There are up to 5 forms for each verb : root, third-person singular, present participle, past, and past participle.
The root form of the verb is the absolute base form; from here, the verb can’t get any smaller. There are no endings, and nothing in front of it.
The root form is usually the easiest form to figure out: it’s the infinitive form with to removed:
- To see – see
- To be – be
- To wear – wear
- To go – go
The root form is used to create most other forms of verbs.
I am going to school.
What did you do yesterday?
The girl showed her mother the picture she did in school.
He had eaten three hamburgers.
Third person singular
The third person singular (he/she/it/one) is the one which tends to be different from other conjugations. The regular verbs end in ‑s (or possibly ‑es).
The main irregular verb to be concerned with for this form is the verb to be.
The present participle is the root word + ‑ing. It’s used in the past, present, and future progressive tenses.
- Come – coming
- Draw – drawing
- Wash – washing
- Swear – swearing
What are we doing today?
Andrew is meeting with the professor after class.
They’ve been living in Columbia for three years.
Next month, the company will be merging with their former competitor.
Past and Past participle
The past and past participle for regular verbs is the root word + ‑ed. It’s only used with the past tenses.
- Look – looked
- Touch – touched
- Clean – cleaned
- Cook – cooked
We shopped for hours on Saturday afternoon.
The books were stacked on the shelf.
He had played computer games for the whole weekend.
The past participle can be difficult to determine for some irregular verbs. It’s best to look these ones up in a dictionary if you’re at all unsure of the past participle. Here are a few examples of irregular verbs:
|Root||Simple Past||Past Participle|
I had forgiven him for his unkind words.
We made paper flowers to decorate the walls.
Simon had lit candles all around the room.