Strong and weak verbs in English

Strong and weak verbs in English

Studying the topic of verbs in English, you can get confused. There are many kinds and subspecies of verbs that you need to remember and learn how to use correctly. In fact, the rules are only half the trouble, it is much more difficult then to learn how to apply it correctly in practice. 

Two of the largest categories of English verbs distinguished in the language are strong and weak. 

The group of strong verbs includes the following: 

  • to be with all its derivatives (am/is/are in the present tense, was/were in the past, will be in the future) 
  • modal verbs 
  • verb forms of the future tense (will/shall
  • the have got construction (it is this form that is the strongest version, not just have
  • auxiliary verbs do/does/did 

Weak verbs include almost all other verbs, such as to go, to lose, to write, to wear, to swim, and so on. 

Features of strong and weak verbs 

1. 3rd person singular form

In this case, strong verbs do not change, while in Present Simple, weak verbs have the suffix -s / -es. Exceptions are have/has got and to be, which have their own word forms for these conditions. 

  • I like you 
  • She must go home now 
  • Felix has got a cat named Lino 

2. Interrogative and negative sentences

Weak verbs, unlike strong ones, cannot independently form interrogative and negative forms, coming first in the sentence. 

- Can your friend pass me the salt? 

- No, he can't, sorry. 


- Will you be okay after watching it? 

- I won't be okay, for sure. 


- Is Lewis your husband? 

- No, he isn't. He is just my friend. 

Weak verbs are not capable of constructing interrogative or negative forms on their own. In this case, the English language uses the auxiliary verb do/ does/ did (don't/ doesn't/ didn't in the negative form). In this case, auxiliary verbs take on all grammatical functions (time, number, person), and a weak verb is used in its initial form without the -to- particle. 

3. Forms of the future tense

The future tense is the same for both categories of verbs. It will be formed with will/shall or their negations with the addition of an infinitive 

  • They will come here tomorrow 
  • I won't be ready to meet them 

The verb can in the future tense will have the form will be able 

  • He won't be able to finish it on time 

4. Strong verbs have got and need have their own characteristics, not being full-fledged modal verbs. They can be used in two forms:

sufficient (with auxiliary verb) 

  • We don't need to do it right now 
  • He didn't have the right answer 

and insufficient (without auxiliary verb) 

  • She needn't clean this place 
  • You haven't got the right book 


The most important thing to keep in mind is that all the variety of topics can scare you at first and discourage you from learning a language. But that's no reason to quit! Once you get the first results, it will be much easier and more enjoyable to continue. Let the study of the topic of English verbs not seem so intimidating, because in fact everything is quite easy to use in everyday life, without the urgent need to remember which category or category the verb belongs to.