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Verb Forms

Updated on January 31, 2024Grammar

There are up to five forms for each verb: root, third-person singular, present participle, past, and past participle.

Root form of the verb

The root form of a verb is the base form of the word. Roots have not been conjugated and do not include prefixes or suffixes.

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The root form of the verb is the same as the infinitive form with “to” removed. See the examples below:

to see – see

to be – be

to wear – wear

to go – go

The root form of a verb is used to create other forms of the verb when conjugated. This is always true with regular verbs, but may not apply with irregular verbs, depending on the tense. The examples below illustrate this concept.

I am going to school.

(Root: go)

What did you do yesterday?

(Root: do)

The girl showed her mother the picture she drew in school.

(Root: show)

He had eaten three hamburgers.

(Root: eat)

Third person singular form of a verb

The third person singular (he/she/they/it/one) conjugation is the verb form that tends to be different from other conjugations. For regular verbs, this verb form end in –s (or sometimes –es). Consider the examples below:

he sees

she watches

they play

it shrinks

one does

Present participle form of a verb

The present participle verb form is created by adding –ing to the root word. It’s used in the past, present, and future continuous verb tenses. Look at the examples below:

We’re coming to the party tonight.

(come – coming)

They have been drawing for hours.

(draw – drawing)

We will be washing the car before vacation.

(wash – washing)

Past and past participle forms of the verb

The past and past participle verb form for regular verbs is the root word + –ed. It’s only used with the past tenses. Consider the examples below:

We shopped for hours on Saturday afternoon.

(shop – shopped)

The books were stacked on the shelf.

(stack – stacked)

He had played computer games for the whole weekend.

(play – played)

The past participle can be difficult to determine for some irregular verbs. It’s best to look these 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
Sing Sang Sung
See Saw Seen
Fall Fell Fallen
Give Gave Given
Go Went Gone

I had forgiven him for his unkind words.

Simon had lit candles all around the room.

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