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tommac
2010-Mar-30, 01:43 AM
Serious question here ... what are the 20 most important verbs to know in the english language.

Like if someone needed to do a crash course in english what would be the 20 verbs he/she would want to know?

Jeff Root
2010-Mar-30, 02:21 AM
I know that I could look up "Basic English" in my dictionary (from ~1964)
and find a list of verbs that somebody thought were important, but there
are more than 20, and I don't want to edit the list, so I'm not going to
look at it.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Gillianren
2010-Mar-30, 03:41 AM
First and foremost is "to be." I'd also put "to have" up there--entertainingly, one of the languages I worked to learn doesn't have a verb "to have"; we agreed that it's why the English kept overrunning Ireland. Possession is more important in English than Gaelic!

Just off the top of my head, here's a short list.

To eat
To drink
To go
To say
To look
To stop (you only really need one form of it, but it's awfully important)
To see
To put

From there, I'd have to put more thought into it. I'm also curious as to why you're asking the question.

PraedSt
2010-Mar-30, 03:41 AM
Assuming an Earth civilization, the 20 most important verbs are usually the same in any language.

01101001
2010-Mar-30, 03:51 AM
How do you rank importance? Important for understanding normal texts?

Important for carrying on conversations? Important for survival? Important to financial success? Important for hooking up?

Here's frequency:

Wikipedia: Most common words in English :: Verbs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_common_words_in_English#Parts_of_speech)

Verbs


be
have
do
eat
sleep
drink
put
keep
run
walk
say
get
make
go
know
take
see
come
think
look

Chuck
2010-Mar-30, 04:29 AM
"Gimme" is the most useful.

mugaliens
2010-Mar-30, 08:36 AM
How do you rank importance? Important for understanding normal texts?

Important for carrying on conversations? Important for survival? Important to financial success? Important for hooking up?

Here's frequency:

Wikipedia: Most common words in English :: Verbs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_common_words_in_English#Parts_of_speech)

Verbs


be
have
do
eat
sleep
drink
put
keep
run
walk
say
get
make
go
know
take
see
come
think
look


Commonality is not commensurate with importance. How about:

1. Air (breath)
2. Shelter (warm, cool, dry, humidify)
3. Water (drink)
4. Food (eat)

Armed with these four, I'm good to go for months, if not years, barring other misfortune.

5. Health (treat, suture, medicate, nurture...)

You get the idea.

Jens
2010-Mar-30, 09:49 AM
You might try sleep too. And awaken, because it's difficult to do the eating thing without that verb. Chew might be nice too, so you don't choke. And we'll forget the other two that you probably want to have handy, i.e. the ones you do in the WC. :)

Veeger
2010-Mar-30, 04:56 PM
Verbs


be
have
do
eat
sleep
drink
put
keep
run
walk
say
get
make
go
know
take
see
come
think
look


I would say "to need" and "to want" are very important - much more so than keep or walk.

kleindoofy
2010-Mar-30, 08:05 PM
The OP asked:

what are the 20 most important verbs to know in the english language.

not:

"what are the 20 most important things a person needs to survive on Earth?"

If you're looking for a hotel in an English speaking country and only speak a few words of the same, you'll hardly go up to somebody and say "shelter?!"

A hand movement is even plenty for asking for food and drink.

The list provided by 01101001 is pretty close. For building basic sentences, the verbs have, want, do, and be are surely the most important for starting off.

I think a glance at the first few pages of most any Berlitz travel book for non-English speakers would provide about 12 others.

Jeff Root
2010-Mar-31, 01:05 AM
kleindoofy,

This will be the first test of whether I can post under the new vBulletin version...

Mugs wasn't saying that the word "shelter" was one of the words. He was saying that
the verbs enclosed in parentheses after the word "shelter" were the important verbs:


1. Air (breath)
2. Shelter (warm, cool, dry, humidify)
3. Water (drink)
4. Food (eat)
Not that "humidify" would get a lot of usage....

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

kleindoofy
2010-Mar-31, 01:14 AM
Nevertheless, even those words aren't the bare minimum necessary for communication or trying to build simple sentences. Note: "communication" not "survival."

"hey, you, you go house?, I want go too. I take bus, you ok?, I have money, what I give bus?"

go
want
take
(be)
have
give

Bluevision
2010-Mar-31, 01:28 AM
I would say, in a vague order-thing

1. To Be
2. To Have
3. To Go
4. To Want
5. To Need
6. To Do
7. To See
8. To Make
9. To Say
10. To Be Able To (Can)
11. To Stop
12. To Think
13. To Like
14. To Bring
15. To Buy
16. To Eat
17. To Drink
18. To Take
19. To Put
20. To Take

For some reason, doing that in almost any other language seems like it'd be a lot easier.

DrRocket
2010-Mar-31, 05:50 AM
Serious question here ... what are the 20 most important verbs to know in the english language.

Like if someone needed to do a crash course in english what would be the 20 verbs he/she would want to know?

1. ****
2. ****
3. ****
4. ****
5. ****
6. ****
7. ****
8. ****
9. ****
10. *****
11. *****
12. *******
13. *****
14. *******
15. *****
16. *******
17. ******
18. *******
19. ******
20. *******

sarongsong
2010-Mar-31, 10:47 PM
..."hey, you, you go house?, I want go too. I take bus, you ok?, I have money, what I give bus?"...Sounds like pidgin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pidgin).

mugaliens
2010-Apr-01, 08:33 AM
The OP asked:

what are the 20 most important verbs to know in the english language.

not:

"what are the 20 most important things a person needs to survive on Earth?"

And the difference is...?


If you're looking for a hotel in an English speaking country and only speak a few words of the same, you'll hardly go up to somebody and say "shelter?!"

Actually, just sidling amongst an underroof crowd in a rainstorm suffices. If you need to sleep, hands together next to one's head with eyes closed suffices.


A hand movement is even plenty for asking for food and drink.

Absolutely.

99% of such gestures involve obtain food and shelter - which is, when you're in a third world country without support and you don't speak the language, very close to survival.

Despite visiting 33 countries, only once have I had to beat the brush for food and shelter.

Swift
2010-Apr-01, 02:46 PM
1. ****
2. ****
3. ****
4. ****
5. ****
6. ****
7. ****
8. ****
9. ****
10. *****
11. *****
12. *******
13. *****
14. *******
15. *****
16. *******
17. ******
18. *******
19. ******
20. *******
My God, Its full of stars!
;)

Argos
2010-Apr-01, 05:00 PM
No mention to Love. It suggests it´s not that important.

PraedSt
2010-Apr-02, 08:45 PM
No mention to Love. It suggests it´s not that important.

Well, you know what they say. The best way to learn a language is to have local girlfriend.

danscope
2010-Apr-02, 09:12 PM
Love, understand , listen , teach , learn , sing, play ,feed , resist , repair , avoid , nurture , prepare , heal , nourish , plant , prune , till , harvest ,
investigate ( as in science ) , fly , swim, build,
laugh .
thare are others ....but....

Paul Beardsley
2010-Apr-02, 09:30 PM
I teach English as a Foreign Language for a living, and for the last few months I've been teaching mostly at Beginner level. The verbs I teach first pretty much correspond to 01101001's list, with perhaps a few quibbles - I'd include "get up" and "drive", "watch" instead of "look", and "like" before "know" or "think".

The reason for this is that the first tense taught is the present simple, which is best illustrated by a daily routine: My name is John. I am a doctor. I get up at 7.00. I have breakfast at 8.00. I drive to work at 9.00... This personalises it, makes it relevant to the student.

Mugaliens, some of the words in your list are not verbs, and some of the others are more likely to be used as nouns or adjectives in the context.

Jeff Root
2010-Apr-02, 09:33 PM
I'd think that "cut" would be an extremely important verb.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Jeff Root
2010-Apr-02, 09:40 PM
Paul,

The one word in mugaliens' list which isn't a verb is "breath", because he
left off the "e" at the end of the word "breathe". Which is an important
thing to do, but isn't a particularly important verb.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

kleindoofy
2010-Apr-02, 09:53 PM
I agree with Paul Beardsley.

I interpret the OP question as:

"What are the 20 most basic English verbs, the ones which will be most usefull for conversing in English - not matter what the topic is - and therefore the first ones one should learn?"

and not:

"What are the 20 most important things for humans and what are the English words for them?"

Take the following case. You don't speak English, but a retired teacher from England (monoglot) will be staying at your house for a few months. You've been told that he likes to have nice long talks, about all kinds of things. So you buy a good bilingual dictionary: YOU-English/English-YOU.

You can look up most any verb in the dictionary, but what are the basic verbs you need to help build simple sentences and which will help you get started? I.e., which 20 verbs will pop up in every other sentence? have, say, want, be, go, look, can, will ...

stutefish
2010-Apr-02, 10:15 PM
I don't know about verbs, specifically, but having lived in a foreign country for an extended period of time, I can say from experience that the first major improvement in daily life came when I had enough words to navigate a dinner table and find a restroom.

I imagine the verbs that help with those two activities will be among the twenty most important to learn "if someone needed to do a crash course in english". Which is, please note, the exact specification given by the OP.

Strangely enough, "enumerate the things most necessary for my survival and well-being" never really came up as a requirement during my time overseas (though of course as I gained fluency I would have been easily able to meet such a challenge, had it ever been offered).

PraedSt
2010-Apr-02, 10:27 PM
Take the following case. You don't speak English, but a retired teacher from England (monoglot) will be staying at your house for a few months. You've been told that he likes to have nice long talks, about all kinds of things. So you buy a good bilingual dictionary: YOU-English/English-YOU.

You can look up most any verb in the dictionary, but what are the basic verbs you need to help build simple sentences and which will help you get started? I.e., which 20 verbs will pop up in every other sentence? have, say, want, be, go, look, can, will ...
I'll just reiterate my earlier point. The 20 most useful English verbs are the same as the 20 most useful verbs in any language. If, say, I went to Germany to visit kleindoofy, I'd need to know the same verbs: have, say, want, be, go, look, can, will, etc- but in German of course. This "English" is a red herring. Basic verbs are universal.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Apr-02, 10:31 PM
First words to learn in any language: yes, no, drink, coffee and beer. The rest are luxury:whistle:

kleindoofy
2010-Apr-02, 10:41 PM
... If, say, I went to Germany to visit kleindoofy, I'd need to know the same verbs: have, say, want, be, go, look, can, will, etc- but in German of course. ...
Aber nur für den Fall, daß wir uns auf Deutsch unterhalten würden. Da ich aber muttersprache englisch bin, ist das unwahrscheinlich. Es sei denn, Du willst etwas lernen, dann gerne.


... This "English" is a red herring. Basic verbs are universal.
Unless, of course, you want to know what those basic verbs are in the English language.

If so, you could start a thread on - hmmm, let's say on the BAUT forum. and call it "What are the 20 most important verbs to know in the english." :lol:

Jeff Root
2010-Apr-02, 10:46 PM
Utterly off-topic: All the beer I've ever consumed and all the coffee I've ever
consumed would simultaneously fit in the glass that I'm using right now.
Not that even I would have the temerity to put beer and coffee in a glass
simultaneously....

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Paul Beardsley
2010-Apr-02, 10:47 PM
I'll just reiterate my earlier point. The 20 most useful English verbs are the same as the 20 most useful verbs in any language. If, say, I went to Germany to visit kleindoofy, I'd need to know the same verbs: have, say, want, be, go, look, can, will, etc- but in German of course. This "English" is a red herring. Basic verbs are universal.
I don't think it's that simple. For instance, you include "look" in your list. Why not "see" or "watch"? I'd favour "watch" because, as I said, you can include it in your daily routine: "I watch TV in the evening."

I wouldn't include "want" in the first 20 because you can't include it in a daily routine - you use it in the present simple for things that are generally true which you learn after you've grasped the present simple for something that happens every day - and it's not a concept you can explain until the student understands "have" and "get"

"Can" is usually used as an auxiliary rather than a verb on its own. Students need to know "he drives" before they're going to understand "he can drive."

"Will" is also usually used as an auxiliary, usually for the future. Other languages have a proper future tense, so "will" is not used in the same way.

PraedSt
2010-Apr-02, 10:52 PM
Aber nur für den Fall, daß wir uns auf Deutsch unterhalten würden. Da ich aber muttersprache englisch bin, ist das unwahrscheinlich. Es sei denn, Du willst etwas lernen, dann gerne.
Google's effort: "But just in case that we would talk in German. As I am English but mother tongue, that is unlikely. Unless you want to learn something, then fine."

HenrikOlsen
2010-Apr-02, 10:54 PM
Basic verbs are universal.
But there are languages in which some verbs you'd consider crucial in English doesn't exist a single words, Gillianren mentioned 'to have' in Gaelic.

The concept may be universal, but how it's expressed in language isn't.

kleindoofy
2010-Apr-02, 10:55 PM
... I wouldn't include "want" in the first 20 ...
I would, especially for questions. "Do you want to ...?" is easier than "would you like to ...?"
(Maybe it would be best to jump right to "wanna" ;) )


... auxiliary ...
Verb is verb. That's why I put them in the list.

"Will" is, of course, a tense of "be," so, yes, it's redundant.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Apr-02, 11:00 PM
"Will" is, of course, a tense of "be," so, yes, it's redundant.
Huh?

Yesterday I walked to work. Tomorrow I will walk to work.

Where's the "be"?

PraedSt
2010-Apr-02, 11:11 PM
Huh?

Yesterday I walked to work. Tomorrow I will walk to work.

Where's the "be"?
IIRC, "will" is two verbs. One is part of is/are/be/am...which is what kleindoofy was refering to. The other is to wish/want.

kleindoofy
2010-Apr-02, 11:14 PM
Huh?

Yesterday I walked to work. Tomorrow I will walk to work.

Where's the "be"?
Errr, oops. I was thinking of "will be" in the sense of future state of being and got mixed up with German "werden" in the sense of "ich werde sein." Unlike in English, the "werde/will" can be used independently.

I live totally bilingual, constantly switching back and forth between English and German and get things mixed up now and then.

PraedSt
2010-Apr-02, 11:20 PM
But there are languages in which some verbs you'd consider crucial in English doesn't exist a single words, Gillianren mentioned 'to have' in Gaelic.

The concept may be universal, but how it's expressed in language isn't.
Agreed. But a very small percentage of languages, and maybe one or two verbs out of twenty. If you take the 20 most useful verbs in your mother tongue, and then learn their equivalents in the target language, I don't think you'd go far wrong.

DrRocket
2010-Apr-02, 11:21 PM
Errr, oops. I was thinking of "will be" in the sense of future state of being and got mixed up with German "werden" in the sense of "ich werde sein." Unlike in English, the "werde/will" can be used independently.

I live totally bilingual, constantly switching back and forth between English and German and get things mixed up now and then.

It is easy to tell the difference. If the speaker has been talking for several minutes, and you are still waiting for the verb, the language is probably German.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Apr-02, 11:21 PM
IIRC, "will" is two verbs. One is part of is/are/be/am...which is what kleindoofy was refering to.
No.

The verb "to be" consists of the present form "am/is/are", the past simple "was/were", the past participle "been" and the bare infinitive "be".

The auxiliary "will" has no special relationship with "be". Will can be used with any verb's bare infinitive: will be, will drive, will eat.

ETA: kleindoofy acknowledged the mistake.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Apr-02, 11:24 PM
It is easy to tell the difference. If the speaker has been talking for several minutes, and you are still waiting for the verb, the language is probably German.

Could be Arabic! :)

Paul Beardsley
2010-Apr-02, 11:26 PM
Agreed. But a very small percentage of languages, and maybe one or two verbs out of twenty. If you take the 20 most useful verbs in your mother tongue, and then learn their equivalents in the target language, I don't think you'd go far wrong.

I broadly agree with this sentiment, but it's risky to assume universality in language.

Even things like countable and uncountable nouns, which are obviously going to be the same in every language, aren't.

PraedSt
2010-Apr-02, 11:29 PM
No.

The verb "to be" consists of the present form "am/is/are", the past simple "was/were", the past participle "been" and the bare infinitive "be".

The auxiliary "will" has no special relationship with "be". Will can be used with any verb's bare infinitive: will be, will drive, will eat.

Then I recall wrongly! Funny, I always thought it was part of that complex.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Apr-02, 11:35 PM
Well from the sound of it, if you say, "I will a doctor next year" in German, it will be taken to mean that in a year you will have your doctorate. Say it in English, though, and people will think, "I will what a doctor? Be one? Marry one? Sue one?"