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There are many different verb patterns in English. Verbs can be followed by different structures. Should you try to learn them all or should you try learning just a few? In this session we highlight some common patterns and which patterns go with which verbs.

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6 Minute Grammar

Verb patterns

Want to do, like doing, tell someone to do, ask that someone does… Finn and Catherine explore verb patterns in this episode of 6 Minute Grammar.

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Finn              
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Grammar with me, Finn.

Catherine    
And me, Catherine. Hello.

Finn               
In today’s programme we’re talking about three different verb patterns. First, what exactly do we mean by verb patterns, Catherine?

Catherine
Well, here we mean the various language patterns that follow the main verb in a clause or sentence. And the first pattern we’re looking at is verbs which are followed by that. Here’s our first example:

Example
My doctor explained that I had to go to hospital.

Catherine
My doctor explained that I had to go to hospital. So, we have a verb – explain, plus that, and did you notice that the word that is followed by an independent clause? In other words, it's followed by a group of words with a subject and verb, just like like a full sentence. In our example the independent clause was: I had to go to hospital. Now, other verbs that take this pattern include say, warn, explain, suggest and know.

Finn
Right. The second pattern is verbs that are followed by the i-n-g form, or -ing form of another verb. Let's have an example.

Example
We discussed waiting until next year.

Catherine
Now, lots of verbs take this pattern, including advise, try, love, like,and hate. And the third pattern is verbs that are followed by the infinitive with to.

Example
He offered to see me again in a month’s time.

Finn
And verbs that take this pattern include want, need, hope, love and promise. But it’s important to know that with some verbs, you can choose between two of the patterns.

Catherine
You can. So with the verbs suggest and recommend you can choose between that plus a clause or an –ing form. Here's an example:

Example
We suggest that you go to the hospital in Oxford.

Catherine
Or:

Example
We suggest going to the hospital in Oxford.

Finn
And with the verbs ask, propose and promise, you can choose between either that plus a clause, or the infinitive with to. Another example:

Example
I promised that I would let him know my decision.

Catherine
Or:

Example
I promised to let him know my decision.

Finn
A good grammar book will give you a full list of verbs that take more than one pattern. Make sure you keep one handy!

Catherine
Top tip. Now, another point is that some of these verbs can take an object before the infinitive with to. The verb ask is a good example. Listen to this:

Example
I asked the doctor to change my medication.

IDENT          
This is bbclearningenglish.com

Finn               
And we’re looking at verb patterns. Well, we’ve said that some verbs can have an object before the infinitive with to. But there are a few verbs that must always have an object before the infinitive with to. The verbs advise, invite, tell and warn are like this.

Example
He advised me to think carefully about it. He told me not to hurry.

Catherine
Right. Actually that last example is an interesting one. It shows that when you use a negative form with the infinitive, the word not goes before, not after, the infinitive with to. Like this – He told me not to hurry.

Finn
Good point. The verbs advise, ask and warn are like that too, aren’t they? He advised me not to worry, for example.

Catherine
Yes, that’s right. Of course, you can use not before -ing forms as well. Listen to this:

Example
They recommend not eating a big meal in the evening.

Finn
But infinitives are a bit different because you lose the word to in the negative. So it’s possible to say:

Example
They recommend that you not eat a big meal in the evening.

Finn
But that sounds very formal. We usually use don’t instead of not.

Example
They recommend that you don’t eat a big meal in the evening.

Catherine
OK, by now you have probably noticed that most of the verbs we are talking about belong to a particular type.

Finn
Exactly. They are mostly verbs that explain, suggest, advise, offer, promise, report or warn.

Catherine
Try to look out for these verbs and you’ll soon get to know which patterns you need to use.

Finn               
And now: it’s quiz time! Which sentence is correct? a) Carl explained me he would be late home. b) Carl explained that he would be late home.

Catherine
b) is correct. Carl explained that he would be late home. Number 2. Which is correct? a) Which day do you advise us to come? b) Which day do you advise that we come?

Finn
Aha. Both a) and b) are correct!

Catherine
Aha, yes.

Finn
Which day do you advise us to come? and Which day do you advise that we come? Right, number three. a) She warned me not to go out. b) She warned me not going out.

Catherine
And a) is correct. She warned me not to go out.

Finn
And that is the end of the quiz. Congratulations if you got them all right.

Catherine    
Congratulations indeed. And that’s all for now about verb patterns, but there’s more about this on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Grammar.

Both              
Bye!

You can download 6 Minute Grammar from our Unit 29 downloads page. Remember to subscribe to the podcast version!

End of Session 2

So that's all from this session on verb patterns. Do you know someone who's expecting a baby? In Session 3, you can read an article about all the annoying advice expectant parents get!

Pontos de gramática

  • Examples of verb patterns

    Verb + infinitive with to

    I decided to take the car to work.

    (To decide to do something)

    Verb + gerund
    A gerund is the noun form of a verb. In these examples the clause with the gerund acts as the object of the verb.

    He admitted eating the last biscuit.

    (To admit doing something)

    Verb + (that) clause
    In these examples the clause that comes after the verb is that verb's object. You can leave out that.

    I understand (that) you weren't happy with your pay rise.

    (To understand something)

    Verbs + infinitive with to or gerund: same meaning

    to begin, to continue, to start, to prefer, to love, to hate, can't bear, can't stand

    Verbs + infinitive with to or gerund: different meaning

    to like, to remember, to forget, to try, to stop, to go on

     

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