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Basic Tenses with Irregular Verbs

The basic structure of tenses for regular verbs and irregular verbs is exactly the same (except the verb be). The only difference is that with regular verbs the past simple and past participle are always the same (worked, worked), while with irregular verbs the past simple and past participle are NOT always the same (sang, sung). But the structure is the same! It will help you a great deal to really understand that.

This page shows the basic tenses with the irregular verb sing, including the following structures:

  • affirmative or positive (+)
  • negative (-)
  • interrogative or question (?)

The basic structures are:

+ positive subject + auxiliary + main verb
- negative subject + auxiliary + not + main verb
? question auxiliary + subject + main verb

Here are the forms of the main verb that we use to construct the tenses:

base V1 past simple V2 past participle V3 present participle -ing
sing sang sung singing

And here is the result:

12 tenses (sing) past present future
SIMPLE
do + base
except future:
will + base
+ I did sing
I sang
I do sing
I sing
I will sing
- I did not sing I do not sing I will not sing
? Did I sing? Do I sing? Will I sing?
CONTINUOUS
be + ing
+ I was singing I am singing I will be singing
- I was not singing I am not singing I will not be singing
? Was I singing? Am I singing? Will I be singing?
PERFECT
have + past participle
+ I had sung I have sung I will have sung
- I had not sung I have not sung I will not have sung
? Had I sung? Have I sung? Will I have sung?
CONTINUOUS PERFECT
have been + ing
+ I had been singing I have been singing I will have been singing
- I had not been singing I have not been singing I will not have been singing
? Had I been singing? Have I been singing? Will I have been singing?

Mini Quiz

1. The past simple (V2) and past participle (V3) forms of irregular verbs are _______ different.

never
always
often
a) never b) always c) often

2. "Our athletes ran, swam, jumped, fought, rode bikes and played team sports." How many of these verbs are irregular?

three
four
five
a) three b) four c) five

3. Complete with the correct form of the verb: "Have they _______ home yet?"

go
went
gone
a) go b) went c) gone

Your score is:

Correct answers: