I am a programmer whose most recent project involves Natural Language Parsing and I need to be able to conjugate English Verbs and Nouns.

I already have a list of Verb Irregulars but I am struggling to find a set of "rules" if you will, for conjugating regular English verbs. I know there are a few, various rules such as: "if the word ends in 'X', then the plural form would end in 'Y'" with the most basic being add an s to the end.

I am looking for the rules for finding the: Base form, Past simple, Past participle, 3rd person singular, Present participle Gerund

Also, I would be looking to do the same for finding the plurals and possessive forms of any given noun, along with a list of regulars. I have had no source of results or luck in my searching in this area and any help with conjugating (for lack of a better word) nouns would be very helpful

Sorry for what appears to be the lack of searching, trust me I have looked.

  • I highly doubt that these set of "rules" exist.
    – user19148
    Jul 5, 2012 at 7:04
  • sorry, I am more of a programmer than a linguist, So I am used to assuming there are rules for pretty much everything.
    – bs7280
    Jul 5, 2012 at 7:18
  • Regular verbs and nouns follow rules (the clue is in the word regular!) so it should be possible to parse a sentence for known irregular words first, and anything else must follow regular principles. Barrie's answer is a good summary.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 5, 2012 at 7:24
  • 2
    'Formalizing' a natural language is going to be a daunting task. Only a part of the set of words will follow some rules, with exceptions within that. You will need to have at least three groups: those that strictly follow a pattern, those that follow a known alternate form, and those that better be treated as unique, and hence handled on a case-to-case basis.
    – Kris
    Jul 5, 2012 at 8:04
  • This is a verb broad question. There are a lot of different parts to it. Jul 5, 2012 at 14:03

2 Answers 2


English regular verbs have four rule-based forms. Walk, for example, has walk, walks, walking, walked. There are no rules for forming irregular verbs and each has to be learnt separately.

The regular plural of nouns is formed by the addition of -s to the singular, but if the noun ends in -s, -z, -x, -ch or –sh, it adds -es. A few nouns have irregular plurals. Man becomes men, for example, and child becomes children.

There are some exceptions, but the possessive of singular nouns is formed by the addition of -'s. The possessive of plural nouns is formed by the addition of -s'.

Verbs conjugate, but nouns decline.

  • don't forget if the noun or verb ends in -y the y sometimes turns into an i. Jul 5, 2012 at 13:54

Of course there are no all-encompassing rules.

But I got these from a grammar book (by Raymond Murphy). Hope they help:

1.If the Noun or Verb ends in -s, -ss, -sh,-ch and –x, put "+es" at the end.

2.Nouns ending in:

A. consonant + y >>>>> ies

B. vowel + y >>>>> ys

3.Verbs ending in:

A. consonant + y >>>>> ies/ ied

B. consonant + y >>>>> ying

C. vowel + y >>>>> ys / yed / ying

D. exceptions: pay, lay, say

4.Verbs ending in:

A. ie >>>>> ying

B. e >>>>> ing/ ed (except irregular)

C. exceptions: be, see, agree

5.Verbs ending in

A. vowel + consonant >>>>> doubled consonant + ing / + ed

B. exception: over-1- syllable Verbs

  1. stress on final syllable >>>>> doubled consonant + ing/ +ed

  2. no stress on final syllable >>>>> single consonant + ing/ +ed

(except British double “l” and American single “l”)

C. consonant + consonant >>>>> single consonant + ing/ + ed

D. vowel + vowel + consonant >>>>> single consonant + ing/ + ed

E. y / w >>>>> single y/ w +ing/ + ed

  • 1
    Good luck depending on spelling. Jul 5, 2012 at 14:41
  • Hi John. Yeah :-D
    – Cool Elf
    Jul 5, 2012 at 14:43
  • Hmmm, but no double letters for verbs with base forms ending in h, w, x, y, though :) Jul 24, 2015 at 1:58

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