Present Tense Verbs Are Tricky!

Let’s simplify verb tense.

Verb tenses tell WHEN something happens.

That is all the tenses do. If the action is in present tense, it exists in the present; if the action is in the past tense, it already happened. Other verb tenses exist, but don’t worry about those right now. So what’s so tricky about present tense?

We are used to adding s to a noun to make a subject plural, but with present tense, we add s to the verb to match a singular subject. If the subject is plural, we do not add s to the verb.

The boy walks to the park.

The boys walk to the park.

One boy walks, but two or more boys walk. This s ending for singular subjects is the biggest source of errors with present tense verbs. However, if you can remember to place s on the present tense verb with the singular subject, then you will avoid this mistake.

A cat climbs an oak tree.

            Those cats climb that oak tree.

See the difference? You might think of it this way: For a plural subject such as cats, we already have the s, so we don’t need an s on our verb climb. The plural has the s so the verb does not need an s. Makes sense, right?

Another layer of trickiness, however, is that some plurals don’t have s endings.

The woman sings her song.

            The women sing their song.

            My foot aches!

            My feet ache!

We know it is tricky. Just keep writing and practicing and correcting mistakes. That is how we all learn a tricky language like English!

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