Verbs: identifying and using correct verb tense and agreement

Verbs create the relationship between the subject and the object of the verb.

The verb is the element that expresses what is happening in a sentence and locates it in time (tense). In broad terms the tense will be past, present or future, for example 'Sarah laughed', 'Sarah laughs', 'Sarah will laugh'. Participles (verbs ending in –ing) do not locate a verb in time and need a finite component to indicate when the event happens. For example, the participle running needs the finite auxiliaries was running (past), is running (present), will be running (future) to indicate when the running occurred. Verbs are central to a clause.

Verbs occur both as single words and as verb groups. Verb groups can contain two or more verbs and are sometimes called complex/compound verbs. They may include non–finite verbs (for example, 'to jump'in 'is going to jump').

Verbs are central to a clause.

Verbs must agree with their subject in number. For example:

  • he jumps.
  • they jump.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: tense sentences

Make two teams . Place three chairs in a row with cards on each representing past, present and future.

Students, one at a time from each team, pick a card with a verb on it. Cards can be made using regular or irregular verbs.

Either spin the spinner on the interactive whiteboard or have a second set of the cards above shuffled for the student to also choose one. Student sits in the correct chair and must say a sentence in the correct tense. Both regular and irregular verbs can be used using assessment data to inform difficulty. Students keep playing until there is a 2 point (teacher choice) difference. Winning team become “tense champions” for the day.

Activity 2: bean bag toss

Students form a circle. A bean bag is tossed to different students who must change the tense of the verb and put it in a sentence. Whenever a student makes a mistake, they have to leave the circle. The last student left standing gets a reward sticker or other prize.

Variation 1: two teams stand across from each other and throw the bean bag/s. Call out the sentence and the tense to change to. Team with the most correct and interesting answer wins.

Variation 2: Write singular and plural nouns on the board. Two teams take it in turn to throw the bean bag to the opposition who must use whatever the thrower indicates – either singular or plural noun in a sentence with the matching verb type.

Activity 3: subject-verb agreement rap

Students create their own rap or mnemonic for the following.

  • Most nouns add “s” to show they are plural.
  • Verbs lose “s” to agree with plurals.
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