The Verb Base

Sometimes a verb changes its form. Let’s look at the following sentences. The verb is underlined in each one.

John should study.

John studied.

John is studying.

John studies.

 You certainly can’t say, *John should studied, or John to studied. So how do we know that studied is a verb? To test the word, you have to see if it can follow should or to in a different form, not necessarily in the form that you see in a  particular sentence. For example, if you see John studied, ask yourself if there’s a different form of studied  that can follow should or to. In this case there is: John should study orJohn decided to study. So study and all its forms are  verbs. The form of the verb that follows should  or to  is called the base form or infinitive form.The term infinitive is used to refer either to the base form alone (for example, study), or to the to+base form (for example, to study).

Let’s put each of these verbs into its base form.The base form is underlined.

working: (should, to) work

believed: (should, to) believe

written: (should, to) write

wore: (should, to) wear

throws: (should, to) throw


Exercise 8.1

Put each of the verbs below into its base form. Simply find the form that follows should or to.

Sample: grew –> grow

1. wrote:

2. talking:

3. thought:

4. considered:

5. seen:

6. investigates:

7. spoken:

8. married:

9. decides:

10. found:


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