I run. (“I” is the subject, “run” is the verb)
They crashed. (“They” is the subject, “crashed” is the verb)
I think, therefore I am. (“I” is the subject in each clause, “think” and “am” are the verbs)
The plane is flying overhead. (“plane” is the subject, “flying” is the verb preceded by the helper verb “is”)But sometimes, a verb is not a verb!
A verbal is a word formed from a verb that functions as a noun, adjective, or adverb. There are three types of verbals:
Gerunds end in "-ing" and act as a noun:
Flying is my favorite pastime. ("Flying" is the subject of the sentence)
I love running. ("running" is the direct object of the sentence)
ParticiplesParticiples act as adjectives. There are two types of participles: present and past.
Present participles, like gerunds, end in "-ing", but they're used as adjectives, not nouns:
The flying squirrel was amazing. ("flying" is an adjective modifying "squirrel")
The squirrel flying across the sky was amazing. ("flying across the sky" is a present participial phrase acting as an adjective modifying "squirrel")Past participles usually end in "-ed" or "-en":
The crashed server made us frantic. ("crashed" is an adjective modifying “server”)
The broken windows leaked a lot of rain. ("broken" is an adjective modifying “windows”)Don’t confuse gerunds and present participles with verbs in the progressive tense, which come after a form of the verb “to be”:
The plane is flying overhead. (verb)
The cat was running across the lawn. (verb)Don't confuse past participles with verbs in the passive voice, which start with was/were:
The windshield was cracked. (verb)
The windows were broken. (verb)
InfinitivesInfinitives start with “to” and end with the simple present form of a verb, such as “to fly” and “to crack”. They can act as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.
To live is to adjust.
I want to go.
I love to fly.Adjectives:
This is the best time to start. (modifies “time”)
The first attempt to build the Panama Canal ended in failure. (adjectival infinitive phrase modifying “attempt”)Adverbs:
You can tell an infinitive is acting as an adverb if you can put “in order” in front of it and get the same meaning.
To win, you need the highest number of points. (adverb modifying “need”)
In order to win, you need the highest number of points. (same thing)
We nailed plywood on the store windows to prepare for the storm. (adverbial infinitive phrase modifying “nailed”).
We nailed plywood on the store windows in order to prepare for the storm. (same thing)If you look at the noun or adjective examples of infinitives, however, you can't put "in order" in front of them and get the same meaning. "I love in order to fly" doesn't have the same meaning as "I love to fly", so you know in this case the infinitive is not an adverb.
Note that you use a comma after the adverbial infinitive when it starts a sentence:
To prepare for the storm, we nailed plywood on the store windows.But you do not separate the adverbial infinitive from the rest of the sentence if it comes at the end of the sentence:
We nailed plywood on the store windows to prepare for the storm.Don’t confuse infinitives with prepositional phrases. In infinitives, "to" is followed by a verb, whereas in prepositions "to" is followed by a noun.
I want to go. (Infinitive - "to" is followed by the verb "go")
I went to the park. (Prepositional phrase - "to" is followed by the noun "(the) park")So that's all you really need to know about verbals. And now I'm guessing (verb) you want to go (infinitive) to the bar (prepositional phrase) and forget all about them.