Verb Conjugation: Person
In English, conjugated verbs often go with specific subjects. For example, take the verb “to be”. This is broken down into: I am, you are, she/he is, we are, they are.
Verb Conjugation: Number
Conjugated verbs in English can tell us something about the number of people participating in the action. For example, in the present simple tense, the verbs “plays”, “walks” and “snows” all refer to singular subjects “he/she” and have an “s” at the end. “Play”, “walk” and “snow” are all used with “I/you/we/they”.
In English, “you” can refer to a singular or plural subject, which can be a little tricky when learning the language. In other languages, such as Spanish and French, the difference is very clear in the conjugated verb endings. In parts of America, the term y’all (you all) is used to refer to you plural.
Verb Conjugation: Gender
In some languages (not English), conjugated verbs can indicate the gender of the subject.
Verb Conjugation: Tense
The verb tense tells us whether the action takes place in the past, present or future, for example: I was, I am, I will be.
Verb Conjugation: Aspect
This tells us the degree to which the action is completed. For example, there are continuous aspects telling us the action is still happening (“I am running”), there are perfect aspects that tell us the action is complete up to a certain point in time (“I am almost finished”) and there are simple aspects (“I am finished”).
Verb Conjugation: Mood
A stative or indicative mood is used to make a statement (“I am happy”). An interrogative mood is used for questions (“Do you think he’s happy?”). An imperative mood issues a command (“Put that back on the table”). A subjunctive mood is used for sentences that pose hypothetical scenarios (“She suggested that Mark work full-time from Monday”).
Verb Conjugation: Voice
Sentences are constructed in an active or passive voice. In active voice, the verb tells us that the subject of the sentence is the one doing the action (“John waters the flowers”). In a passive voice, the subject is acted upon by the verb (“The flowers are being watered by John”).
Examples of verb conjugation
Let’s take a common verb – to be – and conjugate it in the present tense.
I am, you are, he/she/it is, we are, they are
I am being, you are being, he/she/it is being, we are being, they are being
I have been, you have been, he/she/it has been, we have been, they have been
Present perfect continuous
I have been being, you have been being, he/she/it has been being, we have been being, they have been being
I would be, you would be, he/she/it would be, we would be, they would be