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Base Form

In English grammar, the base form of a verb is the simplest form of a verb, without a special ending (or suffix). It's the form that appears in dictionary entries. Also known as the plain form, simple form, or stem.

Base Form - The original word form

The base form is essentially the form of a word before it has been modified in any way. It is sometimes also called the root word (the basic word before adding a prefix or suffix). It may be a word in its own right; or, it may be a particle that needs to be modified in some way to form a word. 

It is good to know the base form of a word so that you can figure out the different ways the word could be modified. It can also expand your general vocabulary and understanding of the nature of language. 

Learning to use root words

Here is an example for you of a base form being used correctly in a sentence. 

"Because of the fact that a member of his family had died, the man had to take time off from work and go across the country for a week."

In this sentence, the verb "go" is a base form that correctly expresses what it is meant to express.

Now, here is an example of the incorrect use of a base form. 

"Last week, the author goed to Europe in order to sign books; this was part of the professional agreement he had reached with his publishing house." 

The problem here is that the root form "go" has been conjugated in an inappropriate way: the right form would be "went", not "goed".

Just in case you want more information, here are a couple rules for you to follow when you're making use of the base form. 

  1. Depending on the term in question, the base form may be either a standalone word itself, or a word that cannot be used except in a modified form. For example, the base form "go" can be both used by itself and modified, whereas the base form "anti" must be connected with another word in order to make sense. 
  2. The term base form may mean slightly different things, depending on whether you are talking about grammar or etymology. In grammar, it refers to a word that can be conjugated in different ways, depending on the context. In etymology, it refers to the simple roots of meaning that are not themselves words, but that can be found within many different words.  

Background information on base forms

The nature of the base form is reflective of the nature of language more generally. That is, many common words are really amalgamations of other roots or fragments: there are certain basic meanings that are conjugated or modified in myriad ways, in order to produce other, new and different meanings. It is through such interrelations that language, as such, even functions. 

The English language in particular is especially rich in the base form. This is due to the fact that English draws from two very different linguistic heritage: the Germanic heritage, and the Latin heritage. English is a Germanic language at the level of its general structure. However, it has borrowed substantially from the Romance languages at the level of vocabulary. The upshot is that the base form in English can be highly diverse, with one base form being substantially different in both its structure and potentials from other base forms. 

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