Different Verb Forms
An English verb can exist in several different forms:
Infinitive (first or base form of the verb)
This is the base form of the verb. The infinitive sometimes has the marker to. However, it is wrong to assume that that ‘to’ is part of the infinitive. Examples of infinitives are: (to) break, (to) work, (to) write, (to) sing, (to) play, (to) eat, (to) speak, (to) bring etc. The simple present tense forms are made with the infinitive without to.
- Birds fly.
- Children play.
- Flowers bloom.
The infinitive takes the marker -s when the subject is a singular noun or a third person singular pronoun (he, she, it).
- The sun shines. (NOT The sun shine.)
- The wind blows. (NOT The wind blow.)
- The dog barks. (NOT The dog bark.)
- He writes. (NOT He write.)
- It rains. (NOT It rain.)
Simple past (second form of the verb)
This is the second form of the verb. We use this form to make the simple past tense. Examples are: broke, worked, wrote, sang, played, ate, spoke, brought etc.
Most English verbs form their simple past tense form by adding -ed to the infinitive. Verbs of this kind are called regular verbs.
Play -> played
Work -> worked
Hope -> hoped
Act -> acted
- He worked hard.
- I hoped for the best.
- She wrote a letter.
- It rained in the morning.
- We started at 6 am.
However, there are several exceptions to this rule. Verbs that form their past tense form in other ways are called irregular verbs. You can find a list of irregular verbs here.
This is the third form of the verb. In the case of many verbs, the past participle form is the same as the simple past tense form. The past participle form usually ends in -en or -ed. There are several exceptions to this rule.
- She has acted in a film.
- I have written a novel.
- Seema has broken another glass.
- I have finished the job.
- It has rained for hours.
Gerunds / present participles
Verb forms ending in -ing are called gerunds or present participles. Examples are: running, singing, crying, working, playing, eating, writing etc.
Gerunds and present participles look alike, but they are not the same. A gerund is used like a noun. A present participle is used to form continuous verb forms.
In English, the different tense forms are made by making changes to the verb form. Each tense has a particular verb form. And hence a good knowledge of the different forms of common verbs is essential to form the different tenses.
Sections in this articleTenses
Tense rules - overview
The simple present tense
The present progressive tense
The present perfect tense
The present perfect progressive tense
Present tenses to talk about the future
The simple past tense
The past progressive tense
The past perfect tense
Correct use of the past perfect tense
The past perfect progressive tense
Past verb forms with present or future meaning
The simple future tense
The future progressive tense
The future perfect tense
Tenses in subordinate clauses
More CBSE English Grammar worksheetsPassive voice worksheet | Simple past tense
Passive voice worksheet | Past continuous tense
Passive voice worksheet | Simple future tense
Passive voice worksheet | Future perfect tense