Third-Person Singular Verb Endings in English

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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

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

Subject-Verb Agreement With the Third-Person Singular

The Evolution of English: From -eth to -(e)s

Frequency of Third-Person Singular Pronouns

write these verbs in the third person singular

write these verbs in the third person singular

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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).

Irregular Verbs

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.

2. If the verb ends in a Consonant + Y , we remove the Y and + IES in the third person.

Negative Sentence

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.

Remember: Do not can be abbreviated to Don't and Does not can be abbreviated to Doesn't .

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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

Third Person Singular Simple Present Verbs

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:

For verbs that end in an -s , -z , -x , -ch , or -sh , affix the suffix -es to the end of the verb. For example:

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:

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:

The copular verb be is irregular in all persons and numbers in the simple present. For example:

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:

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:

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:

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.

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Written by Heather Marie Kosur

Past Participles of Irregular English Verbs

Past Participles of Irregular English Verbs

The Simple Present of English Verbs

The Simple Present of English Verbs

An Encylopedia Britannica Company

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. 

Spelling rules

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. 

If the base form ends in consonant + y, remove the -y and add –ies:

Irregular verbs

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):

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. 

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Third Person Singular Present Tense

Third person singular forms are different from the others in the present tense for most verbs.

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).

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”).

The regular rule is that verbs simply add “s” for the third person singular (“he,” “she,” or “it”).

The most irregular verb in the present tense is “to be.”

“To have” has its own rule.

Other patterns in the present:

Verbs ending in “-o” preceded by a consonant generally add “-es.”

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”

Verbs ending in “sh,” “ch,” “x,” “z,” or “ss” add “es.”

A very few verbs do not change their third person singular in the present.

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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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write these verbs in the third person singular

Endings of the Verbs in the Third Person Singular

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