(Regular formation of English verbs)
Table of contents – regular verbs
On this page you will find the following:
What forms can regular verbs have?
Regarding the regularity or irregularity of English verbs, we primarily refer to the use or formation of tenses, such as simple present or present perfect simple. However, other verb forms, such as ‘s’ or ‘ing’ (see below), do not distinguish between regular and irregular ones. Regular English verbs represent the counterpart to irregular ones, whose forms are partly specific. By contrast, the rule for regular ones turns out to be simple.
- In most cases, ‘-ed’ is attached here for the 2nd and 3rd verb form; in others, the spelling of the verb changes or additional modifications occur. Examples:
- walk → walked
- cook → cooked
- rate → rated (only ‘d’ is appended)
- slip → slipped (doubling of ‘p’)
- Information: The explanation of the past participle, another name of the verb form with ‘-ed’, shows the exact formation. It can also function as part of a compound tense.
What other English verb forms exist?
Apart from the conjugation in tenses, English verbs have additional forms, which are presented in a complete overview showing the example verb ‘to eat’. Whether the verb is regular or irregular is irrelevant, and only the modal verbs deviate from the standard rules. Compare the forms:
- Examples of ing forms (which are the present participle) where regularity is not applicable:
- For regular verbs:
- do → doing
- cook → cooking
- For irregular verbs:
- write → writing
- sleep → sleeping
- For regular verbs:
- Examples of s forms in the third person singular present tense:
- see → sees
- give → gives
- try → tries
- Read the rule for ‘he, she, it’ to know more about the exact formation.
- Modal verbs (‘can, must, may,’ etc.) offer neither a form with ‘-ing, -s’ nor ‘-ed’. Examples:
- This form is the standard and often the only one.
- Not possible: musting
- Not possible: musts
- Not possible: musted
For the sake of completeness, there is also the infinitive, the base form of the verb. It overlaps with the unmodified form in the present tense. The infinitive is often indicated by the word ‘to’ preceding it:
- to dry
- infinitive, the unchanged verb form
- conjugated form in the present tense; never marked with ‘to’