The Irregular Verbs in English (Part 2)

The English Irregular Verbs

A Change Pattern Based Classification – Part 2

Most of the verbs in English are regular verbs, meaning that they add the ed ending to form both the simple past and the past participle forms, which are identical, such as work-worked-worked. However, there is a large number of irregular verbs (about 450, but only about 200 in common use) that form their simple past and past participle forms with a vowel change, such as in begin-began-begun (see table below). Some irregular verbs do not change form at all ( put-put-put). Irregular verbs originate mostly from Old English, while any new verb coined in later periods tends to be regular. Still, the ten most used verbs in English are irregular.

Another distinction is between weak and
strong verbs. In weak verbs, the simple past and past participle forms are identical, bearing a d or t ending ( think-thought-thought). In strong verbs the simple past and past participle are usually distinct, with the past participle having an en ending ( break-broke-broken). The classification of verbs to weak and strong in Modern English is less important for learners, so you can suffice with the regular-irregular distinction.

A user-friendly way to study English irregular verbs:


Since linguistic classifications for irregular verbs tend to be too complicated for non-academics, we suggest that you use our study tables, which bring together irregular verbs with similar change patterns in small groups. This kind of grouping aids your memory, which will strengthen with practice. Study the tables and pay attention to the verbs you find useful for your purposes. You could also read the table headings if it helps you, or simply focus on the verbs themselves. A good memorizing tip involves creating flash cards with the different groups, as explained on our vocabulary strategies pages. Remember that for looking up irregulars verbs after you have learned them, you have an alphabetical list at the back of any dictionary or grammar book for easy referencing.

You will notice that in some verb parts there are two correct forms. A general rule of thumb here is that the regular verb option (with ed, no vowel change) is more commonly used in American English (AmE), whereas the irregular option (with vowel change) is still in use in British English (BrE). Moreover, there may also be finer nuances in meaning pertaining to the usage of the former or the latter. In any case, consult your dictionary if you are not sure about the exact usage.

The following irregular verb tables are sorted according to V1,V2, and V3 forms. Here is a quick reminder for these
verb forms:

Uses of the 3 main verb forms:

V1=base form Present Simple
• “Future Simple”
• I write in English every day.
• I will write an English essay tomorrow.
V2=Past Simple • Past Simple only ! • Yesterday, I wrote 2 poems in English.
V3=Past participle • perfect tenses
• passive forms
• passive adjective
• I have already written my English paper.
• This novel was written by Charles Dickens.
• This story is well-written.

English Irregular Verbs Study Tables – Part 2

The following irregular verb categories 4-7 continue categories 1-3, found in Part 1.

Category 4: Vowel change, V3 ending with (e)n

group 10: V2 and V3 with long /o / sound
break
broke
broken
choose
chose
chosen
freeze
froze
frozen
speak
spoke
spoken
steal
stole
stolen
awake
awoke \ awaked
awoken \ awaked
wake
woke \ waked
woken \ waked
weave
wove
woven

 

group 11: V2 long o sound, V3 shirt /i/ sound
arise
arose
arisen
rise
rose
risen
*ride
rode
*ri dden
drive
drove
driven
*write
wrote
*wri tten

 

group 12: The following verbs:
*bite
bit
*bi tten
*hide
hid
*hi dden
eat
ate
eaten
give
gave
given
forgive
forgave
forgiven
forbid *
forbad(e)
forbi dden
* bid
( to command, farewell)
bade
*bi dden
* forget
forgot
*forgo tten
get
got
* go tten (AmE) \ got (BrE)
shake
shook
shaken
take
took
taken
see
saw
seen
beat
beat
beaten
fall
fell
fallen
lie
( down to rest)
lay
lain

 

Watch Out !
Do not confuse lie (tell a lie, regular), lie (down to rest, irregular), and lay (the table, irregular).

*lie
(tell a lie)
lied
lied
lie
(down to rest)
lay
lain
lay
(the table, eggs)
laid
laid

group 13: the ear-ore-orn pattern
bear
bore
born
swear
swore
sworn
tear
tore
torn
wear
wore
worn

 

group 14: V1 with ow, V2 with ew, V3 with own
blow
blew
blown
 
grow
grew
grown
 
know
knew
known
 
throw
threw
thrown
 
fly
flew
flown
draw
drew
*dr awn

 

Category 5: regular V2, regular or irregular V3

group 15
show
showed
showed \ shown
sow
sowed
sowed \ sown
mow
mowed
mowed \ mown
swell
swelled
swelled \ swollen
sew
sewed
sewed \ sewn
*shine
(the shoes)
shined
shined
*shine
(brightly)
shown
shown

Category 6: vowel change, no ending, V2=V3


group 16: vowel change pattern, no ending
dig dug dug
stick stuck stuck
spin spun spun
sting stung stung
strike struck struck
swing swung swung
*hang
(a man)
hanged hanged
*hang
(a picture)
hung hung
slide slid slid
light lighted \ lit lighted \ lit
shoot shot shot
group 17: vowel change pattern i - ou - ou
bind
bound
bound
find
found
found
grind
ground
ground
wind
wound
wound


group 18: vowel change ee - e - e
bleed
bled
bled
feed
fed
fed
flee
fled
fled
*lead
led
led
*speed
speeded \ sped
speeded \ sped

 

Category 7: The craziest verbs !

group 19: vowel change pattern i - a - u
begin
began
begun
drink
drank
drunk
ring
rang
rung
shrink
shrank
shrunk
sing
sang
sung
sink
sank
sunk
spin
span \ spun
spun
spring
sprang
sprung
swim
swam
swum


group 20: vowel change, V1=V3
come
came
come
become
became
become
run
ran
run

 

group 21: miscellaneous
the verb to be
am
is
are
was
was
were
been
go
went
gone
*dive
(jumped head first)
dove
dived
*dive
(scuba-diving)
dived
dived
do
did
done
can
could

 
may
might

 
hold
held
held
stand
stood
stood
understand
understood
understood
sit
sat
sat
babysit
babysat
babysat
win
won
won
lose
lost
lost

 

Summary


This has been a review about the irregular verbs in English grammar. As these verbs are highly used in both spoken and written language, you should master their usage rather early on as you progress with your English writing. Reviewing the irregular verbs is not enough to make you use them correctly. The more you notice them up in your reading, and more importantly, use them properly in your writing, the better you will use them.

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