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Verb Forms and Tenses

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Verbs come in different forms and those forms are partly determined by the tense of the verb.

The five forms of verbs are:

  • base form
  • -s
  • -ing
  • past
  • past participle

For example:

The verb sing has the following five forms:

sing, sings, singing, sang, sung

For most regular verbs, two of those forms are the same.

For example:

The verb walk has the following forms:

walk, walks, walking, walked (past and past participle).

For some irregular verbs, three of those forms are the same.

For example:

The verb cut has the following forms:

cut (base, past, and past participle), cuts, cutting

1. The base and -s forms of the verb are used as part of the present tense, for actions that are happening in the present.

For example:

  • She visits her grandma.

2. The -ing form of the verb is used as part of the present progressive tense to show that something is happening at the moment.

For example:

  • She visiting her grandma.

3. The past form of the verb is used as part of the past tense, for actions that happened in the past.

For example:

  • She visited her grandma.

4. The past participle form of the verb is used as part of the past perfect tense to show actions that are continuous or happened over a period of time. It is usually combined with the verb has/have.

For example:

  • She has visited her grandma.
Base -s -ing Past Past Participle
Hold holds holding held held
Help helps helping helped helped
Hit hits hitting hit hit
Hope hopes hoping hoped hoped
Hurt hurts hurting hurt hurt
Summary
  • All verbs have five main forms: base, -s, -ing, past, and past participle.
  • For example:
    swim, swims, swimming, swam, swum
  • For most regular verbs, the past and past participle form of the verb are the same.
  • For example:
    visit, visits, visiting, visited (past and past participle)
    call, calls, calling, called (past and past participle)
  • For some irregular verbs, the base, past, and past participle form of the verb are the same.
  • For example:
    put (base, past, and past participle), puts, putting
    shut (base, past, and past participle), shuts, shutting

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