Adjectives and Verbs – Help

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A student learning English wrote:

I want to helpful them.

Can you see the error? Do you understand the problem?

The Correct Pattern

It should be:

I want to help them


I want to be helpful to them.

Categories of Words

There are categories of words in grammar. The main categories are noun, verb, adjective and adverb.

Word Family

Most words have a family of other words which are similar but with different endings. These are called word families. Look at this word family:

to help (verb)
a helper (noun)
some help (noun)
helpful (adjective)
helped (verb – past tense)
helps (verb third person singular present tense)
helping (present participle)

To master English grammar, it is necessary to understand the different forms of each word and to know how to use each word. This is not so difficult for speakers of European languages which are similar to English but it can be very difficult for speakers of Asian languages which use different word categories top English.

The Problems of Chinese Learners

People who speak Chinese, Thai, Lao, Cambodian or Indonesian or other languages with different classes of words will be confused. They will be confused by English word categories.

Learn Vocabulary in Context

The best way to learn vocabulary is in context. That means you should learn each word in a sentence. You have to see the word in a situation with a meaning then you will understand it. Look at these Examples which illustrate the vocabulary from the list above:
Vocabulary is the Key!

I want to help them. (verb)

I want to be a helper. (noun)

I need some help. (noun)

I want to be helpful. (adjective)

He is very helpful. (adjective)

I helped my friend to cook the dinner. (verb – past tense)

My father helps me do my homework. (verb third person singular present tense)

I am helping my daughter to do her homework. (present continuous tense)

Correcting Errors

The student who wrote: “I want to helpful them” did not understand the difference between a verb and an adjective. If you use an adjective, it goes with a “be” verb:

I want to be helpful.
She is helpful.
They are very helpful.

If you use a verb, it goes with a subject:

I want to help them.
She wants to help them.
I help them every day.
I helped them to understand.
They helped me to understand.
He helped me to understand.
It helped me to understand.

Questions – Clearing up Confusion

Is that clear?
If you are confused, ask a question. Write your question in the comments section below.


Follow the Links and listen and read more lessons:

Can I be of Assistance?
Understanding Grammar
Travel Broadens the Mind
Vocabulary is the Key


A Song about Helping your Friends


12 Responses to “Adjectives and Verbs – Help”

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  2. Robby Kangwa says:

    THis is avery helpful and educative lesson.Of late many people are paying little attention to the grammatical rules of the English language.The dawn of SMSs and social media have worsened the situation.Hence making it difficult to teach the English Language.Could the dawn of commuincative Language part of it.

  3. Amanda Ribón Villa says:

    Thank you very much for your help. I understand this lesson.

  4. Jorge Loayza says:

    Thank you very much. Excellent lesson about word family. You helped me to understand the difference between a verb and an adjetive.

    • Robby Kangwa says:

      Is it correct if one says”You helped me understanding the difference between a verb and an adjective”

      • Jude says:

        You can say “You helped me to understand…” or even “You helped me understand…” You can also say, “You helped me to gain understanding…”
        We do not say “You helped me understanding”

  5. Yesufwork Girma says:

    I am understand the difference between verb and adjectives.
    I have some questions is there difference what is the difference between verb, adjectives and phrase?

    Thank you

    • Mark White says:

      I understand the difference between verbs and adjectives.
      A verb is an action word like “go” or “eat”.
      An adjective is a describing word like “big” “small” “expensive” or “beautiful”.
      A phrase is a group of words like “a long nose” or “beautiful eyes” or “speak English” or “live in an apartment”.

    • Jude says:

      A verb is a “doing word” (run)
      An adjective describes the noun (pink dress)
      A phrase is a small group of words

  6. Ria says:

    Thank you very much fot this lesson. I understand it.

  7. I understand this lesson am so happy to member of students
    here istil I am student until finish to this language thanks for helping people’s Good by

  8. Carlos says:

    Which is the place (the order of usage) of different adjectives in the phrase? I think it depends on each
    adjective mean.

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