English Grammar Step by Step
VERB TENSES: FORMS
Write the verbs in brackets in the correct form.
PART 1: THE SIMPLE PRESENT TENSE
1 Examples: (affirmative; third person singular: he, she, it)
He boxes twice a year.
She passes all her examinations, as she is a hard-working
It finishes at seven o’clock.
She watches television every day.
Gabriel goes to Libya once a month.
A bee buzzes.
When a verb ends in a sibilant sound (-ch, -sh, -ss, -x or -zz)
or -o, we add -es to this verb.
a My adopted child (do) a bit of everything. He’s very smart.
b My neighbour normally (fish) here.
c Joseph (teach) Semitic languages.
d He never (mix) business with pleasure.
e Mark (miss) her.
2 Examples: (affirmative; third person singular: he, she, it)
He plays cricket very well. (vowel + y)
She fries eggs every day. (consonant + y→i + es)
If -y is preceded by a vowel, we add only an -s to the verb;
if it is preceded by a consonant, we change from y to i, and
a Michelle (fly) off the handle very easily.
b Hilda (rely) on you.
c He (say) that he is proud of you.
d Raphael (enjoy) science fiction movies.
e He (study) the fine arts.
3 Examples: (affirmative; third person singular: he, she, it)
He sells fruit and vegetables.
My dog barks a lot.
With any other endings than the ones previously seen, we add
only an -s in the third person singular.
a Delia (water) her roses now and again.
b He never (raise) his voice.
c My clock always (run) down at three o’clock.
d She (blow) her top almost every day.
e My bedroom (look) out on the courtyard.
4 Examples: (affirmative; all the persons, but the third
I feel like having an ice-cream.
They know of somebody who can cure her illness.
The -s or -es is only added in the third person singular.
a I (want) to get to know Robin.
b We always (mistake) Kevin for Malcolm, as they (look) exactly
c My tenants always (treat) me very well.
d I (reckon) that she is a career girl.
e They (disapprove) of her behaviour.
5 Revision exercise.
a Every time I (go) abroad, people take me for an Englishman,
as my English is very good.
b Mildred (get) angry about little things. She always (make)
a mountain out of a molehill.
c If you (keep) on burning the candle at both ends, you’ll die of
a heart attack.
d Time (fly).
e You (need) more freedom. You should live on your own.
f I’ll wait for her until the morning (come).
g News (spread) like wildfire in this town, you’d better run
away from the Mafia, or you’ll be killed.
h This hen (lay) very tasty eggs.
i Whenever she (see) him, she (kiss) him.
j Time (go) by very quickly.
k ‘The early bird (catch) the worm,’ she said.
l This sweater (cost) an arm and a leg.
m These new products (sell) like hot cakes.
n Every time he (get) angry, he (slam) the door.
o She (wish) to join the club.
p They (hate) gossiping.
q Lucy (annoy) me from time to time.
r I (propose) a toast.
s We (tease) our neighbours every now and then.
t My mistress never (call) me bad names.
u Pepper (upset) me.
v I (think) this word (convey) the idea of pain.
w ‘Money (talk)!’ she exclaimed.
x My adoptive parents (belong) to a sect. I’m always trying to
persuade them to abandon it, but they always (tell) me that
y This chap is very brave. Nothing (scare) him.
z She (say) that she (need) some fresh air.
6 Examples: (negative; third person singular: he, she, it)
She writes letters now and then. (affirmative)
She does not/doesn’t write letters now and then. (negative)
He fries eggs very well. (affirmative)
He does not/doesn’t fry eggs very well. (negative)
Philip pays us a visit every day. (affirmative)
Philip does not/doesn’t pay us a visit every day. (negative)
This jersey washes well. (affirmative)
This jersey does not/doesn’t wash well. (negative)
As you can see in the examples, the -s or -es is dropped when
we use does.
a She (not praise) anybody.
b It (not rain) here very often.
c Sebastian (not avoid) talking to people, but he’s always very
busy, and (not have) time to talk to anybody. I think he ought
to slow down, but he (not want) to.
d My cousin (not collect) stamps.
e She usually (not buy) a single ticket, but a return one.
7 Examples: (negative; all the persons, but the third person
I hate ants (affirmative)
I do not/don’t hate ants. (negative)
They usually read fairy-tales. (affirmative)
They do not/don’t usually read fairy-tales. (negative)
a They usually (not show) anything good on television.
b Yes, my brothers are policemen, but they (not carry) handcuffs.
c They (not show) any trace of remorse.
d My travelling companions (not tell) bawdy jokes.
e They say that they (not dream) at night.
8 Examples: (interrogative; third person singular: he, she, it)
He regrets going to that island. (affirmative)
Does he regret going to that island? (interrogative)
Does he not/Doesn’t he regret going to that
island? (negative interrogative)
She generally stays at home during the week. (affirmative)
Does she generally stay at home during the week?
Does she not/Doesn’t she generally stay at home during the
week? (negative interrogative)
This iron goes rusty very easily. (affirmative)
Does this iron go rusty very easily? (interrogative)
Does this iron not/Doesn’t this iron go rusty very
easily? (negative interrogative)
Martha usually carries a bag. (affirmative)
Does Martha usually carry a bag? (interrogative)
Does Martha not/Doesn’t Martha usually carry a bag?
When we use does, the -s or -es is left out, that is, we use
a He (call) a spade a spade?
b She (make) benches?
c It (snow) in your country?
d He (have) a severe illness?
e He (not rule) the country any more?
9 Examples: (interrogative; all the persons, but the third person
They fear death. (affirmative)
Do they fear death? (interrogative)
Do they not/Don’t they fear death? (negative interrogative)
We need more labour force. (affirmative)
Do we need more labour force? (interrogative)
Do we not/Don’t we need more labour force? (negative
a They (wish) to demolish the entire church?
b You (have) many amenities in your town?
c Your parents (defend) human rights?
d You (fancy) fish and chips?
e They (not use) underwear?
10 Revision exercise.
a You (like) working outdoors?
b Roy (want) to travel throughout the world.
c We (get) up very early on weekdays, but we (stay) in bed till
noon on Sundays.
d You (not like) spaghetti?
e She (not avoid) playing cards?
f —What you (do) in your spare time?
—I (watch) the news on television, and (read).
g I’m dying for a cigar. You (want) one?
h —I was born on 29th February.
—Oh, you’re very lucky to be born in a leap year!
—Well, you can go to people’s birthdays every year,
but you (not have) to celebrate yours every year.
—I still (not see) any advantage!
—Well, in fact, you (save) a lot of money! It’s very expensive
to celebrate birthdays nowadays.
—I (think) you’re very mean.
—No, I’m not mean, but practical.
i —Caroline (read) people’s palms very well.
—I (not believe) in it.
j We only (purchase) high-quality products.
k This suit (look) neat, doesn’t it?
l —You (want) some water in your whisky?
—No, I always (drink) it neat.
m —Mummy! I have lent my friends a lot of things, but they
(not give) them back to me.
—It (serve) you right! I told you so!
n She (loathe) carving meat.
o If I (mop) the floor, will you do the dishes?
p This phenomenon (occur) once in a blue moon.
q —Why he (not do) it the other way round?
—I (not know).
r We often (not use) the word ‘chamber’ to mean ‘bedroom’
nowadays, but it was quite common in Victorian times.
s She never (buy) eggs, because they (upset) her.
t Whenever he (try) to be polite, he (put) his foot in it.
u Every time I (ask) her to keep still, she (reply) that she is
a very nervous girl, and that she can’t.
v She always (turn) up late when she has a date with someone.
w You’ll die frostbite out there! Why you (not come) in?
x He (keep) in touch with his niece?
y They (not use) fertilizer. They (say) it’s very dear.
z This place (conjure) up my childhood.
PART 2: THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS (OR PROGRESSIVE) TENSE
1 Examples: (form: subject + be + verb-ing; affirmative)
They are wasting (are + waste + ing) their time. They should
employ their leisure time better.
I’m seeing (am + see + ing) my nephew this afternoon.
It’s getting (is + get + ing) late.
I am wearing (am + wear + ing) spectacles today, because I
can’t find my contact lenses.
It is beginning (is + begin + ing) to rain.
We’re visiting (are + visit + ing) Paul’s grandson tomorrow.
He is travelling (is + travel + ing) around the country.
The milk is boiling (is + boil + ing).
She’s dying (is + die + ing) of cancer.
Don’t bother me now! I am enjoying (am + enjoy + ing) my pipe.
We are hurrying (are + hurry + ing) today because we’ve got
an appointment at half past five, and it is already half past
A new theatre is being (is + be + ing) built.
They are trafficking (traffic + ing) in stolen goods now.
When -ing is added to the infinitive, we must bear in mind
the following changes:
—waste: e is preceded by a consonant, so the e is dropped.
The verbs be, age, dye, singe and eye are exceptions:
be→being, age→ageing, dye→dyeing, singe→singeing, eye→eyeing.
‘Aging’ and ‘eying’ are also possible, particularly in
—see: e is preceded by a vowel; therefore, the e
is maintained. Nonetheless, the e is very often left out in
queue and glue: queuing (or queueing), gluing (or glueing).
If an infinitive ends in -gue or -que, we drop the e, as in
argue→arguing, burlesque→burlesquing. Note also continue→
—get: If we have the following combination: consonant +
only one vowel + only one consonant (that is, get ends
in only one consonant and it is preceded by only one vowel),
we double the final consonant (get→getting). However,
the verb must be monosyllabic to follow this rule. Note that
the consonants w, x and y are not doubled. Eg blow→blowing,
mix→mixing. Observe that the k is also doubled when it is
preceded by only one vowel: trek→trekking.
—wear: We have two vowels before the r; consequently,
the consonant is not doubled. Observe the following: bias→
biasing or biassing.
—begin: The same rule as get, but the verb is bisyllabic.
In this case, the stress must fall on the second syllable.
Kidnap and worship are exceptions to this rule: kidnapping,
worshipping. Other exceptions to this rule are format
and program→formatting, programming. See also part 3,
section 1 in this unit.
—visit: The stress does not fall on the second syllable,
so we do not double the consonant.
—travel: When a verb ends in an -l, the consonant is
usually doubled in British English, but there are
some exceptions. Boil is one. Americans write these
words with only one l: traveling. Note also that the
infinitive ‘install’ is written with two “l’s” in British
English, but with one in American English; the infinitive
‘enrol’, with only one in British English, but with two
in American English:
—die: ie + ing = ying. For instance: die→dying, lie→lying,
—hurry, enjoy: Both y and i are kept.
—traffic: Verbs ending in ic add an additional k.
a They always (plot) something against the government.
b He (get) over his illness.
c I (have) a haircut this afternoon.
d She all the time (lie) in the garden, instead of studying!
e You (put) on weight! You should go on a diet.
2 Examples: (negative and interrogative)
They are looking out of the window/They’re looking out of
the window. (affirmative)
They are not looking out of the window/They aren’t looking out
of the window/They’re not looking out of the window.
Are they looking out of the window? (interrogative)
Are they not looking out of the window?/Aren’t they looking out
of the window? (negative interrogative)
He is looking through the window/He’s looking through the
He is not looking through the window/He isn’t looking
through the window/He’s not looking through the window.
Is he looking through the window? (interrogative)
Is he not looking through the window?/Isn’t he looking through
the window? (negative interrogative)
I am having a great time in Majorca/I’m having a great time
in Majorca. (affirmative)
I am not having a great time in Majorca/I’m not having a great
time in Majorca. (negative)
Am I having a great time in Majorca? (interrogative)
Am I not having a great time in Majorca? (negative
a I (not die) to see her!
b You (not go) to have it translated?
c She (phone) him again?
d The sun (not shine) now.
e —What the hell you (do)?
3 Revision exercise.
a Look! A helicopter (fly) over the mansion.
b You (try) to seduce me?
c I can’t go out now. I (unload) a lorry, and it’s very urgent.
d —What you (do) at the moment?
—I (wrap) some parcels for Christmas.
e A gentle breeze (blow).
f —Where is my sister?
—She (sleep) like a log.
g They always (play) jokes on me.
h —I think you (bark) up the wrong tree.
—I don’t know; but I have a hunch that you’ve mistaken
i This telephone booth still (not work). Why don’t you use the
one round the corner?
j It’s very hot in here; I (sweat).
k My pals always (play) bowls. I’m sick and tired of it.
l That guy (make) a fire! It’s very dangerous to light fires
in this area.
m I (go) through a terrible crisis at present.
n They (argue) all the time.
o —You (not watch) the football match?
—No, I’m not. I (watch) a quiz show.
p The tide (come) in. We’d better go home, and come back when
it has gone out.
q She (fix) the fuse. She’s a very good electrician.
r —They (pollute) the river?
—Yes, I think so.
—Then, we’ll have to take legal action.
s We (save) up to buy a new van.
t You (not pay) attention to what I (say) in class, and this
u Brenda (not handle) things very well at the moment. I reckon
she needs a rest.
v They always (read) tabloid newspapers. I think they (waste)
their time reading that rubbish.
w —You (take) the kids to the zoo this afternoon?
—Yes, I am. Do you want to come with us?
—I’d love to, but I (visit) my aunt this afternoon.
x —What number you (dial)?
—My uncle’s. I’ve been told that he (have) an operation next
week, and I would like to cheer him up, as he’s very afraid
y A new song (be) sung in the choir these days.
z —What you (do)?
—Shut up, please. I (try) to record their conversation.
PART 3: THE SIMPLE PAST TENSE
1 Examples: (regular verbs→ed; affirmative)
Somebody robbed (rob + ed) me yesterday.
I cleaned (clean + ed) the house on Monday.
They preferred (prefer + ed) walking to staying at home.
They visited (visit + ed) me yesterday.
He travelled (travel + ed) a lot when he was young.
The milk boiled (boil + ed) over.
She married (marry + ed) a week ago.
We played (play + ed) the harp.
He loved (love + d) them.
They always panicked (panic + ed) about little things.
When -ed is added, we must take into account the following
—rob: It is a monosyllabic verb, and we have the following
spelling: consonant + only one vowel + only one consonant,
that is to say, the verb ends in only one consonant, and
this consonant is preceded by only one vowel. Then, we
double the last consonant. Note: the consonants w and x
are never doubled: glow→glowed, mix→mixed. Observe that
the k is also doubled when it is preceded by only one
vowel: trek→ trekked.
—clean: The consonant is preceded by two vowels.
Therefore, we do not double the consonant. Notice
the following: bias→ biased or biassed.
—prefer: We have a verb of two syllables, the combination
consonant + only one vowel + only one consonant, and the
stress falls on the last syllable. Kidnap and worship
are exceptions to this rule: kidnapped, worshipped.
See also part 2, section 1 in this unit.
—visit: The stress falls on the first syllable;
thus, the consonant is not doubled.
—travel, boil: See the previous part, section 1.
—marry: consonant + y + ed→i + ed.
—play: vowel + y + ed.
—love: When the verb ends in -e, we only add a d.
—panic: Verbs ending in -ic add an extra k.
a That lad (turn) out to be the most dangerous murderer in the
b They (gamble) everything on one throw, and lost all their
c Molly (admit) that she had been poking her nose into my
d ‘They (spy) on us yesterday,’ she said angrily.
e They (dash) out without saying a word.
2 Examples: (affirmative; irregular verbs; see the list provided
in unit 8.)
I overslept three days ago. (infinitive: oversleep; simple
He grew tired of being interrupted. (infinitive: grow; simple
The cheese she had bought went mouldy. (infinitive: go; simple
They lost weight. (infinitive: lose; simple past: lost).
a He (go) on the dole, as the factory he was working for closed
b Luckily, he (take) a photograph of the killer.
c She (be) on a diet when she (fall) ill.
d The way they (be) dressed (strike) me as peculiar. Do you
know where they were from?
e Her serious illness (keep) them up all night long.
3 Examples: (negative and interrogative)
She fell off her bike. (affirmative)
She did not/didn’t fall (infinitive) off her bike. (negative)
Did she fall off her bike? (interrogative)
Did she not/Didn’t she fall off her bike? (negative
Our army pushed the enemy forces back. (affirmative)
Our army did not/didn’t push (infinitive) the enemy forces
Did our army push the enemy forces back? (interrogative)
Did our army not/Didn’t our army push the enemy forces
back? (negative interrogative)
When we use did, the infinitive form is required. If the verb
is regular, -ed is dropped; if it is irregular, we need to
learn the infinitive form by heart.
a To tell you the truth, I (not sleep) a wink last night.
b He (promise) you the moon?
c She (not try) on that dress.
d You (not do) your duty, which is why you were expelled from
e They even (not consider) your application?
4 Revision exercise.
a ‘Last night I (dream) that I (be) in a big tunnel,’ (say) Mary.
‘I (want) to go out of that horrendous place, for I (be)
frightened to death, but I couldn’t.’
‘Why couldn’t you leave that place?’ (say) her husband.
‘I don’t know. But something (make) me follow that tunnel. I
(have) the impression that a bit of myself (be) left behind
with every step
I (take). I also (have) the sensation that it (have) no end.’
‘It (be) dark?’
‘Yes, it (be); and it (be) getting narrower and narrower as
well. In the end, I (be) tired out, (sit) down, and (start) to
weep: all my strength had deserted me.’
‘You (die) in your dream?’
‘No, I (not do). I (hear) a little voice saying, “Mummy, mummy!
Wake up, please!” Immediately afterwards, I (wake) up sweating,
but (feel) very cold.’
b Last night the police (make) him stop his car and they
(breathalise)him, but he (be) stone cold sober. If he had been
over the limit, they would have fined him and withdrawn his
c When the television (not exist), people (use) to read and
employ their spare time better than now.
d He (have) an accident yesterday morning. He (fall) off his
horse and (break) his leg.
e She (not write) to him because she had lost his address.
f ‘You (send) her some flowers yesterday?’
‘Yes, I (do). I (want) to make it up with her.’
g His dog (bury) a bone in my garden and (spoil) some rose
bushes. This is the reason why I want him to pay me for the
damage caused by his dog in my garden.
h ‘You (ask) for a wage rise last month, and now you are
demanding a wage increase again.’
‘Well, I (get) married two weeks ago, and I need more money.’
i I (spill) some coffee over my boss’s desk, and he (become)
angry with me.
j I (be) miles away and she (steal) a kiss from me.
k ‘You (have) a nice weekend?’
‘No, we (do not). It (rain) all the time and we (suffer) a
slight setback at customs. We (get) food poisoning too, and
(have) to be taken to hospital.’
l The vice-admiral Sir Francis Drake (defeat) the Castilian Armada
in the English Channel in 1588.
m ‘Why they (fire) you?’
‘Well, I (wake) up late nearly every day and (get) to work half
an hour late.’
n It (be) only then that I (realise) what was going on.
But unfortunately, it (be) too late to do anything.
o He (abandon) his family and (go) to live on a desert island.
p ‘Why you (not do) all your homework yesterday?’
‘Because it (take) us almost two hours to solve the equations.’
‘But they (be) as easy as winking!’
q ‘You (not know) that my parents (divorce) last year?’
‘No, I (not do).’
r ‘Where you (find) the treasure?’
‘It (be) hidden behind one the living-room pictures.’
s ‘Why she (forgive) him yesterday?’
‘She (forgive) him because he (apologise) to her.’
t ‘What (happen) to you last night?’
‘One of the tyres (puncture) and (have) to change the wheel.’
‘It’s amazing! Two days ago you (get) a puncture as well.’
u I couldn’t believe my eyes when I (see) my husband dressed up
as Snow White and my children, as dwarfs.
v Last night he (see) a fairy, who (grant) him three wishes.
w As a child, she (find) living in a farmhouse very boring,
but now she loves it.
x Joan Fuster (write) Nosaltres, els valencians in 1962.
This book (establish) a precedent in Catalan culture.
He (want) the Catalan nation to reflect upon their
identity, but in an objective way, since, above all
else, he (be) a defender of the tolerance.
y Her father (use) to tell her stories about her ancestors,
which (make) her thrill. Now she wonders if they (be)
true or not.
z It is believed that the drastic climatic changes that (take)
place millions of year ago (contribute) to or (be) the cause
of the extinction of dinosaurs.
For the uses of verb tenses, see unit 9.
Mid-position adverbs are generally placed after does not or
do not. See unit 28, section 1.
Sometimes, there are two possibilities, depending on the
meaning. See the introduction in unit 4. If we say He doesn’t
rule the country any more?, we are surprised at this fact,
and ask for confirmation; the other alternative —that is to
say, the one you are requested to use here— is an open
See also the footnote in the previous section.
For the position of still, see unit 28, section 2.
For further information about the present form of the verb be,
see unit 6, part 1, section 1.
In American English, the consonant is not doubled: kidnaping,
worshiping. Note also handicap→handicapping, both in British
and American English.
Adverbs which go in mid-position are generally placed after be.
See unit 28, section 1.
In American English, the consonant is not doubled: kidnaped,
worshiped. Notice also handicap→handicapped, both in British
and American English.
For the simple past form of the verb to be, see unit 6,
part 1, section 2.
Author: Miquel Molina i Diez
Pages: 1, 2 and the key
1 Negative and interrogative sentences (Page 2 and the key)
2 Short answers (Page 2 and the key)
3 Question tags (Page 2 and the key)
4 Questions and exclamations (Page 2 and the key)
5 So, neither, nor, either (the key)
6 Be, used to, would, be/get/become used to, dare, have, get, become, grow, go, turn, fall and feel (Page 2 and the key)
7 Verb tenses: forms (Page 2 and the key)
8 Irregular verbs
9 Verb tenses: uses (Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5 and the key)
10 Personal pronouns, possessives and reflexive pronouns (Page 2 and the key)
11 The genitive case (the key)
12 Singular and plural nouns (Page 2 and the key)
13 Gender (the key)
14 A, an, some, any, no, not, none, each, every and the; compounds of some, any, no and every (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
15 Neither, not...either, none, not...any, both and all (the key)
16 A few, few, a lot, lots, a little, little, many, much, no and plenty (the key)
17 Enough, too, so and such (the key)
18 Comparative and superlative sentences (Page 2 and the key)
19 Adjective order (the key)
20 Relative clauses (Page 2 and the key)
21 Do and make (the key)
22 Modal verbs (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
23 Infinitives, gerunds and present participles (Page 2 and the key)
24 Conditional sentences (Page 2 and the key)
25 Passive sentences (the key)
26 Reported speech (Page 2 and the key)
27 Purpose (the key)
28 Word order (the key)
29 Inversion (the key)
30 Connectors (Page 2 and the key)
31 Prepositions (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
32 Phrasal verbs (the key)