Common Verb Tense Mistakes Students Make

What are verb tenses?

The English language is riddled full of words that don’t fit into simple rules. Let’s tackle that in a minute. First, let’s start with the rules.

A good starting point is the main nine tenses. They come in three timeframes:

Past: it has happened

Present: it is happening

Future: it is going to happen

Main nine verb tenses

These timeframes are subdivided into three further sections: simple, continuous and perfect. Let’s use an example verb: “to do”.

Verb tenses

This is just the beginning, so it’s no wonder students have trouble with verb tenses. This is particularly the case when they write. What causes the biggest trouble?

Common errors with tenses

For younger students these are the two most common errors:

Shifting tense: young students may start writing in the past tense and then drift into the present tense a few sentences later. Teachers find that the shift to perfect tense often happens during the exciting parts of a story the student writes. The writer gets so caught up in the action they forget about the verb tense.

Incorrect irregular verbs: English has many irregular verbs that don’t fit the expected pattern of adding -ed for simple past tense. Younger students will often incorrectly apply -ed to most past tense verbs.

For example:

I grew two inches this year.

Some students will use the simple grammar rule of -ed: I growed two inches this year.

We have worksheets for students to practice verb tenses and conjugating verbs.

Progressive tense worksheets

Students categorize a group of verbs by past, present or future in these worksheets.

Past, present, future tense worksheets

Practice the continuous tense

These worksheets have students completing sentences with the continuous tense.

Continuous verb tense worksheets

Verb conjugation worksheets

Students practice conjugating verbs to maintain consistent verb tenses in these sentences.

Conjugating verbs worksheets