Third-Person Singular Verb Endings in English
- An Introduction to Punctuation
- Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
- M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
- B.A., English, State University of New York
In English grammar , the third-person singular verb ending is the suffix -s or -es that's conventionally added to the base form of a verb in the present tense when it follows a singular subject in the third person (for example, "She wait s and watch es ").
Third-Person Singular Verb Ending
- Most verbs in English form the third-person singular by adding -s to the base form ( sing s , give s , require s ).
- Verbs ending in -ch, -s, -sh, -x , or -z form the third-person singular by adding -es ( watch es , miss es , rush es , mix es , buzz es ).
- Verbs ending in a consonant + y (such as try ) form the third-person singular by changing the y to i and adding -es ( tri es ).
As their name suggests, certain irregular verbs have special forms. The third-person singular of be in the present tense is is, the third-person singular of have is has, the third-person singular of do is does, and the third-person singular of go is goes .
Examples of Third-Person Endings
- "Experience is a hard teacher because she give s the test first, the lesson afterward." (attributed to Vernon Law, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team)
- "Hip Hop theology not only embrace s the sacred; it dine s , sleep s , laugh s , cri es , love s , hate s and live s with the profane." (Daniel White Hodge, The Soul of Hip Hop: Rims, Timbs and a Cultural Theology . IVP Books, 2010)
- "A bear, however hard he tri es , Grow s tubby without exercise. Our bear is short and fat, Which is not to be wondered at."(A.A. Milne, "Teddy Bear." When We Were Very Young , 1924)
- "Man hunt s and search es on his whirling globe and whenever he unearth s a miniature truth within his environ, he think s himself close to the peak of science." (Dagobert D. Runes, A Book of Contemplation . Philosophical Library, 1957)
- "The ball, rocketing off the crotch of the rim, leap s over the heads of the six and land s at the feet of the one. He catch es it on the short bounce with a quickness that startle s them." (John Updike, Rabbit, Run . Alfred A. Knopf, 1960)
- "For mothering chicks, a stove ha s one real advantage over a hen: it stay s in one place and you always know where it is . Right there its advantage cease s . In all other respects, a hen is ahead of any stove that was ever built." (E.B. White, "Spring." One Man's Meat . Harper, 1942)
- "Billy close s his door and carri es coal or wood to his fire and close s his eyes, and there 's simply no way of knowing how lonely and empty he is or whether he 's as vacant and barren and loveless as the rest of us are--here in the heart of the country." (William H. Gass, "In the Heart of the Heart of the Country." In the Heart of the Heart of the Country , 1968)
- "If an apparatus is capable of determining which hole the electron go es through, it cannot be so delicate that it do es not disturb the pattern in an essential way." (Richard P. Feynman, Six Easy Pieces . Perseus, 1994)
Subject-Verb Agreement With the Third-Person Singular
- "Most subject-verb agreement problems occur in the present tense, where third-person singular subjects require special verb forms: regular verbs form the third-person singular by adding -s or -es to the base . . .." (Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell, Writing First With Readings: Practice in Context , 3rd ed. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006)
- "A singular noun requires a singular verb; a plural noun requires a plural verb.
- "In general, the first- and second-person singular forms of the verb and all plural forms of the verb are the plain form—for example, run . Variation appears in the third-person singular (as in runs )--the verb form that matches the pronouns he, she , and it and other third-person subjects, such as the boy, the dog , and the car . . . .
- "The verbs to be, to have , and to do are irregular. Unlike other verbs, the verb to be also varies in person and number in the past tense ." (David Blakesley and Jeffrey L. Hoogeveen, The Brief Thomson Handbook . Thomson Wadsworth, 2008)
The Evolution of English: From -eth to -(e)s
- "The Renaissance brought several changes in English grammar and syntax . In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the –eth third-person singular verb ending (e.g., followeth, thinketh ) began to die out, though some common contractions of these forms (e.g., hath for haveth , doth for doeth ) persisted into the late seventeenth century." ( The Broadview Anthology of British Literature , 2nd ed., ed. by Joseph Black, et al. Broadview Press, 2011)
- "[W]e know that the originally northern third-person singular verb ending -(e)s spread conclusively to the south during the early modern English period to give she walks, he writes . Nevertheless, there is an ostensibly odd, opposing development whereby some Scots writers at this time adopted the otherwise declining southern -(e)th (e.g. she helpeth ), retaining it right into the seventeenth century. A closer examination of the corpus data shows that many of the verbs with -(e)th, in fact, have a stem ending in a sibilant sound, like ariseth, causeth, increaseth, produceth ." (April McMahon, "Restructuring Renaissance English." The Oxford History of English , rev. ed., edited by Lynda Mugglestone. Oxford University Press, 2012)
Frequency of Third-Person Singular Pronouns
- " Third-person singular is the most frequent subject in the corpus; it accounts for 45% of all utterances . Sixty-seven percent of these clauses (626/931) are present tense, 26% (239/931) are past tense, and 7% of these predicates (66/931) contain modal auxiliaries . Third-person singular, however, is a much more complex member of the English category person than are first and second person singular subject pronouns (though the latter two are not without functional variation)." (Joanne Schiebman, "Local Patterns of Subjectivity in Person and Verb Type in American English Conversation." Frequency and the Emergence of Linguistic Structure , ed. by Joan L. Bybee and Paul Hopper. John Benjamins, 2001)
- Latin Verbs: Their Person and Number
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Present Tense - Third Person
English grammar rules.
Normally in the present tense we add S to the end of the verb in the 3rd person (He, She, It).
- He speaks three languages.
- She drinks coffee every morning.
- My dog hates my cat.
Irregular verbs in English in the present tense follow very simple rules. The only change that is made to these verbs is in the third person – for He, She or It.
1. If the verb ends in SS , X , CH , SH or the letter O , we add + ES in the third person.
- A mechanic fixes cars.
- She watches soap operas every afternoon.
- He kisses his wife before he goes to work.
2. If the verb ends in a Consonant + Y , we remove the Y and + IES in the third person.
- Isabel studies every night.
- The baby cries all the time.
- He denies all responsibility.
To form the negative we use the auxiliary do not . Again, the only variation occurs in the 3rd person where we use does not .
In the negative, the main verb is always in the bare infinitive (without TO). It doesn't change for the third person. We don't put an S on the end of the verb in the negative form. In the examples above - talk, sleep and study do not change in the 3rd person.
- He speaks Italian He doesn't speak Italian.
Remember: Do not can be abbreviated to Don't and Does not can be abbreviated to Doesn't .
Grammar Rules: See our notes about the Simple Present Tense in English.
Pronunciation Rules: You might be interested in the Pronunciation of -S at the end of words in English.
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Third Person Singular Simple Present Verbs
by Heather Marie Kosur May 15, 2013, 12:00 pm
The simple present tense in English expresses habits and routines, general facts and truths, and thoughts and feelings. In all but the third person singular, the simple present form is identical to the base form of the verb, which is defined as the infinitive without the p-word to . The following sections explain how to form the third person singular present tense form of regular English verbs as well as the forms of the four irregular English verbs in the simple present .
Forming Regular Third Person Singular Present Tense Verbs
To form the third person singular present tense form of most regular English verbs, simply affix the suffix -s to the end of the verb. For example, the following list includes the infinitive, base form, and third person singular present tense form some common English verbs:
- to argue – argue – argues
- to clean – clean – cleans
- to fight – fight – fights
- to pickle – pickle – pickles
- to wonder – wonder – wonders
For verbs that end in an -s , -z , -x , -ch , or -sh , affix the suffix -es to the end of the verb. For example:
- to box – box – boxes
- to catch – catch – catches
- to kiss – kiss – kisses
- to watch – watch – watches
- to wish – wish – wishes
For verbs spelled with a final y preceded by a consonant, change the y to an i and then affix the -es suffix. For example:
- to apply – apply – applies
- to copy – copy – copies
- to identify – identify – identifies
- to reply – reply – replies
- to try – try – tries
Anomalous Present Tense Verbs
Unlike most English verbs that consistently take an -s or -es suffix in the third person singular present tense form, four other English verbs are irregular in the simple present. Three of these irregular, or anomalous, verbs experience consonant changes, vowel changes, or spelling changes in the third person singular form. Anomalous verbs are verbs whose conjugation schemes differ significantly from both regular and irregular verbs. For example:
- to have – have – has
- to do – do – does
- to go – go – goes
The copular verb be is irregular in all persons and numbers in the simple present. For example:
- Infinitive – to be
- First person singular – am
- Second person singular – are
- Third person singular – is
- First person plural – are
- Second person plural – are
- Third person plural – are
Pronouncing Regular Third Person Singular Present Tense Verbs
Although all regular English verbs take either an -s or -es suffix in the plural, the suffix is pronounced differently depending on the last sound of the verb. For verbs that end in an [s] ( s , se , ce ), [z] ( z , ze ), [š] ( sh ), [č] ( ch ), or [ĵ] ( j , dge ) sound, then the third person singular suffix is pronounced as [ez] ( es ). For example:
- cross – crosses
- doze – dozes
- force – forces
- nudge – nudges
- rise – rises
For verbs that end in a voiceless [p] ( p , pe ), [t] ( t , tt , te ), [k] ( k , ck , ke ), [f] ( f , gh ), [θ] ( th ), [h] ( h ), or [j] ( y ) sound, then the third person singular suffix is pronounced as [s] ( s ). For example:
- bake – bakes
- develop – develops
- laugh – laughs
- write – writes
For verbs that end in a voiced [m] ( m , me ), [n] ( n , ne ), [ng] ( ng ), [b ( b , be ), [d] ( d ), [g] ( g , ge ), [v] ( v , ve ), [ð] ( th ), [w] ( w ), [r] ( r , re ), or [l] ( l , ll , le ) sound or any vowel sound, then the third person singular suffix is pronouns as [z] ( z ). For example:
- depend – depends
- fasten – fastens
- grow – grows
- sell – sells
- travel – travels
Regular English verbs take either an -s or -es suffix in the third person singular simple present while the four irregular verbs have irregular forms. The simple present forms of verbs in English express habits and routines, general facts and truths, and thoughts and feelings.
The simple present tense in English expresses habits and routines, general facts and truths, and thoughts and feelings.
In all but the third person singular, the simple present form is identical to the base form of the verb, which is defined as the infinitive without the p-word to .
To form the third person singular present tense form of most regular English verbs, simply affix the suffix -s to the end of the verb.
Four irregular, or anomalous, verbs experience consonant changes, vowel changes, or spelling changes in the third person singular form: be , do , go , and have .
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar . New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kilby, David. 1984. Descriptive syntax and the English verb . Dover, New Hampshire: Croom Helm. Leech, Geoffrey N. 2004. Meaning and the English verb . Harlow, English: Pearson Longman.
anomalous verb aspect grammatical aspect grammatical number grammatical tense present simple present tense simple aspect simple present singular tense third person third person singular verb verb aspect verb tense
Written by Heather Marie Kosur
Past Participles of Irregular English Verbs
The Simple Present of English Verbs
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Third person singular -s
The short answer is that, except for modal verbs, the third person singular in the simple present tense always ends in –s: she climbs, he runs, it rains, etc.
Now for a more detailed answer: For the vast majority of verbs, the third person singular in the simple present is formed by adding –s to the main form. However there are a few spelling rules and irregular verbs to be aware of.
Add –es instead of –s if the base form ends in -s, -z, -x, -sh, -ch, or the vowel o (but not -oo). This adds an extra syllable to the word in spoken form.
- miss + es = misses He misses her so much.
- veto + es = vetoes She vetoes every idea that I suggest.
If the base form ends in consonant + y, remove the -y and add –ies:
- rely --> relies Tom relies on her.
- worry --> worries My father worries about me.
Two very common irregular verbs that you already know do not follow the rules above (although their third person singular present forms do actually end in –s):
- be --> is
- have --> has
Finally, as mentioned above, the modal verbs, such as can, must, should, may and might , do not take -s in the third person singular present because, as you probably know, modal verbs do not take endings at all.
- She can speak three languages.
- He must like football a lot.
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Third Person Singular Present Tense
Table of Contents
Third person singular refers to one person or thing (“he,” “she,” or “it”)
English identifies a verb by its present tense form (sometimes adding “to,” making the infinitive).
- “do” (present) becomes “to do” (infinitive)
- “eat” (present) becomes “to eat” (infinitive)
- “come” (present) becomes “to come” (infinitive)
In general (with the exception of “to be”), this form (“he,” “she,” “it”) is the oddball, with the first and second persons singular (“I” and “you”) the same as the plural forms (“we,” “you,” and “they”).
- Same verb forms for “I” = “you” (singular) = “we” = “you” (plural) = “they”
- Verb forms for “he,” “she,” “it” add an “-s” or an “-es”
The regular rule is that verbs simply add “s” for the third person singular (“he,” “she,” or “it”).
- Walk >> walks
- Bake >> bakes
- Remember >> remembers
The most irregular verb in the present tense is “to be.”
- He/she/it is
“To have” has its own rule.
- He/she/it has
Other patterns in the present:
Verbs ending in “-o” preceded by a consonant generally add “-es.”
- Do >> does
- Go >> goes
- Veto >> vetoes
- Echo >> echoes
Verbs ending in “-y” preceded by a consonant generally change the “-y” to “-i-” and add “-es.”
Consonant plus “-y” >> “-ies”
Vowel plus “-y” >> add “-s”
- Carry >> carries
- Accompany >> accompanies
- Occupy >> occupies
- Try >> tries
- Buy >> buys
- Say >> says
- Convey >> conveys
- Obey >> obeys
Verbs ending in “sh,” “ch,” “x,” “z,” or “ss” add “es.”
- Hush >> hushes
- Catch >> Catches
- Fax >> faxes
- Waltz >> waltzes
- Miss >> misses
A very few verbs do not change their third person singular in the present.
- can (“be able”)
Credits: Photo by Lachlan Dempsey , Photo by Spenser Sembrat , Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen on Unsplash.
You may also find these helpful:
- Present Tense
- Future Tense
- Regular Past Tense
- Irregular Past Tense
- Pause vs Paws
- Hyphens Connect
- Correct Use of Out vs. Outside
- Patience vs. Patients
- Right vs. Write vs. Rite
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The s in the third person singular form in English
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The s in the third person singular form
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Endings of the Verbs in the Third Person Singular
write the third-person singular form of these verbs..
Third-Person Singular Verb Ending · Most verbs in English form the third-person singular by adding -s to the base form (sings, gives, requires).
English Grammar Rules ; Speak, Speaks. Play, Plays. Give ; Kiss, Kisses. Fix, Fixes. Watch ; Carry, Carries. Hurry, Hurries. Study
To form the third person singular present tense form of most regular English verbs, simply affix the suffix -s to the end of the verb. For
Now for a more detailed answer: For the vast majority of verbs, the third person singular in the simple present is formed by adding –s to the main form. However
The regular rule is that verbs simply add “s” for the third person singular (“he,” “she,” or “it”). Examples: Walk >> walks; Bake >> bakes; Remember >>
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