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How to Fix 3rd-Person 'S' Mistakes

by Insights to English | 08 Mar 2018
Resource Description: Plenty of students make mistakes with having an 's' at the end of verbs following third-person subjects, either by not including it when they should, or by including it when they shouldn't.  If it's not addressed when students are beginners, it can continue to be a problem for intermediate students.

Here's a trick to help students identify those mistakes, or even prevent them from making them in the first place.  It's called "the One Red 'S' rule".
Audience: Adult, Elementary, Secondary, Teacher Training
Audience Language Proficiency: Beginner, Intermediate
Teaching Tip:

Plenty of students make mistakes with having an 's' at the end of verbs following singular third-person subjects.   Sometimes they don't include the 's' when they should, and other times they include it when they shouldn't.  A trick to catching or even preventing the mistake is called "the One Red 'S' rule".

When writing a sentence, students should use the color red to write any 's' that can be tacked-on to the end of a sentence.  This includes the 's' that comes at the end of verbs, but it also includes the 's' that comes with plural subjects.  If you have a plural subject, you shouldn't have an 's' at the end of the verb.  But if you have a singular subject, you do need an 's' at the end of the verb.  Either way, there should be one and only one red 's' in your sentence.

(note that this works specifically for simple sentences in the present simple tense)

More more on this handy trick, watch this video.

TESOL Interest Section: English as a Foreign Language, Teacher Education