Angela Herrmann

The verb

A verb is a word that expresses an action, event or a state. Verbs can either be divided into strong and weak or into transitive and intransitive.

A weak verb forms the past tense by adding -d, -ed or -t, whereas strong verbs form the past tense not by adding these regular endings but by changing a vowel. Therefore, weak verbs are also called regular, like walk, walked, walked and strong verbs have the synonym irregular, like sing, sang, sung. An intransitive verb is used without a direct object whereas a transitive verb always occurs with a direct object.

During the Early Modern period, changes took place in English grammar, for example in morphology. In contrast to former periods, “in modern times changes in grammar have been relatively slight and changes in vocabulary extensive” (Baugh 1973: 201). One important change was the reduction of inflection. This does not only refer to nouns but also to verbs. While inflectional marking for tense remained important, the inflectional marking for person, number and mood got more and more lost. In order to understand this development, we have to take a short look on the Old English language.

  1. Verbs in Old English
  2. Verbs in Middle English
  3. Verbs in Early Modern and Modern English