Possibly the number one grammar point to make sure that you get correct before any other when learning a language is verb use. A sentence cannot exist without a verb. There must be an action in any sentence and there must be a subject to which the action refers. Have a think of a few sentences, about anything at all, and you will see that it is true. So, first things first, you must get very good at using verbs.
Now have a look at your sample OET letters so far. The two issues that come up consistently are subject-verb agreement and verb tense. This article will look at subject- verb agreement.
We all know what we need to do regarding verb agreement; learn those conjugations! Eventually it will become second nature and English, thankfully, is not too tricky compared to some languages when it comes to verb endings. We will outline the main issues to be aware of when you are using verbs in your OET letters (which will be in every sentence!) so that you don’t slip up with your agreement of verbs.
1. Verb endings
To prescribe (present simple)
- I prescribe
- You prescribe
- He/she prescribes
- We prescribe
- They prescribe
As you can see, the only difference in the verb ending in the case of this verb in the present simple tense comes with the third person singular, where an s must be added.
2. Singular and plural subjects
This is a very common subject-verb agreement issue that we see in the OET writing task. It almost seems back-to-front and this may be a good way to remember it! If we look at the list of conjugations above, we can see that the singular third person for to prescribe has an s added and the plural does not.
- The doctor prescribes
- The doctors prescribe
3. Singular and plural subjects with the continuous tense
Remember that the auxiliary verb or the helping verb (“to be” in this case) must agree.
- The doctor is prescribing (past – was)
- The doctors are prescribing (past – were)
4. Irregular verbs
The very sound of the term irregular verbs makes any language learner squirm! One nice thing about the English language (among the many very confusing things!) is that when we use the present simple tense, there are no changes to the endings of regular and irregular words (except for the verb “to be”).
- To Be
- I am
- You are
- He/she is
- We are
- They are
So, there you have it, verb agreement in English is EASY! Learn the verb endings for “To be”. Remember to add an s for the third person and you can’t really go wrong.