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1 Writing with ACTION VERBS

The common mistake of students: SUBJECT- VERB AGREEMENT!

You already know that a paragraph is composed of sentences which are broken down into different words
or parts of speech.
Read the sentences below. Underline the word in each sentence which depicts action.
1. Pecos Bill rides the wild stallion.
2. The stallion snorts.
3. It rears and bucks.
4. The horse flies like the wind.
Which among the underlined verbs tells what Pecos Bill does? How about what the wild stallion does?

I. Name the action verb in each sentence.

1. People read tall tales.
2. Tall tales spark readers’ imaginations.
3. Sometimes readers laugh at these adventures.
4. Many tales tell about Pecos Bill, the world’s greatest cowboy.
5. Pecos Bill romped throughout the West.


RULE 1 – A verb agrees with its subject in number.
Singular subjects take singular verbs: The car stays in the garage. The flower smells good. There is an old saying:
“Opposites attract.” The rule for singular and plural verbs is just the opposite of the rule for singular and plural
nouns. Remember this when you match subjects and verbs. You might guess that stays and smells are plural verbs
because they end in s. They aren’t. Both stays and smells are singular verbs.

RULE 2 – The number of the subject (singular or plural) is not changed by words that come between the subject
and the verb.

One of the eggs is broken. Of the eggs is a prepositional phrase. The subject one and the verb is are both singular.
Mentally omit the prepositional phrase to make the subject verb-agreement easier to make.

SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT EXERCISE 1 Direction: Circle the correct verb in each of the sentences below.

1. Your friend (talk-talks) too much.

2. The man with the roses (look-looks) like your brother.
3. The women in the pool (swim-swims) well.
4. Bill (drive-drives) a cab.
5. The football players (run-runs) five miles every day.
6. That red-haired lady in the fur hat (live-lives) across the street.
7. He (cook-cooks) dinner for his family.
8. The boys (walk-walks) to school every day.
9. The weather on the coast (appear-appears) to be good this weekend.
10. The center on the basketball team (bounce-bounces) the ball too high.
RULE 3 – Some subjects always take a singular verb even though the meaning may seem plural.
These subjects always take singular verbs:
no one

Someone in the game was (not were) hurt.

Neither of the men is (not are) working.

RULE 4 – The following words may be singular or plural, depending upon their use in a sentence,
some, any, all, most.
Most of the news is good. (singular)
Most of the flowers were yellow. (plural)
All of the pizza was gone. (singular)
All of the children were late. (plural)


Directions: Circle the correct verb in the sentences below.
1. Each of the girls (look-looks) good on skis.
2. Everybody (was-were) asked to remain quiet.
3. Neither of the men (is-are) here yet.
4. (Is-Are) each of the girls ready to leave?
5. Several of the sheep (is-are) sick.
6. Some members of the faculty (is-are) present.
7. Nobody in the class (has-have) the answer.
8. Each of the girls (observe-observes) all the regulations.
9. All of the milk (is-are) gone.
10. Most of the seats (was-were) taken.

II. It would be easy to identify the verbs in a sentence but how about to think of a verb to complete a
sentence? Using your imagination that you are in a ranch or hacienda, fill the blanks with an APPROPRIATE
action VERB to complete each sentence.
1. The rancher her dark brown horse.
2. She a rope on the fence post.
3. The cattle across the pasture.
4. The ranchers in the scorching heat.
5. They for hours without a drink of water.
2 Linking Verbs
A verb can show action by telling what the subject does: Slue Foot Sue rides a huge catfish.
But a verb can also show the state of being: She is a brave woman.


Use am/ was With I I am/ I was
She is
Use is/ was With she, he, it, and singular nouns
Slue Foot Sue was
They are
Use are/ were With we you, they, and plural nouns
The ranchers were

Other linking verbs are seem, feel, taste, smell, and look. These are words which can be replaced by is/ are:
You look beautiful today. (You are beautiful today.)
The cologne in that shop smells great. (The cologne in that shop is great.)

I. Underline the linking verb in each sentence. Encircle the words in the subject and box the predicate which the
linking verb connects. You look beautiful today.
1. My favorite dish is catfish.
2. You seem surprised by that.
3. Catfish tastes delicious.
4. It was a fine meal.
5. Her smile felt warm like the sun.
II. Encircle the correct form of be to complete each sentence.
1. Tena (is, are) a reader of tall tales.
2. Tales about heroes (is, are) her favorites.
3. Tena (is, are) a rancher’s daughter.
4. Horses (was, were) her childhood friends.
5. I (am, are) an eager listener when she tells stories.

3 Main Verbs and Helping Verbs

In each of the following sentences, the simple predicate is composed of more than one word.
::: Sophia is writing a report on Slue Foot Sue.
::: She has read about Sue and Pecos Bill.
::: We will hear her report tomorrow.
In the sentences above, is, has, and will are helping verbs. They work with the main verbs writing, read, and hear. The
main verb is the most important verb in the predicate.


I am reading.
When you use the helping verb am, is, are, was, or were, the
You are reading.
main verb often ends in -ing.
They were reading.
He has finished.
When you use the helping verb has, have, or had, the main verb
We have finished.
often ends in –ed.
They had finished.
She will present a report.
When you use the helping verb will, the main verb is unchanged. You will present a report.
I will present a report.
I. Tell whether the underlined word in each sentence is a main verb or a helping verb.
1. The wedding day was approaching fast.
2. Slue Foot Sue had wanted to ride Bill’s horse named Widow Maker.
3. The guests will see Sue ride Widow Maker on that day.
4. Bill had courted Sue for many months.
5. Sophia will tell us about Sue’s wedding day.
II. Draw one underline under the main verb. Draw two lines under the helping verb.
1. On their wedding day, she was staring at Widow Maker with great curiosity.
2. Widow Maker had pranced up and down the corral.
3. Sue was approaching the horse.
4. The guests were watching Sue closely.
5. Will Slue Foot Sue ride Widow Maker?
6. The horse is bucking fiercely.
7. Sue is bouncing up and down on Widow Maker.
8. Widow Maker has thrown her.
9. Sue has bounced all the way to the moon!
10. Will Pecos Bill save Slue Foot Sue?

4 Verbs with Direct Object

Like a verb, a direct object is part of the complete predicate. A direct object comes after an action verb and is often a
noun. It answers the question whom or what.
In the sentences below, the underlined nouns are direct objects.
::: Railroad workers tell tales about John Henry. (tell what?)
::: They sing songs about the steel- driving man. (sing what?)
::: The railroad workers cheered John Henry. (cheered whom?)

Only the nouns are or receivers of the action are identified as direct objects. Even if they are far from the verbs, they
are still direct objects because in reality, they received the action.
::: John Henry hammered huge spikes. (hammered what?)
::: People remembered the steel- driving man. (remembered whom?)

I. Read these sentences about John Henry. Underline the action verb and encircle the direct object in each sentence.
1. John Henry dug a tunnel through a mountain.
2. He used a twelve- pound hammer.
3. He drove steel for many hours without a break.
4. The other railroad workers admired John.
5. People still praise his work in song and story.
6. a black cloud covered the moon.
7. Thunder pounded the earth like a hammer.
8. The thunder announced the birth of a great hero.
9. As a baby, John Henry ate food in huge quantities.
10. His parents put his meals on seven babies.
11. As a child, he picked cotton.
12. When grown up, he married Polly Ann.
13. She helped her husband with his railroad work.
14. His hammer drove spikes deep into the rock.
15. Later, he used two hammers at the same time.

II. Choose for each sentence a direct object from the following list of nouns. Write your answers on the spaces

::: work ::: death ::: sound ::: legacy ::: John Henry
1. John Henry did the of ten men.
2. The railroad tunnel workers mourned his .
3. No one forgot .
4. Railroad workers still hear the of his pounding hammer.
5. These workers would like to imitate his .

5 Tenses of Verbs
The form of the verb shows when the action takes place.
::: Mr. Scott directs the play. (present tense)
::: The class learned the script. (past tense)
::: Lois Chu will perform the role of Molly Pitcher. (future tense)

A verb in the PRESENT tense shows action that happens now. They work.
(NOTE: SV agreement AGAIN!) She studies.
We stop.
A verb in the PAST tense shows action that already happened. They worked.
(NOTE: regular and irregular verbs) She studied.
We stopped.
A verb in the FUTURE tense shows action that will happen They will work.
tomorrow or the following days. She will study.
(NOTE: When you use will/ shall, use the base form of the We will stop.

I. The verbs in the sentences are underlined. Tell whether each verb is in the present, past, or future tense.
1. The stage crew carried the props to the stage.
2. Rosa and Carl paint a cardboard cannon.
3. The actors will perform the play tonight.
4. The audience starts to line outside the auditorium.
5. The play will begin at 7:00 p.m.

II. Encircle the verb in each sentence. Then, write present, past, or future to show what tense it is.
1. In her costume, Lois Chu resembles Molly Pitcher.
2. Lois will make a fine heroine.
3. Songs and stories about Molly created an American legend.
4. Molly Pitcher worked as a servant in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
5. She married John Casper Hays, a barber.
6. Just before the revolutionary war, he joined the army.
7. Molly traveled with her husband to the battlefields.
8. Our play about the battle of Monmouth will thrill you.
9. The soldiers fight bravely.
10. Moly helps them during the battle.

III. Each underlined verb below is in the present tense. Change the verb to the tense shown in parentheses at the end
of the sentence.
1. Molly carries pitchers of water to the soldiers in battle. (past)
2. She pours the water quickly. (past)
3. The water relieves the soldiers’ thirst. (past)
4. Molly’s husband drops to the ground from heatstroke. (past)
5. Molly fills his place during the battle. (past)
6. The legend of Molly Pitcher lives forever. (future)
7. Americans remember her always. (future)

8- 10. Write three sentences, one for each of the following verbs; perform, act, rehearse. Write one sentence in the
past, one in the present, and one in the future.
(perform) : 8.
(act) : 9.
(rehearse) : 10.
6 Using the Present Tense
When you studied linking verbs, you learned that certain forms of be are used with certain subjects.
::: I am an admirer of Temple Wick.
::: She is an admirer of Temple Wick.
::: Historians are unsure of the facts about her and her horse.

With a singular noun… Use –s or –es. Carl listens to the Temple Wick story.
Carl studies it.
With a plural noun… Do not use –s or –es. People listen to the Temple Wick story.
People study it.
With she, he, or it… Use –s or –es. She admires Temple Wick.
She teaches the legend.
With I, you, we or they… Do not use –s or –es. We admire Temple Wick.
We teach the legend.

NOTE: When you are proofreading, ALWAYS check for the agreement between each subject and its verb.

I. Encircle the correct form of the verb in the parentheses ( ) that correctly completes each sentence.
1. We (know, knows) Temple Wick was a real person.
2. Her house still (stand, stands) today.
3. Tourists (visit, visits) Temple Wick’s house.
4. People (remember, remembers) Temple Wick for her courage.
5. Her story (take, takes) place during the Revolutionary War.
6. The Wick House (stand, stands) near Morristown, New jersey.
7. Historians (tell, tells) about soldiers rebelling against George Washington.
8. Carl (know, knows) that the soldiers got little food.
9. When temple Wick heard a cannon shot, she thought, “I (sense, senses) trouble.
10. Her horse, Bonny, (play, plays) an important part in the legend.
11. People (believe, believes) the soldiers wanted the horse.
12. We (think, thinks) Temple Wick resisted them.
13. The legend (teach, teaches) the meaning of courage.
14. The story of Betsy Ross (survive, survives) as another American legend.
15. The story (say, says) she sewed the first American flag.
16. According to legend, George Washington (visit, visits) her.
17. He (ask, asks) her to make a flag with a certain design.
18. She (sew, sews) the flag with stripes and stars.
19. Historians (think, thinks) the story may not be true.
20. Still, people (write, writes) about her because of this legend.

7 Using Irregular Verbs


Prescriptive Essays (How to Do Something)

Imperatives (verbs that issue commands) are used to state the steps in the process; present tense active verbs, to explain th e

Descriptive essays (How Something is Done or How Something Works)

Present tense active verbs or present perfect tense verbs are used to describe the process.
One time Transition Another time


After a few hours, Immediately following,

Afterwards, Initially,

At last In the end,

At the same time, In the future,

Before In the meantime,

Before this, In the meanwhile,

Currently, Last, Lastly,

During Later,

Eventually, Meanwhile,

Finally, Next, Soon after,

First, Second, Third, etc. Previously,

First of all, Simultaneously,

Formerly Subsequently,

Immediately before, Then,