Forms of verbs and list of most common verbs

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Forms of verb listDo all the different English verb forms look too complicated to you? They don’t have to! In fact, it’s not that difficult. Look at the simple system of English verb forms in our article.

In English, there are just five most common forms of verbs:

  • Infinitive (the base form)
  • Past tense
  • Past participle
  • The continuous form (the -ing form)
  • Third person (the -s form)

There may also be many other forms, for example different grammatical persons of ‘to be’ – am, is, are… (for more details read this Wikipedia article) but these five are the most commonly produced.

So far so good? Now, you can combine these five forms to create more complex grammar structures. The five forms are like the building blocks of any higher unit so the good news is, if you learn these, you’re good to start working on your intermediate or even advanced English.

Typically, you can use the forms in combination with others to put verbs into twelve tenses:

  1. Present Simple
  2. Present Continuous
  3. Past Simple
  4. Past Continuous
  5. Present Perfect
  6. Present Perfect Continuous
  7. Past Perfect
  8. Past Perfect Continuous
  9. Future
  10. Future Continuous
  11. Future Perfect
  12. Future Perfect Continuous

Let’s have a look how, taking the verb Listen as an example:

Infinitive Past simple Past participle Continuous form Third person
Listen Listened Listened Listening Listens

And here’s how to put the verb Listen into the first person in all those twelve tenses:

  1. Present Simple – I listen
  2. Present Continuous – I am listening
  3. Past Simple – I listened
  4. Past continuous – I was listening
  5. Present perfect – I have listened
  6. Present Perfect Continuous – I have been listening
  7. Past Perfect – I had listened
  8. Past Perfect Continuous – I had been listening
  9. Future – I will listen
  10. Future Continuous – I will be listening
  11. Future Perfect – I will have listened
  12. Future Perfect Continuous – I will have been listening

Regular and irregular forms of verbs

English verbs are either regular or irregular. Regular verbs are much easier to work with because they take the -ed ending, which is identical both for the past form and the past participle, and that’s it.

Here’s an example, still using Listen:

  • He listened

English irregular verbs are a different story, though. This is where it starts to get tricky and you simply have to memorize them, especially the past simple and past participle forms, although there are certain patterns to make things easier. They are sometimes called families, where all the verbs in a family follow the same pattern, e.g.:

  • bring – brought – brought
  • buy – bought – bought
  • think – thought – thought

or

  • put – put – put
  • cut – cut – cut
  • let – let – let

Third person

But the simplest category of all the different verb forms is probably the third-person singular, also known as the -s form (yes, that is the -s that we all forget to add to the end of the verb when we talk about he/she!). We say it’s quite simple because all you need to do to put a verb in the third-person singular is to add ‘s’ or ‘es’ to the end, e.g.:

  • He listens
  • She works
  • It plays

And it’s the same both for regular and irregular verbs. No exceptions!

Well… except for modal verbs (e.g. can, may, should…). But life wouldn’t be so beautiful if it was too easy. If you want to know everything about the third person, you can read a more detailed article about here.

List of verb forms

And finally, here are the top 50 irregular verbs in all their five forms (PDF file):

Infinitive Past simple Past Participle Continuous form Third person
be was/were been being is
break broke broken breaking breaks
bring brought brought bringing brings
build built built building builds
buy bought bought buying buys
come came come coming comes
cost cost cost costing costs
cut cut cut cutting cuts
do did done doing does
dream dreamt dreamt dreaming dreams
drink drank drunk drinking drinks
drive drove driven driving drives
eat ate eaten eating eats
find found found finding finds
get got gotten getting gets
give gave given giving gives
go went gone going goes
grow grew grew growing grows
have had had having has
hear heard heard hearing hears
hit hit hit hitting hits
choose chose chosen choosing chooses
know knew known knowing knows
laugh laught laught laughing laughs
learn learnt learnt learning learns
leave left left leaving leaves
lend lent lent lending lends
lose lost lost losing loses
meet met met meeting meets
pay paid paid paying pays
put put put putting puts
read read read reading reads
ring rang rung ringing rings
run ran run running runs
say said said saying says
see saw seen seeing sees
sell sold sold selling sells
send sent sent sending sends
sing sang sung singing sings
sit sat sat sitting sits
sleep slept slept sleeping sleeps
speak spoke spoken speaking speaks
spend spent spent spending spends
swim swam swum swimming swims
take took taken taking takes
tell told told telling tells
think thought thought thinking thinks
win won won winning wins
work wrought wrought working works
write wrote written writing writes

 

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