Matching X-Words to Verbs

X-words have to match verb forms. The rules below are true 100% of the time; there are no exceptions.


X-Words Matching Verb Forms
Do family: do, does, did Base Form
Modals: can, could, will, would, shall, should, must, might, may Base Form
Have family: have, has, had DTN form
Be family: am, is, are, was, were -ing form in active; DTN form in passive

Mark x-words in your own writing. Then look to the right of each x-word. Find the verb. Is it in the right form?

Note: In x-word grammar, the names for verb forms make sense when you understand them. We say DTN instead of “past participle” because there’s nothing past about the past participle. The time is in the x-word, not in the verb form.

Examples of verb forms:
base form: come, go, say, see
DTN form: come, gone, said, seen
-ing form: coming, going, saying, seeing

Evidence that the time is in the x-word, not the verb form:
Now: I don’t know for sure, but I think the people in the photo are the tennis player Li Na and her coach Carlos Rodriguez.
Before: I didn’t know anything about them when I saw them practice before the 2013 US Open, but soon after this photo was taken I read an interesting New York Times article and realized who they were.
Past to now: They have known each other for years and they’ve learned a lot from their tennis collaboration.

Click below for a verb list.