Spelling Rules For Regular Past Tense Verbs

By | May 31, 2013

Unlike irregular verbs, English regular verbs don’t change their form very much. In fact, in most cases we just add -ed to the end of a regular verb! There can be some variation of spelling depending on the verb and in this blog post, I will outline the different spellings rules for regular past tense verbs.

For most regular verbs, we can add -ed to it. For example, walk – walked, climb – climbed, wash – washed.

However, it isn’t always that simple when it comes to spelling. In English, we can’t always add -ed to the end of every regular verb, sometimes we have to change the spelling a little.

Below is a set of rules that you can follow to ensure that you always get the correct spelling of regular verbs when changing them to the past simple.

1. When the base form of the verb finishes with the letter -e, only add -d.

Live – Lived – She used to live in Phnom Penh.

Phone – Phoned – He phoned me last night.

Shave – Shaved – I shaved this morning.

Change – Changed – I changed my telephone number yesterday.

Create – Created – I created a new drink!

2. When the base form of the verb finishes with a consonant +y, change the -y to -i and add -ed.

Cry – Cried – I cried last night.

Study – Studied – I studied a lot last week.

Hurry – Hurried – I hurried home.

Dry – Dried – I dried some bananas.

Apply – Applied – He applied for a job.

3. When the base form of the verb finishes with a vowel + y, just add -ed.

Stray – Strayed – She strayed away from the path.

Employ – Employed – I employed a new manager yesterday.

Play – Played – I played football last weekend.

Toy – Toyed – I toyed with the idea for a while.

4. If the base form of the verb has one syllable and the last three letters end in consonant + vowel + consonant, double the final consonant and add -ed.

Scrub – Scrubbed – I scrubbed my clothes last night.

Rob – Robbed – I was robbed last week.

Hop – Hopped – I hopped around the house!

5. If a verb ends in a -w or -x, don’t double the final consonant, just add -ed.

Chew – Chewed – I chewed gum this morning.

Mix – Mixed – I mixed orange and red.

Skew – Skewed – The car skewed across the road.

6. If the last three letters of the verb end in consonant + vowel + consonant, and it has 2 syllables with the second syllable stressed, double the final consonant and add -ed.

Admit – Admitted – I was admitted to hospital.

Permit – Permitted – I wasn’t permitted to enter.

Occur – Occurred – A strange thing occurred yesterday.

7. If the last three letters of the verb end in consonant + vowel + consonant, and it has 2 syllables with the first syllable stressed, just add -ed.

Listen – Listened – I listened to music.

Open – Opened – I opened the door.

Happen – Happened – It happened yesterday.

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