In English, the past tense is formed by making the verb finish in "ed", or, in a few cases just "d".
The vast majority of verbs in English are regular, and although there are some 360 irregular verbs in total, only around 90 of these can be considered essential, including some of the most common, everyday verbs.
Examples of regular verbs include agree - agreed; ask - asked; carry - carried; like - liked; stop - stopped; work - worked.
Past tense pronunciation
- Main article: Past tense pronunciation
Regular verbs may pronounce "ed" as /d/ as in played, as /t/ as in laughed or as /ɪd/ as in counted.
Past tense spelling
- See main article Past tense spelling
- Most regular verbs just add -ed to the infinitive form: mooed; depended; rained; played; started;
- Regular verbs ending in -e just add -d: liked; received;
- Regular verbs ending in a stressed vowel + one consonant (except w or y) double the consonant and add -ed: referred; stopped;
- Regular verbs ending in consonant + y change the y to i and add -ed: carried; studied; tried;
- Regular verbs ending in -c add ked: picknicked; trafficked;
Note: In British English, the letter "l" is doubled in the past after a short vowel: levelled; travelled
Variant past tenses
There are some verbs which have two past tenses. In some cases they are regular in American English and irregular in British English, or vice versa.
|Verb||British English past tense||American English past tense|
|bet||bet, betted||bet, betted|
|burn||burnt, burned||burned, burnt|
|dream||dreamt, dreamed||dreamed, dreamt (very seldom)|
|learn||learnt, learned||learned, learnt|
|quit||quit, quitted||quit, quitted|
|shine||shone /ʃɒn/,BrE shined||shined, shone /ʃəʊn/AmE|
|spill||spilled, spilt||spilled, spilt|
|wet||wet, wetted||wet, wetted|
Present tense third person
- Main article: Pronunciation of the morpheme “-s”
Regular verbs add /s/, /z/ or /ɪz/.
Third person and past tense pronunciation
According to their last phoneme regular verbs have 6 alternatives for present third person and past tense.
- third person ends in /s/ and past tense ends in /t/: laughs - laughed; tips - tipped
- third person ends in /s/ and past tense ends in /ɪd/: markets - marketed; wets - wetted
- third person ends in /z/ and past tense ends in /d/: loves - loved; plans - planned
- third person ends in /z/ and past tense ends in /ɪd/: needs - needed; kids - kidded
- third person ends in /ɪz/ and past tense ends in /t/: places - placed;
- third person ends in /ɪz/ and past tense ends in /d/: pauses - paused;