Verbs

Regular and irregular verbs

regular verb is any verb whose conjugation follows the typical pattern, or one of the typical patterns, of the language to which it belongs.  verb whose conjugation follow a different pattern are called irregular verbs.

In English, for example, verbs such as playenter, and like are regular since they form their inflected parts by adding the typical endings -s-ing and -ed to give forms such as playsentering, and liked. On the other hand, verbs such as drinkhit and have are irregular since some of their parts are not made according to the typical pattern: drank and drunk (not "drinked"); hit (as past tense and past participle, not "hitted") and has and had (not "haves" and "haved").

In the context of verbs, we use the term inflection to talk about the process of changing a verb form to show tense, mood, number (i.e. singular or plural), and person (i.e. first person, second person, or third person). This section deals with inflecting verbs to show tenses and participles, and is divided into two main sections:

Regular verbs

Irregular verbs

Regular verbs

Many English verbs are regular, which means that they form their different tenses according to an established pattern. Such verbs work like this:

Verb3rd person singular
present tense
3rd person singular
past tense
past participlepresent participle
laughhe/she laughshe/she laughedlaughedlaughing
lovehe/she loveshe/she lovedlovedloving
boohe/she booshe/she booedbooedbooing

Present tense formation

In the present simple tense, the basic form of a regular verb only changes in the 3rd person singular, as follows:

Most verbs just add -to the basic form (e.g. take/takesseem/seems, look/looks).

Verbs that end with a vowel other than e add -es (e.g. go/goes, veto/vetoes, do/does).

Verbs that end with -s, -z-ch, -sh, and -x add -es (e.g. kiss/kissesfizz/fizzespunch/puncheswash/washesmix/mixes).

If the verb ends in a consonant plus -y, change the y to an i before adding -es (e.g. hurry/hurriesclarify/clarifies). But if the verb ends in a vowel plus -y, just add -s (e.g. play/playsenjoy/enjoys).

Past tense formation

Forming the past simple tense of regular verbs is mostly straightforward, and you use the same form for the first, second, and third persons, singular and plural:

If the basic form of the verb ends in a consonant or a vowel other than e, add the letters -ed to the end (e.g. seem/seemedlaugh/laughedlook/looked).

For verbs that end in -e, add -d (e.g. love/lovedrecede/recededhope/hoped).

If the verb ends in a consonant plus -y, change the y to an before adding -ed (e.g. hurry/hurriedclarify/clarified). But if the verb ends in a vowel plus -y, just add -ed (e.g. play/playedenjoy/enjoyed).

Forming participles

To form the past participle of regular verbs, follow the same rules as for the past simple tense above.

To make the present participle of regular verbs:

If the basic form of the verb ends in a consonant or a vowel other than e, add the ending -ing (e.g. laugh/laughing, boo/booing).

If the verb ends in e, drop the e before adding -ing (e.g. love/loving, hope/hoping).

If the basic form ends in y just add -ing (e.g. hurry/hurrying, clarify/clarifying).

Irregular verbs

There are many irregular verbs that don’t follow the normal rules. Here are the forms of some of the most common irregular verbs:

Verb3rd person singular
present tense
3rd person singular
past tense
past participlepresent participle
beiswasbeenbeing
beginbeginsbeganbegunbeginning
bitebitesbitbittenbiting
breakbreaksbrokebrokenbreaking
buybuysboughtboughtbuying
choosechooseschosechosenchoosing
comecomescamecomecoming
digdigsdugdugdigging
dodoesdiddonedoing
drinkdrinksdrankdrunkdrinking
eateatsateeateneating
fallfallsfellfallenfalling
feelfeelsfeltfeltfeeling
findfindsfoundfoundfinding
getgetsgotgotgetting
gogoeswentgonegoing
growgrowsgrewgrowngrowing
havehashadhadhaving
hidehideshidhiddenhiding
keepkeepskeptkeptkeeping
knowknowsknewknownknowing
laylayslaidlaidlaying
leadleadsledledleading
leaveleavesleftleftleaving
lielieslaylainlying
loseloseslostlostlosing
makemakesmademademaking
meetmeetsmetmetmeeting
putputsputputputting
read /ri:d/readsread /red/read /red/reading
rideridesroderiddenriding
ringringsrangrungringing
riserisesroserisenrising
runrunsranrunrunning
saysayssaidsaidsaying
seeseessawseenseeing
sellsellssoldsoldselling
setsetssetsetsetting
singsingssangsungsinging
sitsitssatsatsitting
standstandsstoodstoodstanding
sticksticksstuckstucksticking
taketakestooktakentaking
teachteachestaughttaughtteaching
thinkthinksthoughtthoughtthinking
wakewakeswokewokenwaking

Note that sometimes the spelling doesn’t change but the pronunciation does (e.g. read). There are many more irregular verbs in English than those listed here. If you aren’t sure how a verb behaves, it’s best to look it up. All irregular verb forms are given in full at the main dictionary entry.

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