Which one is correct? If I am talking about the past.. How should I use "was" or "were" if there is an V2 in place:

e.g. "They spoke" or "They were spoke"

and another thing about adverbs.. How I can know I have to put adverb before or after a verb..

e.g. "includes entirely" or "entirely includes"

Sorry if something I asked seems kind of stupid. I'm ESL student.

  • There are no stupid questions. What would be stupid would be not asking! :) Jul 20, 2013 at 18:51

2 Answers 2

  1. I urge you to abandon use of the designations "V1", "V2", and so forth; these have no consistent meanings among either grammarians or teachers. For instance, the first two sources I found on Google used "V2" for the simple present and simple past forms, respectively, and "V3" for the simple past and present participle.

    In any case, mere numbers are not informative. Use these terms instead, which are universally understood:

    Infinitive:          be           speak          help
    Simple present:      am/are/is    speak/speaks   help/helps
    Simple past:         was/were     spoke          helped
    Present participle:  being        speaking       helping  
    Past participle:     been         spoken         helped

    There is more about these at the tag wiki for .

  2. You are confusing the 'simple past' form and the 'past participle'. The simple past form is never used with auxiliary verbs.

    They were spoke. This is not a grammatical English sentence.

    What is probably confusing you is the fact that in regular (weak) verbs the simple past and the past participle are identical, the -ed form: help: helped, helped. But in strong and irregular verbs they are usually distinct: speak: spoke, spoken; run: ran, run; be: was/were, been, and so forth.

  3. There are two constructions which use a form of BE with a form of the main verb. The first of these uses BE with the present participle to form what are called progressive or continuous or progressive constructions. These signify that the action is not finished or completed but continuing:

    They are speaking. This is the present progressive: they are right now in the act of speaking.
    They were speaking. This is the past progressive: they were at that time in the act of speaking.

  4. The second construction uses BE with the past participle. This construction is called the passive; it 'promotes' the direct object or indirect object of a verb, the noun or pronoun which is the Patient or Recipient of the action, to the subject of the passive construction.

    She kisses meI am kissed (by her).
    She kissed meI was kissed (by her).

    Observe that we do not "speak" people; we speak words to people, and this must be preserved in the passive construction:

    They were spoken. This is not English; you must say
     They were spoken to.

    And happen is an intransitive verb: syntactically, it does not take either a direct or an indirect object. Consequently, you cannot use the passive construction with happen:

    This was happened to me. This is meaningless in English. What you probably mean is the past progressive construction:
     This was happening to me.

The rules governing where an adverb may be placed are complicated. I endorse J.R.'s suggestion that you pose this as a separate question.

marks a usage as unacceptable

  • Thanks a lots, This is great answer, I went to verb-forms info that really helpful. I am starting correct my misunderstood. by the way. If I remember correctly, back to my high-school life, there is something like continuous tense along verbs ends with -ing. Is it obsoleted now? so it had replaced by present particle? Jul 12, 2013 at 20:20
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    @Smile.Hunter That is the set of constructions I address in #3, using BE + present participle. The present participle is the one with the -ing ending (which may also act as a noun or adjective). Jul 12, 2013 at 20:31

Both this was happened and they were spoke are ungrammatical and should be avoided.

If you are talking about the past, you say, "This happened to me."

You wouldn't use was or were with a V2 (unless V2 ends with -ing), although you can use has and had, depending on what you are trying to say. All of these are grammatical:

This has happened to me several times before.
This had happened to me three times, until I finally figured out how to fix the problem.
This was happening to me three times a day, until I grew tired of it.

As for the adverb, in many cases (such as in the two-word snippet you provided in your question), adverbs can either precede or come after the verb. Quite often, where you decide to place the adverb entirely depends on personal preference. Let me say that again, just to be clear: In those cases, where you put the adverb depends entirely on personal preference. However, one can't always place an adverb arbitrarily, as StoneyB mentioned in a comment to this answer – it depends on the words used, and the structure of the surrounding sentence.

In the future, though, those are two different questions, and they should be asked as two different questions, not combined as one.

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    This is not quite true. An adverb cannot be placed between a transitive verb and its object(s): *He gave immediately me a fistful of dollars, *He kissed passionately her. Jul 12, 2013 at 13:42
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    You use was or were with verbs in the passive voice. I suspect this is part of what is confusing the OP. Jul 12, 2013 at 14:14
  • @StoneyB: You are quite right; the order of adverbs and verbs is not always arbitrary; only in certain contexts. I may need to revise this answer – although, in some contexts, the order can vary.
    – J.R.
    Jul 12, 2013 at 15:06

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