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Grammar and Usage

The Double Had Had in a Sentence

Have you ever encountered the words “had had” in a sentence and thought you were seeing double?  Well, rest assured that your eyesight is all right and what you were seeing was a perfectly correct grammatical construction called the past perfect tense.

The Double Had Had in a Sentence

Perfect verb tense is used to show an action that is complete and finished, or perfected. This tense is expressed by adding one of the auxiliary verbs — have, has, or had — to the past participle form of the main verb.

Have + eaten

Has + finished

Had + loved

So what’s going on with the had had construction?

To understand the double had you have to remember that The past perfect is formed by using the past tense of have, which is HAD, and a past participle of the main verb, HAVE, which is also HAD. When we use “have” as a main verb we are using to mean  possess, own, hold for use, or contain.

So to be clear, have can be used as an auxiliary verb and as a main verb. Let’s think of this when forming the past perfect tense, when you want to indicate that you possessed, owned an action sometime in the past, but it is completed or perfected now.

You would use the past form of the auxiliary verb have which is HAD. And you would use the past participle of the main verb HAVE which is HAD.

  • Before the parent-teacher meeting, my teacher had (already) had many conferences with me due to my poor grades. (interrupted by an adverb).
  • I had had many opportunities to complete extra credit assignments before my final grade was posted. ( for emphasis) certainly
  • We had not had enough sleep the night before; therefore, we were very tired the morning of the test. (negative adverb not–show it also in the contracted form)

To conclude, please know that the use of ‘Had Had” is becoming less common and that although technically there is a difference between the past perfect tense and the simple past, semantically speaking, there is often little difference as long as the context is understood.




Grammar and Usage

Conjunctive Adverbs

What are Conjunctive Adverbs?

There are three basic types of conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating, and correlative. But there is a fourth type of conjunction that we are going to talk about today. And that is the conjunctive adverb.

In today’s lesson we’ll define what conjunctive adverbs are and compare them side by side to the coordinating conjunction, the subordinating conjunction, and the correlative conjunction. We’ll look at the punctuation rules that govern conjunctive adverbs. 

Adverbs Modify Adjectives, Verbs, Adverbs, Phrases, and Clauses

You probably already know that adverbs are words that modify adjectives, verbs, other adverbs, phrases, and entire sentences. 

And conjunctive  adverbs,  also called adverbial conjunctions, connectors, connective adverbs, linkers, linking adverbs, transition words, and transitional phrases, modify entire sentences, also referred to as independent clauses. 

These types of adverbs are used  to show the logical relationship between two separate independent clauses within one sentence, to show a function between two separate ideas in sentences or paragraphs, and to act as interrupters within the sentence. And this is clearly evident with the punctuation used to set off the conjunctive adverb.

Conjunctive adverbs are used to show addition, cause and effect, comparison, contrast, emphasis, example or illustration, sequence, summary, and time.


Find the Conjunctive Adverbs in this Passage

There is an ongoing debate that continues to divide pet owners. Which is smarter, cats or dogs? Animal behaviorists believe that cats have the intelligence of a two-year-old human toddler. Moreover, cats have complex brains, good short-term memory, and high emotional intelligence.

Hence, cats can remember where an object is located for up to 16 hours and can respond to their human’s cues. Dogs, however, can only remember an object’s location for 5 minutes.

But does this mean that cats are smarter than dogs? Comparatively speaking, dogs are often perceived to be more intelligent because they are more trainable. This is because dogs view humans at the top of the chain of command and have formed bonds over centuries of training. Conversely, cats do not recognize hierarchies and do not see humans as their masters.

Indeed, cats are not interested in following human commands on demand. Cats want to do things on their terms. For instance, a cat will not seek help from its owner to perform a difficult task; accordingly,  they will work on the task until successful. Meanwhile, a dog will seek help from its owner when confronted with a difficult task. To summarize, cats are highly intelligent creatures, and cat lovers will tell you that their fabulous feline is clever and brilliant; however, dog lovers will say the same of their prodigious pups. Surely, this debate will not be settled any time soon.


The way conjunctive adverbs are punctuated sets them apart from other conjunctions. This is because conjunctive adverbs may be found in different places in the clause and depending on their placement, the punctuation will differ

Conjunctive adverbs can appear at the beginning of a sentence. In the middle of the sentence, as interrupters, or at the end of the sentence.

The punctuation structure is as follows:

  • When a CA starts the sentence, place a comma after the CA

CA + comma + Independent Clause

Conversely, cats do not recognize hierarchies.

  • When a conjunctive adverb joins two independent clauses, the conjunctive adverb takes a semicolon in front of it and a comma after. 

Independent Clause + semicolon + CA + comma + Independent Clause

A cat will not seek help from its owner to perform a difficult task; accordingly,  they will work on the task until successful. 

  • You may even find the CA at the end of the sentence.

Independent clause + comma + CA

Dog lovers will probably say the same of their pets, undoubtedly. 

As a rule, the CA will be placed before the subject if starting the sentence, 

Between the subject and the first verb if interrupting the sentence

And at the end of the sentence.

Some grammar sites will tell you that transitional words or phrases are not conjunctive adverbs. And others will tell you that interrupters are not conjunctive adverbs either. Remember that with most grammar subjects, there may be disagreements among your professors, textbooks, and grammar sites. So always consult the style book or follow your teacher’s guidelines and instructions. 

Do not confuse the CA for the Subordinating conjunction or the coordinating conjunction: 

Remember that a conjunctive adverb connects independent clauses.

Cats appear aloof; however, they can be quite loving. 

Subordinating conjunctions, also known as subordinating adverbs, are used to link a dependent clause to an independent clause. 

Although cats appear aloof, they can be quite loving.

coordinating conjunctions are used to link two independent clauses with a comma. Remember the acronym FANBOYS.

Cats appear aloof, but they can be quite loving.

Be careful: COMMA SPLICE***A conjunctive adverb cannot join two independent clauses with a comma. This will create a comma splice which is a punctuation error.***

Correlative conjunctions:

Dogs are not only highly trainable but also incredibly loyal to their human.


When you are familiar with conjunctive adverbs, your reading comprehension will improve because you will be able to recognize the logical progression of  ideas presented in the text. Consequently, by using conjunctive adverbs in your writing, you’ll be able to present a smooth flow of transitions and help your reader follow your reasoning making for a well-ordered flow of ideas.


File name : Common-List-of-Conjunctive-Adverbs.pdf

Grammar and Usage

What is a Gerund?

A gerund is  a type of verbal that has the form of a verb but acts as a noun. In fact, because a gerund looks identical to the present participle some grammarian refer to it as the gerund-participle. This is because both the gerund and the present participle end in -ing and are formed from verbs. 

Let’s clarify: Some grammar sites will tell you that a participle can function as a noun and this is technically true, but you could say that a present participle that functions a noun is a gerund.

What is a Gerund?

But how can a word derived from a verb and called a verbal act as a noun? There’s a simple explanation. The gerund expresses the abstract concept of the verb.

A gerund is a verbal. This means that it expresses and abstract concept, a thing. For example, walking is a thing. You do this thing or you act on this thing.

Thinking is a thing you do

So is loving, eating, swimming, and running.

Let’s delve deeper into what a gerund actually represents. So we know that a gerund is formed from a verb. A verb is defined as either an action or a state of being. A gerund, in effect, represents the concept of the action, not the actual performance. We can use gerunds to talk about these actions or states of being in an abstract way.

So a way to think about gerunds is to view them as a representation of a concept or a thing that you do or are.

For example, let’s think about singing. Singing is something you do. It’s an action when you’re actively doing it. I am singing. In this example, singing is a verb. However, when you think about that action, that thing called singing, you’re actually thinking of an abstract concept, and this representation of that abstract concept is what we call a gerund when the verb form takes on the -ing.

Singing in the shower reduces stress levels. In this example, the concept, the thing of singing in the shower is what is being discussed. In this example singing in the shower is a gerund phrase.

Tips to Identify a Gerund

Two tips to identify the gerund:

Let’s look at the gerund. Let’s begin by sharing a tip that you can use to identify any noun or noun form. If you can replace a word, phrase, or clause with a pronoun, usually, “It” or the demonstrative pronouns “this” or “that”, then you have a noun.

What differentiates the usage of a present participle as a noun (gerund) or as an adjective (participial) is it’s function or place in the sentence and the punctuation around it.

Where can you find a gerund in the sentence?

A gerund can function as  a subject, a subject complement, a direct object, an indirect object, or an object of a preposition. Of you can find the gerund as a phrase as part of any of these forms.

Let’s try it



Bowling is not an Olympic sport.

Meditating helps me relax.

Reading is fundamental.

Quitting your job is not an option right now.

Memorizing the lines requires focus and concentration.

Skiing on compacted snow can be dangerous.


Ralph’s passion is teaching international students.

The baby’s new habit is throwing her food on the floor.

Rick’s new hobby is flying a small plane.


Ralph enjoys teaching English to international students. (answers what of the verb)

Kaylee remembers leaving a message.


Jose gave learning the piano another chance.

Shannon made serving the poor her lifelong career.


Antoine was sent to the principal’s office for cheating.

Father grounded me for driving the car without his permission.



Just because a word ends in -ing does not mean it’s a gerund. Remember that a gerund is a verbal that looks like a verb because it is derived from a verb. However, because of its place in the sentence, it acts like a noun.

ING words like 

  • King
  • Ring
  • Thing
  • Something
  • Everything

are not gerunds although they end in ing.


And then we have the present participle which looks just like a gerund because unless you identify the function in the sentence, you will not know for sure just by looking at it.


Gerunds and Infinitives: What is the Difference?

In today’s lesson we are going to compare two verbals: the gerund and the infinitive. From previous lessons, you learned that a gerund is a verb form that acts like a noun. And an infinitive is also a verb form that can take the form of a noun, an adjective, and an adverb. You will also hear infinitives and gerunds referred to as verb complements because they complete the meaning of the verb and they are also classed as non-finite verbs, meaning that they do not show tense. They always follow a main verb because on their own, the gerund and the infinitive do not indicate past, present or future. 

What is the Difference in Meaning Between the Gerund and the To-Infinitive?

But for today’s lesson we are going to look at the to-infinitive acting as a noun because if we’re going to compare it to the gerund, you know what the gerund acts like a noun so we want to be comparing the same function.

Let’s quickly review what gerunds and infinitives are. To start, gerunds and infinitives are verb complements because they complete or add to the meaning of the verb. Simply stated, a gerund is a verb plus the -ing ending. And it functions as a noun in the sentence by appearing as the subject, the subject complement, a direct object, an indirect object, the object of the preposition, an appositive, and following a possessive adjective.

The infinitive can function as an adjective and as an adverb and if you want to learn more about this, please check out the previous lesson and I’ll link it below. But for today’s lesson  we’re looking at the infinitive when it functions as a noun.

We will compare the gerund vs the to infinitive and their functions as subjects, subject complements, and direct objects.

We will also look at verbs that take only  the gerund, verbs that take only the infinitive, verbs that take both the gerund and the infinitive with little or no change in meaning, verbs that take the gerund  and infinitive with a change in meaning, and verbs that are followed by “to” plus the gerund.

Before we look at all the syntactic constructions, let’s try to answer the burning question that all students have: What is the difference in meaning between a gerund and an infinitive. Is there a difference between a gerund and an infinitive?

To answer this question we will refer to the work of two great early 20th century linguists:  Dwight Bolinger, an American linguist, who studied and wrote extensively on the nuance of language.  His 1977 work Meaning and Form was instrumental in establishing the principle that a difference in form implies a difference in perceived meaning.

And Otto Jespersen, Danish linguist who specialized in the grammar of the English language and whose books such as Language: Its Nature, Development and Origin (1922) and The Philosophy of Grammar (1924) challenged the accepted views of common concepts in grammar and proposed corrections to the basic definitions of grammatical concepts. Today, this book is still used as one of the basic texts in modern structural linguistics

According to Bolinger, The two complement forms (GERUND AND INFINITIVE) do express different shades of meaning: The gerund expresses habitual  and actual actions while the to-infinitive expresses future or potential actions. Gerunds describe actions that are real and actually happen real, vivid, fulfilled.

This also explains why verbs like enjoy and avoid take only the gerund (i.e., you can only enjoy things you’ve already experienced; to avoid something is a successful fulfillment of sorts). 

By choosing the gerund form, the preceding verb will imply a frequent, already experienced action, entailing positive or negative feelings toward the event. 

Verbs such as detest, dislike, enjoy, and prefer, refer to actions previously experienced, because we dislike/hate something only if we have previously experienced the action: “I dislike doing grocery shopping” or “I enjoy skating”. Indeed, these verbs do entail positive or negative feelings toward the actions as referring to ‘something actually done’. Its progressive aspect is another essential feature of the gerund, which can express actual past events.

INFINITIVES (specifically the to infinitive)

Infinitives describe unfulfilled outcomes hypothetical, future, unfulfilled. Verbs like want and hope take only the infinitive (i.e., they represent future unfulfilled events) If the to-infinitive form is chosen, then the preceding verb will entail a future meaning, implying ‘potentiality or ‘something projected’.

This principle explains why verbs like want and hope take only the infinitive (i.e., they represent future unfulfilled events). 

 If the to-infinitive form is chosen, then the preceding verb will entail, or accompany, a future meaning, implying ‘potentiality or ‘something projected’

Verbs such as plan, hope, want, wish, and so forth, imply a future action, something not yet experienced, or known: “I plan to go to Italy this summer”, or “I wish to go to Italy this summer”. These actions represent ‘something projected’ as opposed to ‘something actually done'(gerund).

File name : Common-Verbs-Followed-by-Gerunds-and-Infinitives.pdf


How to Write a Hook: Essay Writing~Introduction

How To Write A Hook

In today’s lesson we’re going to learn how to write a hook. A hook is a sentence or group of sentences that will capture or “hook” your reader’s interest and lure him to keep reading.

The hook, also called the lead, will set the tone and mood for your essay, and engage the reader.


What is a HOOK? Essay Writing

A hook can be a single sentence or even a few paragraphs. Depending on the format of your writing (the type of essay) and the tone and mood you want to convey, you will choose your hook.

(Refer to the true story of Mike the Headless Chicken referenced in the video.)

10 Hooks to Engage Your Reader and Make Him or Her Want to Read Your Essay

  1. Onomatopoeia: buk, buk, buk, ba-gawk…whoosh… Thud (narrative)
  2. Alliteration: Miracle Mike, the chirpy chicken and famous fowl survived a botched beheading. (narrative)
  3. Anecdote or Incident: It was unusually hot that summer. My room faced the barn. As I heard the squawking, Iran to my open window. There was daddy. His arms were raised up in the air and his face was beet red. I saw the shiny glimmer of the axe. The steel blade catching the sun and shining brightly. In his other hand was Mike, Daddy’s fist tightly wrapped around Mike’s neck. I could see Daddy’s knuckles turn white. Daddy’s fist clenched tightly around Mike’s neck. Mike was fighting for his life. (narrative)

He wasn’t always Mike. He was one of many, nondescript, unimportant chickens. But after what happened, we had no choice but to give him a name, for he    deserved it. (narrative)

  1. DIALOGUE: Where’s daddy going with that axe? I asked Mama. “He’s going out to the chicken coop. We’re having company tonight.” she casually replied as she set a pot of water on the stove. (narrative)
  2.  JOKE: Why did the chicken cross the road? To get away from the farmer who chopped his head off. (narrative)
  3. FACTUAL STATEMENT or Statistic (bizarre, interesting, unusual): Chickens possess the neurologic components necessary to respond to painful stimuli and they perceive pain in a way similar to humans. They experience REM, have a memory like that of elephants, and can even feel empathy. (expository)
  4. MISCONCEPTION: Most people think that chickens are dumb, but in fact, they are remarkably intelligent in their own right.
  5. QUOTATION: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

-Mahatma Gandhi. (persuasive/argumentative)

“The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but “Can they suffer?”

― Jeremy Bentham (An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (Philosophical Classics), The Principles of Morals and Legislation (persuasive/argumentative)

  1. RHETORICAL QUESTION: Is it ethical to eat animals? If animals eat other animals why can’t humans do the same? (persuasive/argumentative)
  2. STRONG STATEMENT: The case of Mike the headless chicken was an example of cruelty and animal rights abuse. (persuasive/argumentative)


Conclusion: Remember that the hook is one of the most important components of your introduction. It lures the reader and engages him/her to want to read your writing.


Can you write your own hook? Go ahead and write a hook about Mike the Headless Chicken. Choose any hook style and write it in the comments below.


File name : How-to-Write-a-Hook-.pdf

Idioms Reading Comprehension

Figurative Language: Summer Idioms to Enrich Your Expressions

Summer Idioms

  1. Catch some rays- an idiom that comes from the surfer culture. To go outside and enjoy the sunny day.  After being cooped up inside, I’m looking forward to riding my bike and catching some rays.
  2. Soak up the sun-to enjoy the sunshine.  Children need to go outside and soak up the sun.
  3. Come rain or shine-no matter what, whatever happens nothing will stop you.  The postman delivers the mail come rain or shine.
  4. Dog days of summer–from July 3 to August 11 this idiom is based on Sirius, the dog star. The ancient Romans believed that the star gave off heat and caused  the sultry and unbearably hot days of the summer. You’ll also hear a reference to dog days. During the dog days of summer, we make sure to stay hydrated.
  5. Under the sun-this idiom references the large number of anything that exists on earth “under the sun”. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
  6. A place in the sun-is to have a successful or favorable position. After many years of struggling as a writer, Leon finally found his place in the sun.
  7. A ray of sunshine-a person or thing that brings you happiness. My grandchild is a little ray of sunshine.
  8. Make hay while the sun shines- to make the most of a favorable situation.  This idiom is very old, dating back to Medieval times. Rain would often ruin the process of making hay. So, farmers had no choice but to make hay when the sun was shining.​
  9. Take a shine to someone/something-to begin to like someone or something. After getting to know him, Sheila took a shine to her new boss.
  10. One swallow doesn’t make a summer–means that you cannot rely on a situation that is working out. Just because it’s going well or has been good, it doesn’t mean that that streak will continue. Don’t rest on your laurels and think everything will go your way. One swallow doesn’t make a summer. One swallow does not make a summer, neither does one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”
  11. To shine someone on–to deceive someone on. Rick told me he would pay back the loan, but he shined me on and never did.

Summer Idioms Reading Passage

I’ve worked so hard to get this promotion that I feel like I’ve finally found my place in the sun. The new boss took a shine to me and gave me this wonderful opportunity. I know, however, that one swallow doesn’t make a summer. I have to continue to work hard and show that I’m worthy of the promotion.

I have to make hay while the sun shines.I wouldn’t want my boss to think that I shined him on and am not qualified for the job. These are the dog days of summer and business is slow so I have to hustle and secure some new accounts. I’ll do everything under the sun to ensure I bring in new clients.

Once I prove myself, I’ll take a vacation. Come rain or shine, I’ll go where the sun is shining and the warm winds are blowing. Knowing that I’ll be on a plane to a tropical island where I can catch some rays and soak up the sun is the little ray of sunshine that keeps me motivated.

File name : Summer-Idioms-Figurative-Language.pdf

Grammar and Usage

Introduction to Reducing Adverb Clauses

Reducing Adverb Clauses

We know that an adverb modifies a verb, an adjective,  or another adverb. It answers the  question of when, where, how, why, to what extent or under what conditions.

In the same manner, adverb clauses add information that elaborates on when, where, why, and how by modifying or describing verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. An adverb clause is a dependent or subordinate clause that has a relationship with the independent or main clause.  The adverb clause is referred to as the dependent clause and it connects to the independent clause with a subordinating conjunction. The subordinating conjunction establishes the relationship between the two clauses: the adverb clause and the main clause.


There may be times when you will want to reduce the adverb clause to an adverbial phrase. Reduced adverb clauses are mostly used in formal writing to add variety and conciseness to your sentence structure. 

When reducing adverb clauses, we must consider four things: 

  1. Both the independent clause and the adverb clause must share the same subject. 
  2. Remove the modal or auxiliary verb in the adverb clause. (There are exceptions to this.)
  3. The reduction must not alter the relationship or time frame indicated in the original sentence.
  4. You may leave the subordinating conjunction with the exception of because, since, or as.


EXAMPLES of Reduced Adverb Clauses


  1. Although the bride was nervous, she was happy to walk down the aisle.
  • The first thing you’re going to do is check the subjects in both clauses: the bride in the adverb clause and she in the main clause.
  • Remove the subject “the bride” in the adverb clause and move it over to the main clause. The pronoun “she” is ambiguous. It could be any person, but you want to make sure your reader knows it’s “the bride”. 
  • Remove the helping verb “was”. 

Reduction: Although nervous, the bride was happy to walk down the aisle.

2.  Once the cake is done, it must cool in the refrigerator.

  • Move “the cake” over to the main clause.
  • Remove the helping verb “is”.

Reduction: Once done, the cake must cool in the refrigerator.

3. Because she did not have breakfast, Minnie was hungry and tired all morning.

  • Remove the subject in the adverb clause.
  • Remove the helping verb did and the subordinate conjunction “because”.

Reduction: Not having breakfast, Minnie was hungry and tired all morning.

4. Before Dee goes to bed, she brushes her teeth.

  • Move the subject “Dee” over to the main clause. 
  • Change the verb “goes” to the present participle “going”.

Reduction: Before going to bed, Dee brushes her teeth.


5. While Father was mowing the lawn, he whistled a tune.

  • Move “Father” over to the main clause.
  • Remove the helping verb “was”.

While mowing the lawn, Father whistled a tune.

Caution: Beware of dangling modifiers.

6. Tom was attacked by a shark when he was swimming in the beach.

  • Tom was attacked while swimming in the beach implies that the shark is the one swimming in the beach.
  • Move the clause to the beginning.

While swimming in the beach, Tom was attacked by a shark.


File name : Introduction-to-Reducing-Adverb-Clauses.pdf

Grammar and Usage

What are Modal Verbs?


A modal verb is a type of auxiliary or helping verb that helps the main verb by indicating the mood of the subject. Modal verbs indicate ability, possibility, obligation, or necessity.

The main modal verbs are can, could, may, might, will, would, must, shall, and should.

There are also quasi-modal, or semi-modal, verbs. These are a subcategory of modals, especially when they function in their negative and interrogative form.

Quasi-Modal Verbs

The main quasi-modal verbs are dare, had better, need, ought to, used to, and would rather.

Examples of Modal Verbs

Look at the examples of modal and quasi-modal verbs in the charts below.

Modal Verb Type or Mood Example
can ability/permission (informal) You can borrow my pencil.

Can I borrow your pencil?



permission, suggestion, request, past ability, future possibility He could leave early if his boss would allow him.
may probability, permission (formal) You may borrow my pencil.

May I borrow your pencil?

might probability/ possibility (future) I might ask my boss for permission to leave early.
will wish/willingness He will agree to it.
would request/past habit/possibility If I had the time, I would travel more.

Would you help me with my homework?

When I was young, I would listen to the radio all day long.

must necessity/obligation You must go out and search for a job.
shall intention/suggestion Shall you help her with her luggage?

I shall help her if you want me to.

should necessity/advice I should exercise more often.


Quasi-Modal Verb Type or Mood Example
dare ability (negation) I dare not go without permission.
had better advice/obligation You had better not go alone.
need request (negation) You need not ask again.
ought to advice/probability/obligation You ought to visit your grandmother more often.
used to previously/habitually I used to go all the time.
would rather intention/ willingness I would rather eat pizza than tacos.


Modal verbs are placed first in the verb phrase, after the subject, and are followed by a verb in the base form.

  • He could leave early. (Could is the modal and leave is the main verb.)
  • I should exercise more often. (Should is the modal and exercise is the main verb.)
  • You may borrow my car. (May is the modal and borrow is the main verb.)
  • I must help my friend. (Must is the modal and help is the main verb.)

The verb following the modal may be a main verb or an auxiliary verb like be or have.

  • He might be late tomorrow. (Might is the modal and be is the auxiliary.)
  • She should have studied more. (Should is the modal, have is the auxiliary, and studied is the main verb.)

Modal verbs are used in conditional sentences.

  • If I had the time, I would travel more. (If I had the time is the if clause in a conditional, would is the modal and travel is the main verb.)

Modal verbs are used in inverted sentences, especially in interrogative sentences. (Verb before subject)

  • May I take your car tonight? (May is the modal. Notice it comes before the subject, I. Take is the main verb.)
  • Would you help me with my homework? (Would is the modal. It comes before the subject, you. Help is the main verb.)

Modal verbs appear in negative form by adding the adverb “not” after the modal verb.

  • I dare not ask for permission. (Dare is a quasi-modal, not is an adverb of negation, and ask is the main verb.)
  • We would rather not eat at the restaurant again. (Would rather is a quasi-modal, not is an adverb of negation, and eat is the main verb.)
  • Shouldn’t you call before you go? (Should is the modal, not is an adverb of negation in the contracted form, call is the main verb. This sentence is in inverted order because the modal shouldn’t comes before the subject, you.)



Modal verbs only have one form.

  1. They have no infinitives using the “to” form. (INCORRECT: to can, to could, to may, to might, etc.)
  2. They have no –ing form, present participle. (INCORRECT: canning, coulding, maying, mighting, etc.)
  3. They have no past tense form. (INCORRECT: canned, coulded, mayed, mighted, etc.)
  4. They do not change form for person. (INCORRECT: he cans, she cans, it cans, he coulds, she coulds, it coulds, etc.)
  5. They cannot be used with another modal. (INCORRECT: Had I known, things may would have been different.)

Remember that a modal verb helps the main verb by indicating the mood of the subject.

Download the handout on modals.






Grammar and Usage

What are Linking Verbs? | Auxiliary Verbs

What are Linking Verbs?

A linking verb is a type of auxiliary verb that links the subject of a sentence to the subject complement.

In today’s lesson we will learn about linking verbs. A linking verb does not show any action. It just links, or joins, the subject of a sentence to a word that identifies or describes the subject, also called the subject complement.

The forms of the verbs to be, to become, and to seem are common linking verbs, but there are many others, including all the sense verbs: look, smell, touch, appear, sound, taste, and feel

Examples of Linking Verbs

Let’s look at some examples of linking verbs.

I am a lawyer. (Identifies)

The teacher is mean. (Describes)

Bill was a magician. (Identifies)

Bill is tired. (Describes)

The children are quiet. (Describes)

They were very sleepy. (Describes)

The baby became tired and fussy. (Describes )

Marcia has become the town gossip. (Identifies)

Ophelia seems distracted. (Describes.)

Linking Verbs are not Action Verbs

One thing to remember is that linking verbs do not express action. They simply link the subject with the subject complement to show their relationship. So when you are unsure is a verb is a linking verb or an action verb, simply substitute a form of the verb to be for the original verb.

Let’s take a look.

Ron tasted the corn chowder.

Ron is the corn chowder? No way. In this example, tasted is an action verb, not a linking verb.

The corn chowder tasted good.

The corn chowder is good. Yes! In this example the substitution makes sense so tasted is used as a linking verb.

Sylvia appears lost.

Sylvia is lost. Yes

Sylvia appears before the court.

Sylvia is the court? No, action verb.

Marlie touched the hot stove.

Marlie is the hot stove? No, action verb.

The bread smells delicious.

The bread is delicious.

Carli smells the wet grass.

Carli is the wet grass? No, action verb

You get the idea.

A linking verb does not show any action. The forms of the verbs to be, to become, and to seem are common linking verbs, but there are many others, including all the sense verbs: look, smell, touch, appear, sound, taste, and feel. When you are unsure if a verb is a linking verb or an action verb, simply substitute a form of the verb to be for the original verb.