Learn about action verb tenses in sentences. What they are, what they do and how they are used.

Action Verb Tenses

 

Warm-Up Question

 

robots-in-lift

 

The robots stood in the lift next to each other.

 

A. What is the subject of this sentence?

 

B. What is the object in this sentence?

 

C. What is the base form of the verb stood?

 

D. What is the infinitive form of the verb stood?

 

 

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 the answer

ANSWER

 

children in the woods

 

The robots stood in the lift next to each other.

 

A. What is the subject of this sentence? the robots

 

 B. What is the object in this sentence? the lift

 

C. What is the base form of the verb stood? stand

  

D. What is the infinitive form of the verb stood? to stand

 

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Learn About Action Verb Tenses

  

a sentence must have two key things

 

 

boys-looking

 

 

1. a sentence must have a subject

 

2. a sentence must also have a main verb

 

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1. a sentence must have a subject

 

in sentences with an action verb the subject will be

the noun (the person or thing) that is doing the action

 

pirates-at-sea

 

The ship raced to the island.

 

the subject of this sentence is the ship

because this is the noun that is doing the action

 

 

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2. a sentence must also have a main verb

 

action verbs are one type of main verb

 

pirates-at-sea

 

action verbs tell us the action that a noun is doing

 

Their parrot perched on one of the sails.

 

 

this is the subject because it is the noun that is doing the action

 

this is the action the subject is doing this is a main verb

 

 

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sentences with an action verb might also have an object

 

the object will be who or what has the action done to it

 

pirates-at-sea

 

Pete and Sam feed the parrot.

 

subject | verb | object

 

the parrot is the object because the action is being done to it

 

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verbs 1 REVISION question

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action verbs that are used on their own

 

are called main verbs

 

main action verbs form a tense called the simple tense

 

The children look at the sea life.

 

 sea-life-centre

 

simple present tense

The children looked at the sea life.

 

sea-life-centre

 

simple past tense

 

 

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actions can happen at different times

 

man-in-office

 

the tense of a main action verb changes

when the time of the action changes

 

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βœ… Stanley finishes his homework.

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simple present

 

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βœ… Stanley finished his homework.

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simple past

 

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there are two key tenses for main action verbs

 

 

busy-robot

 

 

 

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βœ… Robbie looks at his watch.

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simple present

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βœ… Robbie looked at his watch.

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simple past

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the simple present is used for

 

actions that are happening at present (right now)

 

busy-robot

 

βœ… Robbie runs to the train station.

 

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the simple present is also used to describe

 

regular actions or habits

 

busy-robot

 

 

 

Robbie works in an office.

 


 

He travels by train every day.

 


 

Robbie likes to sit near the window.

 


 

He often meets his friend on the train.

 

 

 

pronouns can take

the place of nouns

 

so pronouns can

also be the subject

of a sentence

 

 

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verbs 1 REVISION question

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the simple past describes actions that are over

 

 

busy-robot

 

 

βœ… Robbie travelled on the early train yesterday.

 

βœ… He wanted a window seat to look at the view.

 

βœ… Robbie stood up for the first part of the journey.

 

βœ… He read his newspaper on the way home.

 

 

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there is also a simple future tense

 

this tense tells us about actions that have not yet happened

 

 

busy-robot

 

 

βœ… Robbie will read today’s paper on the train.

 

βœ… His train will arrive in ten minutes.

 

 

this tense is formed using the modal verb will

modal verbs are a type of helping verb

 

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many action verbs end in ed in the past tense

 

these are called regular verbs

 

penguins-in-Antarctic

 

 

they listen | they listened

 

they smile | they smiled

 

simple present | simple past

 

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verbs 1 REVISION question

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many action verbs end in ed in the past tense

 

but some verbs called irregular verbs do not follow this rule

 

 

at-the-beach

 

 

irregular verbs do not follow the rules of other verb forms

they have their own set of rules

 

simple present

 

They think about going for a swim.

 

simple past

 

They thought about going for a swim.

 

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irregular verbs

 

are verbs that follow different rules in the past tense

 

simple present

 

The children take their pictures home.

 

simple past

 

The children took their pictures home.

 

children-painting

 

some irregular verbs are the most common verbs we use…

 

simple present

go

get

say

know

think

see

make

come

 

simple past

went

got

said

knew

thought

saw

made

came

 

 

 

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verbs 1 REVISION question

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irregular verbs are all different in the past tense

 

 so each verb has to be learnt individually

 

cinema

 

simple present

 

βœ… The children see a film at the cinema.

 

simple past

 

βœ… The children saw a film at the cinema.

 

 

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regular verbs have a d or ed added

to the end of them to form the past tense

 

woods

 

simple present

 

βœ… The hikers walk in the woods.

 

simple past

 

βœ… The hikers walked in the woods.

 

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irregular verbs do not follow

the same rules as regular verbs

 

pirate-writing

 

 

simple present

 

The pirate writes a letter.

 

simple past

 

❌ The pirate writed a letter.

 

βœ… The pirate wrote a letter.

 

 

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the simple future tells us about

actions that have not yet happened

 

pirates-sailing

 

 

simple present tense

 

βœ… The pirates race to the island.

 

simple past tense

 

βœ… The pirates raced to the island.

 

simple future tense

 

βœ… The pirates will race to the island.

 

 

the simple future tense needs will (or shall)in front of the action verb

 

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this is how regular action verbs are formed

 

 

base form verb

 

repair | hike

 

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infinitive form

 

to repair | to hike

 

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simple present

  

 repair(s) | hike(s)

 

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simple past

 

repaired | hiked

 

 

sometimes SATs questions ask

you to write the infinitive form of a verb

 

you can see from the table above that the infinitive form

of an action verb is to + the base form of the verb

 

the base form is the verb without any endings added to it

 


 

 

 

 

 

βœ… The children screamed on the ride.

 

roller_coaster

 

the base form of screamed is scream

 

βœ… The children smiled for a selfie.

 

swimming

 

the base form of smiled is smile

 

 

 

base form

 

scream | smile

 

infinitive

 

to scream | to smile

 

simple present

 

scream(s) | smile(s)

 

simple past

 

screamed | smiled

 

these verbs are regular verbs

 

 

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irregular verbs are formed differently

 

 

 

βœ… The pirates knew the way.

 

pirates-sailing

 

the base form of knew is know

 

βœ… They took the treasure map.

 

pirates-sailing

 

the base form of took is take

 

 

base form

 

know | take

 

infinitive form

 

to know | to take

 

simple present

 

know(s) | take(s)

 

simple past

 

knew | took

 

these verbs are irregular verbs

 


 

 

Previous SATs questions have asked: Write the infinitive form of each verb in the table below.

 

We have answered these examples for you.

 

regular and irregular verbs

 

laugh, laughs, laughed | sings, sang, sung

 

infinitive form

 

to laugh | to sing

 

the infinitive form of a verb

always has to in front of it

 

we cannot change

the tense of an infinitive

 

 

❌ to laughed

 

❌ to sings

 

the infinitive form of a verb

never finishes with an s, or

has anyother endings added to it

 

the infinitive form of a verb is never used as a verb because

you cannot change the ending to make a different tense

 

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 conclusion 

 

the subject is who or what is doing the action

 

 

robots-in-space

 

the subject might not be at the start of a sentence

 

βœ… On the planet the robots waited for a spaceship.

  

not the subjectnot doing the action

 

subject is doing the action

 

verb = the action

 

 

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What ELSE you Need to Know

 

there are three types of verb - this unit only looked at action verbs

 

action verbs

 

robot_walking

 

The robot rushes.

 

action

 

helping verbs

 

robot_walking

 

The robot is rushing.

 

action

linking verbs

 

robot_walking

 

The robot is late.

 

no action

 

 

 

the difference between the three typesof verb

 

 

action verbs

 

children_on_the_beach

 

They played

on the sand.

 

describes the action

 

helping verbs

 

children_on_the_beach

 

They are playing

on the sand.

 

describes the action

linking verbs

 

children_on_the_beach

 

They are

on the beach.

 

describes the subject

 

 

all the sentences in this unit were simple sentences

 

all the sentences in this unit were simple sentences because they had only one subject and one verb

 

alien_space_craft

 

there are two other types of sentence that both have two subjects and two verbs

 

alien_space_craft

 

these two other types of sentence are

compound sentences and complex sentences

 

 

these are covered in later units

 

Now take the Nouns as Adjectives Quiz to find out what you have learned...

Ready to take the Action Verb Tenses test?

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