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Additionally, students should consider whether a verb is regular or irregular. If it is irregular, the verb must be conjugated appropriately based on the following list: Irregular Verb tense list

Teaching strategies:

The instructor should review the present, past, and future simple tense with the students. When reviewing these tenses, the instructor should emphasize that in the present tense, the verb form of a singular subject takes an –s at the end of the verb. A plural subject does not take the –s at the end of the verb.

The instructor should also review the rules to the perfect tense, and highlight that the perfect tense always takes a past participle of the verb.

The following slides provide definitions and tips included in the PowerPoint presentation for Subject-Verb Agreement:

The present and present perfect tenses

(Slide 2)

The present tense: singular and plural subjects

(Slide 4)

The past tense

(Slide 8)

The future tense

(Slide 12)

The instructor should review all material prior to teaching this lesson. In the slide show, definitions and examples of each of the six tenses are provided. Students should learn to define and discriminate between the correct tenses in each example.

In the PowerPoint presentation, four interactive practice slides (# 5, # 6, # 10, and # 14) offer in-class activities for the instructor to review with the class. Each slide provides individually animated sentences with areas in blank for students to complete. After students respond, with a mouse click, the correct answer appears.

The following general rules to the six tenses are emphasized in the final slides of the PowerPoint presentation (slides # 15, # 16, and #17):

  1. The present tense is used for actions in the present or actions that occurs repeatedly
  2. Third person singular takes a singular verb ( with –s)
  3. Third person plural takes a plural verb ( without –s)
  4. The present perfect tense indicates an action completed in the present or continuing into the present
  5. The present perfect tense uses “ have ” or “ has ” with the past participle of the verb (regular verb ending in - ed , - d , - t , - en , or – n )
  6. The past tense indicates that an action was completed in the past
  7. Add – d or – ed to regular verbs in the past tense
  8. Irregular verb tenses are tricky and must be learned
  9. The past perfect tense indicates that an action was completed before a stated or known time in the past
  10. The past perfect tense uses “ had ” + the past participle of the verb (regular verb + - ed , - d , - t , - en , or – n )
  11. The future tense indicates an action that has not yet occurred but will take place in the future
  12. The future tense uses “ will ” or the proper present tense of “ be ” with “ going to ” and the verb
  13. The future perfect tense indicates an action that will be complete before a known time in the future
  14. The future perfect tense uses “ will have ” + the past participle of the verb (regular verb + - ed , - d , - t , - en , - n )
  15. For irregular verbs, see the irregular verbs handout


In order to offer this lesson, instructors need a computer and a multi-media projector.

The following materials and handouts are provided with this module:

  1. PowerPoint slide show: Six Tenses
  2. A hand-out of the slide show for students after they receive the lesson: Handout-SixTenses
  3. A handout sheet with a list of irregular verb tenses in the present, past, and past participle: Irregular Verb List
  4. Two practice sheets with subject-verb agreement exercises: Practice I-S-V Agreement ; Practice II-S-V Agreement
  5. Answer sheets for the two practice exercises: Answers-Practice I-S-V Agreement and Answers-Practice II-S-V Agreement


The authors recommend that the instructor distribute one or both of the practice sheets to the students as a pre-test prior to receiving the lesson. After completing the lesson, students should answer the practice sheets again as a post-test. In this way, instructors may determine whether the students master this objective or require additional instructional support.


Hacker, D. (2008). Rules for writers (6th ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's.

Maimon, E. P., Peritz, J. H.,&Yancey, K. B. (2007). A writer's resource: A handbook for writing and research (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Walsh, J. M.,&Walsh, A. K. (1972). Plain English handbook (6th ed.). Cincinatti: McCormick-Mathers Publishing Co., Inc.

Willis, D. (1991). Collins cobuild: Student's grammar . London: HarperCollins.

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Source:  OpenStax, Civis project - uprm. OpenStax CNX. Nov 20, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11359/1.4
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