For the past few weeks at ESL Library, we’ve been stuck in the past! We’re rewriting our Simple Past lesson (in the Grammar Practice Worksheets section) to include grammar notes, speaking exercises, a writing exercise, and a quiz (available on June 1, 2018). This has inspired us to blog about the Pronunciation Rules of Past Tense Endings and has prompted us to make a new Grammar & Usage Resource on the Spelling Rules for Regular Past Verbs.
English spelling can be tough, but luckily there are some rules to help students in certain situations. While irregular past verbs have far too many spelling changes to list, forming the past tense for regular verbs is relatively easy. We thought we’d share these simple rules in this week’s blog post!
Go over the spelling rules and examples with your students. See if your students can think of other examples for each rule.
If a verb ends in -e, add -d.
- like → liked
- arrive → arrived
- decide → decided
If a verb ends in consonant + -y, change -y to -i and add -ed.
- carry → carried
- try → tried
- study → studied
If a verb ends in vowel + -y, add -ed.*
- play → played
- stay → stayed
- enjoy → enjoyed
If a verb ends in a consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) pattern, double the final consonant and add -ed.**
- hug → hugged
- plan → planned
- stop → stopped
For all other verbs, add -ed.
- watch → watched
- ask → asked
- clean → cleaned
There are some exceptions to Rule #3:
- pay → paid
- lay → laid
Rule #4 is true only for verbs that have the stress on the final syllable. Notice the difference below:
- prefer → preferred
- visit → visited
Rule #4 also depends on which country’s spelling system you’re using. In the American spelling of words ending in the CVC with consonant + e + l, the final l will not double in the most commonly accepted form (e.g., travel → traveled, cancel → canceled). Most other English-speaking countries prefer to double the final l (e.g., travel → travelled, cancel → cancelled).
Write the following words on the board or print out the worksheet if you’re a subscriber. Have students write the past tense form for each of the following verbs.
- Simple Past: Grammar Practice Worksheets
- Simple Past: Grammar Stories
- Simple Past: Fun Grammar Lessons
- Simple Past: Basic Grammar Sentences
- Spelling Rules for Regular Past Verbs: Grammar & Usage
- Pronunciation Rules for Regular Past Verbs: Grammar & Usage
- Irregular Verb List: Grammar & Usage
- Pronunciation of Past Tense Endings
- 5 Fun Activities for Irregular Verbs