Home / Verbs /

Understanding Base Form of a Verb (Definition, Examples, Words)

What is base form? Have you ever heard of base form? What does this mean for English learners? In this article, we’ll explore the concept of base form and how you can use it to improve your English skills.

What is the base form of a verb?

The base form of a verb is the simplest form of the verb, without any tense or conjugation. It is the version of the verb without any prefixes or suffixes (for example, -s, -ing, and ed).

For example, the base form of “walk” is just “walk”, without any additional suffixes or changes. To indicate that the action happened in the past, you would add a past tense suffix (e.g., walked), and to indicate that it will happen in the future, you would add a future tense suffix (e.g., will walk). 

There are also different forms for singular and plural subjects and different pronouns (I/you/he/she/it/we/they), but all of these are based on the same base form of the verb. The base form is crucial because it is the form you must use when conjugating a verb. 

Examples of base forms of verbs

  1. Have (This is not a base form – having)
  2. Eat (These are not a base form – Eating, ate, eats)
  3. Drink (These are not the base form – Drinking, drinks, drunk)
  4. Sit (These are not the base form – Sitting, sat, sits)
  5. Stand (These are not the base form – Standing, stands, stood)
  6. Love (These are not the base form – Loving, loved, loves)
  7. Like (These are not the base form – Liking, liked, likes)
  8. Want (These are not the base form – Wanting, wanted, wants)
  9. Need (These are not the base form – needs, needing)
  10. See (These are not the base form – Seeing, saw, sees)

How base form appears in the present tense

The base form appears in the present tense by remaining unchanged. For example, the base form of ‘walks’ is ‘walk.’ Thus, conjugating into the present tense, it remains as ‘walks.’

Another example would be the base form of reads being read.

How base form appears in infinitive form

The base form of a verb is the same as the infinitive but without the to. For example, to eat is the infinitive, and eat is the base form. To drink is the infinitive, and drink is the base form.

The “to” is a part of the verb when you use an infinitive verb; it is not acting as a preposition in this case.

How base form appears in the imperative mood

One commonly used grammatical mood is imperative. In imperative sentences, the subject is understood to be ‘you,’ and the base form of the verb is used.

For example, instead of saying, “You open the door,” one would say, “Open the door.” 

The tone of an imperative sentence is often directive or commanding. However, it can also convey a request or invitation, as in “Please come to my birthday party.”

Using the base form in this mood helps to create a direct and efficient message.

How base form appears in the subjunctive mood

The subjunctive mood is often used in formal or polite requests and can be identified using base form verbs. The subjunctive mood helps express wishes, proposals, suggestions, or imaginary scenarios.

For example: “I wish I could look at that building all day.”

Understanding the five verb forms

The five verb forms are:

Why is base form important?

The base form of a verb is important because it is the root of the word. It’s from the base form that you conjugate other forms of the verb, depending on tense, person, and number.

The same principle applies to all languages. Using the base form of a verb correctly is essential for proper pronunciation and grammar.


What is a base form example?

The base form is a term used in grammar to refer to the simplest form of a word. For example, the base form of “walks” is “walk.” The base form of a verb is typically used when the verb is being conjugated into its various tenses.

Is “have” a base form?

Yes, the base form of the verb is have. The past tense is had. The past participle is had. The present participle is having.

The verb have can be used in a variety of ways, including:

  • As a main verb (I have a cat)
  • An auxiliary verb (I am having lunch)
  • A modal verb (I might have left my phone at home)
  • It can also be used to indicate possession (Peter has a lot of money). 
What is the base form of “get?

The base form of “get” is simply “get.” To mean “to obtain something,” use the phrasal verb “to get something.” For example, “I’m going to get a new car.” means I will obtain a new one.


Fact checked:
Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. Learn more.

About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.