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SAT Practice, The New Verbal Section

Verbs, Verb Conjugation


Verb Conjugation Rules

Verbs are inflected (verbs are said to be conjugated while nouns and pronouns are declined.) to reflect how they are used.  Apart from the irregular ones whose unpredictable principal parts, P1, P4, and P5 must be memorized and are listed below, conjugation follows this simple set of rules.   New irregular verbs are no longer being created in English so the list of irregular verbs to be learnt is not getting any larger. 



vowels : ['a','e','i','o','u','y'].  A vowel will be indicated in context with a capital V.

consonants : all others.  Consonants will be indicated in context with a capital C.

doubling characters : ['b','d','f','g','l','m','n','p','r','s','t','z'].

The verb "be" is a special case and is ignored in these rules in simple present and past.

All one-syllable verbs have a stressed last syllable.


P1:  The verb stem.


P2: Third person singular present indicative.

1.        Special case: "have" becomes "has"

2.        Modal verb (can, could, will, would, may, might, shall, should, must): remains the same as verb stem

3.        Verb ends with Cs or Cz, add "es"

4.        Verb ends with Vs or Vz, double the last character and add "es"

5.        Verb ends with Cy, drop "y" and add "ies"  try ? tries,  fly ? flies

6.        Verb ends with "ch", "sh", "x", or "o", add "es" box ? boxes,  search ? searches,  wish ? wishes go ? goes

7.        If none of the above, add "s"


P3: present participle.

1.        Verb ends with Ce or "ue" (and is not the verb "be"), drop the "e" and add "ing" race ? racing,  make ? making

2.        Verb ends with stressed syllable, ending with a single vowel or quV followed by a doubling character: double the last character, and add "ing" rub ? rubbing, infer ? inferring, quit ? quitting

3.        Verb ends with "ie", drop the "ie" and add "ying" lie ? lying, vie ? vying

4.        If none of the above, just add "ing"


P4: simple past.

1.        If verb is irregular, use past tense make ? made,  run ? ran

2.        If verb ends with "e" then drop the "e" and add "ed" grate ? grated, date ? dated

3.        If verb ends with Cy, drop the "y" and add "ied" deny ? denied

4.        If last syllable is stressed, and ends with a single vowel or quV followed by a doubling character, double the last character and add "ed" rub ? rubbed, quip ? quipped

5.        If none of the above, just add "ed"


P5: past participle.

1.        If verb is irregular, use past participle.

2.        Otherwise use the same rules as are required for P4.




Irregular verb list


P1, P4, P5

be, were, been  

bear, bore, borne  

beat, beat, beaten  

begin, began, begun  

bend, bent, bent  

bid, bade, bidden  

bind, bound, bound  

bite, bit, bitten  

bleed, bled, bled  

blow, blew, blown  

break, broke, broken  

breed, bred, bred  

bring, brought, brought  

build, built, built  

burn, burnt, burnt  

burst, burst, burst  

buy, bought, bought  

cast, cast, cast  

catch, caught, caught

chide, chid, chid  

choose, chose, chosen  

cling, clung, clung  

clothe, clad, clad  

come, came, come  

cost, cost, cost  

creep, crept, crept  

cut, cut, cut  

deal, dealt, dealt  

dig, dug, dug  

do, did, done  

draw, drew, drawn  

dream, dreamt, dreamt  

drink, drank, drunk  

drive, drove, driven  

eat, ate, eaten  

fall, fell, fallen  

feed, fed, fed  

feel, felt, felt  

fight, fought, fought  

find, found, found  

flee, fled, fled  

fling, flung, flung  

fly, flew, flown  

freeze, froze, frozen  

get, got, gotten  

give, gave, given  

go, went, gone  

grind, ground, ground  

grow, grew, grown  

hang, hung, hung  

have, had, had  

hear, heard, heard  

hide, hid, hidden  

hit, hit, hit  

hold, held, held  

hurt, hurt, hurt  

keep, kept, kept  

know, knew, known  

lay, laid, laid  

lead, led, led  

leap, leapt, leapt  

learn, learnt, learnt  

leave, left, left  

lend, lent, lent  

let, let, let  

lie, lay, lain  

lose, lost, lost  

make, made, made  

mean, meant, meant  

meet, met, met  

pay, paid, paid  

plead, pled, pleaded  

put, put, put  

read, read, read  

ride, rode, ridden  

ring, rang, rung  

rise, rose, risen  

run, ran, run  

sake, sook, saken*  

say, said, said  

see, saw, seen   

seek, sought, sought  

sell, sold, sold  

send, sent, sent  

set, set, set  

sew, sewed, sewn  

shake, shook, shaken  

shear, sheared, shorn  

shine, shone, shone  

shit, shat, shat  

shoe, shod, shod  

shoot, shot, shot  

show, showed, shown  

shrink, shrank, shrunk

shrive, shrove, shriven

shut, shut, shut  

sing, sang, sung  

sink, sank, sunk  

sit, sat, sat  

sleep, slept, slept  

slide, slid, slid  

slink, slunk, slunk  

smell, smelt, smelt  

speak, spoke, spoken 

spend, spent, spent  

spit, spat, spat  

split, split, split  

spread, spread, spread

spring, sprang, sprung

stand, stood, stood  

steal, stole, stolen 

stick, stuck, stuck  

sting, stung, stung  

stink, stank, stunk  

stride, strode, strode

strike, struck, struck

strive, strove, striven

swear, swore, sworn  

sweep, swept, swept  

swim, swam, swum  

swing, swung, swung  

take, took, taken  

teach, taught, taught

tear, tore, torn  

tell, told, told  

think, thought, thought

throw, threw, thrown 

thrust, thrust, thrust

tread, trod, trodden 

wake, woke, woken  

wear, wore, worn  

weep, wept, wept  

win, won, won  

wind, wound, wound  

work, wrought, wrought

wreak, wrought, wrought

wring, wrung, wrung  

write, wrote, written



* used only with prefix



Prefixes used with irregular verbs 

mis, par, un, under, over, be, for, fore, out, in

Verb forms



Principle parts (to be learnt for irregular verbs)

Predictable forms











simple past

past participle

present participle

simple present, 3rd person singular


(to) work







(to) sing
(to) make
(to) cut






(to) do
(to) have








past simple

past participle

present participle

present simple

(to) be


was, were



am, are, is



  Excerpted with permission from SAT Practice: The New Verbal Section.