When you use a verb, you can express who is performing the action, when it is taking place, and even how the person feels about the action. Learning the fundamentals of English verb conjugation not only makes you sound like a native speaker but also allows you to express important information.
In this post, we will explore English verb conjugation on the elements of the person, mood, and tense.
Person means that the verb changes to express subject-verb agreement in English verb conjugation. When the subject and verb agree, the subject must match the verb in its form. It accomplishes this by adding “–s”.
She walks down the street.
The infinitive, or base form, is walk, but when the subject is she/he/it, the special friend -s is added. Grammarians call this “inflection.” There is no special addition when the subject is I/we/they/you. For example,
I walk down the street.
The person can also tell us about the subject’s gender and whether it is singular or plural. In the preceding example, she informs us that the person is female. We also understand that she is singular, whereas we are plural.
Person in main verb conjugation
Walk is a “main verb,” or a verb with greater meaning. Main verbs demonstrate a specific action affecting the sentence’s subject and can stand alone with or without a helping verb. They are frequently referred to as “lexical verbs” because they convey the semantic meaning of the sentence. The actual “action” that the verb expresses is the semantic verb meaning.
I skip to my grandfather’s house.
We already know that the visual and actual action skip differs from walking or even running. Other main verbs include talk, act, stop and so on. They portray the actual action. When conjugating main verbs, you’ll add a -s for subject-verb agreement.
I/we/they skip to grandfather’s house.
She/he/it skips to grandfather’s house.
Person in auxiliary verb conjugation
‘To be’ is the most well-known auxiliary verb. While the ‘to be’ verb (am, is, are, was, and were) has less meaning than the main verb, it is also extremely common and irregular. In a moment, we will discuss irregular verbs. In English, to be verbs have less meaning because they usually “assist” the main verb in forming a verb phrase.
The ‘to be’ verb can be used alone or in conjunction with another verb, but its use is more grammatical than lexical (relating to vocabulary). The auxiliary verbs “assist” is the main verb in expressing the actual action by performing the grammatical function of “assisting” in expressing the person, tense, or mood.
I am happy that I’m learning English.
As with main verbs, the ‘to be’ verb must have subject-verb agreement, and it expresses number and gender.
When conjugating English verbs, the tense indicates when the action occurs. There are three main English tenses: present, past, and future. The present tense includes both the present simple and the present progressive.
Present simple English verb conjugation
Present simply expresses something factual or real. For example,
I love ice cream.
Annie works at a language school.
It can also express a habit or something that happens regularly.
John runs every day.
I practice guitar every weekend.
Present continuous English verb conjugation
It shows the action happening right now. For example,
I am running to the grocery store.
The ‘to be’ verb (am) + main verb (run) + present participle is the present continuous verb conjugation form (-ing). Alternatively, it is the verb + present participle.
The ‘to be’ verb must also change for subject-verb agreement.
She is running to the office.
The present continuous can also express actions that will happen, that happen regularly or that will happen soon.
I am working as a cashier now.
John is going to meet Sara in an hour.
Past simple English verb conjugation
The past simple verb conjugation expresses completed action.
I walked home yesterday from music classes.
The past simple verb conjugation form is the main verb + past participle (-ed) for regular verbs.
The past simple can use the ‘to be’ verb to show how the subject feels about something.
I was proud to become the world’s best guitarist.
Past continuous English verb conjugation
The past continuous tense shows a longer action in the past being interrupted by a shorter action.
I was talking to a friend when my brother arrived.
The past continuous verb conjugation is the to be verb + present participle (-ing). Past continuous tense also expresses an action in progress around a particular time.
I was working at p p.m. on Thursday.
I was doing an assignment yesterday.
Present perfect English verb conjugation
Because of the tricky nature of irregular verbs in English, the present perfect present a challenge for English learners not only in meaning but also in conjugation. The present perfect expresses an action that occurred in the past but is still relevant today. Alternatively, the action occurred at some indefinite point in the past.
I have studied Management sciences here before.
He has texted me several times.
The present perfect tense conjugation is formed with have/has + past participle (-ed for regular verbs). Irregular verb endings vary (change).
Past perfect English verb conjugation
The past perfect tense expresses an action that was completed before another action in the past.
I had walked home before she told me she couldn’t make up for today.
You form this tense with had + past participle. The form is the same regardless of gender or subject-verb agreement.
Simple future English verb conjugation
The simple future tense expresses an action that will happen in the future.
I will call you in the morning.
Describing the future with the present continuous verb conjugation
The simple future tense form is will + base form (study). It’s important to note that the simple future doesn’t change for subject-verb agreement or gender.
I am going to university in the morning.
We are going to picnic later.
Irregular Verb conjugation
Because of spelling and pronunciation changes, irregular verb conjugation becomes more difficult. Depending on the person or tense, you add a -s or -ed ending to the main verb for regular verb conjugation.
Irregular verbs appear to lack rhyme or reason in their conjugations. Ordinarily, English teachers advise students to memorize irregular verb forms.
Along with English verb conjugation, it is important for you to learn basic English grammar so that you can come up with the right English sentences.
The mood or attitude of the speaker toward a context or situation is expressed through verb conjugation in English. In English verb conjugation, there are three main moods.
The Indicative Mood
This mood expresses an opinion. For example,
She thinks that pizza is better than pasta.
The Subjunctive Mood
This mood shows a hypothetical or imaginary situation.
If I were a millionaire, I would have traveled the world.
The Imperative Mood
This mood gives a command, order, or request. You can use any main verb in its base form to express the imperative mood.
Sit next to your mother.
Do all your pending work today.
English learners do many common mistakes while conjugating verbs, especially at the beginner level. You can learn English and verb conjugation through italki’s lessons. Getting in touch with an English teacher online will make you an expert in English verb conjugation. Book your lesson plan and start learning!
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Frequently asked questions about English verb conjugation
Q. How many English verb conjugations are there?
A. The simple tenses (past, present, and future) are the most basic forms, but there are 12 major verb tenses in English in all.
Q. Why do we conjugate verbs?
A. Conjugating verbs essentially means altering them into different forms to provide context. If we regard verbs as the action part of the speech, conjugation alters verbs to tell us who is doing the action and when the action takes place.
Q. What are the 3 steps to conjugate a verb?
A. To conjugate a regular verb in the present tense, all you have to do is know your subject, remove the ending from the verb, and add the ending for the corresponding subject.
This was all about English verb conjugation. Now that you have covered some of the fundamentals of conjugation and have some great resources and activity ideas, we believe you are better prepared to conjugate than ever. Keep on looking at this guide until you understand all the rules associated with conjugation.
Try conjugating the verbs in different English tenses. Don’t fear failure in the beginning. With each mistake, you will learn to conjugate English verbs without any errors.