Definition: In English there are four principal parts, or forms, of a verb.
If you study foreign languages, many languages have six forms of each verb for each tense. That’s a lot of memorizing. English uses helping verbs and the four principal parts to show the tenses.
|base/present||present participle||Past||past participle|
- Base/Present– same as infinitive without to. Add -s to form third person singular.
- Present Participle– add – ing.
- Past– add -ed
- Past Participle– add -ed
Note: Participles function as part of a verb phrase. They can’t be used as verbs by themselves. They must have a helping verb in order to make sense.
Terry is writing an e-mail to a client at the moment.
Dad has been working hard all day.
When adding endings to verbs, you sometimes have to change the spelling.
- Single syllable verbs generally double the consonant when adding-ing and -ed.
shop + s = shops, shop + ing = shopping, shop + ed = shopped
Verbs that end with a single vowel and a consonant that stress the end of the word usually double the consonant before adding -ingand -ed.
- refer + s = refers, refer + ing = referring, refer + ed = referred
- To add-s or -ed to verbs that end in consonant y, change y to i before adding the ending. To add -ing, don’t change the y.
carry + s = carries, carry + ing = carrying, carry + ed = carried
- To add-ed or -ing to verbs that end in silent e, drop the e before adding -ed or -ing.
amaze + s = amazes, amaze + ing = amazing, amaze + ed = amazed
- Verbs that end in a vowel followed by anl usually double the l before adding -ed or -ing in British English, but usually don’t in American English.
American:travel + s = travels, travel + ing = traveling, travel + -ed = traveled.
British:travel + s = travels, travel + ing = travelling, travel + -ed = travelled
- Verbs that end inc usually add k before adding endings.
frolic + s = frolics, frolic + ing = frolicking, frolic + ed = frolicked
- If the verb ends with a single vowel before a consonant, but the last syllable is not stressed, don’t double the consonant.
wander + s = wanders, wander + ing = wandering, wander + ed = wandered
- Verbs with a double vowel before a consonant do not double the consonant.
retreat + s = retreats, retreat + ing = retreating, retreat + ed = retreated
Find out Principal part of verbs from the examples for exercise:
- The students are studying grammar.
- He has run a five minute mile.
- Bedell is reading a good book.
- The students have studied grammar.
- Last week they drew two maps.
- Perhaps she will draw one for you.
- She has often drawn cartoons.
- They had always gone to a different museum before.
- Today the students are watching a movie about Reservation.
- They have learned about Renaissance painting.