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English verb forms - how many are there?

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There are two people showing three sheets of paper. On these sheets are written “to do”, “doing”, “done”.

This article will help those learners who are confused about the amount and function of all verb forms in the English language. Sometimes, many students can be confused while hearing, past participle, first form, second form, infinitive form, bare infinitive, gerund form, third form, present participle, so let’s have it all clear.

Traditionally, there are four forms of a verb in the English language. These are: the base form, the past form, the past participle, the present participle. These forms also can be named as - the first form, the second form, the third form and the fourth form. Phew! But there are also two other verb forms - the infinitive form of a verb and the third person singular verb form. So, in total, we should talk about six verb forms. 


The base form (the first verb form)

The base form is the most basic one, as you can understand from its name. This form is used in Present Simple and Future Simple tenses. It is a form without "to", for example: "have, eat, speak, work, be, do, etc.".


The past form (the second verb form)

The past verb form is the second verb form as well, it is used in Past Simple tense. It can be formed by adding "-ed" to the base form, if it is a regular verb. If it is an irregular verb, the base form changes the other way, so that you should learn these forms. For example: "had, ate, spoke, worked, was/were, did, etc.".


The past participle (the third verb form)

The past participle is also named as the third verb form. It is formed by adding the "-ed" ending to the base form, or by changing the base form completely. It is used in complex grammar tenses: Present Perfect, Past Perfect, Future Perfect, Present Perfect Continuous, Past Perfect Continuous, Future Perfect Continuous. For example: "had, eaten, spoken, worked, been, done, etc.".


The present participle (the forth verb form)

The present participle form is the form we all know, it is a gerund form of  the verb. This verb form ends in "-ing" and is used in all Continuous tenses: Present Continuous, Past Continuous, Future Continuous, Present Perfect Continuous, Past Perfect Continuous and Future Perfect Continuous. For example: "having, eating, speaking, working, being, doing, etc.". The gerund form is also used after a group of verbs, like "appreciate, enjoy, etc."


The infinitive form 

The infinitive form is the form of the verb which consists of a basic verb form and "to". For example: "to have, to eat, to speak, to work, to be, to do, etc.". It is always used after a certain group of verbs, like "want, need, would like, etc.". You might have heard of the term "bare infinitive", it is an infinitive form, but without "to". 


The third person singular form

The third form singular is very simple, to form it you should add "-s/-es" ending to the base form. In other words, it is the verb form you use in Present Simple for the pronouns "he/she/it", for example: "has, eats, speaks, works, is, does, etc.". 


To sum up, we have checked all six verb forms, which you can find in the English language, their formation and usages. Make sure you structurated the information and have a full view on the verb forms in English. For your convenience, there is a common table with all the verb forms we have talked about. 


Table 1. The six verb forms

work

have

Base form

work have

Past form

worked had

Past participle

worked had

Present participle

working having

Infinitive

to work to have

Third person singular

works has
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Polina Kovalenko
Polina Kovalenko
Which verb form is the hardest one for you?

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