Tutorial - Conjugation

Tutorial - Conjugation



In this tutorial you will learn how to use the automatic conjugation functionality to transform the verbs on your board based on person, number and tense. Verbo is capable of conjugating regular and irregular verbs in English, Spanish and Catalan in any tense, and it even admits reflexive and affective forms (such as "lavarse" and "me gusta" in Spanish).

Remember that, in order to work with Verbo, you will not normally need to design your communication board from scratch. Most of the time you can just use a pre-made board as a base and edit it to adapt it to your needs. For example, you may freely use any of the boards in the Verbo Community, a collaborative space in which other Verbo users share those resources they create and believe to be of use to others.

Throughout the tutorial we will use concepts such as "page", "cell", "style" and "command" that you should already be familiar with. If you need a reminder, you may consult the user manual.

Nouns, pronouns and verbs

To get started, create a board by selecting "New Board" from the drop-down menu or clicking the toolbar icon. In the pop-up dialog, select any board style you want. For this example we will use the AAC style.

Tutorial - Conjugation

Next, let’s add some cell that act as the subject in our sentences. To make it interesting, let’s add pronouns ("I", "You", "He", etc) as well as proper nouns ("Mary", "John", etc) and common nouns ("Teacher", "My family", "The dog", etc). To add a cell, as you already know, just double click on a free slot in the board and select the type of cell you want. In this case, select "Say something" (the section that appears by default) and "People".

Tutorial - Conjugation

Note that, as you type the cell text, the program will show its detected grammar category in a label at the bottom left. Verbo will do its best to automatically detect the type of cell you are creating based on the selected style and what you type. For example, if you select the style "Verbs" and type "love" as cell text, the program will identify it as a regular verb. If you select "People" and type "grandparents", it will identify it as a third-person plural name. If the program still does not correctly identify the category of the cell you are trying to create, you can always click on the label and edit it manually.

Tutorial - Conjugation

Create some cells that way, e.g. to fill the top row. You can copy the example in the image above, or choose your own selection of nouns and pronouns.

Now let’s add a few verbs. In the middle row, insert several new cells by selecting the "Verbs" style. Try using both regular ("love", "walk") and irregular verbs ("be", "find").

All set up! You already have everything necessary for Verbo to start conjugating automatically. To test it out, just play the board by pressing F5 or the toolbar icon. Try selecting different name and pronoun cells, and see how the verb cells automatically change to match their person and number. For example, "Want" changes to "Wants" when clicking on "He" or "My family". For the time being the conjugation is always in the present tense, but we will change that.

Tutorial - Conjugation

Exit playback by pressing Escape or F5 again. Although this is only an example, it might be a good idea to add Read and Clear cells so you can work more comfortably with the message bar.


As you have seen, by default verbs are displayed in infinitive when the board is first played ("love", "try"), and they are transformed into present tense when you select a noun or pronoun ("loves", "tries"). Sometimes this is enough, but in many cases you will also want to refer to things that have happened in the past or that will happen in the future by conjugating in other tenses.

In Verbo this can be done very easily by using the "Conjugate" command. Let’s start by creating a cell that conjugates the verbs on the board in the past tense. Double click on a slot and select "Custom" cell. Then type the text "Past" and select any symbol you want.

Now add the command "Conjugate" by clicking the + icon at the right of the command list. Open the "Communication" section and select the command. In the dialog you can select several options:

  • Change person.
  • Change number.
  • Change tense.

In this case you are only interested in changing the tense. Check that option, and doing so will enable a drop-down that will allow you to select the tense in which you want to conjugate. Select "Past".

Tutorial - Conjugation

And that’s it. If you play your board now, you will see that by selecting the names/pronouns and the new "Past" cell you will be able to say new phrases such as "My family wanted" or "He loved".

Tutorial - Conjugation

Go back to edition, and try adding other cells that change the conjugation to, for example, future and conditional tense. If you want, instead of creating them from scratch you can copy and paste the "Past" cell that you just created and edit them to change their text, symbol and tense.

More tenses

The tenses that appear in the drop-down when editing the "Conjugation" command (infinitive, present, past, future and conditional) will be sufficient for most cases, but Verbo is capable of conjugating in every tense of the indicative and subjunctive mode, as well as in impersonal forms. The full list is:

Impersonal forms:

  • Infinitive (love)
  • Participle (loved)
  • Gerund (loving)

Imperative mode:

  • Imperative (love)

Indicative mode:

  • Present simple (I love)"
  • Present perfect (I have loved)"
  • Present continuous (I am loving)"
  • Past simple (I loved)"
  • Past perfect (I had loved)"
  • Past continuous (I was loving)"
  • Past imperfect (I would love)"
  • Future simple (I will love)"
  • Future perfect (I will have loved)"
  • Future continuous (I will be loving)"
  • Conditional simple (I would love)"
  • Conditional perfect (I would have loved)"

Subjunctive mode:

  • Present subjunctive (I be)"
  • Past simple subjunctive (I were)"
  • Past perfect subjunctive (I had loved)"
  • Past pluperfect subjunctive (I had loved)"
  • Future simple subjunctive (I will love)"
  • Future perfect subjunctive (I will have loved)"

Other languages may support other tenses. For example, in Spanish there are two variants for past simple subjunctive (yo amara, yo amase), and in Catalan it is possible to conjugate in passat peripràstic.

To show all the available tenses, click on "More" in the drop-down menu in the cell edition dialog.

Tutorial - Conjugation


What if you don’t want to use conjugation at all? Or if you want it to happen when the user activates a certain cell, but not automatically?

Like almost everything else in Verbo, how conjugation behaves can be configured individually for each user. To change it, open Preferences in the main application menu and visit the "Communication" section (it is the first one that opens).

There are two parameters that you can configure related to conjugation:

Conjugate verbs according to the cell’s grammar

This option is what makes Verbo conjugate cells of "verb" type when one of "name/pronoun" type is activated automatically, as we showed at the beginning of this tutorial. Keep in mind that if you disable it you will still be able to conjugating in person, number and/or tense using the command "Conjugate", it will just not happen automatically.

After a verb, conjugate back to infinitive

By default, if the verbs on the board are conjugated in some tense (e.g. present), the program will change them back to infinitive when one is activated. This makes it easier to build phrases like "He wants to drink", since saying two verbs in a row, with both conjugated in the same tense, is unusual. If you uncheck this option, this automatic transition to infinitive will not occur.


You already know that Verbo can conjugate in English, Spanish and Catalan. But you may not know that it can do so even if there are cells of different languages on the same page!

When you use Verbo in English, Spanish or Catalan, or any other language, the program links that language to every cell that you create. So when you play a board that was created in English, Verbo knows it and conjugates its cells following the conjugation rules of the English language. This happens automatically, and in most cases there is no need to even think about the language of our boards. But if you ever need it, you may manually change the language of a cell by editing it and clicking on the label of its grammatical form.

If cells from different languages appear on the same page, Verbo will conjugate each one of them according to the rules of that language. Try adding a couple of verb cells in other languages (for example, "estimar" in Catalan and "amar" in Spanish), change the language of those cells to match that of the verb, and play the board. See how when select you a noun/pronoun or change to past or future tense all the cells are conjugated correctly.

Tutorial - Conjugation

What’s next

You have seen how to make your communicator conjugate automatically any verb in your board to match the person and number of the selected noun or pronoun. You also know how to change the tense, or even use reflexive and affective forms.

These tools will allow you to create much more dynamic and powerful communication boards. In the following links you will find more resources to learn from:

  • The user manual describes all the options of the program. In particular, read the Preferences section and try to configure your board to be used with scanning, eye tracking systems, or with a different voice.

  • If you haven’t already, check out the AAC boards tutorial.

  • Somel of the boards included with Verbo, such as the Core Communicator or the Text Communicator, use conjugation. You may open and edit them to see how they work.

  • Perhaps the most important resource, in the Verbo Community you will find hundreds of communication boards and educational activities free for you to use. Search for "conjugate" or "conjugation" to see examples of this functionality.