What Is the Base Form of a Verb? (with Examples)

Base Form of a Verb (with Examples)

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.

Examples of Base Forms of Verbs

Here 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.)
base form of a verb

The Base Form Appears in the Present Tense

The base form of a verb appears in all versions of the present tense except the third person singular. For example:

ConjugationExample 1Example 2
1st person singularI playI concur
2nd person singularYou playYou concur
3rd person singularHe plays
She plays
It plays
He concurs
She concurs
It concurs
1st person pluralWe playWe concur
2nd person pluralYou playYou concur
3rd person pluralThey playThey concur

The Base Form Appears in the Infinitive Form

The 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. (Alfred Adler, 1870-1937)
  • A musicologist is a man who can read music but can't hear it. (Thomas Beecham, 1879-1961)

The Base Form Appears in the Imperative Mood (i.e., Commands)

The 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. (Napoleon Hill)

The Base Form Appears in the Subjunctive Mood

The base form of a verb appears in the subjunctive mood. For example:
  • He demands that you be silent.
  • I propose he stay with us.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited and printed to create exercise worksheets.

See Also

What are verbs? What is the infinitive form? What is the present tense? What is the third person? What is the imperative mood? What is the subjunctive mood? Glossary of grammatical terms