Principal Parts of Verb

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/presentpresent participlePastpast participle

Regular Verbs:

  • 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.

Do change:

  • 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

Don’t change:

  • 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.

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