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,
edges, fiddles, files, glares, hates, hopes, jokes,
lives, makes, notes, pastes, races, spares, surprises,
tastes, 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,
drops, eats, fills, finds, fits, gets, grabs, hops, kills,
knits, links, lists, means, needs, opens, puts, quits,
robs, rings, rips, sends, stops, tells, trusts, voids,
wants, 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,
sees, 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,
kisses, misses, passes, tosses;
blushes, dashes, flashes, gnashes,
hushes, lashes, mashes, pushes, rushes,
splashes, stashes, washes, wishes;
catches, ditches, etches, flinches,
hitches, itches, marches, mooches,
patches, reaches, searches,
scratches, teaches, touches, watches;
boxes, coaxes, faxes, fixes,
relaxes, vexes, waxes.
Change y to i and add - es.
This happens when a verb ends in a consonant + y:
apply / applies; bury / buries;
carry / carries; copy / copies; cry / cries;
dry / dries; fly / flies; fry / fries;
hurry / hurries; marry / marries; pity / pities;
ply / plies; pry / pries; tidy / tidies; try / tries;
worry / worries.
Verbs that end in a vowel + y do not change the y
to i and then add - es, however:
buy / buys; employs / employ
s; enjoy / enjoys;
flay / flays; lay / lays; pay / pays; play / plays;
say / says; slay / slays; spray / sprays; stay / stays;
sway / sways;
Compare flay / flays, play / plays, and pray / prays
with fly / flies, ply / plies, and pry / pries to see
how these spelling rules work for verbs ending in s.