Grammar When to Add es to a Verb |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

When to Add es to a Verb

Our review of English verbs has included discussion of when to add s to a verb. You might also wonder when to add es to the end of a verb.

As we point out in that other discussion, only verbs paired with a third-person singular noun or pronoun (he, she, boat, courage) as a subject add an s to the end. Similarly, we add es only to a third-person singular noun or pronoun, with the added condition that the verb ends in a sibilant sound—i.e., one in which the tongue is brought near the roof of the mouth and air is pushed past the tongue to make a hissing sound, such as ss, ch, x, tch, sh, zz.

Examples
He watches the dog.
Jim guesses the answer.
She washes the clothing.
Soraya fixes broken pipes.

Note that we do not add es if the subject is a plural noun or pronoun or the pronouns I or you.

Examples
They watch the dog.
Jim and Claire guess the answer.
I wash the clothing.
Plumbers fix broken pipes.

Let’s look at another example:

My pants and shirt [match / matches] the attire that the manager [wish / wishes] for the event.

This sentence has two sets of subjects and verbs. The first subject is pants and shirt, which is plural. We would say “they match,” so the correct verb for the first subject is the plural form, match.

The second subject is manager, which is singular. We would say “she wishes,” so the correct verb for the second subject is the singular form, wishes, which adds es to the end.

 

Pop Quiz

1. He and Jenny always [stretch / stretches] before exercising.
2. Anita [dress / dresses] nicely for work.
3. The bee [buzz / buzzes] by the bush.
4. Jake [mix / mixes] drinks at the bar.
5. The rockets [launch / launches] from Cape Canaveral.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1. He and Jenny always stretch before exercising.
2. Anita dresses nicely for work.
3. The bee buzzes by the bush.
4. Jake mixes drinks at the bar.
5. The rockets launch from Cape Canaveral.

If you wish to respond to another reader's question or comment, please click its corresponding "REPLY" button. If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

36 Comments on When to Add es to a Verb

36 responses to “When to Add es to a Verb”

  1. Anna says:

    The dog cans perform lots of actions.
    The dog can perform lots of actions.
    Which is correct?

    • GrammarBook.com says:

      The sentence uses the auxiliary (helping) verb can in conjunction with the main verb perform.
      With many auxiliary verbs, the spellings do not change.
      I can, you can, she can, he can, it can, we can, they can, the dog can

  2. Angie says:

    Haya usually paints beautiful pictures.
    Is it correct or not?

  3. FOS says:

    If we’re talking about the future but don’t use helping word, will we still be required to use s at the end of the verb? For example, is there something wrong with this?

    “that’s called quick count, it’s only a prediction based on the votes that have been count, it’s still possible that he win in the quick count but lose after all vote have been count, so we can’t just say that the winner is declared on the election day”

    • We recommend: That’s called quick count. It’s only a prediction based on the votes that have been counted. It’s still possible that he will win in the quick count but lose after all votes have been counted, so we can’t just say that the winner is declared on election day.

  4. Frederik Andersen says:

    Can you explain more about the principal verbs?
    for example what is the correct from here:
    “How it help/helps”

  5. STEWARD says:

    Is “everyone” singular or plural?

  6. Mike Walker says:

    Which one of the following is correct?

    1. May everyone stays safe.
    2. May everyone stay safe.

    And is it preferred to use “may” or using “hope” would be better in this case?

    • The word may is an auxiliary (helping) verb. It is used in conjunction with the main verb stay in your example. When the auxiliary verb is there, the spelling of the main verb does not change. Therefore, “May everyone stay safe” is correct. Writing “I hope everyone stays safe” is another option.

  7. Diego Freitas says:

    The bouncy ball bounces back and hit or hits you?
    Which one should i use here, “hit” or “hits”?

    • As the post states, verbs with a third-person singular noun or pronoun (he, she, boat, courage) as a subject have an added s on the end. Therefore, the third-person singular noun ball requires the verb hits.

  8. Hajj says:

    Which statement is correct?
    What does that make/makes you?

    • Sometimes a helping (also called an auxiliary) verb is used in conjunction with the main verb. When a helping verb is used, the spelling of the main verb does not change. Your sentence uses the helping verb does. Therefore, write What does that make you?

  9. Lori says:

    Please apply this rule to answers for questions which use helping verbs. Simple present tense verbs use “s” for third person singular for some auxiliary verbs, but not others. Why is this?

    Has he moved?
    ie: Yes, he has.
    Does she have kids?
    Yes, she does.
    But no “s” is used for should, can, etc?
    Does he cook? Yes, he does.
    Can he sew? Yes, he can. (no “s”)
    Should he go? Can he go? Could he try? Might he play?
    Yes, he (should/can/could/might).
    Why?

    • The rule above does not apply to auxiliary verbs. With many auxiliary verbs, the spellings do not change. Examples:
      I can, you can, she can, he can, it can, we can, they can
      I would, you would, she would, he would, it would, we would, they would

      The spellings of other auxiliary verbs change depending on the subject. When learning English, one needs to memorize the spellings. Examples:
      I do, you do, she does, he does, it does, we do, they do
      I have, you have, she has, he has, it has, we have, they have
      I am, you are, she is, he is, it is, we are, they are
      I was, you were, she was, he was, it was, we were, they were

  10. Asiphe says:

    My sentence is
    Learn to move away from people/ things that disturb your peace.
    My question is to the above sentence should I put disturb / disturbs ?

    • Because both people and things are plural nouns, use the plural verb disturb. In addition, we discourage use of the slash (/) in formal writing. Our recommendation is to rewrite as “people and things” or “people or things,” depending on your intention. Please see our post Thrash the Slash.

  11. joel says:

    Do we put an S also for entity like a company?
    Should I write my company consider…. or my company considers…..

  12. Nasi says:

    So what ahout when we’re using the word ‘person’ in the sentence does the verb also come with s?
    for example: you’re the type of person who read/reads and not reply/replies…

    • In your example, “you” is the main subject and “type” is the predicate nominative that renames the subject (you can learn more about predicate nominatives in our articles Securing the Subject of Subjects and Predicating Our Knowledge of Predicates).

      The word “person” is the object of the preposition “of.” The word “who” is a relative pronoun that modifies “person.” “Who” is also the subject of a dependent clause. Because “who” modifies “person,” a singular noun, it would take singular verbs.

      The best way to write the sentence would be “You’re the type of person who reads and doesn’t reply.”

  13. Yun (Cathy) Wang says:

    So how about this? The first subject is plural and the second is not, does there need to be an “s” at the end of the verb?
    Foods fortified with vitamin B12 or a B12 supplement need/needs to be consumed by those following a strict plant-based diet without any animal products.

    • You have presented a fairly complicated sentence. The subject of your sentence is Foods, but there is some distraction caused by the current prepositional phrase. The sentence is a shortened form of:
      Foods fortified with vitamin B12 or foods fortified with a B12 supplement need/needs to be consumed by those following a strict plant-based diet without any animal products.

      In this form, it is apparent that the subjects on both sides of the conjunction or are plural and therefore require the plural verb need. We recommend the following treatment to help further identify the sentence subject:
      Foods fortified with vitamin B12 or with a B12 supplement need to be consumed by those following a strict plant-based diet without any animal products.

  14. Pardeep says:

    Have you got any rule to put the helping verb have with the subject he?

  15. Artyom says:

    “The second set of subjects is education, experience, and training, which is plural.” Can i write this sentence by using the ‘are’ ?

    Like this: “The second set of subjects are education, experience, and training, which is plural.”

    Thanks

    • The subject of this sentence in our first EXAMPLE/ANSWER pair is the singular noun set; therefore, use the singular verb is. The non-restrictive clause at the end, which is plural, identifies that the singular set is a collective noun containing plural subjects (education, experience, and training).

  16. Morne says:

    The sentence reads: Mum saw a man steal or steals a diamond ring…

    Which is correct steal or steals and why?

    • The base form of the verb, in this case steal rather than steals, is used after certain principal verbs such as watch, see (saw), hear, feel, help, let, and make, followed by an object.
      Mum saw a man steal a diamond ring.

  17. Reynaldo Coto says:

    How is the correct use of “s” in third person sentences with more than one verb in it?
    Ex: My wife likes to talk about foods cooking, watch tv, clean the house, etc.
    This sentence is correctly write or not?

    • The sentence should read “My wife likes to talk about cooking food, watching tv, cleaning the house, etc.”
      The subject of the sentence is wife. The subject is a third-person singular noun. Therefore, the singular verb likes has an added s. Likes is the main verb in the sentence. The verb likes is used with the infinitive to talk. The word about is a preposition and is followed by objects of the preposition, cooking, watching, and cleaning.

  18. Chris says:

    Thanks GrammarBook.com! This is awesome. Hopefully this will be included in the next edition of the book.

Leave a Reply to Chris Cancel reply

Please ensure that your question or comment relates to the topic of the blog post. Unrelated comments may be deleted. If necessary, use the "Search" box on the right side of the page to find a post closely related to your question or comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *