English Grammar Part 12: Verbs, Important Irregular Verbs

Level: Basic
Time taken to Complete: 200 minutes


English is a complicated language. It’s rather annoyingly difficult in many respects, and somewhat simplified in others. Many people have difficulty with English spelling. The grammar has its ups and downs, but here is some help.  This series is for those who would like to brush up on or learn about grammar and grammar terminology.

There are a few verbs which need to be mentioned and conjugated out, so we know and understand them.  The first thing need to know is that the only verbs that are contracted are irregular or modal.

The verb to be is one of those verbs.  The present tense of the verb to be is as follows:

Singular Plural
First person am are
Second are are
Third is are

Here is the simple past:

Singular Plural
First was were
Second were were
Third was were

The past perfect is to have been.  The present subjunctive is be and the past subjunctive is were in all cases.  The imperative is Be as well.

The verb to go is regular in the present tense, but has a simple past tense of went and a past perfect of gone.

The verb to have is conjugated as follows:

singular plural
first have have
second have have
third has have

The past is had in both the simple past and the perfect.
Other good irregulars are come-came-have come, see-saw-have seen, take-took-have taken.

There are a bunch of verbs known as modals.  This is a limited list and always require an infinitive afterwards.  The other thing about them is they don’t have an ending in the third person (no -s or -es ending).  These include can-must-shall-will-may.  Shall and Will are also used to make the future tense, although Shall is going out of use.  We also get Would-Should-Could from Will-Shall-Can.  These are similar to subjunctive, conditional and other forms like this.

The contractions of these verbs include several different ends.  The ending ‘s could be from is or has.  The ending ‘d usually is would.  ‘ve is always have.  There are others though too.