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Explainer Video

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​​In a nutshell

Verbs are action words. They tell you what a person or thing is doing or being. All sentences must contain at least one verb as without a verb a sentence is technically incomplete. Verb tenses tell you when something is happening. In this summary, you'll find out how to spot verbs and understand their tenses. 

Basic verbs

The basic form of a verb is called the infinitive. The infinitive of a verb has the word to in front of it, for example, to walk, to eat, to live. Verbs change their spelling depending on who or what is doing the action.

First person

Second person

Third person

I, we


he, she, it, they

Most verbs don't change in the present tense apart from in the third person singular (he, she, it). When heshe, or it does a verb in the present tense you need to add on -s to the end of the verb. 


to talk (infinitive)

First person singular

I talk

Second person singular

you talk

Third person singular

he / she / it talks

First person plural

we talk

Second person plural

you talk

Third person plural

they talk

Verb tenses

Verbs have tenses which tell you when an action is happening, whether it's in the past, present, or future. There are several different forms of each tense which you can see in the table below.


to talk (infinitive)


Present simple

I talk

Present continuous
I am talking
Present perfect
I have talked


Past simple
I talked
Past continuous
I was talking
Past perfect
I had talked

Past perfect continuous

I had been talking



I will talk

Future continuous
I will be talking
Future perfect continuous
I will have been talking

The past tense is used for an action which happened in the past. The present tense is used for an action which is happening now in the present and the future tense is used for an action which will happen in the future.

Tip: Try and stick to one tense when writing. If you start writing in the past tense, don't suddenly switch to the present. Continue writing the sentence or paragraph in the past tense.

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a verb tense?

What is an infinitive?

What are verbs?


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