English verbs

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Regular verbs in English have four forms:

  • the base, which is equivalent to the infinitive without 'to' and most forms of the present tense (for example, wâit, to wâit, Î wâit) (The accents, which are not part of the language, are included to show stress and pronunciation: see English spellings for a table and English phonemes for the IPA. There is also a key at the foot of this page. Words in italics suggest meaning, and an equals sign is placed between homophones)
  • the -s form, which is used for the third person singular of the present tense (hê wâits, shê wâits)
  • the -íng form, used for the present participle and gerund (Î'm wâiting, wâiting ís bŏring; in most cases the base sheds any final e: compare sínging sing with síngeing singe, pronounced *sínjing). A final consonant may have to be doubled in order to keep the stressed vowel short: sít becomes sítting (not sîting, which is from sîte)
  • the past form, which is used both for the past tense and the past participle, and which consists of adding -ed to the base (from wâit, I wâited, shê has wâited, *wâitid; from loòk, loòked *lùkt; from sêem, sêemed *sêemd), or, in the case of verbs ending in -e, -d only (from fâde, fâded *fâidid). As with the -íng form, a final consonant may double in order to keep the stressed vowel short: overláp becomes overlápping

Irregular verbs also have these forms, and form the -s and -ing forms regularly: béar, béars, béaring. But the past tense and/or past participle are not formed regularly: to béar has the principal parts béar, bŏre, bŏrn, which means that there is no form *beared; instead, an example of the past tense is shê bŏre hím and of the past passive hê was bŏrn.

  • The accents show stress and pronunciation (see English spellings): A: sát, mâde, pàrk, cāst (cást/càst), åll, ãir; E: ére, êar, vèin, fërn; I: sít, mîne, skì, bïrd; O: sóng, môde, lòve, wörd, ŏr; OO: moôn, foòt; U: sún, mûse, fùll, pürr; W: neŵ, ẁant; Y: gým, mŷ, keỳ, mÿrrh.