Verbs have five grammatical properties:

  1. Tense.
  2. Person.
  3. Mood.
  4. Number.
  5. Voice.


These properties (otherwise known as features or characteristics of verbs) are sometimes called Verb Inflections because they show the changes in form or spelling exhibited by verbs to indicate specific meanings or grammatical relationships to some other words or groups of words in any given sentence(s).

A set or table of these properties or inflected forms of a verb that indicates tense, person, mood, number, and voice is called conjugation.



Tense refers to the change in the form of the verb to indicate the time of the action. There are eight major tenses: present, past, future, present perfect, past perfect, future perfect, future-in-the-past, and future-perfect-in-the-past tenses. Each of these tense forms has a progressive/continuous version, exemplified as follows:



The Simple Present Tense


It is like a bare infinitive. (i.e. a verb-stem that is not preceded by “to”). But in the third person singular, the simple present tense form of the verb adds an “s” or “es” to itself. (e.g. He/She/It drives. I/We/They drive.)



The simple present tense is used to express:

I) a present action:

  • She sings well.


II) a habitual action:

  • I read the Bible daily.


III) a general truth/factual and unchanging statement:

  • God is immortal.


IV) a continuous action (as in sports commentaries):

  • Ronaldo dribbles Messi; he controls the ball; it’s a goal.


V) literary characters/works:

  • Okonkwo is the protagonist in Things Fall Apart.


VI) past events with vividness (i.e. Historic Present):

  • For Zik, life begins at seventy.


VII) a planned future action (e.g. a journey or match) that is sure to take place:

  • The match kicks off at 4p.m. tomorrow.


VIII) a scientific experiment(al) /instruction:

  • Put some quantity of salt into the water and stir.


IX) any action/state relating to verbs of perception, feelings and opinions:

  • Nneka hears a strange noise.
  • Abubakar prefers tea to coffee.


X) exclamatory sentences beginning with Here or There:

  • Here she comes!
  • There he goes!


XI) dramatic narratives (e.g. parenthesised authorial comments):

  • (The curtain rises. The phone rings. A woman enters.)


XII) the present continuous form of stative verbs (e.g. love, know, understand, see, etc.):

  • I love you.
  • Daddy sees you.


XIII) a probable condition in an if-clause:

  • If he remains in the Lord, he will make heaven.


XIV) a command/imperative sentence:

  • Go out.
  • Don’t go.


XV) a quotation from an author’s work:

  • In “The Novelist as Teacher”, Achebe says, “I would be quite satisfied if my novels…teach my readers that their past…was not a long night of savagery… “

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