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Past Tense Verbs: Staying on Top of the System!


English has only two kinds of verbs, each with the same three main parts.

 

(1) REGULAR Infinitive: to WALK Past tense: WALKED

 

(no helping verb used) 

Past participle: WALKED (always with helping verb)

(2) IRREGULAR Infinitive: to FLY Past tense: FLEW (no helping verb used)

Past participle: FLOWN (always with helping verb)


Every verb tense in English is formed from these three principal parts.   

I love you. I will love you always. I loved you in the past, but at the time you didn’t love me. I had loved you long before you spoke to me in our writing class. I wanted you to love me for myself, not for my ability to correct comma splices.


What’s the difference between a regular and an irregular verb? 

A regular verb never changes the main verb itself; it just adds a d or an ed when describing past actions: 

dance—danced

talk—talked

Irregular verbs are unpredictable. When describing past actions, they might (1) stay the same, (2) change just a part of the word, or (3) change the whole word: 

cut— cut

grow—grew

think— thought


Regular past tense verbs: Tip #1 

Remember to add the d or ed endings to mark the past, especially those endings that we don’t hear clearly!   

  

Every day, I walk to work. Yesterday, I walked to work. For weeks now, I have walked to work. Every night, we dance till dawn. Last night, we danced till dawn. On many nights, we have danced till dawn.


REGULAR past tense verbs: Tip #2 

Be extra careful when the word “to” follows a past tense verb; it’s easy to forget the verb ending because we don’t hear it.  Grammar use d to be easy.  This is suppose d to be fun.


Regular past tense verbs:Tip #3 

Remember to use the “change y to i when you add –ed ” rule! Present

Past

We testify.

We testified.

They apply.

They have applied.


Irregular past tense verbs:Tip #1 ď Ž

Some verbs stay the same in the present and the past. Don’t be tempted to add an ending. Present

Past

I quit!

Yesterday I quit!

They cost a lot nowadays.

Earlier, they had cost a lot.


Irregular past tense verbs: Tip #2 

The past tense of “TO BE” has both a singular and a plural form. Watch the subject/verb agreement.

Singular Plural

Present

Past

Today she is happy. Today they are happy.

Yesterday she was happy. Yesterday they were happy


What About Other Tenses? All other past-tense verbs are formed from the past participle and some kind of a helping verb like has/ have/ had/ is/ was/ were:    

He has asked the $64,000 question. The case was decided in their favor. She had written a prize-winning essay. You have been selected to enter the Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes!


Past participles of regular verbs end in d or ed, just as the past tense verb does. Present

Past

Past Participle

talk

talked

(has) talked

depend

depended

(has) depended

testify

testified

(has) testified

scare

scared

(has) scared


Unfortunately, the past participles of irregular verbs are as unpredictable as the past tense is. Present

Past

begin

began

become

became

choose

Past participle

Present

Past

Past participle

begun

go

went

gone

become

see

saw

seen

chose

chosen

forget

forgot

forgotten

cut

cut

cut

give

gave

given

lead

led

led

do

did

done


And just to make things really confusing, there’s always‌ Present

Past

Past Participle

lie (=recline)

lay

has lain

lay (=put)

laid

has laid

sit

sat

has sat

set (=place)

set

has set


Warning: Potential Trouble Spot! 

Past participles are often used as adjectives, to describe other words. Remember the –ed ending!  What is the prescribe d solution? ( = the solution which someone has prescribed) 

You seem shock ed .

( = something has shocked you)


Try some out! Are there any missing endings below? 

She appears to be a very prejudice d person. My critical thinking teacher was astonished that I finished the quiz so early. I think everything is finally settled to everyone’s satisfaction.


Warning: Potential Trouble Spot #2! 

Don’t confuse the past tense of the irregular verbs (no helping verb) with the past participle (with helping verb). X my homework early this  I begun began: past tense week. begun: past participle 

X me his address. He had gave gave: past tense given: past participle


Warning: Potential Trouble Spot #3! 

Watch the passive verbs (= a combination of is, are, was, were, be, been, or being plus the past participle). Be sure to use the participle form.  My heart is broken. (not is broke) 

The course was well designed. (not was well design)

The report will soon be written. (not will soon be wrote).


And that’s all there is to it! Verbs are easy, when you understand the system!

VERBS  

reglas de uso de verbos en pasado.