English grammar

Module 3, Verbs, Lesson 6:

Principal Parts of Verbs

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English grammar
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/present present participle past past participle
walk(s) walking walked walked
dance(s) dancing danced danced
study(s) studying studied studied

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.

My sister is walking to school today.
Before leaving, we made sure we had walked the dog.

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 -ing and -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 an l 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 in c 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

Practice What You've Learned

English grammar
Directions:
Identify the principal part of the bold-faced verb.
1.
Those mountains have been standing for millions of years.
present / present participle / past / past participle
2.
Samantha likes reading books.
present / present participle / past / past participle
3.
Nuremburg, Germany, has held a Christmas market every year for hundreds of years.
present / present participle / past / past participle
4.
That spooky movie gave me nightmares.
present / present participle / past / past participle
5.
Pax walked to his girlfriend's house five miles away.
present / present participle / past / past participle
6.
I hope the otters are not sleeping when we visit the zoo this time.
present / present participle / past / past participle
7.
My sister's car has broken down twice.
present / present participle / past / past participle
8.
Is that your cell phone ringing?
present / present participle / past / past participle
9.
Cody came home and slumped on the sofa, too tired to do his homework.
present / present participle / past / past participle
10.
You might have done better if you had worn your glasses.
present / present participle / past / past participle
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