KEY FOR FINDING

THE COMPLETE VERB


copyright 1996 Cynthia Joyce Clay

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GRAMMAR TABLE OF CONTENTS


HOW TO FIND THE COMPLETE VERB OF A SIMPLE SENTENCE

First, remember that the complete verb can contain up to four verbs. The last verb will be the main verb and will determine whether the verb is an action verb or a linking verb. The rest of the verbs are the helping or auxilory verbs. Thus, the complete verb can have one, two, three, or four verbs.

Another important point to remember is that the adverbs and infinitives are often confused as verbs: 'Not' is NOT part of the verb because it is an adverb. You really have to watch out for that in sentences that contain contractions, such as "He won't do it." This sentence has two verbs--"will" and "do." Won't" is a contraction, and so you have to break it into its two parts,"will" and "not," so that you can find the verb. "Often" is another adverb; it is NOT part of the verb. The same with "never.""Often," "never," and "not" are all adverbs.

Infinitives are also often confused as verbs. Since infinitives are used as nouns, adverbs, or adjectives, they do not act like verbs. Infinitives are verbals that are made with the word "to" such as: "to jump," "to look," and "to read." So, remember that a verb is not a verb when it is accompanied by the word "to."

A final point to remember is that you must remember the main verb! A common mistake is to find the helping verbs and think you are done. Be sure to find all the helpers plus the main verb.


Exercises

IN THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE, THE ADVERBS HAVE BEEN REMOVED, INCLUDING THE "N'T"'s ON THE CONTRACTIONS, AND THE COMPLETE VERB HAS BEEN UNDERLINED.

1. The elf does look scary.

2. However, it has been good to humans.

3. People should enter the elf's forest.

4. Intruders have come out of those woods.

5. There is one exception of one woman who can remember her name any more. (This sentence has two clauses.)

Answer this question: Why cross out the "n't"'s? "N't" is a contraction for "not" and "not" is an adverb.

IN THESE SENTENCES, THE INFINITIVES HAVE BEEN REMOVED AND THE COMPLETE VERB HAS BEEN UNDERLINED.

1. Her boyfriend had gone her, and he doesn't care his search for her. (Notice the "n't" is not underlined.)

2. Both of them returned their hair had turned completely white.

3. He had threatened down the entire forest if she was not released.

4. The elf appeared suddenly and agreed the woman back.

5. However, the elf seemed to smile.

6. The elf refused either of them leave.

7. The woman kicked the elf, and the couple began .

8. The elf tried after them, but the couple hurried a rushing stream and so were safe.

9. Elves are unable moving water.

10. Nevertheless, the elf did see to it that the couple had a terrifying escape. (The "to" in this sentence is part of a prepositional phrase.)

11. The ground began beneath the couple's feet; limbs from trees started down around them; and giant spider webs formed their way.

12. The couple had over the crevices that formed beneath them, duck the falling branches, and crawl under the spider webs.

13. All the while they raced , they had to the elf's evil laughter.

14. When it was clear they were going, the elf began.

15. The sound of that howl was in their minds forever.

Answer this question: Why cross out the infinitives? Infinitives are verbals, not verbs, and act like nouns or adjectives.

THE COMPLETE VERB HAS BEEN WRITTEN TO THE RIGHT OF THE SENTENCE.

1. Won't she be coming? will be coming

2. They don't often travel during the full moon. do travel

3. She must have been lonely. must have been

4. Wasn't he being nice? was being

5. He shouldn't have been howling at the moon. should have been

6. Aren't the men going to make the women happy? are going

7. Couldn't she tie garlic around her neck? could tie

8. They would have often been frightened of werewolves. would have been

9. He shouldn't have been kissing her for so long. should have been kissing

10. She couldn't have often been wanting to kiss him. could have been wanting

11. Why weren't they thinking of the test? were thinking

12. Love wouldn't have distracted them. would have distracted

13. His turning into a werewolf couldn't have surprised her more. could have surprised

14. Isn't she happy? is

15. She shouldn't have been sad. should have been

16. She mustn't like turning into a panther. must like

Mistakes? Do this until you can do it perfectly. If you can do this exercise perfectly, you can find verbs.

There is an answer key available. More information and more exercises on verbs are available. Just go to the GRAMMAR TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE.

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