One common mistake English learners make in their writing comes with knowing what verb to use. English has a large number of irregular verbs—verbs that do not follow the standard pattern—in regular use. Especially for speakers of Asian languages like Japanese or Chinese, the number of irregular verbs in English can be surprising and hard to handle.
The dozen most common used verbs in English are all irregular—be, have, do, say, go, get, make, know, think, take, see and come. That makes it very difficult for learners to get used to the normal ways verbs work; the only way to learn irregular verbs is to memorize them.
To be is the most common verb in the English language, and it’s the most common one we see used incorrectly here at Wordsmith Essays. It’s helpful, then, to quickly run down the conjugations and explain when they should be used.
Be is the base form and is used as an infinitive—so if you’re using a phrase like “to be” or “will be” or “would be”, you just use the base verb.
If you’re using it in the present tense—so something that’s happening now—you use “am” for the first person singular (I am going to the store), “are” for the second person singular (you are going to the store) and “is” for the third person singular (he is going to the store). If you’re talking about a group of people, you always use “are” (We/you/they are going to the store).
If you’re using it in the past tense—so something that’s already happened—you use “was” for the first and third person singular (I/she was going to the store) and “were” for the second person singular (you were going to the store). If you’re talking about a group of people, you always use “were” (We/you/they were going to the store).
The future tense just uses “will” plus the infinitive, no matter what. So it’s I will be going to the store, or you will be going to the store and so forth.
Then you have the –ing form and the past participle, being and been. These often get confused, because they both describe something over a period of time. The best rule of thumb is to use being with is, are, am, was and were (I am being quiet), while you use been with has or have (I have been quiet). Technically, you use “being” as a progressive verb and “been” as a present or past perfect verb, but I find that rule of thumb to be easier to understand.
If you’re not sure you’ve used all your verb tenses correctly, stop on by Wordsmith Essays’ order page today, and our team of professional editors can help polish up your paper so it’s ready to submit!