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How to learn and master English-language verb forms

As with any language, there are regular and irregular verbs, and choosing the correct verb form can be challenging.

Cecilia Gigliotti
Cecilia Gigliotti

One of the aspects of the English language that many non-native (and even native) speakers struggle to master is the seemingly endless variety of verb forms.

As with any language, there are regular and irregular verbs, and choosing the correct verb form can be challenging. Let’s look at some examples of regular and irregular verb forms in English.

What is a verb form?

A verb form is the conjugation of a verb according to subject: I, you, he/she/it, we, you all (plural), they. A regular verb will change only its ending from subject to subject, while an irregular verb will look inconsistent.

To decide (present tense)

I decide
You decide
He/she/it decides
We decide
You (plural) decide
They decide

To be (present tense)

I am
You are
He/she/it is
We are
You (plural) are
They are

Irregular verbs also exhibit drastic changes in present versus past tense, best exemplified in these verbs:

To be (I am, I was)
To do (we do, we did)
To go (you go, you went)
To sing (they sing, they sang)
To grow (we grow, we grew)

As opposed to regular verbs, which look more consistent:

To believe (I believe, I believed)
To select (you select, you selected)
To free (he/she/it frees, he/she/it freed)
To play (they play, they played)
To tap (I tap, I tapped)

More examples:

To be

I am a much better football player now than I was when I was younger.

To have

She had a lot of bad dates in her younger years, but she has more luck now.

To do

My kids do their homework at the kitchen table.They did all the activities they wanted to have done by the end of the summer.

Cecilia Gigliotti

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