English Verbs – Types and Tenses

Learn how to use an English verb correctly, and communication will be crisp and clear. A verb is the part of speech that expresses being and action. It is the heart of a sentence; in fact, add only a noun and you have a complete thought that can stand alone.

In English verb tenses past, present, and future are shown by adding certain endings. A regular verb is one which follows a predictable pattern, seen in the example below:


She plays the accordion in a bluegrass band. (plays is present tense — it is happening now)
She played the accordion last night in a concert. (played is simple past tense — it happened previously)
She has played the accordion before large audiences. (the helping verb ‘has’ added to played makes it a more specific form of the past tense — this is called a past participle)
She will play the accordion later this year in a Christmas program. (will play is future tense — it has not yet happened; note the helping verb ‘will’)

An irregular English verb falls outside of the standard English verb conjugations. Like regular verbs, there are three main tenses (past, present, and future); however, the endings are not predictable and must be learned on an individual basis. Here are two examples:


The man buys a gift for his wife’s birthday. (present)
The man bought a gift for his wife’s birthday last year. (simple past)
The man has bought a gift for his wife already. (past participle)
The man will buy a gift for his wife’s birthday next week. (future)


The bird flies high in the sky. (present)
The bird flew across miles of land on its migratory path this past autumn. (simple past)
The bird has flown many miles to its destination. (past participle)
The bird will fly back to Canada in the summer. (future)

As challenging as grammar English verb tenses can be, a person who studies them intently will certainly improve his communication skills.