Troublesome Verbs Explained
Some languages have four or five conjugations (sets of verb forms). English has just two, and they are very simple. All verbs that have come into the language within recent times (within four or five hundred years) add -d
to a common form to indicate past time: print, printed; paint, painted; phone, phoned.
Most of the very old, simple verbs change the main vowel sound to form the past tense and past participle: drink,
drank, drunk; ride, rode, ridden;
sing, sang, sung; buy, bought, bought. 1)
verbs, because they require the help of an additional syllable, are sometimes called the weak verbs
, or sometimes referred to as regular verbs
Because the other verbs make the changes within themselves, without the help of an added syllable, we call them the strong verbs
, or sometimes referred to as irregular verbs
The weak verbs
different forms: call, calls, calling, called.
The strong verbs
have usually five forms, like: ring, rings, ringing, rang, rung. But observe
: bring, brings, bringing, brought.
In this word the past tense and past participle are the same: I brought;
I have brought.
Three of these forms are called the principal parts.
Knowing these three forms of any verb, you can use a verb, or make a verb phrase, to express any idea that the verb is capable of expressing. The other two forms differ only by the addition of an -s
or an -ing
to the present tense form.
Only a few verbs are troublesome to writers of the English language. You may have trouble with only two or three out of the list above.