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.
The base form is one of five verb forms in English.
|2||The -S Form|
(also called the Third Person Singular Present Tense Form)
|4||The -ING Form|
(also called the Present Participle Form)
|5||The Past Participle Form||taken|
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 Appears in the Present TenseThe base form of a verb appears in all versions of the present tense except the third person singular. For example:
|Conjugation||Example 1||Example 2|
|1st person singular||I play||I concur|
|2nd person singular||You play||You concur|
|3rd person singular||He plays|
|1st person plural||We play||We concur|
|2nd person plural||You play||You concur|
|3rd person plural||They play||They concur|
The Base Form Appears 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. (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 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.
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
Why Should I Care about the Base Form?Understanding the verb forms (including the base form) is useful when learning English because it allows teachers and pupils to talk about the components that form the various tenses.
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.