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Verbals are special forms of verbs. Verbals do not function as verbs even though verbals are formed from verb bases.Verbals serve in sentences as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.

There are three types of verbals: participles, gerunds, and infinitives.

Participles Participles are verbal adjectives using the present participle and past participle forms; these forms can modify nouns and pronouns.

Present participles add -ing to the base form of the verb: walking, filling, hiding.

Past participles of regular verbs add d or ed to the verb base: walked, filled. Past participles of irregular verbs have special spellings: hidden, wept, sung.

In the following sentences, participles act as adjectives to modify nouns and pronouns.

The trembling dog was lost. We discovered a hidden passage. Exhausted, she decided to take a nap.

Gerunds Gerunds are verbal nouns. When the present participle (ing form) of a verb serves as a noun, the verbal is called a gerund.

Gerund as subject: Running is a national pastime.
Gerund as object of preposition: Pat is tired of working here.
Gerund as direct object: Every summer we enjoy swimming.

Infinitives Infinitives can function as verbal nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. The base form of a verb with the infinitive marker to (to walk, to hide, to be) can serve several nonverb functions.

Infinitive as noun: To win is my goal. I hope to win.
Infinitive as adjective: Sandy is the runner to watch. Infinitive as adverb: Singing is not hard to do.

Verbal Phrases Verbals may have subjects, objects, and complements. They may also be modified by adverbs and prepositional phrases.

These verbal groups are verbal phrases.
Wearing her new green dress, Jane looked nice enough to be a fashion model. Singing in the choir led Kelly to become an opera star.

Last revision: August 4, 2003