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Verb tenses: adding -ed and -ing

The basic form of a verb is called the infinitive. It normally occurs with the word to as in ‘I want to ask you a question.’ Verbs change their spelling according to which tense is being used.

The past tense refers to things that happened in the past. To make the past tense of regular verbs, the ending -ed is added to the infinitive ('I asked her a question'). The present participle refers to things that are still happening. To make the present participle, the ending -ing is added to the infinitive ('I am asking her a question').

Often there is no need to make any other spelling changes when you add -ed and -ing to the infinitive but there are some cases when it's necessary to do so and these are given below.          

Verbs ending with a silent e
 
If the verb ends with an e that isn’t pronounced (as in bake or smile), then you need to drop this final -e before adding -ed and -ing:
 
verb
past tense
present participle
bake
baked
baking
smile
smiled
smiling
 
Verbs ending in -ee, -ye, and -oe (such as freedye, and tiptoe) do not drop the final -e when adding -ing:
 
verb
past tense
present participle
free
freed
freeing
dye
dyed
dyeing
tiptoe
tiptoed
tiptoeing
 
A very few verbs keep the final -e when adding -ing to distinguish them from similar words. For example, singe becomes singeing rather than singing (which is the present participle of sing).
 
Verbs ending with a single vowel plus a consonant
 
If the verb ends with a single vowel plus a consonant, and the stress is at the end of the word (e.g., refer), then you need to double the final consonant before adding -ed and –ing:
 
verb
past tense
present participle
admit
admitted
admitting
commit
committed
committing
refer
referred
referring
compel compelled compelling
patrol patrolled patrolling
 
If the verb ends with a vowel plus a consonant and the stress is not at the end of the word, you should not double the final consonant when adding -ed and -ing:
 
verb
past tense
present participle
inherit
inherited
inheriting
target
targeted
targeting
visit
visited
visiting
travel traveled traveling
equal equaled equaling
 
Note that in British English, when the consonant is an l, this rule is modified so that the l is always doubled, no matter which syllable of the base verb has the stress. So in British writing, you will see the spellings travelled, travelling; equalled, equalling, etc.
 
If the verb has only one syllable and ends with a single vowel plus a consonant (e.g., stop), then the final consonant should be doubled before -ed and -ing are added:
 
verb
past tense
present participle
stop
stopped
stopping
tap
tapped
tapping
sob
sobbed
sobbing
 
 
Verbs ending with two vowels plus a consonant
 
If the verb ends with two vowels plus a consonant, you should generally not double the final consonant:
 
verb
past tense
present participle
treat
treated
treating
wheel
wheeled
wheeling
pour
poured
pouring
 
 
Verbs ending in -c
 
If the verb ends in -c (e.g., panic), you need to add a -k before adding –ed and -ing, and also -er:
 
verb
past tense
present participle
related noun
picnic
picnicked
picnicking
picnicker
mimic
mimicked
mimicking
mimicker
traffic
trafficked
trafficking
trafficker

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