Verb Formation, Verb TenseHow does the verb system work?
English has two kinds of verbs, regular and irregular.
Both regular and irregular verbs act the same way in the present tense. The main thing to watch for in present tense verbs is whether you need an -s ending (singular).
I place I write
you place you write
she/ he/ it/ Mary places she/ he/ it/ Mary writes
we place we write
you place you write
they place they write
Regular and irregular verbs act differently in the past tenses. Regular verbs form the past tenses just by adding -ed. Irregular verbs change in ways other than adding -ed.
Past Tense placed
Past Participle has/have/had placed
Past Tense wrote
Past Participle has/have/had written
What causes verb formation and verb tense problems?
Forgetting to add the -s ending in the present tense when needed. (See subject/verb agreement above)
Incorrect: Mary ask too many questions.
Correct: Mary asks too many questions.
Forgetting to add the -ed ending endings on regular verbs in the past tenses
Incorrect: In the last class, Mary ask too many questions.
Correct: In the last class, Mary asked too many questions.
Forgetting the -d or -ed ending on regular verbs used as adjectives (descriptive words)
Incorrect: The prescribe medicine isn't working.
Correct: The prescribed medicine isn't working.
Mixing up past tense form and past participle form of irregular verbs
Incorrect: You have wrote an excellent paper.
- Correct: You wrote an excellent paper / You have written an excellent paper.
- Run the grammar check.
It won't find all the verb problems but generally will find some.
- Read your paper out loud (or
have it read to you) and listen only for word endings (any missing
-s's or -ed's).
- Review and practice any irregular verbs whose past tenses cause you problems so that the correct forms begin to sound natural.
- Add an -ed or -d ending to all regular verbs used in the past tense (that is, after has/
have/ had) or in the passive voice (after is / are / was /
were / being / been).
- Review the past tense and the
past participle forms of the irregular verbs to be clear about the
difference and to be sure to use only
the past participle form after has/ have/ had
and after is / are / was / were / being / been).
- Make sure your present tense verb matches the correct subject. To find the correct subject, first locate the verb, then ask yourself who or what is taking that action, and the answer to the question is the subject. Match singular subjects with singular verbs, plural subjects with plural verbs.