Base Forms of Verbs in English

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The first- and second-person singular, and the plural present-tense form of a verb. In English grammar, the base form of a verb is the simplest form, without a special ending (or suffix). It's the form that appears in dictionary entries.

The base form of a verb functions as the present-tense form for all persons and numbers except the third-person singular (which uses the -s form). The base form also functions as the infinitive (with or without to) and as the subjunctive mood for all persons including the third-person singular.

In addition, the base form is used for the imperative mood.

See Examples and Observations, below. Also see:

Examples and Observations:

  • Present Tense
    "Men live in a fantasy world. I know this because I am one, and I actually receive my mail there."
    (Scott Adams)
  • Infinitive
    "It's always easier to learn something than to use what you've learned."
    (Chaim Potok, The Promise, 1967)
  • Subjunctive
    "Even when they are having marital difficulties and Betty is not feeling up to it, Don insists that she attend the party honoring him because everyone is expecting him to bring her."
    (Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is as It Seems, ed. by Rod Carveth and James B. South. Blackwell, 2010)
  • Imperative
    "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your own wings on the way down."
    (Ray Bradbury)
  • Base Forms of Regular Verbs
    "Main verbs are either regular (such as call, like, try) or irregular (such as buy, drink, set). 'Regular' means that we can state all the verb forms of an English verb once we know its base form. The base is the basic, uninflected form which is given as the entry form in dictionaries. . . . A regular English verb, such as call, has the following four forms:
    - the base: call
    - the -s form: calls
    - the -ing form: calling
    - the -ed form: called
    The vast majority of English verbs are regular."
    (Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik, A Communicative Grammar of English, 3rd ed. Taylor & Francis, 2002)


    Also Known As: plain form, simple form, stem
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