the end we’ll have to

With dynamic verbs that suggest continuity (e.g., learn, lie, live, play, rain,
rest, sit, sleep, stand, study, teach, wait, work, write, etc.), both the present perfect
progressive and the simple present perfect can be used, with little difference in
meaning; however, the former is preferred:

I’ve been waiting for you for an hour.

I have waited for you for an hour.

Although there is often no clear line of distinction between the use of the two
tenses, the present perfect non-progressive may be used to suggest completion of
the action, while the present perfect progressive suggests continuation of the
action. Compare:

1. a. John has been painting the door. Be careful. (The paint is wet and he may
be still painting it).
b. John has painted the door. (It looks nice and clean)

2. a. We have been building a terrace above the garage. (It is not ready yet)
b. We have built a garage on to the house. (There it is!)

3. a. I’ve been knocking at the door for five minutes now. (duration, repetition)
b. I’ve knocked my head on the door. (accident)

The time phrases that are usually associated with the present perfect tense
(see above, 5 a), b), c)) are also associated with the present perfect progressive.
116 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu The Past Tenses

The past tenses cover different time divisions of which a past moment is a
part. They are represented in English by four forms: the past non-progressive (or
indefinite), the past progressive (or continuous), the past perfect, and the past
perfect progressive (or continuous).

Voice Past Past Past perfect Past perfect

progressive progressive
Active asked (I) was asking (I) had asked (I) had been
Passive (I) was asked (I) was being (I) had been
asked asked - Past Tense Non-Progressive (Simple or Indefinite)

The past tense of the regular verbs is formed by adding the inflection –ed to
the ‘short’ infinitive. For problems concerning the spelling and the pronunciation
of –ed, see … Irregular verbs do not get the –ed inflection and form their past tense
by various other means (see 3.1.2).
The past tense denotes actions or states occurring at a definite moment in
the past, which has no connection with the present.

The past tense, non-progressive is used:

1. in narrations or descriptions of past events:

Someone rang me up by mistake (at 6), and I could no longer fall

All the streets in that part of the town looked alike (at that time of the
When the girl arrived, she noticed that her grandmother looked very

The time of the action must often be stated, so adverbs of definite time (e.g.,
yesterday, last week, three days ago, etc.) or other time expressions (adverbials,
time clauses) are used, which specify the exact moment in the past.

2. to denote habitual, repeated actions that took place and were completed in the
past; adverbs of indefinite time and frequency, like always, often, never,
regularly, frequently, everyday, etc., may accompany the verb:
The English Verb 117

We walked a great deal in my boyhood.

I often thought of you when I was there.
They regularly spent their weekends with their friends.

3. The past tense non-progressive may be employed instead of other tenses of the
indicative mood: it may replace present, future or past tenses:

a) Present
The Past tense replaces the present indicative in indirect statements introduced
by a reporting verb in the past:

He asked me where I was going.

I informed them he was an only child.

b) Future
The past tense, non-progressive may express a future action, in temporal or
conditional clauses, if the action in the main clause is expressed by a past tense:

He said he would call at the hotel if she didn’t show up.

They promised to come on a picnic as soon as the children woke up.

c) Past
With verbs that cannot be used in the progressive aspect (see …), the past
tense, non-progressive may denote a past action in progress, thus replacing the past
tense progressive:

I knew what he meant.

The manager watched them as they recognized the signature.

The past tense, non-progressive may also be used instead of the past perfect, in
temporal clauses introduced by after:

I often thought of it after it happened.

There are some time phrases usually associated with the past tense:
a) words and phrases denoting the exact time, the year, the date
b) yesterday, yesterday morning/ afternoon/ evening, the day before yesterday,
the other day, etc.
c) then, at that time, after that, just then, formerly, once, etc.
d) when, at the same time when
118 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

e) last time, last week/ month/ year/ etc.,

f) a moment/ week/ year/ second ago.
g) during spring/ his lifetime/ etc.

He was born in 1905.

Everything seemed ok the day before yesterday.
I met him the other day
I visited that place once.
When did you go there?
I listened to the news an hour ago.

Sometimes the past tense is used with adverbs that normally require the
present perfect; this is possible when the sentence is uttered later than the period
denoted by the adverb itself:

He came here today and asked a few questions. (sentence uttered late
at night)
I saw her this morning. (sentence uttered in the afternoon or in the
evening) Past Tense Progressive

The past tense progressive is formed with the help of the past tense of the
auxiliary be followed by the indefinite participle of the lexical verb. It usually
denotes an action that was going on during a certain moment in the past, but tells
nothing about its beginning and ending:

I met him when (after) he crossed the street.

(two consecutive, completed actions).
I met him when (= while) he was crossing the street.
(the action of crossing is not completed; while it was in progress, the
action of meeting happened).
She wrote letters in the afternoon.
(the tense used indicates the completion of the activity of writing).
She was writing letters all afternoon.
(the progressive aspect indicates the continuous action expressed by
the verb)
John told me about his new job this morning.
(the action of telling is completed, as it is evening now, so I know
everything about it).
The English Verb 119

John was telling me about his new job this morning, when we were
interrupted by his supervisor.
(My knowledge about John’s new job is not yet complete, as his
telling me about it was interrupted).

This tense is used:

1. to indicate that an action was going on like a ‘background’, at a time when

another action, usually expressed by the non-progressive past, happened:

I was waiting angrily for the bus when his car passed by.
Were the children still watching TV when you arrived home?

2. to indicate two actions going on in parallel, at the same time in the past, the
progressive forms may be used in both clauses:

I was writing my paper, while he was looking up the new words in a


3. with verbs of movement it expresses an action that is ulterior to another past

action; the past progressive is often accompanied by an adverb referring to the
future time:

I found them packing as they were leaving the next day.

They reminded us that they were going to the seaside the following

Note: For the special use of the past progressive of the verb to go followed by an
infinitive, see,

4. to express irritation, annoyance, disapproval, etc.:

I thought you were never coming.

He was always asking me for advice and then would not follow it.

5. to denote repeated actions in the past:

He was meeting me at the bus stop every morning.

I was meeting lots of people every week, but hardly getting to know
any of them properly.
120 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

6. instead of the present progressive, in reported speech introduced by a verb in

the past:

He said he was coming with his girl friend.

He admitted he was not telling the truth. Past Perfect Non-Progressive

The past perfect non-progressive is formed of the past tense of the auxiliary
have and the past participle of the lexical verb. It denotes an action that took place
before a certain past moment or before another past action:

When I got there, everybody had already left.

But if we enumerate a series of past events that occurred in a succession, we can

use past tense forms, making the order clear with the help of words like after,
before, first, next, later, etc.:

John arrived first; then, after Mary turned up, Jim called that he
couldn’t make it.

The past perfect is used:

1. to denote an action begun and finished in the past, before another past moment
or action:

By that time I had already met her husband.

We heard on the radio that there had been a serious accident.

2. to denote an action or state begun before another past moment, action or state
and still continuing during that past moment:

In 2010 she had been married for 3 years.

They all agreed that John had been absent-minded for some time.
She had taught in that school for forty-four years, ever since she

3. to denote an action or state occurring after another past action or state,

expressed by a past tense. This may happen particularly when the conjunction
before is used:
The English Verb 121

Before he had started speaking, he had one more look at his notes.

4. to indicate that a past expectation, hope, intention, desire, etc., was not
achieved, with verbs like: hope, expect, intend, mean, suppose, think, want, etc.

We had hoped this money would last till the end of the week.
I had meant to do it, but I just didn’t have time.

5. instead of the past tense and the present perfect in reported speech, after a
reporting verb in the past tense:

“Have you heard the latest?” He asked me if I had heard the latest.
“I was asked to interfere.” She said she had been asked to interfere.
“What’s your name?” He asked me what my name was.

6. in temporal and conditional clauses to express an action completed before

another past action occurring in the clause upon which the former depend:

He promised he would talk to me as soon as he had finished his report.

There are some time-indicating words and phrases that are usually associated
with the past perfect tense:

a) The precise moment in the past before which another past action took place
may be indicated by adverbials like by that time, by the end of the week, by
Monday, by June31, etc.:

By noon he had already finished his report.

b) Conjunctions used to join two sentences in which two past events took place,
of which one precedes the other, are after, as soon as, before, now that, once,
until, when:

Now that he had found the truth, he was doing his best to cope with it.
Once the characters had revealed their intentions, it was easier to deal
with them.
When he had uttered these menacing words, he left the room.

Alternative constructions are often possible:

When I reached the station, the train had already left.

122 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

I reached the station after the train had left.

I didn’t reach the station until after the train had left.
The train (had) left before I had reached the station.

(The past tense is also possible in the main clause, because the conjunction before
already indicates the difference in time).

c) Like the present perfect, the past perfect is frequently associated with since,
and for or with adverbs of indefinite time and frequency (e.g., ever, never,
often, frequently, seldom, always):

He had wanted to meet you ever since he saw your painting.

The teacher had worked on the project for weeks.
I wondered whether he had ever thought of me there. Past Perfect Progressive

The past perfect progressive is made up of the past perfect of the auxiliary
be and the indefinite participle of the lexical verb.

The past perfect progressive is used:

1. to denote actions or states in progress in the past, begun and finished before
other actions or states in the past:

He had been waiting a lot before he was finally invited to go in.

We had been gossiping about it when you came across us.

2. to denote actions or states begun in the past before another action or state in the
past, or before another past moment, but still continuing at the moment when
the latter occurs:

They had been playing outside for three hours when I joined them.
By that time they had been working on the material for a week.

3. instead of the present perfect continuous in reported speech, after a verb in the

She confessed they had been quarreling for hours on end.

He reassured me he had been practicing long enough for the contest,
since January.
The English Verb 123

As seen in the examples above, the past perfect progressive is often associated
with since, indicating the beginning of the action, or with for, indicating the
duration of the action. The past moment before which the action or state indicated
by the past perfect progressive takes place can be indicated by an adverbial phrase
of time, beginning with the preposition by or by a temporal clause introduced by

Note: The Past Tenses and the Sequence of Tenses: Basic Rules

A past tense in the main clause must be followed by another past tense in
the subordinate clause:

a) to express the idea of simultaneousness, the past tense indefinite or progressive

in the main clause is followed by another past tense indefinite or progressive:

He said he knew you.

She was wondering whether I knew the truth.
I noticed that John was taking a nap in the armchair.

b) the idea of antecedence is expressed by the past perfect tense:

He confessed that he had been there the previous day.

Her eyes were all swollen because she had been crying.
He had been waiting by the door for a long time before anyone paid
any attention to him.

c) to express the idea of subsequence or posteriority, the future-in-the-past is used

in the subordinate clause after a past tense in the main clause:

She promised she wouldn’t be late.

Everybody knew that John would arrive that evening.
I knew that when he arrived the children would be watching some

There are some exceptions to these basic rules, which concern

a) the subordinate clauses that express some general or universal truth:

He explained that English is an analytical language.

124 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

b) relative clauses:

It was a month ago that I bought the skirt which I am wearing.

c) comparative clauses:

She referred to him in worse terms than you do.

d) loosely connected clauses, in informal speech:

I ignored him yesterday, for I’m sure I’ll see him again. The Future Tenses

The future tenses cover different time divisions of which a future moment is a
part. They are represented in English by several forms: the future non-progressive
(or indefinite), the future progressive (or continuous), the future perfect, and the
future perfect progressive (or continuous).

Voice Future Future Future Future perfect

progressive perfect progressive
Active (I) shall/ will (I) shall/ will (I) shall/will (I) shall/ will
ask be asking have asked have been
Passive (I) shall/ will (I) shall/ will
be asked -- have been --

If the future action or state is viewed from a past perspective, several other forms
can be added to the above:
Voice Future in-the- Future-in-the- Future perfect Future
past past in-the-past perfect
progressive in-the-past
Active (I) (I) (I) (I) should/
should/would should/would should/would would have
ask be asking have asked been asking
Passive (I) (I)
should/would -- should/would --
be asked have been
The English Verb 125 Future Non-Progressive

The future non-progressive is formed with the help of the auxiliary shall
for the 1st person, singular and plural, and will for the 2nd and 3rd persons, singular
and plural, followed by the infinitive without ‘to’ of the lexical verb. There is a
growing tendency for shall to be replaced by will; this is partly due to a tendency
towards uniformity in grammar. Shall and will are generally shortened to ’ll, and
their negative forms to shan’t and won’t.
The future tense non-progressive establishes that an action or a state will
take place in the future:

I shall not go out tonight.

My friends will call later.

The most “pure” future action is that in which no personal element is involved or
which depends on some external factors:

Tomorrow will be Wednesday.

August will be the hottest month this year.
I shall be 70 in July. (although the subject is a person, age is something
that cannot be changed by will or intention).

Besides denoting futurity, shall and will have a modal colouring when the
subject is human (see and
The future moment when an action takes place is sometimes suggested by
adverbs or adverbial phrases of time (e.g., tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, next
Monday/ week/ year, from now on, in a week’s time, etc.) or by temporal clauses
with the verb in the present or present perfect:

There will be heavy rains tomorrow.

He will take care of this when he returns.
I shall take a decision after I have listened to each of you.

Note: The future tense is not used in temporal and conditional clauses.

I shall believe it when it happens.

They will be very happy you if you win the prize.
Mary will not come unless you invite her.
126 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu Future Progressive

The future progressive tense is made up of the future of the auxiliary be

and the indefinite participle of the lexical verb.

The future progressive is used:

1. to denote an action in progress at a given future moment. It is also used to

indicate that an activity or state will extend over the whole of a future period of

She will be working throughout the weekend.

He will be playing football as long as he is in good shape.
They will be sleeping when I arrive.

2. to denote future events that are planned:

We shall be going in the mountains next Saturday.

I’ll be seeing them when I’ve finished with you.
I’ll be waiting for you outside.

In many cases, there is no difference between the present progressive and

the future progressive, both indicating future plans (e.g., I am seeing John this
afternoon / I shall be seeing John this afternoon). In certain contexts, however, a
difference is likely to be noticed: while the use of the present progressive simply
shows that an event has been planned for the immediate future, the future
progressive suggests an action in progress at a given moment in the not-so-
immediate future:

He’s lecturing on internet language at twelve tomorrow.

(the lecture starts at 12)
He’ll be lecturing on internet language at twelve tomorrow.
(the lecture will be in progress at 12 tomorrow)

The use of the latter tense may also be an indication that some suggestion or
request will be made for some future action:

We’ll be discussing this in more detail later (so, don’t leave).

He’ll be coming to see us this weekend (so don’t send him the letter)
The English Verb 127

The future progressive is preferred in questions, since questions formulated

with the non-progressive future may have some modal colouring (usually request):

Will you be staying long?

Will you stay? (request)

The future progressive may be used in two coordinating clauses, if two

actions that last in time take place happen at the same time in the future.

Mary will be cooking, while I shall be dusting the rooms.

However, the verb of one clause may be in the present progressive, or,
preferably, in the non-progressive present:

Mary will be cooking, while I am dusting the rooms.

Mary will be cooking, while I dust the rooms. Future Perfect Non-Progressive

The future perfect non-progressive is formed of the future of the auxiliary

have and the past participle of the lexical verb.

The future perfect non-progressive is used:

1. to denote an action or a state which will occur in the future before another
future moment:

Maybe when you return, you will have heard from your sister.
By the time he is twenty one, he will have already finished college.

2. to denote an action begun before a given future moment and still going on at
that future moment:

Next July, we shall have been friends for twenty years.

In less than a month, they will have lived in the country for two years.

3. in time clauses, the future perfect is replaced by the present perfect:

He will probably be back by the time you have finished cooking.

They will realize the importance of the project once they have
discussed it.
128 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

While the future tense points simply to the future time of an activity, the future
perfect puts an emphasis on the completion of the activity by a certain future
moment and its consequences:

In a month from now we shall leave school. / By this time next month
we shall have left school.
He will write a second novel soon. / He will have written a second
novel by next June.
By the time I get home, they will have finished eating.

Adverbials of time associated with the future perfect non-progressive are

introduced by the prepositions for or by, or they are clauses introduced by the
conjunction by the time. The future perfect is not used with since.
For the modal colouring acquired by the lexical verb used in the future
perfect. (see Future Perfect Progressive

The future perfect progressive is formed of the future perfect of the auxiliary
be and the indefinite participle of the lexical verb.

It is used:

1. to express the duration of an action or state up to a certain time in the future:

When you return, they will have been working on the project for a

2. to denote an action begun before a given moment in the future and continuing
into it:

In 2013 I shall have been living in this flat for fifty years.

While the future perfect non-progressive indicates a completed action or

state before a given moment in the future, the future perfect progressive indicates
an action or a state in progress over a period of time that ends in the future;

By this time next year you will have taken your doctoral degree.
When you get your degree, you will have been studying for three years.
The English Verb 129 Future in the Past Non-Progressive

The future-in-the-past is formed of the auxiliaries should in the 1st and would in
the 2nd and 3rd persons, followed by the short infinitive of the lexical verb. It
denotes a future action as viewed from a past moment, therefore it is mainly
employed in a secondary clause, after some past tense in the main clause:

He promised he would see me off to the station.

They thought that everybody would go to the movie.
She realized they would be very upset by the whole situation.

In temporal and conditional clauses it is replaced by a past tense to denote a

simultaneous action or by the past perfect to denote antecedence:

She promised she would teach him English if he wanted.

He thought he would pay her a visit when he had finished his work. Future in the Past Progressive

The future-in-the-past progressive is formed of the future-in-the-past of the

auxiliary be and the indefinite participle of the lexical verb. It denotes a future
action or state in progress, viewed from a past perspective.

She promised she would be waiting for all of us.

I wondered whether they would be having lunch at 12 The Future Perfect in the Past

The future-perfect-in-the-past is formed of the future in the past of the

auxiliary have, followed by the past participle of the lexical verb. It is used after
some past tense in the main clause, to denote a future action or state already
concluded before a moment in the future viewed from the past.

He realized that by the time they reached Bucharest, they would

already have heard the news.
She was sure that she would have typed all the letters by 5.
130 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu The Future Perfect Progressive in the Past

The future perfect progressive in-the-past is formed of the future perfect in-
the-past of the auxiliary be and the indefinite participle of the lexical verb. It
denotes a future action or state in progress, which will be concluded before a future
moment viewed from the past.

He said that, when he retired at the end of that month, he would have
been teaching for 44 years.

Note: The Future Tenses and the Sequence of Tenses: Basic Rules

The future tense is not used in temporal and conditional clauses, being replaced by
other tenses.

a. If the main clause contains a verb in the future indefinite or progressive, the
verb of the subordinate clause will be in the present, in order to denote
simultaneousness with this future action or state:

I shall leave if the rain stops.

Mary will post my letter when she goes shopping.

b. After a reporting verb in the past tense, when the future action, viewed from a
past perspective, is expressed by the future-in-the-past, the past tense is used in
the temporal or conditional subordinate clause to denote simultaneousness:

He promised he would help me whenever I needed help.

He informed the manager that he would quit his job if the situation was
not clarified.

c. To denote antecedence to a future action or state, the present perfect is used:

I shall wash the dishes after I have finished my ice-cream.

He will talk to her after she has calmed down.

d. After a reporting verb in the past tense, when the future action, viewed from a
past perspective, is expressed by the future-in-the-past, the past perfect tense is
used in the temporal or conditional subordinate clause to denote antecedence:

He told me he would go back there after his friends had settled in their
new home.
The English Verb 131

They insisted that economic growth would be noticeable only after

several years had passed.


Translate into English:

1. Ce s-a întâmplat? Nu mai mergi la concert, la operă şi la teatru.

2. Tocmai culcasem copiii, când s-au anunţat că vor veni în vizită.
3. Vremea s-a păstrat caldă de la sfârşitul lui noiembrie şi acum brusc ninge
cu fulgi mari.
4. Când ai observat că strada a fost închisă pentru reparaţii?
5. Nici n-am terminat bine de curăţat zăpada când a început din nou să
6. După cum mi-a explicat el, aveai de gând să mă abordezi într-o problemă
7. Mi s-a comunicat că va fi angajat în firmă după ce va termina un stagiu de
8. Încă nu s-a pronunţat sentinţa, dar dacă va fi găsit vinovat va trebui să
facă recurs.
9. Şi-a amintit că şi-a uitat servieta în tramvai, dar nu ştia unde a pus cheile
de la casă.
10. Spectacolul de gală va începe la ora 18 şi va continua timp de câteva ore.
11. Numai după ce-am plecat mi-am dat seama că nici măcar nu ştia cine sunt.
12. Unul dintre studenţi a întrebat dacă poate schimba titlul disertaţiei înainte
de a o preda.
13. Mă întrebam de ce sună telefonul de zece minute şi nu răspunde nimeni,
deşi toată familia era acasă şi nu se culcase încă.
14. Ceea ce vroiam să ştiu cu adevărat era dacă îi plăcuse poezia mea sau s-a
prefăcut că-i place.
15. Ni s-a recomandat să nu începem să facem reparaţiile la casă până nu va
veni primăvara.
16. Ipoteca pe casă era de mult plătită, dar pentru mobilă încă mai plătim rate
şi acum.
17. N-am primit veşti de la prietena mea de mai bine de trei luni şi nu am nici
o idee ce a mai făcut în acest răstimp.
18. Nu mă aşteptam să te influenţeze părerea lui, deşi ştiam că are o putere
magică asupra ta.
19. Rectorul universităţii a declarat că s-a decis şi că va pleca la Bucureşti să
afle noutăţi despre reforma învăţământului.
132 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

20. Martorul a declarat că acuzatul tocmai îşi vizitează familia, ceea ce nu

înseamnă că se sustrage cercetării.
21. Ţăranii încercau să afle când va ploua, fiindcă vremea era de două luni
uscată şi recolta începea să se usuce.
22. Mă voi întoarce acasă după ce voi cumpăra de la piaţă tot ce ai spus că ne
23. Acuzatul a declarat că a fost ţinut în arest mai mult de 24 de ore fiindcă nu
a avut nici un act la el.
24. Mulţi români din străinătate au promis că se vor stabili în România când
vor ieşi la pensie.

1. What has happened? You don’t go to concerts, to the opera and to the
theatre any more.
2. I had just put the children to bed when they announced they would come to
visit us.
3. Weather has kept warm since the end of November and now suddenly it is
snowing big snowflakes.
4. When did you notice that this street had been closed for repairs?
5. Hardly had I finished shoveling the snow when it started to snow again.
6. As he explained to me, you were going to approach me in a professional
7. I was informed that he would be hired by the company after he had
finished a training course.
8. The sentence hasn’t been pronounced yet, but if he is found guilty he will
have to appeal the case.
9. He remembered that he had left his briefcase in the tram, but he had no
idea where she had put the house keys.
10. The gala show begins at 18.00 and will go on for a few hours.
11. Only after I had left did I realize that he didn’t even know who I was.
12. One of the students asked if he might change the title of his dissertation
before handing it in.
13. I wondered why the telephone had been ringing for ten minutes and
nobody had answered it, although the whole family was at home and
hadn’t gone to bed yet.
14. What I really wanted to know was whether he had liked my poem or he
had only pretended to like it.
15. It was suggested to us that we shouldn’t start making any repairs to the
house before spring came.
16. The house mortgage had long been paid for, but we are still paying
instalments for the furniture.
The English Verb 133

17. I haven’t heard from my friend in three months and I have no idea what
she has been doing all this time.
18. I did not expect his opinion to influence you, although I knew he had a
magic power over you.
19. The Rector of the university declared that he had made up his mind and
would go to Bucharest to find out news about the education reform.
20. The witness testified that the defendant was just visiting his family, which
did not mean he was avoiding investigation.
21. The farmers were trying to find out when it would rain, because the
weather had been dry for two months and the crops were beginning to get
22. I shall come home after I have bought from the market everything you said
we needed.
23. The defendant stated he had been kept under arrest for more than 24 hours
because he hadn’t got any papers on him.
24. Many Romanians living abroad promised they would settle down in
Romania when they retired.
134 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu
The English Verb 135

4.4.2. Tenses of the Conditional Mood

English verbs have no special inflected forms for the tenses of the
conditional mood. All these tenses need the auxiliaries should for the first person
and would for the second and third, with the latter becoming increasingly preferred
for the first person as well, because of the modal meaning of should, which might
lead to ambiguity:

If John invited me, I should go. (= ought to?)

As a rule, in spoken English, modal should is used in its accented form ([ai ∫ud
k٨m]), while should as an auxiliary of mood is used in its unaccented form ([aid/ ai
∫əd k٨m]).
On the other hand, would is not always a pure auxiliary of mood, as it often carries
the idea of willingness:

I would gladly help you, if you asked me. (= I would be willing to help

Voice Present Present Past Past

Conditional conditional Conditional conditional
progressive progressive
Active (I) (I) (I) (I)
should/would should/would should/would should/would
ask be asking have asked have been
Passive (I) (I)
should/would - should/would -
be asked have been
asking Present Conditional

The conditional present is formed with the help of the auxiliary should for the
1st persons, singular and plural, and would for the 2nd and 3rd, followed by the
infinitive without ‘to’ (the ‘bare’ or ‘short’ infinitive) of the lexical verb. Certain
modal verbs followed by an infinitive can be used with the value of a conditional,
but they preserve their modal meaning:

If anybody asked, I could invent an answer.

136 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

If they decided to go out, they might need a babysitter for their


The present conditional is used:

1. to denote an action or a state whose fulfillment generally depends on the

fulfillment of a condition expressed in a subordinate conditional clause. The
condition is contrary to fact (untrue) in the present or future. The present
conditional occurs in the main clause, not in the conditional clause:

It would be cheaper if I went back by train.

If I had enough money, I would buy a boat.

2. in independent clauses, without an expressed condition (i.e. not followed by a

subordinate clause), with verbs denoting desire: like, enjoy, prefer, wish, want,

They would like to get rid of us.

I should prefer to stay at home.
He would wish to see you soon.
I would enjoy your company very much.

3. It is also used without an expressed condition in order to soften a statement that

might seem too categorical:

‘I’m sure I am right.’ ‘I should doubt that very much.’

I should be sorry to tell you that you have lost.
‘Do you think I am wrong?’ ‘It would seem so.’

4. Sometimes the conditional may occur in subordinate clauses:

I hope she is not selected; she is a clumsy girl who would ruin the
She tried to figure out what would be important to say in such
circumstances. Present Conditional Progressive

The present conditional progressive is formed of the present conditional of

the auxiliary be (should/would be) and the indefinite participle of the lexical verb.
It is used to denote actions or states in progress, whose fulfillment generally
The English Verb 137

depends on the fulfillment of a condition expressed in a subordinate conditional


Mary would be reading now if she weren’t so tired.

If I wanted more money, I would be working in a bank. Past Conditional

The past conditional is formed of the present conditional of the auxiliary

have (should/would have) and the past participle of the lexical verb:

I wouldn’t have hurt my finger if I had been more careful.

Certain modal auxiliaries may also be used to form this tense, while preserving
their meaning:

She might have heard the truth if she had been there.
If they had been present, they could have taken immediate steps.

The past conditional is used:

1. to denote an action whose fulfillment depended on the fulfillment of a

condition in the past, which is expressed in a conditional clause. If the
conditional clause is affirmative, the condition was not fulfilled, while if the
clause is negative, the condition was fulfilled. Just like the other conditional
tenses, the past conditional occurs as a rule in the main clause, not in the
conditional clause:

If she had not married him, she would probably have become
somebody in her field.
If he had realized how dangerous it all was, he would have run away.

2. with verbs denoting desire: like, enjoy, prefer, wish, want, etc., it may occur in
main clauses without an explicit condition:

She would have liked to make friends with you.

We would have enjoyed your company.

3. the condition may also be excluded when trying to formulate a more polite or
guarded statement:
138 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

It would have seemed funny to go there by ourselves.

4. Sometimes it may occur in subordinate clauses:

You can’t possibly imagine that he would have escaped trial!

This is the kind of cake I would have paid any price for. Past Conditional Progressive

The past conditional progressive is formed of the past conditional of the

auxiliary verb be (should/would have been) and the indefinite participle of the
lexical verb.
It denotes a hypothetical action or state in progress whose fulfillment
generally depended on the fulfillment of a condition in the past expressed in a
subordinate conditional clause:

She would have been wearing her new dress if she had ironed it.

Note: The Conditional and the Sequence of Tenses: Basic Rules

Two basic rules must be noticed:

a) the present conditional (indefinite or progressive) in the main clause is

correlated with the past subjunctive in the conditional clause if the time
reference is present:

If she were at home now, I would visit her.

We would be playing games in the garden if the weather were nice.

a) if we deal with a past time reference, the past conditional (indefinite or

progressive) in the main clause is correlated with the past perfect subjunctive
in the conditional clause:

He would have been worried, if I hadn’t called.

We would have walked if it hadn’t been raining.
They would have been still quarrelling if I hadn’t interfered.

The time references of the main clause and in the conditional clause may not
always coincide, and then the tenses used are mixed:
The English Verb 139

If I were smart (= present time reference), I would have thought of this

myself. (= past time reference)
If I had listened to you (= past time reference), I would not be in this
fix. (= present time reference)


Translate into English:

1. Ar fi mai bine dacă am stabili preţul înainte de a începe să lucrăm.

2. Dacă ai purta ochelarii prescrişi de doctor, ai vedea cu siguranţă mai
3. Deşi eşti prietenul meu, te-aş concedia dacă nu ai fi eficient în muncă.
4. N-aş şti ce să răspund dacă mi-ar pune întrebări despre situaţia ta.
5. Ce-ar fi făcut copiii dacă ar fi fost lăsaţi singuri în casă?
6. Fiica ta s-ar fi strecurat afară în timp ce o căutai, dacă nu s-ar fi temut că
o auzi.
7. Dacă nu i s-ar fi găsit amprentele la locul faptei, nimeni nu ar fi crezut că
poate fi vinovat de aşa ceva.
8. Dacă Maria ar şti cu cine vorbeşte, s-ar bâlbâi îngrozitor.
9. Antrenorul ne-a explicat că am slăbi 1 kilogram pe săptămână dacă am
merge zilnic zece kilometri pe jos.
10. Dacă aş şti că au sosit deja în oraş, i-aş invita la cină.
11. Dacă John ar lua o notă mică, i-aş arăta că sunt supărat şi l-aş pedepsi.
12. Dacă ai fi fost mai atent la explicaţii, ai fi ştiut cum să te porţi la masă.
13. Vedeta ar continua să aibă succes, dacă nu ar fi declarat presei totul
despre trecutul ei.
14. Maria ar răspunde la scrisoarea primită, dacă ar şti cine i-a trimis-o.
15. Dacă ar fi condus firma atât de mult cât am condus-o eu, ar şti că nu e o
treabă uşoară.
16. Să nu mă fi luptat pentru drepturile mele, aş fi fost acum şomer.
17. Aş renunţa la orice pretenţii, dacă mi-ai da maşina pe care ai cumpărat-o
în străinătate.
18. Ne-a povestit că ar fi fost prins de avalanşă dacă n-ar fi fost atent.
19. Decanul ne-a spus că dacă ar fi în locul nostru, nu s-ar bucura de
20. Presupunând că ceva ar merge prost în firmă, cu cine te-ai consulta?
21. Dacă nu s-ar teme de consecinţe, ar fi anunţat deja autorităţile că sunt
nereguli în conturi.
22. Dacă şi-ar fi verificat bateria acasă, n-ar fi trebuit să facă autostopul.
140 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

23. Acesta e filmul la care m-aş uita acum, dacă n-ar trebui să termin urgent
24. M-aş fi plimbat acum o oră în parc, dacă nu ploua aşa de tare.


1. It would be better if we settled the price before we start working.

2. If you wore the glasses prescribed by the doctor, you would certainly see
3. Although you are my friend, I would fire you if you were not efficient in
your work.
4. I wouldn’t know what to answer if he asked me questions about your
5. What would the children have done if they had been left alone in the
6. Your daughter would have sneaked out while you were looking for her,
unless she had been afraid you might hear her.
7. If his fingerprints hadn’t been found at the crime scene, nobody would
have thought he might be guilty of such a deed.
8. If Mary knew whom she was talking to, she would stutter terribly.
9. The coach explained to us that we would lose two pounds a week if we
walked six miles a day.
10. If I knew they had already arrived in town, I would invite them to dinner.
11. If John got a poor grade, I would show him I was angry and I would punish
12. If you had paid more attention to the explanations, you would have had
table manners.
13. The star would continue to be successful if she hadn’t declared to the press
all about her past.
14. Mary would answer that letter if she knew who had sent it to her.
15. If he had run the firm for as long as I have, he would know this is no easy
16. Had I not fought for my rights, I would be unemployed now.
17. I would give up all claims if you gave me the car you had bought abroad.
18. He told us he would have been caught in the avalanche, if he hadn’t been
19. The dean told us that if he were in our place, he wouldn’t be happy with
the changes.
20. Supposing something went wrong in the firm, whom would you consult?
21. If he didn’t fear the consequences, he would already have announced the
authorities that there were irregularities in the accounts.
The English Verb 141

22. Had he checked the battery at home, he wouldn’t have had to hitchhike.
23. This is the movie that I would be watching now if I didn’t have to urgently
finish the report
24. I would have been walking in the park an hour ago if it hadn’t been raining
so heavily.
142 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu
The English Verb 143

4.4.3. Tenses of the Subjunctive Mood

As already pointed out, the subjunctive is not much used in modern written
English and very rarely in modern colloquial English as an independent mood. In
modern English it is more common to use a subjunctive equivalent (i.e., a verb
equivalent that is equal to a subjunctive). That is why many grammar books
distinguish between the synthetical subjunctive and the analytical subjunctive (the
latter referring to the subjunctive equivalents). The Synthetical Subjunctive

For didactic purposes, three subjunctive forms of the verb are accepted
here: the present subjunctive, the past subjunctive, and the past perfect subjunctive;
the last two also have progressive aspect forms, which indicate that the action
denoted by the verb is in progress.

Voice Present Past Past Past Past perfect

progressive perfect progressive
Active Ask asked were asking had asked had been
Passive be asked were -- had been
asked asked The Present Subjunctive

The present subjunctive is a survival of the former independent subjunctive

mood; it is identical with the ‘short’ or ‘bare’ infinitive (i.e. the infinitive without
‘to’) in all the persons. It occurs in very formal language, in poetry, literary works,
in official style, in technical or scientific language.

The present subjunctive is used:

1. in independent clauses, to express a wish:

So be it!
Long live the king!
Come what may!
God bless you!

2. to express an order or request, usually when the subject is an indefinite

pronoun (e.g., anybody, somebody, everybody, anyone, someone, one of you,
144 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

one of them, etc.) According to some grammars this can be treated as an

imperative with an expressed third person subject:

Somebody change the music!

Everybody bring your raincoats on the trip!

3. in object clauses, after verbs expressing an order, a will, wish, decision,

suggestion, insistence for the future:

I suggest that we all speak the same language.

He urged that the bill be paid at once.
They insisted that I go there by myself.

4. in subject clauses when the main clause is introduced by anticipatory it and

contains a predicative expressing wonder, surprise, joy, regret, (dis)approval,
necessity, etc.:

It is regretful that she earn so little.

It is important that we be optimistic.
It was imperative that he return at once.

5. in final clauses:

Behave yourself lest her parents reject you.

I closed the door lest he be disturbed by the unpleasant.

6. in clauses of concession introduced by though, even if, although, whatever,

whoever, etc.:

Even though this be the cause, the solution is not simple.

I have no intention of leaving, whatever he say.

7. in conditional clauses:

If A be true then B will be true.

If anyone be seen there, tell them to wait for me.
If the train be delayed, I’ll miss my connection.

8. in attributive clauses:

Her desire that rap music be played at her wedding is weird.

The English Verb 145

I complied with her wish that Mary be also invited. The Past Subjunctive

The past subjunctive coincides in form with the past tense of the indicative
mood, excepting the past of to be, which is were for all the persons. It usually
denotes an action or a state which contradicts reality, and usually has a present or
future time reference.

The past subjunctive is used:

1. in independent clauses expressing a wish:

If only he passed that difficult exam!

Oh, were she at home!

2. in conditional clauses of improbable condition:

If he had a chance, he would visit you in London.

Supposing you didn’t come, how would I find the place by myself?
If I were asked to define my condition, I’d say “bored”.
If you were talking to somebody and he weren’t listening, would you
get angry?

3. in subject clauses after it is (high / about) time:

It’s (high) time you started all over again.

It’s time somebody took responsibility for the situation.
It is about time the truth were made public.

4. in object clauses after the verb wish:

I wish I had a car.

I wish you were listening.

Note: The verb wish can be followed by the modal auxiliary would plus an
infinitive, when the performance of the action depends on the will of the subject of
the secondary clause; the use of would indicates that the subject frustrates our

I wish you would be more tactful.

146 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

I wish it would stop raining, so we could go on a picnic.

5. in clauses of manner and comparison, introduced by as if, as though:

It looked as if nobody cared.

John is talking as though he were an expert.

6. in concessive clauses introduced by even if, even though:

The song would still sound well, even though you didn’t practice it
Even if he were not prepared, he would have to leave.

7. after expressions like I’d (had / would) rather:

I’d rather you started working today.

He’d rather they cleaned their room before leaving. The Past Perfect Subjunctive

The past perfect subjunctive coincides in form with the past perfect of the
indicative mood. It is used to speak of actions that have a past time reference, in all
the cases enumerated for the past subjunctive.

1. Oh, had she been reliable! (independent clause)

If only he himself had dealt with the problem!

2. If I had known about the meeting, I would have attended it.

I could have accepted some offers, provided I had been informed about this
holiday earlier.
Suppose the truth had been found out, what would you have done?

3. It is high time they had read this book!

It was about time he had given up going to so many parties!

4. I wish he had painted my portrait.

Mary wished the children had been playing together.

5. They acted as if they had suddenly realised what they had to do.
She speaks as if she had already been appointed managing director.
The English Verb 147

6. Even though they had inherited a considerable sum of money, nobody could
see it.
I would have solved the matter, even if you hadn’t asked me to.

7. I’d rather we hadn’t planned a visit to the art museum on such a nice day.
He’d rather we had still been discussing the situation, until we found a
solution. The Analytical Subjunctive

The analytical subjunctive (or subjunctive equivalents) may be built with

the help of the auxiliaries of mood should, may, might, can, could and occasionally
shall, followed by the infinitive without ‘to’ of the lexical verb. When the perfect
infinitive follows, reference is made to a past action; the same past time reference
is made when, in certain cases, might or should are used with an indefinite
infinitive. The Analytical Subjunctive With Should

The analytical subjunctive built with the auxiliary should is used:

1. in subject clauses when the main clause is introduced by anticipatory it and

contains a predicative denoting wonder, joy, regret, (dis)approval, surprise, etc.
The predicative may be an adjective (e.g., advisable, amazing, annoying,
better, disappointing, fortunate, good, important, impossible, natural,
necessary, remarkable, strange, surprising, (un)usual, unfortunate, etc.) or a
noun (e.g., advice, disappointment, necessity, pity, shame, surprise, wonder,

It is surprising that she should be so frightened of dying.

It is amazing that they should have changed their plans.
It wasn’t likely that they should stay here more than a week.
It is a shame that there should be a change of plans.
It is a wonder that you should have found your way back.
It was a pity that we should be so few.

2. in object clauses after verbs expressing order, decision, proposal, request,

suggestion, etc. (e.g., agree, arrange, ask, command, demand, desire, hope,
insist, order, propose, request, regret, resolve, suggest, suppose, settle, etc.), or
after verbs or verbal phrases expressing fear, when the object clause is
introduced by the negative conjunctions lest, or after expressions denoting the
148 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

speaker’s feelings ( e.g., am/was anxious, disappointed, glad, happy, pleased,

sorry, etc.):

The director’s attitude suggested that he should assume all the risks.
They insisted that everybody should get involved.
He feared lest they should do it in his absence.
We were afraid lest he should get there too late.
I am glad that you should see things in this way.
We were happy that you should have succeeded without any help.

The analytical subjunctive built with should is also used in indirect questions
introduced by whether, if, how, why:

We wondered whether you should be informed or not.

John marveled why nobody should protest against it.

3. in negative final clauses, introduced by the negative conjunction lest or by so


She will probably phone me lest I should worry.

He was probably hiding so that he shouldn’t return the money he

In this type of clause, shall may also be used sometimes, to refer to the present
or future time:

He is taking/will take off his shoes, so that she shall not hear him.

A subjunctive equivalent built with should may also occur in affirmative final
clauses (although less frequently perhaps):

He spoke loudly, so that everybody should hear him.

4. in clauses of concession:

He will not be content, though he should change his job.

Whatever they should think about weapons, they won’t be able to ban
them completely.

5. in attributive clauses:
The English Verb 149

I can’t see any reason why she should not enjoy domestic life.
His expectation that we should know everything about the topic was
unrealistic. The Analytical Subjunctive with May / Might

The analytical subjunctive built with the auxiliary may/might is used:

1. in independent clauses expressing a wish:

May all your dreams come true!

May you be happy!

2. in subject clauses introduced by it is / was possible, probable, likely:

It is possible that he may be wrong.

It was likely that they might react that way.

3. in object clauses introduced by that, after verbs expressing fear, hope, wish,
when the fulfillment of the action depends on external circumstances:

He fears that his friend may disapprove of his decision.

I feared that he might get angry on hearing this.
She is afraid that the dog may bite her.
She hopes that she may have a successful career.
I really wished he might succeed.

4. in final clauses. This type of clause offers more liberty in the choice of the
auxiliary and can, could, will, would may also be used to form subjunctive

‘Why do you have such big teeth?’ ‘So that I may/can eat you better.’
I’ll write a nice recommendation for him so that he may be employed
in any company.
We’ll tell them the truth so that they can / will see that we are reliable.
He was granted a loan so that he could / would develop his own firm.

5. in concessive clauses:

(Al)though it may be surprising, they have bought a bigger house.

150 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

Though she may appear to do nothing but enjoy herself, she is a very
hard worker.
Strange as it may seem, he had not raised a finger to help her with
The article may be long, but it is highly interesting.
However hard he may try, the problem will not be solved soon.
Whoever you may/might be, please behave yourself.
Whatever you may/might say, I won’t believe you.
Be that as it may, I won’t forgive her.

In all the cases, may and might retain some modal colouring, with might expressing
more uncertainty or less possibility than may. When the verb of the main clause is
in the past, the use of might in the secondary clause is compulsory.


Translate into English:

1. Se temea să nu sune telefonul şi să trezească copiii.

2. Ne-a sugerat să mergem la carnavalul de la Rio, dar nu s-a gândit la
3. Este posibil ca suspectul să-şi încalce promisiunea de a nu se apropia de
casa victimei.
4. Poştaşul se mişcă de parcă n-ar vrea să fie surprins aducând plicul.
5. Cel puţin Ion ne privea ca şi cum şi-ar fi făcut treaba cu seriozitate.
6. Aş dori să se oprească furtuna şi norii cenuşii să se împrăştie.
7. Şi-a lăsat privirea în jos ca să nu vedem că e copleşită de emoţie şi plânge.
8. Deşi nu avea bani, i-a cumpărat un cadou scump.
9. Şi-a împachetat toate lucrurile cu grijă astfel încât să le poată trimite la
noua adresă.
10. Obligaţia ca ei să tracteze maşina nu era stipulată în contract.
11. Intră în apartamentul ei spaţios, în ciuda faptului că nu fusese invitat.
12. E păcat că nu are curajul să joace în liga profesionistă.
13. Încă se joacă, deşi n-ar trebui să continue să fie atât de copilăros.
14. Sora i-a spus că era timpul să primească injecţia şi nu a mai protestat.
15. Să zicem că ar fi îngenunchiat în piaţa centrală şi ar fi cerut-o de nevastă.
16. Este foarte probabil ca lui să i se permită accesul la documente secrete.
17. Stătea acolo surprins, ca şi când n-ar fi ştiut dacă să râdă sau să plângă.
18. Orice ar conţine, nu pot să iau valiza cu mine în străinătate.
19. S-a hotărât să angajăm o firmă de consultanţă în problema investiţiilor.
20. Este regretabil că nu sunt destule locuri de parcare.
The English Verb 151

21. L-a auzit pe pilot făcând un anunţ ca şi când ar fi fost o problemă la bord.
22. Se simţea destul de confortabil, deşi era pentru prima dată într-un astfel de
23. În cazul în care i s-ar fi oferit o slujbă decentă, s-ar fi dus fără să întoarcă
24. Oricine ar avea nevoie de ajutor, va şti unde să-l găsească.
25. Nu a tras niciodată, în ciuda faptului că poartă o armă la el.


1. She feared the telephone might ring and wake up the children.
2. He suggested we should go to the carnival in Rio, but he didn’t think of the
3. It is possible that the suspect might break the promise not to get near the
victim’s house.
4. The postman is moving as if he didn’t want to be caught bringing the
5. At least John looked at us as if he had done his job seriously.
6. I wish the storm stopped and the grey clouds scattered away.
7. She looked down lest we should not see that she was overwhelmed with
emotion and was crying/ so that we may not see that …
8. Even though she had no money, she bought him an expensive present.
9. He packed all his things carefully so that he could send them to the new
10. The obligation that they should tow the car was not stipulated in the
11. He entered her large apartment, although she had not been invited.
12. It’s a shame that he should have no courage and strength to play in the
professional league.
13. He is still playing although he should not continue being so childish
14. The nurse told him it was high time he had received his injection and he
did not protest any more.
15. Suppose he had kneeled down in the main square and asked her to marry
16. It is very likely that he should be granted access to classified documents.
17. He was standing there in surprise as if he hadn’t known whether to laugh
or to cry.
18. Whatever it contain, I cannot take the suitcase with me abroad.
19. It was decided that, for the investment problem, we should hire a
consulting firm.
20. It is regrettable that there should not be enough parking places.
152 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

21. He heard the pilot making an announcement as if there were a problem on

22. He felt comfortable enough although he had been for the first time in such
an office.
23. Provided he had been offered a decent job, he would have gone without
turning his head.
24. Whoever should need help, will know where to find it.
25. He has never shot, though he should carry a gun with him.
The English Verb 153

4.4.4. The Imperative Mood

In the second person singular and plural, the imperative mood has the same
form as the infinitive without to, being used, as a rule, without an expressed

Go away! Come closer!

The other persons have imperative equivalents, built with the auxiliary let,
followed by an accusative (which is in fact the expressed subject of the lexical

Let me think about it!

Let nobody interfere in this!

Its negative form is built with do (including the negative of be, which
otherwise is not conjugated with do), while the first and third person imperatives
may perhaps more frequently be negated by inserting the negation not between the
accusative and the lexical verb:

Don’t be discouraged!
Don’t be afraid of them!
Don’t let me detain you!
Don’t let’s dance!
Let them not forget what I’ve done for them!
Let me not neglect this matter!

The imperative lacks the category of tense. Its progressive form is used
only rarely, and its perfective one hardly ever:

Be working on your homework when he comes in!

Don’t be smiling like an idiot when she looks at you!

Its passive voice forms are also very rare, and, unless we accept the verb
get as a passive auxiliary (e.g., get lost, get dressed), it is restricted to a few orders:
be seated, be prepared, be reassured (Quirk et al. 1972: 402); it is slightly more
common in negative orders (cf. Quirk et al. 1985: 827):

Don’t be impressed by his charming manners!

The imperative is used:

154 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

1. to give orders or commands:

Put that down!

Stop her!

2. to make requests:

Put the bicycle in the garage, please!

Pass me the butter, please!

3. to make invitations:

Have a chocolate biscuit!

Come to my place of work!

4. to make suggestions:

Ring him up around 9; he’s sure to be in by that time!

Let’s go on a picnic this weekend!

5. to give instructions, advice:

Boil up the water when at camp!

Be sensible!

6. to express a wish:

Enjoy your drink!

Have a good day!

7. to suggest a condition:

Keep the beer in the freezer and you’ll see how much you’ll enjoy it.
Don’t spend so much time sitting at your desk or you’ll be sorry.

Note that:

1. The omitted subject of the imperative proper is the second person you. This is
confirmed by the occurrence of you as subject of a possible following question
The English Verb 155

Get in the car, will you?

Don’t make such a noise, will you?

by the occurrence of yourself as object with certain verbs:

Behave yourself!
Don’t repeat yourself!

or by the use of the emphatic possessive your own:

Use your own computer.

Give your own examples.

2. Sometimes the subject may be expressed, for example when commands are
given to more than one person or group, or when one wants to be emphatic or
to express annoyance, impatience, or some other emotion; the subject may
precede or follow the verb or it may be placed at the end of the sentence. The
expressed subject is usually stressed, given emphasis:

'You be careful.
'You wash the dishes, and 'you dust the furniture.
Pick that up, 'you.
Don’t you forget about it.
Don’t you move!
Somebody come and help me, please.
Smile, everybody!
Nobody say a word or else!
Students in the last row move to the front!

3. The auxiliary let should not be confused with the transitive verb to let, let,
let, which means ‘to allow’, ‘to permit’:

I won’t let John have a look at it. (‘I won’t allow John to have a look at
Let us go to the movie, please. (‘Allow us to go to the movie, please’)

If the abbreviated form let’s is used for the first person plural, then we are
dealing with an imperative:

Let’s go to the movie!

156 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

4. The verb in the imperative mood may be emphasized with the help of the
auxiliary do:

Do come in, please!

Do sing, everybody!


Translate into English:

1. Nu intra. Aşteaptă până vei fi chemat.

2. Prezintă aceste dovezi la proces şi aşteaptă decizia judecătorului.
3. Câţiva din voi să cureţe zăpada şi câţiva să împingă maşina.
4. Să nu mă iei cu “dragă”!
5. Adună-ţi lucrurile şi părăseşte biroul până la prânz.
6. Nu-ţi da ochii peste cap de câte ori auzi ceva ce nu-ţi place. E nepoliticos.
7. Să nu ne repezim într-o acţiune atât de riscantă.
8. Să ţină John contabilitatea şi să vadă ce greu e.
9. Să vorbim serios despre responsabilităţile fiecăruia dintre noi
10. Renunţă odată la glumele astea vulgare, care nu amuză pe nimeni, da ?
11. Alăturaţi-vă grupului de grevişti ca să vă obţineţi drepturile.
12. Să mă gândesc dacă merită să-mi pierd timpul cu voi.
13. Să nu glumeşti niciodată cu dragostea.
14. Nu pune sare pe ficat când îl găteşti, că se întăreşte.
15. Întinde vopseaua cu o pensulă, aşteaptă 20 de minute, apoi limpezeşte
părul şi usucă-l.
16. Să ne concentrăm asupra lucrurilor importante, bine?
17. Continuă să visezi la cariera de model şi vei pierde total contactul cu
18. Nu te deranja să-mi pui muzica preferată, că nu stau mult.
19. Începe să te maturizezi până nu-ţi ratezi toate şansele.
20. Stai să-mi leg şireturile ca să nu mă împiedic.
21. Toată lumea să se decidă dacă cinăm acasă sau ieşim în oraş.
22. Să nu apeşi pe frână pe gheaţă că derapezi.
23. Ia cheia de 13, fixeaz-o pe şurub, roteşte-o spre dreapta şi deschide
24. Dormi 14 ore, spală-te, bărbiereşte-te, îmbracă haine curate şi vei fi o altă
25. Să-i conving că afacerea e bună şi nu vom mai avea probleme financiare.

The English Verb 157

1. Don’t go in. Wait until you are called.

2. Introduce this evidence to the trial and wait for the judge’s ruling.
3. Some of you shovel the snow and some of you push the car!
4. Don’t you “dear” me!
5. Collect your things and leave the office before noon.
6. Don’t you roll your eyes whenever you hear something you don’t like. It’s
7. Don’t let’s rush into such a risky action.
8. Let John keep the books and see how difficult it is.
9. Let’s talk seriously about the responsibilities of each of us.
10. Give up these coarse jokes which amuse nobody, will you?
11. Join the group on strike in order to get your rights.
12. Let me think if it’s worth wasting my time with you.
13. Don’t ever trifle with love.
14. Don’t put salt on the liver when you cook it, because it hardens.
15. Spread the hair dye with a brush, wait for 20 minutes, then rinse and dry
your hair.
16. Let’s focus on important things, shall we?
17. Dream on about your modeling career and you’ll totally lose contact with
18. Don’t bother putting on my favourite music, because I am not staying long.
19. Start growing up before you miss all your chances.
20. Let me tie my shoelaces so that I should not stumble.
21. Everybody make up your minds if we stay home for dinner or we go out.
22. Don’t step on the break on ice or you skid.
23. Take the 13 wrench, fix it on the screw, turn it to the right, and open the
24. Sleep for fourteen hours, wash, shave, dress clean and you’ll be another
25. Let me persuade him that it is good business and we’ll never have financial
problems again.
158 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu
The English Verb 159


The non-finite forms of the verb discussed here are the infinitive, the
participle, and the gerund. (see chapter 2). They do not have the categories of
mood, tense, person, and number, and cannot be used as predicates of sentences.
However, they can form predicative constructions, i.e. syntactic units resembling

Weather permitting (‘if the weather permits’), we shall go for a walk.


The infinitive is considered to be the base form of a verb, which is given by

any dictionary. It names an action or a state without direct reference to person,
number, tense, or mood. Certain English verbs, namely most of the modal-
auxiliaries (exceptions – to be, to have), have no infinitive form.
The infinitive has the categories of aspect and voice – it has progressive and
perfective forms, as well as active and passive voice forms. It occurs in the
language either as a ‘long’ infinitive, i.e. when preceded by the particle to, or as a
‘short’ or ‘bare’ infinitive, i.e. when not preceded by the particle to.

Indefinite Progressive Perfect Perfect

Active (to) ask (to) be asking (to) have (to) have been
asked asking
Passive (to) be asked - (to) have -
been asked

I wanted to forget all about it.

I didn’t want to be caught off guard.
It’s much better for young children to be living at home.
Only two are known to have escaped.
I seem to have been eating all evening.

5.1.1. Forms of the Infinitive The ‘Short’ Infinitive

The ‘short’ infinitive, without to, follows auxiliaries to form tenses and
160 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

She will leave as soon as she hears from them.

She would forgive you if you phoned her and explained what had

It is also used:

 after modal verbs, except for have (to), be (to), ought (to), used (to):

You may have heard about it.

I can’t go there by myself.
You should do as you are told.
They would go there for a swim every day.
I have to be there in half an hour.
He was to meet her in front of the university.
They ought to know how to behave in such circumstances.
He used to talk about the past all the time.

 after modal phrases like had/would better, had/would rather, had/would

sooner, cannot but, cannot choose but, need scarcely, etc.:

You had better take a taxi.

They would rather talk to me than to him.
Children nowadays would sooner see the film than read the book.
We cannot but accept your conditions.
I cannot choose but wonder.
I need scarcely tell you how happy I am.

 after verbs of perception in the active voice (e.g.. to see, to hear, to feel, to
watch, to notice, to behold, to observe, to perceive, to witness, etc.):

I heard her scream in the other room.

I felt her freeze at the sight of him.
She saw me take the food to my room.

If these verbs are used in the passive voice, the ‘long’ infinitive is required:

She was heard to scream in the other room.

She was felt to freeze at the sight of him.
I was seen to take the food to my room.
The English Verb 161

The verb to know used in the past and the perfective aspect, active voice, may
have the meaning of a verb of perception (‘see’, ‘hear’), and then it may
behave accordingly, taking a ‘short’ infinitive after it:

I have never known (= ‘seen’) that man smile.

That man has never been known to smile.

 after the causative verbs make and have in the active voice (the latter is not
used in the passive):

They made him feel ashamed of himself.

I’ll have you know these rules.
I won’t have you talk such nonsense.

When make is used in the passive voice, a ‘long’ infinitive follows:

He was made to feel ashamed of himself.

 after the verb let in the active voice (let is not normally used in the passive

They let her do what she wanted.

 after the verb help, in colloquial English and in American English:

John helped me carry all the boxes.

The ‘long’ infinitive is required with help in the passive voice:

I was helped by John to carry all the boxes.

 For stylistic reasons, in a series of infinitives playing the same role in the
sentence, usually only the first gets the particle to:

I want to see him, talk to him and give him the detailed explanations.

However, this is not an absolute rule; the particle to may be preserved in front of
each infinitive, for emphatic or other stylistic purposes.
162 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu The ‘Long’ Infinitive

The ‘long’ infinitive is preceded by the particle to, which corresponds to

the preposition a that marks the Romanian infinitive: e.g., to know – a şti.

 The ‘long’ infinitive is used in all the cases that do not require a ‘short’
infinitive (see, after transitive verbs in either the active or the passive
voice, or after intransitive verbs:

I asked her to give me a straight answer.

She was known to have been writing poetry since she was a teenager.
He smiled back to impress her.
The girl jumped to avoid the kick.

 As already stated (see, it is used after the modal verbs be, have, ought,
and the aspective verb used:

I used to sleep surprisingly well while travelling.

 It can also be found after impersonal expressions introduced by it + be + an

evaluative adjective (e.g., difficult, easy, hard, necessary, possible, right,
wrong, etc.):

I think it is right to resign immediately.

It was impossible to talk to him.
It will be splendid to have so much money!

 It nearly always follows adjectives like able, bound, due, fit, inclined, liable,
likely, prepared, willing, etc:

We are liable to find ourselves in a mild state of conflict.

5.1.2. Grammatical Categories of the Infinitive The Category of Mood

As already stated, the infinitive is not a mood, as it does not express the
attitude of the speaker towards the content of the communication. The infinitive is
referred to as a non-finite form of the verb.
The English Verb 163 The Category of Tense

The infinitive does not have the category of tense. The indefinite infinitive
denotes an action or state that is usually simultaneous with that of the finite verb
which it accompanies:

I am glad to see you now. (present time reference)

I was glad to see you then. (past time reference)
I shall be glad to see you tomorrow. (future time reference)

With verbs like hope, expect, intend, mean, want, wish, etc., or be going to, which
have a modal meaning, the action or state denoted by the infinitive appears to be
posterior to that of the finite verb:

I hope to see you again (next week).

I mean to ask her (later; if I see her again).
They wanted to go to the seaside the following weekend.
I am going to spend this coming weekend reading for my next exam. The Category of Aspect

The infinitive has forms for the progressive and the perfective aspects. The
progressive forms suggest actions in progress:

She seemed to be thinking of something.

She seemed to have been working on that for a long time.

The perfective forms of the infinitive denote an action anterior to that of the verb it
accompanies or anterior to a present, past or future moment. They often follow
after a modal verb or a lexical verb or phrase with a modal meaning.

She must have read it.

She expects to have been understood.
She is likely to have solved the problem.
I hope to have seen her by the beginning of next week
They knew him to have been a good worker.
I meant to have asked her. [but I didn’t]

With could, should, ought (to), the perfect infinitive in the affirmative suggests an
action that was not accomplished, although it should have been; if the modal verbs
164 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

are in the negative, it suggests an action that was not necessary, but was

She should have phoned you. [but she didn’t]

She shouldn’t have phoned you. [but she did] The Category of Voice

The infinitive has forms for both the active and the passive voice:

You must do it at once. - It must be done at once.

She was heard to admire her boss. – Her boss liked to be admired.
I seem to have mislaid the letter. – The letter seems to have been
John appears to have forgotten the fight. – The fight appears to have
been forgotten.

An active voice infinitive with a passive meaning is used in the following cases:

a) after there is/ there are, here is/ here are; the passive infinitive is also possible:

There is no time to lose (= to be lost).

There are a lot of things to repair (= to be repaired) around here.
Here’s an idea to discuss (= to be discussed).
Here are a lot of books to read (= to be read).

When the indefinite pronouns something, anything, nothing are followed by to

do, the meaning of the active voice sentence and the passive voice sentence are
no longer the same. Compare:

There is nothing to do here. (the place is boring)

I’m afraid there is nothing to be done in this matter. (no one can take
any action)

b) in some sentences containing the intensifying adverbs too and enough:

The tea is too hot to drink.

His answer is important enough to mention here.

c) after evaluative adjectives such as easy, difficult, hard, interesting, quick,

tough, etc., used predicatively:
The English Verb 165

The rule is difficult to understand.

That is extremely important to see.

Such sentences are the result of the object to subject raising rule or ‘tough’
movement (in transformational grammar), which moves an object from an
embedded clause in the position of subject in the main clause: It is difficult to
understand the rule; It is extremely important to see that.

d) certain verbs, e.g. to let, to blame may sometimes have a passive meaning:

This flat is to let. (= to be let)

He is not to blame. (= to be blamed)
This is the proper dress to wear on such occasions. (= to be worn)
He is definitely a man to trust. (= to be trusted) The Category of Person and Number

The infinitive is not inflected for person or number. The doer of an action
or state expressed by an infinitive may be a noun or a pronoun in the accusative
preceding it or the subject of the finite verb:

He invited us / his friends to attend the conference.

She / Mary hopes to get this book as a present.

5.1.3. Characteristics of the Infinitive

The infinitive is said to have verbal and nominal characteristics, which are
usually revealed by its syntactic behaviour. Verbal Characteristics

 As already pointed out, the infinitive has the grammatical categories of aspect
and voice (see 5.1.).
 It may help to form various tenses and moods of the verb (see 5.1.1.).
 It may take an object:

It took me a year to save the money for this car.

He asked me to buy a present for you.
Fortune seemed to be smiling on us again.

 It may be modified by an adverbial:

166 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

It’s necessary to examine this claim before tomorrow.

Johnny loved to play in the sand.
She was asked to speak loudly.

 It may be part of a compound predicate:

You ought to discuss this with him. (modal predicate)

I must leave at once. (modal predicate)
The leaves are beginning to fall. (aspective predicate)
He used to call me whenever there was a problem. (aspective
predicate) Nominal Characteristics

The infinitive may have all the syntactic functions of a noun. Thus it can be:

 the subject or part of the subject of a sentence:

To live is to struggle.
To act like that is childish.
To read books while travelling was a habit of his.
It's hard to believe.

 the predicative or part of the predicative of a sentence:

Your duty is to study.

To live like this is to enjoy life.
His ambition is to become the president.

 the object or part of the object of a sentence:

She decided to go to university.

I forgot to post the letter.
She found it challenging to invite everybody over for dinner.

Some verbs which normally require a prepositional phrase as object can be

used without a preposition when followed by a to-infinitive as object:

I long to see her again. (cf. I long for the sight of her).
But I long for her to say something.
Would you care to have a walk? (cf. Would you care for a walk?)
The English Verb 167

But I shouldn't care for that man to accompany me.

We agreed to start early. (cf. We agreed on an early start.)

 the attribute or part of the attribute of a sentence:

I do not doubt your ability to do the work.

Here is a book to read before going to bed.
The first to reach the finish line will get the gold medal.

5.1.4. Infinitival Constructions

The infinitive may occur in various constructions; some of the infinitival

constructions are of the predicative type, i.e. the infinitive enters into a predicate
relation to a noun or pronoun that acts as its subject. The Accusative with the Infinitive

The accusative with the infinitive is a syntactic construction made up of a

noun or a pronoun in the accusative case and an infinitive (and any modifiers of the
latter). Syntactically it has the function of a complex object after a monotransitive

His sister had taught him to sew.

This construction differs slightly from the construction with the participle, in
that it generally implies a completed action:

Dr. Brown heard him gasp.

I heard him gasping and shrieking.

The accusative with the infinitive is used:

 after verbs of perception like feel, hear, notice, observe, perceive, see, watch, etc:

The woman had seen him steal the bananas.

It was the first time she had heard the man speak of his life.

Note that:

a)When verbs like see and feel indicate mental, not physical perception, they are
followed by a that clause:
168 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

I saw her leave the room (physical perception).

I saw that she realized the meaning of my words (mental perception).
Mary felt the table shake. (physical perception)
Mary felt that he wanted to say a few words. (mental perception)

b) the verb smell is not followed by an infinitive.

 after verbs expressing wish or intention: choose, desire, intend, mean, wish, want,

The writer chooses his main character to be unanimously admired.

They wanted me to be a doctor.
They intend the house to be furnished before Christmas.

 after verbs expressing mental activities: believe, consider, expect, fancy, feel,
imagine, judge, know, suppose, think, trust, understand, etc.:

They expected their children to be well dressed.

We thought him to be kind and friendly, which he was not.

 after verbs expressing feelings and emotions: like, dislike, love, hate, prefer, etc:.

I would like him to perform a miracle for us.

They would hate us to be late for dinner.

 after verbs of declaring: declare, pronounce, report, etc.

He reported the situation to be unbearable.

 after verbs expressing order, permission, or demand: allow, ask, command, demand,
let, order, require, have, etc:

He ordered his suitcases to be ready in the morning.

I won’t have you behave like that.

Very often when the noun in the accusative denotes an object or when the
pronoun it replaces an object, the infinitive must be a passive one:

He ordered the article / it to be published.

The English Verb 169

 after causative verbs or verbs expressing constraint: cause, compel, force, get, have,
induce, make, set, etc:

Make him put away his toys before he goes out.

He had me wait for another hour.

 after certain prepositional verbs: e.g., count on/upon, depend on/ upon, rely on,
wait for, long for, etc.:

I insist on you to take up that difficult job.

They counted on their friends to be on time.
She longed for him to say something.

The construction with the preposition for is sometimes extended to some verbs
which do not otherwise take for:

They asked for everybody to participate in the event.

It took some time for him to realize what was required.
I have arranged for a car to meet her at the airport.
This is for you to decide.

The construction containing the preposition for may also be found after nouns,
pronouns, and adjectives that usually do not require this preposition:

There is no hurry for you to give an answer.

There was nothing for me to do here.
He was anxious for me to arrive in time.

It is often associated with the quantifiers too and enough:

It is too difficult for a single parent to resign.

His answer was rude enough for Mary to get angry.

The construction with the preposition for is often referred to as the for-to-
infinitive. The Nominative with the Infinitive

The nominative with the infinitive is basically a passive construction,

analogous to the nominative with the participle, from which it differs in that it
generally implies a completed action or state. It is made up of a noun or a pronoun in
170 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

the nominative case and an infinitive (and any modifiers of the latter). Syntactically,
this construction functions as a complex subject:

One third of the population was estimated to have no access to the

health service.

The nominative with the infinitive is used with most verb groups which,
when in the active voice, are followed by an accusative with the infinitive

 verbs denoting perception:

She was heard to shriek desperately.

 verbs expressing mental activity:

She was chosen to be our spokesman.

The primitive molecules are believed to have given rise to life on Earth.

 verbs of declaring:

Her state was reported to be critical.

He is said to have arrived later.

 verbs expressing order and permission:

I was asked to come for a few days to help them.

We are not allowed to leave yet.

 causative verbs (except for have):

The children were made to tidy their room.

John was compelled to resign.

The construction may also occur:

 after the verbs appear, chance, happen, prove, seem, turn out.

The boy proved to be very good at mathematics.

She chanced to overhear him while he was on the phone.
The English Verb 171

 after verbal phrases such as to be sure, to be certain, to be (un)likely, to be glad,

to be impatient, etc.:

He is likely to play by the book now.

I am glad to be of help. The Absolute Infinitive Construction

The absolute infinitive construction consists of a noun or pronoun in the

nominative that acts as subject of the infinitive, but does not coincide with the subject
of the finite verb in the sentence, and an infinitive:

Everybody entered the competition, the winner to be nominated in a

We shall toss for it, loser to pay. The Split Infinitive

An adverb, usually of manner, inserted between the particle to and the

infinitive forms together with the latter a split infinitive.

 The adverb is more often than not an adverb of manner: e.g., to clearly
understand, to fully realize, to thankfully receive, to wholly agree, to gladly
consent, to repeatedly meet.

 The split infinitive is often used for the sake of clarity, and, in many cases, it is
the only acceptable ordering of the words:

He was too tired to really care about it.

He was determined to flatly refuse any offer from her that arrived later
than Saturday. Parenthetical Phrases with the Infinitive

The infinitive with to may be used in a number of parenthetic phrases,

which are syntactically independent in the sentence, and serve to make a comment
or as an introductory element: e.g., to tell/ speak the truth, to begin with, to say the
least of it, to cut/ make a long story short, to put it bluntly, to say nothing of, etc.:

Needless to say, he kept his promise.

To be honest, I don't like jazz.
172 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu Implied (Implicit) Infinitive

The Implied Infinitive is the omission of the infinitive verb and the use of
the particle to only, in order to avoid repetition. We deal here with an ellipsis of the
infinitive and its modifiers:

The lawyer advised him to stay away but he refused to (stay away).
He would like to speak up, but he is afraid to.
He wants to go to the opera, but he is aware he doesn't have time to.
Would you like to come along? Yes, I’d love to.

5.1.5. Translation of the Infinitive

The infinitive can be translated into Romanian by an infinitive, by a

subordinate clause, by a supine or by a noun:

He wasn’t able to stay longer. / N-a putut sta mai mult.

In order to give a correct answer, you must read this chapter. / Pentru
a da un răspuns correct, trebuie să citeşti acest capitol.
She hoped to succeed in writing a novel. / A sperat că va reuşi să scrie
un roman.
I like to eat chocolate, - Îmi place să mănânc ciocolată.
This poem is easy to learn by heart. / Poezia aceasta este uşor de
învăţat pe de rost.
To build good roads here would be very wise. / Construirea unor
drumuri bune aici ar fi un lucru foarte înţelept.


Translate into English:

1. Ei s-au trezit că trebuie sa plătească nişte taxe suplimentare.

2. Această maşină este destul de uşor de condus de către oricine.
3. Cel mai important lucru de care să ne îngrijim este sănătatea.
4. Mecanicul a adus câteva piese de schimb pe care le-a pus în garaj pentru
ca Harry să le verifice.
5. Ca să spun aşa, nici n-am apucat să intru, când mi-a şi pus cafeaua în
6. Peter nu-şi aminteşte să fi văzut cheile de la maşină în ultima săptămână.
7. Magazinele au o mulţime de oferte din care să alegi.
The English Verb 173

8. Uneori ne imaginăm că o vacanţă într-un loc exotic are doar avantaje şi

nici un pericol.
9. Era foarte puţin probabil ca noi să fi câştigat concursul fără să ne
10. Oamenii nu primesc salarii adecvate pentru a face faţă creşterii continue a
costului vieţii.
11. Maşinile de spălat automate sunt ieftine şi uşor de manevrat.
12. Televiziunea publică pretinde că prezintă ştirile în mod imparţial.
13. Spune adevărul. N-ar fi recomandabil să n-o faci.
14. Se zvonise că războiul din Irak era pe terminate şi că noile alegeri urmau
să schimbe complet situaţia.
15. Aceasta pare să fie cea mai bună strategie de apărare.
16. Unii priveau ipoteza că nu suntem singuri în univers ca pe o fantezie.
17. El n-are la cine sa apeleze cînd are nevoie de consolare.
18. O anumită conjunctură a permis avocatului să speculeze informaţiile
19. Întâmplător chiar ne-am bucurat de petrecerea în aer liber.
20. Ne-am apropiat de poliţist şi l-am rugat să ne explice drumul spre centru.
21. Procesul prin care se folosesc calculatoare pentru a ne înlocui în anumite
operaţii se numeşte automatizare.
22. E prea blând din fire ca să se transforme într-un soţ violent.
23. A fost foarte atent să nu strecoare nici o vorbă despre planurile lui.
24. Au greşit că l-au considerat cel mai bun prieten, când el îi vorbea de rău
peste tot.
25. Nu cred că au făcut totul ca să scape de insistenţele ei.


1. They woke up to find that they had to pay additional taxes.

2. This car is easy enough for everybody to drive.
3. Health is the most important thing to take care of.
4. The mechanic fetched several spare parts which he placed in the garage for
Harry to check.
5. So to speak, hardly had I got in, that he put the coffee in front of me.
6. Peter can’t remember to have seen the car keys during the last week.
7. The stores have a lot of offers to choose from.
8. We sometimes imagine a holiday in an exotic place to have only
advantages and no danger.
9. We were very unlikely to have won the contest without any training.
10. People are not receiving adequate salaries to cope with the continuous raise
in the cost of living.
174 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

11. Automatic washing machines are cheap and easy to handle.

12. The public television claims to impartially present the news.
13. Tell the truth, it wouldn’t be advisable not to.
14. The Iraq war was said to be ending and the new elections were expected to
change the whole situation.
15. This seems to be the best defense strategy.
16. Some regarded the hypothesis that we are not alone in the Universe to be
17. He has no one to turn to when he needs comfort.
18. Certain circumstances have enabled the lawyer to speculate on the received
19. We happened to really enjoy the garden party.
20. We approached the policeman and asked him explain us the way to the
21. The process by which computers can be used to replace us in certain
operations is called automation.
22. He is too kind hearted to change into a violent husband.
23. He was very careful not to say a word about his plans.
24. They were wrong to consider him their best friend when he was speaking
them daggers everywhere.
25. I don’t think they did everything to get rid of her insistences.
The English Verb 175


There are two participial forms in English: the -ing (or indefinite)
participle and the past participle, i.e. the third form of any verb. The -ing participle
denotes an action or a state in progress, while the past participle denotes the action
as a result.
The –ing participle has the grammatical categories of voice and aspect. Its
paradigm is the following:

Indefinite participle Perfect participle

Active asking having asked
Passive being asked having been asked

The indefinite participle and the perfect participle can be used in both the
active and the passive voice. The active form of the indefinite participle is formed
by adding the inflection -ing to the short infinitive of the lexical verb; in the
passive voice, -ing is added to the auxiliary be, followed by the past participle of
the verb to be conjugated.
The perfect participle, active voice is formed of the indefinite participle of
the auxiliary have and the past participle of the lexical verb. In the passive voice, it
is the auxiliary be that gets the –ing inflection; this is followed by the past
participle of the auxiliary be, followed in turn by the past participle of the lexical
The past participle has one form only.

5.2.1. Verbal Characteristics of the Indefinite Participle

Both the -ing (indefinite) and the past participle have verbal characteristics

 As seen above, the indefinite participle has the grammatical categories of

aspect and voice, but it does not have the categories of mood, tense, person and
number. The time to which it refers is as relative as that of the infinitive, i.e.
the indefinite participle denotes an action simultaneous with the present, past
or future action or state of the finite verb.

I heard the door squeaking. (past time reference)

I can hear the door squeaking. (present time reference):
I will certainly hear the door squeaking when you leave. (future time
176 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

 The perfect participle denotes an action or state anterior to that expressed by

the finite verb. Sometimes anteriority may also be expressed by an indefinite

Having been promised some help, she felt relieved.

Dipping her pen into the ink, she started to write.
Turning slowly, she went to her room.

 The past participle may denote an action or state anterior to or simultaneous

with that expressed by the finite verb or an action seen as a result:

Lost in thought, she forgot that she must not be seen.

It’s useless to regret the proposition accepted not long ago.

 The indefinite participle helps to form the tenses of the progressive aspect,
active and passive, while the past participle helps to form the tenses of the
perfective aspect and the tenses and moods of the passive voice:

While he was taking off his shoes, he noticed that there was a hole in
one of his stockings.
A new book on English grammar is being written.
She had lit a candle.
The guests were informed about the event by their host.

 The indefinite participle can take an object (direct, indirect, prepositional),

while the past participle, having a passive meaning usually, may be followed
by a passive agent:

He saw a man taking a book.

I heard her talking to you
They were laughing at each other.
Here is a letter written by John.
Shaken by sobs, she couldn't utter a word.
Worn out with thought, he couldn't sleep.

 The participles may be modified by adverbials:

He found the fire burning brightly.

He saw a man standing in front of him.
I should like the matter settled immediately.
The English Verb 177

5.2.2. Participial Constructions

The participle may occur in various constructions; some of them are of the
predicative type, i.e. the participle occurs in a predicate relation to a noun or
pronoun that acts as its subject. The Accusative with the Participle

The accusative with the participle represents a combination of a noun or

pronoun in the accusative case and a participle (and any modifiers of the latter).
The -ing participle construction differs slightly from the construction with the
infinitive, in that it generally implies an action/state in progress. Compare:

We saw Mrs. Jones coming down the stairs.

We saw Mrs. Jones come down the stairs.

The past participle construction is resultative in meaning.

She saw her dream fulfilled.

Syntactically, this construction has the function of a complex object after a

monotransitive verb.

He watched the crows circling over the park.

I want this solved by the end of the week.

The accusative with the participle is used:

 after verbs of perception: feel, bear, look at, notice, observe, perceive, see, smell,
watch, etc.:

I saw him running for the train.

I watched the smoke coming through the chimney.
She felt her freedom restricted by the new law.

 The -ing participial construction is used after such verbs as: find, keep, leave,
catch, send, spot, discover:

The teacher caught John cheating during the exam.

He left her crying in despair.
178 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

 The past participle construction occurs after the verbs find, keep, leave, spot,

Mother found her high-heeled shoes worn by her little daughter.

He spotted the little child hidden in a corner, under the stairs.

 The -ing participial construction is used after such causative verbs as: have,
get, set, start.

Start the car running, please.

We’ll get this situation solved.
"I'll have them answering all my questions", said the detective.
This set us competing.

Note that: The verb have in the negative means ‘suffer’, ‘allow’:

I can't have you doing that.

I won't have them wasting their time.

 The past participial construction is used after the causative verbs have, make,

You're always late; you certainly must have your watch repaired.
He made his influence felt.
I must get my hair washed.

Note that: In this construction, have may also occur with the meaning ‘suffer’
or ‘experience’, and also with its usual meaning of ‘possess’, ‘hold’:

She has had her handbag stolen.

He had his leg broken.
They have some money saved for their old age.

 The accusative with the past participle is also used with verbs expressing wish:
wish, want, prefer, like:

I prefer the national anthem played by the military band.

I want my fish fried, not boiled.
The English Verb 179 The Nominative with the Participle

The nominative with the participle is basically a passive construction,

analogous to the nominative with the infinitive, from which it differs in that it
generally implies an action or state in progress. It is made up of a noun or a
pronoun in the nominative case and a participle, which is usually an -ing participle.
Syntactically, this construction functions as a complex subject:

The air hostess was heard cracking some jokes.

The nominative with the participle is used:

 after verbs of perception:

He was seen climbing the steep cliff.

He was heard giving orders.

 after the verbs leave, find, keep, catch:

He was found trying to break the computer code.

I was left waiting for hours. The Absolute Participial Construction

The absolute participial construction contains a participle which stands in

predicate relation to a noun or pronoun in the nominative case, but the noun or
pronoun is not the subject of the sentence. The absolute participial construction
usually functions as an adverbial in the sentence.

Weather permitting, we shall go on a trip.

Everybody feeling tired, we stopped at a motel to rest.
All the essays having been written, the teacher sent the class home.
This done, he packed his things and left.
It being Sunday, the shops were closed.
There being not other easy solution available, we had to further invest
in new technologies.

 The absolute participial construction may be introduced by a preposition (with

or without) governing a noun or pronoun in the accusative; this is sometimes
referred to as a prepositional absolute participial construction:
180 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

She kept dancing, with the crowd staring at her.

He gasped, with his eyes glued to the keyhole.
Without anyone praising her, she did not feel like going on.

 The absolute construction may be elliptical, with the participle (usually a link
verb) omitted. What is left behind is the noun or pronoun in the nominative and
either a predicative or an adverbial:

She came in, her face tense with anxiety.

The lecture over, we all left the hall.
The man greeted me, hands in pockets.
The lady was walking stick in hand.
He was talking pipe in mouth. Parenthetical Phrases with the Participle

Usually, the participle has as its implied subject the subject of the finite
verbal form of the sentence. However, the -ing participle may be used in
parenthetic phrases which are syntactically independent in the sentence, and serve
as an introductory element to the sentence: generally / strictly / roughly speaking,
judging by appearances, putting it mildly, talking of, etc.:

Putting it mildly, I feel a bit upset by this situation.

Considering how much money he makes, he should not complain.
Talking of football, I don’t think I have ever watched a game.
Regarding her exemplary behaviour, a sense of admiration
overwhelmed him.
Judging by appearances, he is not going to win.

In these examples, the participles are “unattached”, i.e. they do not have
their own subject (unless this is felt to be the indefinite pronoun one: “judging by
appearances…” = “if one judges by appearances…”) and do not refer to the
subject of the finite verb. Misrelated Participles

Many unacceptable cases, however, may occur both in speech and in

writing, when the participles may be called ‘misrelated’, because they are not
logically related to the subject of the finite verb:

*Being tired, his offer to help was gladly accepted.

The English Verb 181

*Reading the paper, a dog started barking.

* Walking through the park, the wind blew my hat off.
* While nodding by the fire, some embers sparked and fell on the rug.

5.2.3. Translation of the Participle

The indefinite participle can be translated by the Romanian gerund

(‘gerunziu’) or by a subordinate clause (adverbial or attributive):

Opening the door, he saw a stranger in front of him.

Deschizând uşa / Când a deschis uşa, a văzut un străin în faţa sa.

Having finished my classes, I went home.

După ce mi-am terminat orele, m-am dus acasă.

The upstairs girl talking and laughing loudly gets on my nerves.

Fata de la etaj, care vorbeşte şi râde tare, mă calcă pe nervi.

The past participle can be translated by the Romanian participle or by a

subordinate clause (adverbial or attributive):

He enjoyed the present brought by his brother.

S-a bucurat de cadoul adus de fratele lui.

The boots cleaned, we can go hunting again.

După ce am curăţat cizmele, putem sa mergem din nou la vânătoare.

Note that:

1. Some indefinite participles have become completely adjectival. They are used
both attributively and predicatively, have comparative and superlative forms
and may be quantified. They may be modified by adverbs:

Mary is more charming than her sister.

That is the most amusing story I have ever heard.
This book is not very interesting.
A quite interesting example was found in the following paragraph.
How charming she is.

Most of the indefinite participles cannot be used in the ways illustrated in the
sentences above. Many indefinite participles can be used attributively, but have
182 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

no comparative or superlative forms and cannot be modified by adverbs. They

are not completely adjectival, though they are sometimes called participial
adjectives. When an indefinite participle is used attributively, there is a primary
stress on the following noun as well: 'running 'water, a 'sleeping 'child, 'smiling
'women, the 'coming 'year, etc.

2. Some past participles may also be used as adjectives. Some of them are
completely adjectival, in that they have comparative and superlative forms,
may be modified by quantifiers, and may take the negative prefix un-:

He is the most distinguished professor of our university.

She had a rather satisfied look on her face.
This is a better known story.
The meeting was unexpected.

3. Some verbs have more than one past participle, e.g. to swell: swollen nose,
swelled head; to load: a loaded truck, laden with grief; to melt: melted butter,
molten steel; to sink: the stone had sunk, sunken eyes; to shine: well shined
shoes, their faces had shone with excitement, etc.


Translate into English:

1. Mereu plictisit, vorbea întotdeauna foarte lent, cu mâinile în buzunar,

mestecând gumă.
2. Am intrat în secţia de poliţie şi am văzut o funcţionară completând
formulare la un birou vechi.
3. Maria şi-a jucat rolul trăgându-l până în mijlocul ringului de dans şi
agăţându-se de el.
4. L-am urmărit controlându-şi pornirile violente şi zâmbind relaxat.
5. Fiind duminică, am stat acasă.
6. După ce a coborât din autobuz, Ion i-a întins mâna Mariei, spre surpriza
7. Unul dintre suspecţi a întrebat dacă poate da un telefon înainte de a fi
arestat preventiv.
8. Au fost văzuţi luând micul dejun împreună de parcă nu s-at fi întâmplat
9. Analizând toate alternativele, cred că ar trebui să-l convingem să mai stea
pe aici o vreme.
10. Ion stă la masă citind ziarul şi încercuind ofertele de apartamente.
The English Verb 183

11. A fost văzut urmărind apartamentul de peste drum cu binoclul.

12. El şi soţia lui au reuşit să-şi facă un trai mai bun ca ceilalţi, el cultivând
legume şi ea vânzându-le.
13. Odată terminate audierile, juriul poate da verdictul.
14. Nemaifiind nici un pic de lapte in frigider, n-am putut face clătite.
15. Reţinându-şi un zâmbet ironic, a reuşit să-i redea încrederea în sine.
16. Numărul maşinilor crescând considerabil, circulaţia în oraş a devenit
foarte lentă.
17. Vom face suporterii să aplaude şi să aclame la momentul golului.
18. A intrat într-un salon de frumuseţe şi a spus că doreşte să-i fie coafat
părul, machiată faţa şi tăiate unghiile.
19. L-au găsit pe copilul fugar ascuns într-un depozit părăsit.
20. Casetofonul din maşină se auzea cântând hitul verii.
21. De îndată ce cumpărăm echipamentul corespunzător, putem să începem
22. L-a lăsat cu speranţa că va avea linişte şi pace după ce vor pleca toţi.
23. Soţia uitându-se la el cu înţeles, a schimbat subiectul cu mult tact.
24. Poliţia l-a prins îmbarcându-se clandestin pe un vas de croazieră.
25. Ca şi când ar fi fost brusc lovit de sete, se duse şi bău din apa de izvor.


1. Perpetually bored, hands in his pocket, chewing gum, he always spoke

very slowly.
2. I entered the police station and saw a female clerk filling in forms at an old
3. Mary played her part, dragging him to the middle of the dance floor and
clinging to him.
4. I observed him controlling his violent temper and smiling in a relaxed
5. It being Sunday, I stayed at home.
6. After having stepped off the bus, John held out his hand to Mary to her
great surprise.
7. One of the suspects asked if he might make a telephone call before being
taken in detention on remand.
8. They were seen having breakfast together as if nothing had happened.
9. Analyzing all the alternatives, I think we should try to persuade him to
hang around for a while.
10. John is sitting at the table reading the newspaper and circling the apartment
11. He was seen watching the apartment across the street with his binoculars.
184 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

12. He and his wife managed a better living than the others, he growing
vegetables and she selling them.
13. The hearings finished, the jury can bring in the verdict.
14. There being not a drop of milk in the fridge, I could not make pancakes.
15. Holding back an ironical smile, he managed to restore his self-esteem.
16. The number of cars having increased considerably, the traffic in town has
become very slow.
17. We’ll get the supporters applauding and cheering at the moment of the
18. She entered a beauty parlor and said she wanted her hair done, her face
made-up and her nails cut.
19. They found the runaway child hidden in a deserted warehouse.
20. The car stereo system was heard playing the hit of the summer.
21. The right equipment bought, we can start our expedition.
22. She left him hoping for peace and quiet after everybody leaves.
23. His wife staring at him meaningfully, he tactfully changed subject.
24. The police caught him embarking illegally on a cruise ship.
25. As though suddenly stricken with thirst, he went to drink from the well
The English Verb 185


The –ing verb form can also be used as a gerund. The forms of the gerund
are identical with those of the –ing participle.

Indefinite gerund Perfect gerund

Active asking having asked
Passive being asked having been asked

The gerund differs from the –ing participle in that it has both verbal and
nominal characteristics.

5.3.1. Verbal Characteristics of the Gerund

 As seen above, the gerund has the grammatical categories of voice and aspect.
The time which it denotes has a relative character, like in the case of the
infinitive and the participle: the indefinite gerund denotes an action
simultaneous with the present, past, or future action expressed by the finite
verb; the perfect gerund suggests an action anterior to that expressed by the
lexical verb.

He is getting used/got used/will get used to working more about the

His being challenged in such a way is / was /will be food for
She denies having said such words.
She resents having been attacked verbally like that.

Note that:

 After verbs like thank, excuse, remember, forgive and the prepositions
after, without, on or upon, the indefinite gerund may express anteriority:

I don’t remember giving him any answer.

Excuse my being late, please.
I felt better after John’s talking to you.
Don’t go there without changing your dress.

 Used with a gerund, the preposition before suggests an action posterior

to that expressed by the finite verb:
186 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

Before answering her question, I had to think about it.

 The gerund builds its negative by placing not in front of it:

Not being punctual makes her unreliable.

Mary’s not having discussed this with her colleagues had unpleasant

 After such verbs as deserve, need, require, want, to be worth, the active
voice gerund is used with a passive meaning:

This book is worth reading.

My room needs cleaning.
This shoe wants repairing.

 The gerund may be modified by an object:

Speaking at least two foreign languages is becoming compulsory for

all graduates.
I insist on your taking the job.

 The gerund may be modified by an adverbial:

I’d suggest leaving a little earlier.

His singing in the shower too loudly was often annoying.
Your talking in such a hurry was disconcerting.

 The gerund may be used as a part of a compound aspect predicate:

She finished computing all the data.

He started accusing everybody in the room of stealing his wallet.

5.3.2. Nominal Characteristics of the Gerund

 The gerund may be preceded by a preposition:

I’m tired of waiting for an answer.

Who can prevent us from getting married?

 It can be modified by a noun in the possessive case (synthetical) or determined

by a possessive adjective:
The English Verb 187

Everybody was surprised at the Prime Minister’s postponing his trip.

Do you mind my dressing casually for your party?

 It can perform syntactic functions that any noun may have in a sentence:
subject, object, or predicative:

Sending her to France for the summer was a brilliant idea.

She hates my always getting up late.
He succeeded in solving the problem.
The duty of all progressive mankind is fighting for peace.

5.3.3. Special Uses of the Gerund

Like the other non-finite forms of the verb, the gerund may also occur in
constructions where it is in predicate relation to a nominal. This can be a noun in
the possessive case or a possessive adjective that suggests the carrier of the action
expressed by the gerund. The subject of a gerund may also be a noun in the
Accusative case. Genitive plus Gerund

The genitive plus gerund represents a combination of a noun in the

synthetical genitive case or a possessive adjective and a gerund. It is usually
employed when the nominal element of the construction denotes a living being:

I don’t think they will like your/ Mary’s / my sister’s not being present.
Fancy their denying it! Accusative plus Gerund

The accusative plus gerund represents a combination of a noun in the

common case and a gerund. It was traditionally used when the subject of the
gerund was a non-animate noun which could be replaced by it:

Can you imagine life / it going on without electricity?

She complained about the house / it being too small for her family.
188 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

Note that:

 In spoken language, the gerund is more and more frequently accompanied by

an accusative rather than by a possessive, even with [+animate nouns]:

I can’t object to the councilor / him telling me what to do.

They laughed at me going there by myself.

 The use of the accusative occurs when the noun has determiners in post
position, when it has an indefinite meaning or when the nominal element
consists of two or more nouns or when the noun is connected to a personal
pronoun. Also, after it’s no use / good, a noun in the possessive case would
be rather unusual:

I appreciate a student of mine doing that for me.

We rely on people seeking for alternatives for our plan.
A remark about John and me working together was not well received.
I look forward to John and the children coming home earlier.
It’s no use my brother telling me not to worry.

The nominal element of this construction may also be expressed by a

pronoun which has no case distinctions, such as all, this, that, each,
something, etc.:

John insists on both of them coming in time.

I insist on something being done in this respect.

 With the verbs deny, postpone, risk the use of a possessive subject for the
gerund is compulsory and it is perhaps more frequent when the gerund
construction is in subject position:

He denied his son’s having been here.

His postponing the meeting created confusion.

5.3.4. Uses of the Gerund

The use of the gerund is compulsory in one of the following situations:

 After transitive verbs, such as acknowledge, afford, appreciate, avoid, begin,

burst, consider, continue, delay, deny, detest, dislike, enjoy, excuse, endure,
The English Verb 189

fancy, favour, finish, forgive, grudge, hate, imagine, keep, like, mention, mind,
miss, need, postpone, practice, resent, require, resist, risk, start,stop, suggest,
want (= need), etc.

I enjoyed swimming in that cold water.

She dislikes his watching her all the time.
They mentioned having been here before.

 After verbs with obligatory preposition or particle: accuse of, admit to, agree
to, aim at, approve of, complain of, consent to, consist in, count on, criticize
for, depend on, feel like, give up, insist on, keep on, leave off, look forward to,
object to, persist in, prevent from, put off, rely on, result in, set about, speak of,
succeed in, suspect of, thank for, think of, etc.

I’m looking forward to seeing those puppies.

The police didn’t give up searching for the missing persons.
She objected to my standing up for my friend.

 After certain adjectives and past participles, with or without preposition, used
predicatively: angry at, accustomed to, afraid of, amazed at, (dis)pleased at,
bad at, busy (in), capable of, conscious of, delighted at, fond of, given to, good
at, guilty of, interested in, pleased at, proud of, responsible for, right in,
successful in, sure of, surprised at, used to, worth, wrong in, etc.

I was busy packing for the trip.

She was directly responsible for missing that opportunity.
I am used to waking up early.
This is worth considering.

 After nouns followed by a preposition: apology for, astonishment at,

disappointment at, experience in, habit of, hope of, importance of, intention of,
interest in, means of, necessity of, objection to, opportunity of, pride in,
purpose of, reason for, skill in, surprise at, way of, etc.

They argued about various ways of raising funds.

She is in the habit of distorting the truth.
I take pride in working on this project.

 After prepositions like on, upon, without, by, despite:

On hearing the news, they started packing.

190 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

She didn’t leave without his consenting to the project.

He would not pick up the receiver, despite wanting to talk to her.
The matter was solved by negotiating.

 After certain phrases: can’t help, can’t stand, can’t resist, can’t bear, there is
no, there is no point in, there is nothing worse than, what about? how about?,
it’s no use, it’s no good, etc.

How about going out this weekend?

I can’t stand being kept waiting.
She can’t help feeling lonely.
There is no stopping him.
It’s no use crying over this.

5.3.5. The Gerund and the Participle

The gerund may be sometimes confused with other -ing forms, such as the
participle and the verbal noun. But, in spite of the formal similarity, there are
important functional differences between the gerund and each of these forms. The
comparison of the gerund with the participle reveals that:

 Both the gerund and the participle can modify a noun. If the respective -ing
form can be expanded into a relative clause, it is a participle, while, if it is
paraphrased and a preposition surfaces, it is a gerund:

I came to know all the teaching staff quite soon. (participle: staff who
is teaching)
Have you seen granddaddy’s walking stick? (gerund: stick for walking)

 The participle and the noun it qualifies take a strong stress, while the gerund
does not:

a 'sleeping 'child (a child who is sleeping)

a 'sleeping pill (a pill for sleeping)
'running 'water (water which runs)
'running track (track for running)
'growing 'children (children who are growing)
'growing pains (pains caused by growing)
a 'swimming 'man (a man who is swimming)
a 'swimming pool (a pool for swimming)
The English Verb 191

Context is sometimes also important for determining whether an –ing form

modifying a noun is a participle or a gerund:

our 'dancing 'teacher (our teacher who is dancing)

our 'dancing teacher (our teacher of dancing)

 The gerund, just like the participle, has various verbal characteristics, such as
the categories of voice and aspect or the fact that it can be modified by an
object or by an adverbial; however, as illustrated above, the gerund also
presents certain nominal characteristics: it can be preceded by a preposition, it
can be preceded by a possessive, it can be the subject or the object in a

 An -ing form placed at the beginning of a sentence is a participle if it is an

adverbial and its action is carried out by the subject of the sentence, and a
gerund if it is itself the subject of the sentence:

Climbing high mountains keeps you fit. (gerund)

Climbing that mountain, we could see the whole valley. (participle)
Reading the poem aloud gave me headaches. (gerund)
Reading the poem at a slower rate, I realized how beautiful it was.

5.3.6. The Gerund and the Infinitive

Certain verbs can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive, and, in

most cases, there is no change in meaning. Such verbs are: advise, allow, attempt,
begin, cease, continue, deserve, disdain, fear, forbid, forget, go on, intend, leave,
neglect, need, omit, prefer, plan, permit, propose, remember, recommend, regret,
require, recollect, start, try, urge, etc.:

They omitted telling / to tell us about their plans.

When did you begin learning / to learn English?

However, for the following categories of verbs, the use of a particular form
is accompanied by a slight change in meaning:

a) love, like, prefer, hate, loathe, dread, can’t bear, can/can’t afford
 + gerund: used to make general statements
 + infinitive: used for reference to a particular occasion
192 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

I like window-shopping and I would certainly love to window-shop

with you this afternoon.
He hates wasting his precious time and mostly he hates to waste it on
watching TV.
I can’t afford going to restaurants every weekday.
I can’t afford to go to a restaurant this evening.

b) cease
 + gerund: used for facts observable at a certain time, on a particular occasion
 + infinitive: used for potential or repeated actions, without reference to a
specific moment

The ships have ceased sailing. (for the night, but will probably start
again in the morning)
The ships have ceased to sail on the Danube. (for a longer period
because of the fallen bridges)

c) remember, forget, regret

 + gerund: used for an action occurred earlier in time.
 + infinitive: used for an action occuring at the same time as the action of the
main verb or later.

I remember giving you all the details of the project. (previously)

Please remember to give me all the details of the project.. (now)

d) stop
 + gerund: used when the action in question is interrupted (the gerund is part of
an aspect predicate).
 + infinitive: used to express purpose (adverbial modifier of purpose).

They stopped fighting when I entered the room.

Billy stopped to fight with his friend over a toy.

e) go on
 + gerund: used when an existing action continues.
 + infinitive: used when a row or chain of activities is suggested.

He looks so fit, because he goes on working out for hours.

After sending the children to school, and cleaning the house, she went
on to work out.
The English Verb 193

f) try
 + gerund: used when it means "to do something as an experimentor test".
 + infinitive: used when the meaning is "to make an attempt".

Try relaxing a little after such a difficult exam.

Try to relax. It’s not such a difficult exam after all.

g) be afraid
 + gerund: used when it refers to a possibility.
 + infinitive: used when it refers to the result.

Are you afraid of being beaten? (that you might be beaten?)

Are you afraid to be beaten? (to be beaten frightens you?)

h) mean
 + gerund: used when its meaning is "to signify".
 + infinitive: used when it means "to intend".

This means competing on a free market.

They really mean to keep you company as long as you need.

i) begin, start
 + gerund: for voluntary actions or facts observable at a certain time
 + infinitive: for potential or repeated actions, without reference to a specific

She immediately started packing her things.

I started to prepare all we needed for the experiment.

Note that:

 We do not normally use the gerund after the verbs begin, start, cease and
continue when they are in the continuous form (in order to avoid the sequence
of two -ing forms) and when they are followed by stative verbs like know or

It was just starting to snow when we arrived.

I was just starting to know him.
I began to understand her reasons.
194 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

5.3.7. The Gerund and the Verbal Noun

 Verbal nouns have only nominal characteristics.

 Verbal nouns may be used with articles and may take the plural number:

The writing of this chapter was difficult.

A painting was sold at an astronomic price.
Beginnings are always difficult.

 The gerund may be modified by adverbials while the verbal noun will be
modified by an adjective and when the gerund takes a direct object, the verbal
noun will take as post-modifier a prepositional phrase introduced by of:

I admired his sketching the trees so quickly.

I admired his quick sketching of the trees.
He was surprised at our examining things minutely. (gerund)
He was surprised at our minute examining of things. (verbal noun)

 The verbal noun may be the subject of the sentence by itself, while the gerund

Singing is one of my interests. I belong to a choir. (verbal noun)

Singing the part of Violetta represented the climax of her career.

5.3.8. The Translation of the Gerund

According to the context, the gerund can be translated into Romanian as:

a) the Romanian gerund (“gerunziu”):

He protested by keeping silent all day.

A protestat rămânând tăcut toată ziua.

b) a noun:

These days the emphasis is on learning rather than on teaching.

Astăzi accentul se pune mai mult pe învăţare decât pe predare.
The English Verb 195

c) subordinate clauses of various kinds:

I did not have the slightest intention of helping him.

N-aveam nici cea mai mică intenţie să-l ajut.
He complained about having walked too much.
S-a plâns că a mers prea mult pe jos.
I had everything I had ever dreamed of having.
Aveam tot ceea ce am visat vreodată să am.
On going there, I discovered that she was not quite right.
Când m-am dus acolo, am descoperit că nu prea avea dreptate.
Owing to his being late, we couldn’t do things properly.
Deoarece a întârziat, n-am putut face lucrurile cum trebuie.
My being old does not mean I am senile.
Faptul că sunt bătrână nu înseamnă că sunt senilă.

d) an infinitive:

The importance of reading is obvious.

Importanţa de a citi este evidentă.


Translate into English:

1. Dacă însişti să-ţi faci asigurare privată de boală, voi vorbi cu un agent
2. Maria crede că merită să ne implicăm în afacerea asta profitabilă.
3. Nu-mi amintesc ca el să-şi fi recunoscut vreodată vina.
4. Simplul fapt că Ion l-a întrerupt pe profesor i-a adus o pedeapsă aspră.
5. Nu are rost să-i transferi bani când poţi să-i faci un depozit la banca asta.
6. Nu suportă să audă poveşti idilice despre mese romantice la lumina
7. A evitat să fie solicitată pentru organizarea balului de caritate.
8. Detest faptul că dai cu pumnul în masă de câte ori eşti prea nervos să
răspunzi civilizat.
9. După ce a spart un vas chinezesc, s-a temut să se mai plimbe printre
rafturile cu obiecte de porţelan.
10. Obiceiul lui de a face haz de necaz e deja cunoscut în toată comunitatea.
11. Apreciez faptul că asistentele m-au îngrijit cât timp am stat în spital.
12. Familia s-a opus ca el să fie supus unor teste inutile.
13. Era îngrozit de perspectiva de a-şi confrunta duşmanii singur.
196 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

14. Este recomandabilă pornirea motorului Diesel cu câteva minute înainte de

punerea în mişcare a maşinii.
15. Nu-i deranja că vorbele ei erau de neînţeles, ci că erau interminabile.
16. Un proces înseamnă să aştepţi cu multă răbdare o soluţie la problema ta.
17. Când e mângâiat şi strâns în braţe, căţeluşul începe să dea din coadă.
18. Este inegalabil în a urzi şi ţese intrigi.
19. Neagă faptul că s-a oprit într-o zonă de parcare interzisă şi că a coborât
din maşină.
20. Ne bazăm pe faptul că şi-au însuşit cunoştinţele şi deprinderile pentru
acest gen de muncă.
21. E de condamnat că a ţinut o armă de foc într-o casă plină de copii.
22. Nimeni n-a reacţionat la faptul că urmau să fie în permanenţă înregistraţi
pe camere video.
23. Doctorul nu a fost de acord ca el să fie externat la trei zile după operaţie.
24. Nu-i place ca în reclamele lui să fie folosite tinere blonde şi frumoase.


1. If you insist on having a private health insurance, I shall talk to a good

2. Mary thinks it is worth getting involved in this profitable business.
3. I don’t remember his ever having admitted his fault.
4. John’s merely interrupting the teacher brought him a severe punishment.
5. It’s no use wire-transferring the money when you can make him deposit in
this bank.
6. She can’t stand hearing idyllic stories about romantic, candle-lit dinners.
7. She avoided being appealed to for organizing the charity ball.
8. I hate your slamming your fists on the table whenever you are too nervous
to give a civilized answer.
9. After having smashed a Chinese vase, he was afraid of walking again
among the china shelves.
10. His habit of grinning and bearing it is already well-known in the
11. I appreciate the nurses’ taking care of me while I was in hospital.
12. His family opposed his undergoing useless tests.
13. He was terrified at the prospect of confronting his enemies alone.
14. Starting the Diesel engine a few minutes before getting the car moving is
highly recommendable.
15. They didn’t mind her words being unintelligible, but their being endless.
16. A trial means waiting patiently for a solution to your problem.
17. When petted and cuddled, the puppy starts wagging his tail.
The English Verb 197

18. He is unequaled in plotting and scheming.

19. He denies having stopped in a no-parking zone and having left the car.
20. We rely on their/them acquiring the knowledge and skills for this kind of
21. He is to blame for having kept a gun in a house full of children.
22. Nobody reacted to being permanently recorded on video cameras.
23. The doctor did not agree to his being released only three days after the
24. He resents beautiful young blonds being used in his commercials.
198 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu
The English Verb 199


Eckersley C.E.and J.M.Eckersley. 1967. A Comprehensive English Grammar.

London: Longmans
Gleason, H.A. 1961. An Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics. New York: Holt,
Rinehart, and Winston
Graver, B.D. 1974. Advanced English Practice. London: Oxford University Press.
Greenbaum, S., R. Quirk. 1991 (1990). A Student’s Grammar of the English
Language. Burnt Mill, Harlow: Longmans.
Hornby, A.S. 1962. A Guide to Patterns and Usage in English, London: Oxford
University Press
Hornby, A.S., B.V. Gatenby, and H.Wakefield. 1967. Advanced Learner's
Dictionary of Current English. London: Oxford University Press.
Jespersen, O, 1965. The Philosophy of Grammar, New York: W.W. Norton and
Jespersen, O, 1966. Essentials of English Grammar. London: George Allen
@Unwin Ltd.
Leviţchi, L. (coord.).1962. Gramatica limbii engleze, vol.I, II. Bucureşti: Editura
Didactică şi Pedagogică.
Leviţchi, L.1970. Limba engleză contemporană. Morfologie. Bucureşti: Editura
didactică şi pedagogică
Macdonald, A.M. (ed). 1978. Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary, Edinburgh:
Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners. 2002. Michael Rundell
(ed.). Oxford: Macmillan Education.
Quirk, R., S. Greenbaum, J. Leech, J. Svartvik. 1976 (1972). A Grammar of
Contemporary English. London: Longman.
Quirk, R., S. Greenbaum 1993 (1973). A University Grammar of English. Burnt
Mill, Harlow: Longman.
Quirk, R., S. Greenbaum, J. Leech, J. Svartvik. 1991. (1985). A Comprehensive
Grammar of the English Language. Index by D. Crystal. London and New
York: Longman.
Ştefănescu, I. 1978. Lectures in English Morphology. Bucureşti: Tipografia
Webster's New World Dictionary of American English, College edition, 1966.

Suggestions for further reading

Allen, A.S . 1967. Living English Structures. London: Longmans.

Bantaş, A. 1973. English and Contrastive Studies. Bucureşti: Bucharest University
200 Hortensia Pârlog and Luminiţa Frenţiu

Bădescu, A.1963. Gramatica limbii engleze, Bucureşti: Editura Ştiinţifică şi

Bolinger, D. 1971. The Phrasal Verb in English. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press.
Budai, L. 1981. English Grammar. Budapest: Tankönyv-kiadó.
Comrie, B. 1998 (1976). Aspect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Comrie, B. 2000 (1985). Tense. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Denison, D. 1993. Some recent changes in the English verb. English diachronic
syntax, ed. Maurizio Gotti, 15-33. (Collana Blu 20.) Milan: Guerini
Duţescu-Coliban, T. 1986. Grammatical Categories of English. Bucureşti:
Tipografia Universităţii.
Facchinetti, Roberta, M. Krug and F. Palmer (eds.). 2003. Modality in
Contemporary English. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Fitikides, T.J. 1963. Common Mistakes in English. London: Longmans.
Fowler, H.W. 1965. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, revised by Sir E.
Gowers. London: Oxford University Press.
Greenbaum, S. 2000. Oxford reference Gramar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Greenbaum, S., R. Quirk. 1991 (1990). A Student’s Grammar of the English
Language. Burnt Mill, Harlow: Longman.
Heine, B. 1993. Auxiliaries: Cognitive Forces and Grammaticalization. New York:
Oxford University Press
Hopper, P. J. & Elizabeth Closs Traugott. 2003. Grammaticalization. Cambridge
textbooks in linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Huddleston, Rodney. and Geoffrey Pullum et al. 2002. The Cambridge grammar of
the English language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Leech, G. 1989. An A-Z English Grammar and Usage. Longman.
Leech, G. 2004. Meaning and the English Verb. Third edition. Harlow, England :
Leviţchi, L.1971. Gramatica limbii engleze. Bucureşti: Editura Didactică şi
Palmer, F. R. 1968 (1965). A Linguistic Study of the English Verb. London:
Longmans, Green and Co Ltd.
Palmer, F. R. 1979. Modality and the English Modals. London: Longman.
Palmer, F. R. 1986. Mood and modality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sinclair, J. (ed.-in-chief). 1990. Collins Cobuild English Grammar. London and
Glasgow: Collins.
Schibsbye, K. 1978. A Modern English Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University
Svartvik J. 1966. On Voice in the English Verb. The Hague: Mouton.
Swan, M. 1980. Practical English Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The English Verb 201

Thomson, A. J., A.V. Martinet. 1987 (1960). A Practical English Grammar.

Oxford: Oxford University Press.