Part of what makes English tough to learn is its many verb forms. The list of irregular verbs in English is particularly long and hard to explain. For instance, in one moment we say, "Today I run but yesterday I ran." But in another we say, "Today I fan but yesterday I fanned." It's helpful to start navigating the maze of English verbs, both regular and irregular, with the singular forms.
Regular Singular Verbs Ending in S
It seems counter-intuitive for a language whose plural nouns generally end in "S" to have its singular verbs end the same way, but that is what most English present tense verbs do in the singular third person. The boy "plays" basketball, while the girl "runs" around the block. In first person singular and plural we find I "play," we "play, and in second singular and plural it would be you "play" and you all "play."
Singular Forms of the Verb "To Be"
It's difficult to explain to anyone -- English speaking or non-English speaking -- how the singular forms of the single most common verb in our language work. In present tense, the first person singular: I "am;" second person singular: you "are;" third person singular: he/she "is." In the past tense, it is equally irregular: I "was;" you "were;" he/she "was."
Regular Singular Past Tense Verb Forms Ending with "ed"
Many singular English verbs follow predictable and simple patterns, such as adding "ed" to the root of the verb regardless of whether one is in first, second, or third person: Yesterday, I "walked," you "walked," and he "walked" home from school. The day before that I "gaped," you "gaped," and she "gaped" at the famous athlete who came to our gym class.
Irregular Singular Verb Forms
But just as there are the regular predictable patterns of singular verbs, English has more than its share of anomalies. In the present, I "steal," you "steal," and she "steals." But in the past, I "stole," you "stole," and he "stole." Another irregular verb in the past is "speak." Yesterday, I "spoke;" you "spoke," and he "spoke." An observer might have expected "speaked." The only way to learn these irregular verbs in their singular forms is through memorization and constant exposure.
Toby Jones has been a writer since 1981. He has written sports articles and sermons, as well as two books, "The Gospel According to Rock" and "The Way of Jesus." Jones also teaches writing at preparatory schools and colleges. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from DePauw University and a Master of Divinity from Princeton University.