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2.4 Verbs: Split Verbs

Questions and negative statements split verbs into two parts.
In a question, the subject splits the verb apart.
Some of the union members are voting for the strike.
Are some of the union members voting for the strike?
In a negative statement, the word not splits the verb.
Some of the union members are not voting for the strike.
Sometimes the word not contracts and attaches itself to the first part of the split verb:
Some of the union members aren't voting for the strike.

Tip for finding verbs: Look for auxiliaries. If you find one, look for a main verb accompanying it. Remember that auxiliaries are sometimes squeezed into contractions.

Application 6

When you turned the sentences of Application 6 into questions or negative statements, you split the verbs between the first auxiliary and the rest of the verb string. But what happens when the verb is a single word? You have to change a single-word verb to a verb string before you can split it. For this purpose, add the auxiliary do, does, or did. Then split the string to make the question or negative statement:

Those people train tigers. -- Those people do train tigers.
Question: Do those people train tigers?
Negative: Those people do not train tigers.

Sandra trains tigers. -- Sandra does train tigers.
Question: Does Sandra train tigers?
Negative: Sandra does not train tigers.

Sandra trained tigers several years ago. -- Sandra did train tigers several years ago.
Question: Did Sandra train tigers several years ago?
Negative: Sandra did not train tigers several years ago.

Notice that if the single-word verb ends in -s or -ed, it drops that ending as it enters the verb string, allowing the auxiliary to show the time clues. Chapters 9 and 10 explain this shift. For now, practice adding do, does, or did and then splitting the new verb string.


Tip for finding verbs: Turn each sentence into a negative statement. The word not will come before the main verb and after any auxiliaries. (When a form of the verb to be stands alone as a single-word verb, it is an exception; it will come right before the word not.)

Application 7

The verb to be often behaves differently from other verbs. When a form of to be stands alone as a single word verb, it doesn't need to split to form a question or a negative statement. It simply moves to the beginning for a question, or adds not for a negative statement:

Dinosaurs were warm-blooded. Were dinosaurs warm-blooded?

Their bones are like birds' bones. Their bones are not like birds' bones.

Application 8

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