Few things in grammar class cause an eruption of groans as when it’s time to conjugate verbs. All the rules to remember! Well, actually it’s not as hard as you may think. Let’s take a closer look.
What is Verb Conjugation?
Conjugating a verb is simply creating an orderly arrangement of its many forms. We use different forms of the same verb depending of the situation. For example, we can change the verb walk to walks to walked, and so on.
Verbs can be conjugated with regards to person and tense. When conjugating for person, the verb changes form depending of whether the first, second, or third person subject is involved.
First person: I walk
Second person: You walk
Third person: He walks
Most of the time, we concentrate more on the tense when conjugating verb. There are six tenses for English verbs:
Simple tenses show the period of time a verb can take place: past, present, future
Simple present tense – shows actions that happen often or are always happening.
We play soccer at recess.
The baby sleeps in a crib.
Simple past tense – show past actions.
We played soccer at recess.
The baby slept in a crib.
Simple future tense – show action that haven’t occurred yet, but will happen in the future.
We will play soccer at recess.
The baby will sleep in a crib.
Perfect tenses are formed with the helping verbs have, has, had, will and shall and the past participles of the verb.
Present perfect tense – shows an action that just recently finished or one completed at sometime in the past. These verbs use has or have as helping verbs.
We have played soccer.
The baby has slept in the crib.
Past perfect tense – shows action that came directly before another past action. They use the helping verb had.
We had played soccer.
The baby had slept in the crib before her sister was born.
Future perfect tense – show action that will happen before another action happens in the future. They use the helping verbs will have and shall have.
By the end of the day, we will have played soccer.
By tomorrow morning, the baby will have slept in the crib.
All conjugation starts with the to, or infinitive, form. Now, let’s conjugate the verb walk using the above information.
Simple present: I walk, you walk, he walks
Simple past: I walked, you walked, he walked
Simple future: I will walk, you will walk, he will walk
Perfect present: I have walked, you have walked, he has walked
Perfect past: I had walked, you had walked, he had walked
Perfect future: I will have walked, you will have walked, he will have walked
See, that wasn’t so hard was it? Verb conjugation doesn’t have to be scary. Like most things, the more you practice the easier it becomes.