present simple · Uncategorized

Verbs with Y in the Present with –ies: He Flies and She Pays

By Jacqueline Schaalje

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®Mary Vertulfo & Ewas

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I don’t know whether this has anything to do with the Israeli school system (often terrible English teaching). Some of my middle school and high school students get hysterical about verbs with y. Before I can even ask them what they find difficult, they scream: “Cries is with ies, isn’t it?” And then they ask: “But buys is with only an –s. The rule is…”

And then they explain me the rule. I’ve never understood this rule. It’s something to do with there being an extra vowel before the y. If there is an extra vowel (a, e, i, u, o), before the y, you should put only s. If there is no extra vowel before the y, put ie.


So why is dye still with a y when you say: She dyes her hair?

And why do you say: He lies on his bed, and not: I ly on my bed. It should be lie.

But okay, there are some verbs that work according to the above rule. I suggest you forget about the rule, and just learn these easy and very common verbs by heart:

With –ies for he, she and it With just -s for he, she and it
Simple Verb He, she, it Simple Verb He, she, it
Lie lies Buy buys
Fly flies Toy toys
Dry dries Lay lays
Try tries Pray prays
Fry fries Prey * preys
Die dies Dye dyes
Cry cries Pay pays
Tie ties Stay stays
Deny denies Play plays
Spy spies Enjoy enjoys
Pry ** pries Say says

* Prey means to hunt an animal for food: The lion preys on an antelope.

** See Word to the Wise

Tip: Don’t let this stuff make you crazy. You’ll get it in the end.

Here are some examples to show you how it works in sentences:

When cooking, you should tie your hair or put on a hat.

He dries his laundry on his tiny balcony.

At lunchtime, she buys a sandwich at that shop.

Does your family pray before a meal?

The baby cries in her sleep.

Please remember that the –s at the end never appears in questions or negative sentences. So as soon as you have do or does in your sentence, don’t put an –s at the end of the verb.

icon03 Now do the Quiz to check that you’re okay on this. Click here to do this quiz online.

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Type the correct form of the verb in brackets ().

1 We __________ (try) to understand each other, but it’s hard because of the language.

2 He __________ (lie) on his bed to watch TV.

3 Do more people _________ (die) of old age or because of heart problems?

4 It __________ (pay) to go shopping when there is a sale.

5 Her daughter and her often ________ (stay) home, while her husband and her son _________ (play) football.

6 Does she __________ (dye) her hair?

7 Apple _________ (say) that Samsung __________ (spy) on their ideas and then they make the same product, but cheaper.

8 Do you _________ (enjoy) the movie or do you prefer the book?

9 Father _________ (fry) beans for breakfast.

10 No, don’t try to _________ (deny) that you sometimes __________ (pry) into my email.

Want to practise more? Buy more exercises here.

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