Base Form of a Verb
What Is the Base Form of a Verb?The base form (or root) of a verb is the form listed in the dictionary.
It is the version of the verb without any endings (endings such as -s, -ing, and ed). The base form is the same as the infinitive (e.g., to walk, to paint, to think) but without the to.
Table of Contents
- All Five Verb Forms
- Examples of Base Forms of Verbs
- The Base Form in the Present Tense
- The Base Form in the Infinitive Form
- The Base Form in the Imperative Mood
- The Base Form in the Subjunctive Mood
- More about the Five Verb Forms
- Why the Base Form of a Verb Is Important
- Test Time!
All Five Verb FormsThe base form is one of five verb forms in English.
|The -S Form
(also called the Third Person Singular Present Tense Form)
|The -ING Form
(also called the Present Participle Form)
|The Past Participle Form
Examples of Base Forms of VerbsHere are some examples of the base forms of verbs:
- see (These are not the base form: sees, seen, seeing.)
- sing (These are not the base form: sings, singing.)
- play (These are not the base form: plays, played, playing.)
- concur (These are not the base form: concurs, concurred, concurring.)
The Base Form in the Present TenseThe base form of a verb appears in all versions of the present tense except the third person singular. For example:
|1st person singular
|2nd person singular
|3rd person singular
|1st person plural
|2nd person plural
|3rd person plural
The Base Form in the Infinitive FormThe base form of a verb appears in the infinitive form (including the zero infinitive form, i.e., without the word to). For example:
- It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them. (Austrian medical doctor Alfred Adler)
- A musicologist is a man who can read music but can't hear it. (English conductor Thomas Beecham)
The Base Form in the Imperative MoodThe base form is used for commands (i.e., the imperative mood. For example:
- Eat a live toad the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
- Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not. (American self-help author Napoleon Hill)
The Base Form in the Subjunctive MoodThe base form of a verb appears in the subjunctive mood. For example:
- He demands that you be silent.
- I propose he stay with us.
More about the Five Verb FormsThe table below shows the five verb forms in English.
The Base Form
(aka "Simple Form" or "Uninflected Form")
The -S Form
(aka "Third Person Singular Present Tense Form")
(aka "The Past Tense Form")
The -ING Form
(aka the Present Participle Form
The Past Participle Form
For example, with some verbs, the base form, past form, and past participle form are the same (e.g., let, I let, I had let). However, with others, they are all different (e.g., take, I took, I had taken).
Knowing the various verb forms is a great starting point for learning these complex rules and exceptions.