A conjugation is a list of verb forms. It catalogues the person, number, tense, voice, and mood of a verb. Knowing how to conjugate verbs correctly will help you match verbs with their subjects, and give you a firmer grasp on how verbs function in different sentences. Here is a sample conjugation table:
Present Tense, Active Voice, Indicative Mood: Jump
|1st Person||I jump||we jump|
|2nd Person||you jump||you jump|
|3rd Person||he/she/it jumps||they jump|
Person: Person is divided into three categories (first, second, and third person), and tells the reader whether the subject is speaking, is spoken to, or is spoken about. Each person is expressed using different subjects: first person uses I or we; second person uses you; and third person uses he/she/it orthey. Keep in mind that these words are not the only indicators of person; for example in the sentence “Shakespeare uses images of the divine in his sonnets to represent his own delusions of grandeur”, the verb uses is in the third person because Shakespeare could be replaced by he, an indicator of the third person.
Number: Number refers to whether the verb is singular or plural.
Tense: Tense tells the reader when the action of a verb takes place. English has six tenses: Present, Past, Future (the Simple Tenses), and Present Perfect, Past Perfect, and Future Perfect (the Perfect Tenses). Each of these tenses has another form, called the Progressive. Tenses will be further discussed below.
Voice: The voice of a verb shows whether the subject of the verb is performing an action or is being acted upon. In the active voice, the subject of the verb performs an action; in the passive voice, the subject of the verb is being acted upon. For example:
Active Voice: Socrates asserts that humans inherently know everything.
Passive Voice: The assertion that humans inherently know everything is made by Socrates.
Note that the word by is not part of the verb; however, by often accompanies verbs in the passive voice.
Mood: The mood of a verb denotes the attitude of the speaker. English verbs can take one of three moods: indicative, imperative, or subjunctive.
Indicative: The indicative mood is used to express questions and statements.
Example: Approximately 30,000 people speak Irish as their native language.
Imperative: The imperative mood is used to give commands or directions.
Example: Eat your beets!
Subjunctive: The subjunctive mood is used to express a wish, a request, a requirement, or a condition that is contrary to fact. Often, subjunctives are accompanied by the helping verbs would, could, orshould.