A person who writes does this with a pen or a pencil in hand:


This is an important verb that can be used for many different situations. It’s irregular, so pay close attention to the way it changes:

simplepastpast participlepresent participle
  • Mary writes for a newspaper. (She’s a journalist.)
  • She used to write for a magazine. (This was a job she had in the past.)
  • Bob wrote a list of things he needed from the store.
  • John Updike wrote an interesting series of books about a man named "Rabbit."
  • The teacher has written a list of vocabulary words on the board.
  • Have you written any letters recently?
  • What are you writing? (This question is in the present continuous tense.)
  • Write me when you get a chance. (Send me a letter or an email.)

In these sentences and questions, the word "writing" is a gerund. Remember that gerunds function in a way that is similar to a noun, but gerunds are always singular:

  • Writing in English is difficult and requires a lot of practice.
  • Justin is working on his writing.
  • Do you like writing?
  • Thanks for writing to me.

When used as an adjective, you can use the past participle, "written," of the present participle, "writing."

  • He works as a writing instructor.
  • You have to take a written test before you get your driver’s license.
  • Written memos are almost never used at our company. Everyone uses email instead.
  • She has a beautiful writing style. (She expresses her ideas beautifully.)

Now try this exercise.

Directions change the verb "write" to fit the verb tense in parentheses. Write the entire sentence or question in your notebook.

1. Bob __________ a long letter. (past tense)

2. Mary needs _____ _______ to her grandmother. (infinitive)

3. The students _________ __________ several papers for class. (present perfect tense)

4. I ________ _________ you a check. (future tense)

5. ___________ is difficult if you don’t practice. (gerund)

6. The tenants received a ___________ request from the landlord to vacate their apartment in three months. (adjective)

7. Please __________ me a postcard when you get to New York. (imperative)

8. You have to work on your ___________ skills. (present participle)

9. _________ you ___________ your assignment in black ink? (past tense)

10.  _________  she ever __________ an essay in English? (present perfect tense)


1. wrote; 2. to write; 3. have written; 4. will write; 5. Writing; 6. written; 7. write; 8. writing; 9. Did…write; 10. Has…written

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First published on April 6, 2013. Updated on April 27, 2017.