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It's not that I can't memorize them, but I have always been wondering how it has become the way it is - what's the purpose of differenting them?

Why not just always use the singular form?

I am a native Chinese, and in Chinese verbs don't differentiate singular/plural forms and even tenses.

I understand tenses can be useful, as they indicate the time of the action. But since the subjects can already indicate if the number is one or more, why not just use one certain form under all circumstances?

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    1) Tradition. 2) Redundancy (which is a good thing in data transmission). 3) They help disambiguate complex sentences, especially when some words have been elided. – Hot Licks Jul 2 '16 at 12:39
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    Languages evolve, they aren't designed. English used to distinguish between 1st person singular, 2nd person singular, 3rd person singular, and plural subjects. And we also had cases, which meant we could rearrange the order of words without changing the meaning (e.g., man bites dog vs. dog bites man). When these distinctions were lost because people started dropping word endings, the language started using word order to eliminate any resulting ambiguity. The plural form of the verb is a residue of this earlier system. – Peter Shor Jul 2 '16 at 12:49
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    Why don't Chinese invert word order when asking a question? That was one of the fundamental questions I had when I learned Chinese. The teacher said, "that's the way it is." – user140086 Jul 2 '16 at 13:36
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    @PeterShor I think your comment answers the question. Why don't you post it? – user140086 Jul 2 '16 at 14:13
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    You are asking “why” synthetic languages convey grammatical relationships using inflectional morphemes simply because yours is an analytic language that does not do that. There can be no answer to this question in the confines of the space allotted to us. Indo-European languages have inflections: that’s simply how they work. You will never have an answer as to “why” any more than you will be able to provide us with an answer as to “why” your language doesn’t do such an “important” thing. – tchrist Jul 2 '16 at 20:15
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Languages evolve, they aren't designed.

English used to distinguish between 1st person singular, 2nd person singular, 3rd person singular, and plural subjects. And we also had cases, which meant we could rearrange the order of words without changing the meaning (e.g., man bites dog vs. dog bites man). In linguistic terms, English was a synthetic language like Latin and Russian.

When these distinctions were lost because people started dropping word endings, the language started using word order to eliminate any resulting ambiguity. The plural form of the verb is a residue of this earlier system. Its not clear to me that it is that useful in the current language—English would probably be nearly as easily understood without it—but we are certainly not going to drop it any time in the near future.

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    It's probably worth noting that Standard English retains them, but in many dialects the singular plural verb distinction is effectively entirely reduced/simplified, and understanding in those dialects doesn't suffer at all (as you predict). – user0721090601 Jul 2 '16 at 23:22

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