Defective Verbs  in English language are – can, may, must, ought, should.


Common characteristics of these verbs:


1. They have not all verb forms

2 .Do not take s in the third person of the present tense singular


I can I may I must I ought I should
he can he may he must he ought he should


3. They form their interrogative forms by inversion


can I? may I ? must I ? ought I ? should I ?
can he ? may he ? must he ? ought he ? should he ?


4. They form their negative forms by adding not:


I cannot I may not I must not I ought not I should not
he cannot he may not he must not he ought not he should not


5. All these verbs are followed by a bare infinitive except the verb ought which must be followed by an infinitive with to:

I can go now

She must go now

They should go now

I ought to go now


6. They have shortened negative forms:


I can’t I mightn’t I mustn’t
I couldn’t I oughtn’t I shouldn’t

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This page is about Defective Verbs.

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