The choice of appropriate forms of verbs is a problematic aspect of English (Language) usage among numerous non-native speakers.
Verbs exist in three main forms, namely: present (sing), past (sang) and participle, which splits into present participle (singing) and past participle (sung). By the same token, this treatise will focus on the past participial forms of verbs and their manifestations in sentences.
First things first, it is essential to state that the past participial form of a verb is primarily succeeded by the verb ‘to have’, which is comprised of ‘has’, ‘have’ and ‘had’. Every time these three verbs precede another verb, the past participial form of the latter verb is preferred, as portrayed in the examples hereunder:
See, saw, seen:
1) We have saw them (incorrect).
We have seen them (correct).
Go, went, gone:
2) Has she went there (incorrect)?
Has she gone there (correct)?
On top of that, it is really critical to mention the different categories of verbs which could influence one’s choice of the past participle. First up in these categories are regular verbs.
These are verbs that derive their past forms and their past participial forms in the same fashion: through the addition of ‘-d’ and ‘-ed’.
Dance, danced, danced:
3) I danced yesterday (correct).
She has danced for three hours (correct).
Pray, prayed, prayed
4) We prayed two hours ago (correct).
We have prayed fervently (correct).
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Another class of verbs is the irregular verbs. These verbs simply obtain their past and past participial forms by reverting to their infinitives (the present tense). Classic examples of such verbs are: hit, let, broadcast, cast, split, cut, cost and burst. These will generate example sentences such as:
5) I split the orange in half (correct).
I have splitted the orange in half (incorrect).
I have split the orange in half (correct).
6) The NTA broadcast the news last night (correct).
The NTA has broadcasted the news (incorrect).
The NTA has broadcast the news (correct).
7) We cast our ballots yesterday (correct).
The electorate have casted their ballots (incorrect).
The electorate have cast their ballots (correct).
This implies that one must be absolutely positive about the nature of a verb before one deploys it. Other irregular verbs which boast past and past participial forms that are distinct from their infinitives are: drink, drank, drunk; begin, began, begun; seek, sought, sought; spit, spat, spat; and forbid, forbade, forbidden, as illustrated below:
8) I have not drank water since morning (incorrect).
I have not drunk water since morning (correct).
9) She has seeked my professional advice several times (incorrect).
She has sought my professional advice several times (correct).
10) My mother has forbade me sugary snacks (incorrect).
My mother has forbidden me sugary snacks (correct).
Meanwhile, there are few irregular verbs whose infinitives and past participle forms are similar — and consequently different from their past forms. Prime examples are: come, came, come; run, ran, run; and become, became, become. As such:
11) Jeff Bezos has became the world’s richest man (incorrect).
Jeff Bezos has become the world’s richest man (correct).
12) The thieves have ran away (incorrect).
The thieves have run away (correct).
Astonishingly, there are some verbs whose past and participial forms can be represented in two ways. Instructive examples are forecast, forecast/forecasted, forecast/forecasted; light, lit/lighted, lit/lighted and focus, focused/focussed, focused/focussed.
13) We have focused/focussed on these topics for too long (correct).
14) I had forecast/forecasted the outcome before Peter arrived (correct).
15) Chris has lit/lighted the cigarette (correct).
Furthermore, it is crucial to observe that the past participial forms of some verbs epitomise the lexical dichotomies that exist in British English and American English. Prominent examples are ‘get’, ‘forget’ and ‘prove’, as represented in the undermentioned sentence structures:
14) Damilola has just got a plum job (British English).
Damilola has just gotten a plum job (American English).
15) She has totally forgotten to clear away the dishes (British English).
She has totally forgot to clear away the dishes (American English).
16) Mustapha has proved himself the most diligent student (British English). Mustapha has proven himself the most diligent student (American English).
Considering the aforesaid circumstances, it is advisable to give primacy to the standard English variant used in your country, for consistency’s sake.
Besides the verb ‘to have’, the verb ‘to be’ can also precede past participial forms, inasmuch as the sentences are rendered in the passive voices.
English Language Participle
17) The food was (the verb ‘to be’) eaten (past participle) by James (correct).
18) The parent-teacher association meeting is (‘to be’) held (past participle) biannually (correct).
19) She is being (‘to be’) taken (past participle) to London (correct).
Note, too, that some past participle forms serve as modifying adjectives and should be religiously used in expressions such as:
20) Titi purchased some bottle water and tin tomato (incorrect).
Titi purchased some ‘bottled water’ and ‘tinned tomato’ (correct).
21) The eyewitness gave a ‘detailed account’ of the incident (correct).
‘Contrariwise, some adjectives are erroneously used as participle forms. The readership should desist from such usages thus:
22) advanced payment (incorrect)
advance payment (incorrect).
23) These are matured dogs (incorrect).
These are mature dogs (correct).
Verbs constitute an obligatory word class in sentence formation, and an intellectual grasp of their conjugations is a prerequisite for fluency in English.
© 2020 Ganiu Abisoye Bamgbose (Dr GAB)