What is Conjugation? Definition, Examples of Verb Conjugation

Conjugation definition: Conjugation is the changing of a verb’s form to express a different person, number, tense, aspect, or gender.

What is Conjugation?

In order to communicate in more than one tone, verbs must be conjugated. To conjugate something is to change a verb’s form to express a different meaning.

Conjugation Changes to Express:

  • person (subject)
  • number (singular or plural)
  • tense (past, present, future)
  • aspect (the degree to which the action is completed)
  • gender (male or female—in some languages but not in English)

Changing (or conjugating) a verb means taking it out of its infinitive (base) form and making it fit the sentence appropriately.

Verb conjugations have various forms according to the different English verb tenses. Furthermore, English verb conjugation changes with regular and irregular verbs.

How Do You Conjugate a Verb?

Let’s look at one example to get an overview of this idea.

Verb (infinitive/base form): to dance

Simple present conjugation:

  • I dance.
  • You dance. (singular and plural)
  • He/She/It dances.
  • We dance.
  • They dance.

Conjugated Verbs Communicate Many Things

conjugation meaning A conjugated verb expresses several different concepts. This is why it is important to use proper conjugation. Improper conjugation is very confusing to an audience.

Some of the concepts that a conjugated verb expresses are detailed below.

For each of the aspects of conjugation, we will use an example in present simple tense.

How Verb Conjugation Affects Person

Example infinitive verb: to cook

conjugation define In English, conjugation for “person” refers to the subject. Even though some languages do not require it, the English language requires that the subject be stated in every sentence (whether the subject is a noun or pronoun).

Consequently, conjugation changes depending on the subject.

  • I cook.
  • You cook. (singular)
  • He/She/It cooks.
  • We cook.
  • You cook. (plural)
  • They cook.

How Verb Conjugation Affects Number

what is a conjugated verb Conjugation for “number” refers to whether the verb is used with a singular or plural subject. The appropriate conjugation needs to be used depending on the number of the subject.

  • Singular: I cook.
  • Singular: You cook.
  • Singular: He/She/It cooks.
  • Plural: We cook.
  • Plural: You cook.
  • Plural: They cook.

How Verb Conjugation Affects Tense

conjugated verbs Three tenses exist in the English language: past, present, and future. Verbs are conjugated to express in which tense they occur.

Simple present:

For English verbs, the only change in the present simple tense is that an “-s” is added to the end of the third person singular verb.

  • I cook.
  • You cook. (singular)
  • He/She/It cooks.
  • We cook.
  • You cook. (plural)
  • They cook.

Simple past:

For most English verbs, a “-d” or “-ed” is added to the base form to create the past tense.

  • I cooked.
  • You cooked. (singular)
  • He/She/It cooked.
  • We cooked.
  • You cooked. (plural)
  • They cooked.

Simple future:

For English verbs, “will” is added between the subject and the base form of the verb to create the simple future tense.

  • I will cook.
  • You will cook. (singular)
  • He/She/It will cook.
  • We will cook.
  • You will cook. (plural)
  • They will cook.

How Verb Conjugation Affects Aspect

The aspect of a verb changes to express the degree to which an action is completed. In English, three aspects exist: simple, progressive, and perfect. Verbs are conjugated accordingly.

Each aspect exists in the past, present, and future tenses. For these examples, the present aspect of simple, progressive, and perfect is used.

Simple:

  • I cook.
  • You cook. (singular)
  • He/She/It cooks.
  • We cook.
  • You cook. (plural)
  • They cook.

Progressive:

  • I am cooking.
  • You are cooking. (singular)
  • He/She/It is cooking.
  • We are cooking.
  • You are cooking. (plural)
  • They are cooking.

Perfect:

  • I have cooked.
  • You have cooked. (singular)
  • He/She/It has cooked.
  • We have cooked.
  • You have cooked. (plural)
  • They have cooked.

How Verb Conjugation Affects Gender

English verbs and conjugation are unaffected by gender (male/female).

  • He cooks.
  • She cooks.

Regular, Irregular Conjugations

Conjugation works differently for regular and irregular verbs.

Regular verbs:

what is conjugate A regular verb is a verb that when conjugated follows a regular pattern.

Regular verbs add “-d,” “-ed,” or “-ied” to form the past tense or past participle.

Examples:

  • to soothe/soothed
  • to jump/jumped
  • to carry/carried

Irregular verbs:

An irregular verb is a verb that when conjugated does not follow a regular pattern in the past tense or past participle conjugations.

  • to sing/sang
  • to bring/brought
  • to go/went

Summary: What is Verb Conjugation?

Define conjugation: the definition of conjugation is the changing of a verb’s form to show voice, mood, number, tense, and person.

In summary, conjugation:

  • is the form a verb takes to express action
  • varies by person, number, tense, aspect, or gender
  • includes regular and irregular verbs
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