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Basic Simple Verb Tenses

by May L



A verb is a word (part of speech) that usually denotes an action, an occurrence, or a state of being. Depending on the language, a verb may vary in form according to many factors, possibly including its tense, aspect, mood and voice.

It may also agree with the person, gender, and/or number of some of its arguments (subject, object, etc.).

The verb is perhaps the most important part of the sentence. A verb or compound verb asserts something about the subject of the sentence and express actions, events, or states of being.

The verb or compound verb is the critical element of the predicate of a sentence.

Principal Parts of a Verb

The principal parts of a verb are the four forms of the verb from which all forms of the verb can be made. In English the four principal parts are the present (or infinitive), the past tense, the past participle, and the present participle.

For example, the Principal Parts of the Verb To Walk:

(to) walk walked walked walking

To walk is considered a regular verb because we add a -d or -ed to the verb for the past and past participle.

Principal Parts of the Verb To Run:

(to) run ran run running

This is considered an irregular verb since one or more of the principal parts is formed in a nonstandard way.

Since the present participle is always formed by adding -ing to the infinitive, some lists of principal parts omit it.

Simple Verb Tenses

The Simple Past Tense is one of the most common tenses in English. Its form is the same with all subjects. It is usually formed by adding -ED to the verb.

With most verbs, the simple past is created simply by adding -ED. However, with some verbs, you need to add -ES or change the ending a little. Here are the rules:

Verb Ending In
How To Make The Simple Past Examples
E Add -d live - lived
date - dated
Consonant + y Change y to i, then add -ED try - tried
cry - cried
One vowel + one consonant
(but NOT w or y)
Double the consonant, then add -ED tap - tapped
commit - committed
Anything else Add -ED boil - boiled
fill - filled
hand - handed

The Simple Present Tense is used to express the idea that an action is repeated, usual, or unchanging. The action can be a habit, a hobby, a daily event, a scheduled event or something that often happens. It can also be something a person often forgets or usually does not do.

Examples Meaning
The mountains are tall and white. Unchanging action
Every year, the school council elects new members. Recurring action
Pb is the chemical symbol for lead. Widespread truth


The Future Tense expresses an action or situation that will occur in the future. It is used to refer to actions that will take place after the act of speaking or writing. This tense is formed by using will/shall with the simple form of the verb.

Example:
The speaker of the House will finish her term in May of 2009.

The future tense can also be expressed by using am, is, or are with going to.


Example:
The surgeon is going to perform the first bypass in Minnesota.

We can also use the present tense form with an adverb or adverbial phrase to show future time. Keep in mind, the word "Tomorrow" is a future time adverb.


Example:
The president speaks tomorrow.

References: Summary of Verb Tenses , Principal Parts , Wikipedia

Image Credits: Andrea, The Writing Center , Tsevis

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About the Author

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About: My interests include geography, philosophy, good food and the arts. The complex art of communication fascinates me. I also enjoy my daily dose(s) of coffee!

Last Updated At Dec 07, 2012
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