regular verb (English grammar)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

regular verbs
These are the base forms of 12 regular verbs in English.


In English grammar, a regular verb is a verb that forms its past tense and past participle by adding -d or -ed (or in some cases -t) to the base form. Also known as a weak verb. Contrast with irregular verb.

The majority of English verbs are regular. These are the principal parts of regular verbs:

  1. base form: the form found in a dictionary (for example, walk and talk)
  2. -s form: used in the singular third person, present tense (walks and talks)
  1. -ed form: used for the past tense and past participle (walked and talked)
  2. -ing form: used for the present participle (walking and talking)

Exercises With Regular Verbs

See Examples and Observations below. Also see:

Examples and Observations

  • "Stuart slipped into his old pants and prepared to go down the drain after the ring."
    (E.B. White, Stuart Little, 1945)
  • "I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees."
    (G.K. Chesterton)
  • "A practical man, and one who had a family to feed, he adjusted, accepted his fate, and became the local undertaker."
    (Jane Urquhart, The Whirlpool. McClelland & Stewart, 1986)
  • "She usually rested her smile until late afternoon when her women friends dropped in and Miss Glory, the cook, served them drinks on the closed-in porch."
    (Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Random House, 1969)
  • "For the next hour Shanna played, jumped waves, collected sand dollars, and built a forest of sand trees by dribbling watery sand in cone shapes."
    (Patricia H. Rushford, Sins of the Mother. Howard, 2003)
  • "He shifted his gun so that the muzzle poked through the laurel at the front of the blind. She waited, listened, watched, saw nothing."
    (Stephen Goodwin, The Blood of Paradise. E.P. Dutton, 1979)
  • "Like in many southern black families where education had been pushed, we had all studied, learned, earned degrees, made money."
    (bell hooks, Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem. Atria, 2003)
  • The Forms of Regular Verbs
    - "English verbs come in two flavors. Regular verbs have past tense forms that look like the verb with -ed on the end: Today I jog, yesterday I jogged. They are monotonously predictable: jog-jogged, walk-walked, play-played, kiss-kissed, and so on. (Regular nouns, whose plurals end in -s, such as cats and dogs, are similar.) The list of regular verbs is open-ended. There are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of regular verbs in English (depending on how big a dictionary you consult), and new ones are being added to the language all the time. When fax came into common parlance . . . no one had to inquire about its past-tense form; everyone knew it was faxed. Similarly, when other words enter the language such as spam (flood with E-mail), snarf (download a file), mung (damage something), mosh (dance in roughhouse fashion), and Bork (challenge a political nominee for partisan reasons), the past-tense forms do not need separate introductions: We all deduce that they are spammed, snarfed, munged, moshed, and Borked."
    (Steven Pinker, Words and Rules. Basic, 1999)

    - "The typical verb has an inflectional paradigm of consisting of either four or five forms. . . . Here are some examples:
    fix, fixes, fixed, fixed, fixing
    grow, grows, grew, grown, growing
    The first item in each of these lists (fix, grow) is the base form; the others are inflected. The actual changes from the base form to the inflected forms are different in the two lists.

    "The pattern of variation shown in the top list is that which occurs for the vast majority of English verbs. For this reason it is known as the regular pattern, and the verbs that inflect like this are called regular verbs. In the regular pattern, there is no difference between the third and the fourth items. . . .

    "Regular verbs always form their inflected forms by means of adding the standard suffixes to an unvarying stem. Further examples of regular verbs are:
    try, tries, tried, tried, trying
    skid, skids, skidded, skidded, skidding
    Although there are various minor complexities about the spelling and the spoken forms of these words, they are all perfectly predictable--for instance, the change from try to tri- or from skid to skidd-, or the different spoken forms of the suffixes in tries (with a /z/ sound) and looks (with an /s/ sound). These are automatic adjustments of the basic elements.

    "But irregular inflected forms are quite different. . . ."
    (David J. Young, Introducing English Grammar. Hutchinson, 1984)
  • Modern English Morphology
    "Of the hundreds of strong (irregular) verbs in Old English, relatively few survive in Modern English. Of those that do, many are now inflected as regular verbs. One tally suggests that of the 333 strong verbs of Old English, only 68 continue as irregular verbs in Modern English. Among those that have become regular over the centuries are burned, brewed, climbed, flowed, helped, and walked. By contrast, slightly more than a dozen weak verbs have become irregular in the history of English, including dive, which has developed a past-tense form dove alongside the historical form dived. You may also have heard drug for dragged, as its use seems to be increasing. Among other verbs that are now irregular but were formerly regular are wear, spit, and dig, with their newer past forms wore, spat, and dug."
    (Edward Finegan, Language: Its Structure and Use, 6th ed. Wadsworth, 2012)