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Irregular Verbs in the Present Tense

Irregular Verbs in the Present Tense

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Irregular Verbs in the Present Tense

 

 

Hello! In this lesson, we will learn to work with several verbs that behave oddly in the simple present tense.  We have learned in previous lessons that most verbs are very predictable when they are used in the simple present tense.  However, some verbs are "irregular" in the simple present tense, which means that some of their forms cannot be predicted exactly.

Verbs become irregular through much use, so the most common verbs are also the most irregular verbs. We have previously studied the verb "to be", which is the most common and the most irregular verb.

As we might guess, another irregular verb in the present tense is the verb "to have". Other irregular verbs in the simple present tense are "to do" and the auxiliary verb "will."

To a certain degree, all the modal verbs - "can, could, will, would, should, may," and "might" - could be considered "irregular", however they are predictable, so we will address them in only a limited way in this lesson.


As a point of comparison, let us look at a regular verb in the simple present tense. The verb "to bake" is regular in the simple present tense. There are two forms of the verb in the simple present tense:  "bake" and "bakes". The pronouns "I, you, we," and "they" are all used with the form "bake" in the simple present tense. A plural subject like "Jennifer and David" is used with the form "bake". The pronouns "he, she," and "it" or a singular subject like "Jennifer" use the form "bakes" in the simple present tense. Take a look at the regular verb "to bake".

I / you/ we / they  -> bake

he / she / it   ->  bakes

While most verbs in the simple present tense have two forms that are closely related to each other, the verb "to be" has three simple present tense forms that look different from each other.  The pronoun "I" uses the form "am". The pronouns "you, we," and "they" uses the form "are" in the simple present tense.

A plural subject like "Jennifer and David" uses the form "are". The pronouns "he, she," and "it" and a singular subject like "David" use the form "is" in the simple present tense.

I  -> am

you / we / they ->  are

he / she / It  ->  is

The verb "to have" has two forms in the simple present tense: "have" and "has". The verb "have" is conjugated as "has" in the third-person singular form when used in the simple present tense with
the pronouns "he, she, it" and singular subjects like "David".

The pronouns "I, you, we," and "they" use the form "have".

I / you / we / they  - >   have

he / she / it   ->  has

The verb "to do" has two forms in the simple present tense: "do" and "does".

The pronunciation of "does" is quite different from what might be predictably expected. As we have learned in previous lessons, the pronouns "I, you, we," and "they" as well as a plural subject like "Jennifer and David" use the form "do" in the simple present tense. The pronouns "he, she, it" and singular subjects like "David" use the form "does" in the simple present tense.

I / you / we/ they  -> do

he/ she / it  -> does

The auxiliary verb "will" is irregular in the simple present tense. Some people use the form "shall" for the pronouns "I" and "we" in the simple present tense.

All other pronouns  -- "you, they, he, she, it" singular subjects like "Jennifer" as well as plural subjects like "David and Jennifer" use "will". Most people use "shall" in the question form for the pronouns "I" and "we". For example, most people would say "Shall I open the window?" or "Shall we dance?" The meaning of the word "shall" in the question form is similar to "should" and is mostly used for the near future.

 

I / we  - > (shall)  will

you/ they/ he/ she/ it  ->  will

As we have learned in previous lessons, all the modal verbs – "can, could, will, would, should, may," and "might" are irregular in a number of ways.  While it is difficult to characterize some of these verbs as present tense, none of these verbs is conjugated differently for different pronouns. We use the same form, without an "s" for any subject pronoun. The verbs look the same for all persons except for the verb "will" where we use "shall" with the pronouns "I" and "we" as we learned earlier.  

I / you/ we/ they/ he/ she/ it  -> can/could/would/should/may/might

Now that we have learned about these irregular verbs in the simple present tense, we will listen to a dialog.

David:               Are you ready to go?

Jennifer:  Yes, I am. Is Mr. Smith going with us?

David: Yes, he is. He does not have his car today.

Jennifer:  Who has his car?

David:  The international visitors have it.

Jennifer:  Why do they have it?

David:  They will go shopping today.

Jennifer:  Hmm. Shall I drive them?

David: Good idea. If you can drive them, Mr. Smith and I can have his car.  

David starts the conversation by asking "Are you ready to go?".We see that he uses the verb "to be" with the pronoun "you" so he uses "are". Since it is a question, he inverts the subject and verb to make the question "are you?".

Jennifer responds "Yes, I am.". We see that she uses the pronoun "I" and the verb "am". Then she asks "Is Mr. Smith going with us?". Since the present progressive verb uses the verb "to be", Jennifer uses the third-person singular form of the irregular verb "to be", which is "is".

David says "Yes, he is. He does not have his car today.". He might have responded "Yes, Mr. Smith is going with us." or "Yes, he is going with us.".

David uses the auxiliary verb "does" in his next utterance. Since this is a negative statement, he says "does not" with the irregular third-person singular present form of "to do: which is "does". If it had been an affirmative statement, David would have answered "Mr. Smith has his car today." In that case, would have seen the irregular verb "has".

Jennifer asks "Who has his car?". With the question word "who" we do not have to use the auxiliary verb "do" or "does" in the question. So we see the irregular third-person singular form of "to have", which is "has".

David answers "The international visitors have it.". Since "the international visitors" is a plural subject, David uses the third –person plural verb "have". If it had been one international visitor, David would have said "The international visitor has it.".

Jennifer asks "Why do they have it?". Jennifer uses the auxiliary verb "do" to form this question. If it had been a singular question, she would have said "Why does he have it?" or "Why does she have it?".

David says "They will go shopping today.". The modal verb "will" would be the same regardless of the subject. If this had been a singular subject, he would have said "He will go shopping today." or "She will go shopping today.".

Jennifer asks "Shall I drive them?" This is a common use of the word "shall", a part of the verb "will". It means something similar to "should".

David answers"Good idea. If you can drive them, Mr. Smith and I can have his car.". In this utterance, David uses the familiar verb "can". The verb can is always the same. It never adds the third-person singular "s" for "he, she, it," or a singular subject like "Mr. Smith".

Now that you have listened once and understand what was said in the dialog, let us listen to the dialog again. Listen for the irregular verbs "to be", "to do", "to have", the modal verb "will" with the form "shall" and the modal verb "can".

David:               Are you ready to go?

Jennifer:  Yes, I am. Is Mr. Smith going with us?

David: Yes, he is. He does not have his car today.

Jennifer:  Who has his car?

David:  The international visitors have it.

Jennifer:  Why do they have it?

David:  They will go shopping today.

Jennifer:  Hmm. Shall I drive them?

David: Good idea. If you can drive them, Mr. Smith and I can have his car.  

Excellent! You are getting control of some of the most common and most irregular verbs in English. While they must be memorized, it is worth your time to memorize them because they are used very often in everyday speech. You will need to memorize them and use them often to make them your own.  "Shall we speak English?"