Four Forms of the English Verb

The grammar rules for the English verb are varied and numerous. The English verb expresses an action or a state of being. There are four basic forms of English verb tenses: present tense, past tense, present participle and past participle.

For an English regular verb, like ‘paint,’ the rules of English verb conjugations are clear: add ‘ed’ to create the past tense, add ‘ing’ to create the present participle and add an auxiliary verb (like has or have) before the past tense to create the past participle. The English verb conjugations for the word paint, then, are: paint, painted, painting and has/have painted.

Conjugating an irregular English verb, however, is more challenging. Most languages have a small number of irregular verbs but English has such a lengthy list that exception seems to be the rule. There are several classifications of English irregular verbs, making the rules of conjugation seem loose.

Often, vowel reduction and assimilation of dentals are used, as in the verbs hide, hid, hiding and has/have hidden. Additional examples of irregular English verbs are: blow, blew, blowing, has/have blown; cut, cut, cutting, has/have cut; and drive, drove, driving, has/have driven. In these cases, as in many others, it is easier to memorize the conjugations than to memorize the classification rules that apply to conjugation.