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.
IN THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE, CROSS OUT THE ADVERBS, INCLUDING THE "N'T"'s ON THE CONTRACTIONS, AND UNDERLINE THE COMPLETE VERB.
1. The elf doesn't look very scary.
2. However, it has never been good to humans.
3. People shouldn't enter the elf's forest.
4. Intruders have never come out of those woods.
5. There is one exception of one woman who can't remember her name any more.
Answer this question: Why cross out the "n't"'s? __________________________________________
IN THESE SENTENCES, CROSS OUT THE INFINITIVES AND UNDERLINE THE COMPLETE VERB.
1. Her boyfriend had gone to find her, and he doesn't care to recall his search for her.
2. Both of them returned to find their hair had turned completely white.
3. He had threatened to burn down the entire forest if she was not released.
4. The elf appeared suddenly and agreed to give the woman back.
5. However, the elf seemed to smile.
6. The elf refused to let either of them leave.
7. The woman kicked the elf, and the couple began to run.
8. The elf tried to fly after them, but the couple hurried to cross a rushing stream and so were safe.
9. Elves are unable to cross moving water.
10. Nevertheless, the elf did see to it that the couple had a terrifying escape.
11. The ground began to shake beneath the couple's feet; limbs from trees started to crash down around them; and giant spider webs formed to block their way.
12. The couple had to leap over the crevices that formed beneath them, duck to avoid the falling branches, and crawl under the spider webs.
13. All the while they raced to escape, they had to listen to the elf's evil laughter.
14. When it was clear they were going to escape, the elf began to howl.
15. The sound of that howl was to linger in their minds forever.
Answer this question: Why cross out the infinitives? ___________________________________________
PRACTICE FINDING THE COMPLETE VERB
1. Won't she be coming?
2. They don't often travel during the full moon.
3. She must have been lonely.
4. Wasn't he being nice?
5. He shouldn't have been howling at the moon.
6. Aren't the men going to make the women happy?
7. Couldn't she tie garlic around her neck?
8. They would have often been frightened of werewolves.
9. He shouldn't have been kissing her for so long.
10. She couldn't have often been wanting to kiss him.
11. Why weren't they thinking of the test?
12. Love wouldn't have distracted them.
13. His turning into a werewolf couldn't have surprised her more.
14. Isn't she happy?
15. She shouldn't have been sad.
16. She mustn't like turning into a panther.
There is an answer key. There is also more information as well as more exercises on verbs available. Just go to the GRAMMAR TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE.
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