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Verb Forms and Verb Tenses (#4): Spelling the - S Form, by Dennis Oliver

Verb Forms and Verb Tenses (#4):

Spelling the - S Form


English verbs have five basic forms: the base form, the - S form,
the - ing form, the past form, and the past participle form.

The - S form is very commonly used for main verbs and auxiliary
verbs in the
simple present tense when the subject is or means
he, she, or it. The - S form is also very commonly used as a full
(has) or contracted ('s) auxiliary verb in the
present perfect tense
when the subject is or means he, she, or it.

For be, the - S form is is. For have, it is has. For other verbs,
there are three different spellings: -
s, - es, and - ies:


Add - s to the base form.

This is the most common spelling for the -S form and
is the spelling used for most verbs.

Notice, especially, that - s is added when the base form
ends in one or more consonants + e:

aches, bakes, breathes, cares, caches, dives,
s, fiddles, files, glares, hates, hopes, jokes,
s, makes, notes, pastes, races, spares, surprises,
s, types, writes

Notice that - s is also added when the base form ends
in one or more consonants (but without e):

adds, bets, beats, calls, claps, cheats, cleans, digs,
s, eats, fills, finds, fits, gets, grabs, hops, kills,
s, links, lists, means, needs, opens, puts, quits,
s, rings, rips, sends, stops, tells, trusts, voids,
s, works, zips

In addition, notice this spelling is used with the small
number of verbs ending in two vowels (including
- ie):

agrees, argues, boos, coos, flees, glues, moos,
s, shoos, shoes, tees, woos

dies, lies, ties, vies


Add - es to the base form.

This happens in two situations:


when the base form ends in the vowel o:

does, goes, soloes


when the base form ends in ss, sh,
(t)ch, zz, and x:

assesses, blesses, caresses, fusses,
es, misses, passes, tosses;

blushes, dashes, flashes, gnashes,
es, lashes, mashes, pushes, rushes,
es, stashes, washes, wishes;

catches, ditches, etches, flinches,
es, itches, marches, mooches,
es, reaches, searches,
es, teaches, touches, watches;

buzzes, fizzes;

boxes, coaxes, faxes, fixes,
es, vexes, waxes.


Change y to i and add - es.

This happens when a verb ends in a consonant + y:

apply / applies; bury / buries;
carry / carr
ies; copy / copies; cry / cries;
dry / dr
ies; fly / flies; fry / fries;
hurry / hurr
ies; marry / marries; pity / pities;
ply / pl
ies; pry / pries; tidy / tidies; try / tries;
worry / worr

Verbs that end in a vowel + y do not change the y
to i and then add - es, however:

buy / buys; employs / employs; enjoy / enjoys;
flay / flay
s; lay / lays; pay / pays; play / plays;
say / say
s; slay / slays; spray / sprays; stay / stays;
sway / sway


Compare flay / flays, play / plays, and pray / prays
with fly / fl
ies, ply / plies, and pry / pries to see
how these spelling rules work for verbs ending in




the -ing form

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