Regular and Irregular Verbs in English
3.5.1 Look at the list of the 40 most common verbs in English: the-40-most-common-verbs-in-english-in-order. It is a really good idea to set yourself the goal of learning them, along with all five forms. In the last column on the right we can see whether each verb is regular or irregular. Every verb in English is either regular or irregular. The difference is in the past tense and past participle forms. If the verb is regular, these two forms end with ‘ed’, for example:
I look | I looked | I have looked
If the verb is irregular, the endings vary, for example:
I give | I gave | I have given
3.5.2 There are thousands of regular verbs in English compared with a few hundred irregular verbs. (See the list of 40 common regular verbs: learn-40-common-regular-verbs-in-english.) The problem for students is that these irregular verbs are very common, describing many everyday actions and states, like: be, have, do, say, go, get, make, put, etc. Note that in the list of the 40 most common verbs in English 27 of the verbs are irregular! If we make new verbs, we generally make them regular. Nobody wants to create new irregular verbs that we have to learn. For example:
He spams us | He spammed us | He has spammed us (sends spam)
She chillaxes | She chillaxed | She has chillaxed (a cross between chill out and relax)
This goes for other newly-coined verbs too, like: email / emailed; tweet / tweeted; unfriend / unfriended; photobomb / photobombed; facepalm / facepalmed; snapchat / snapchatted; glamp / glamped, etc. One exception is the verb to text:
Is it: I texted John last night. Or, I text John last night?
The latter is much easier to pronounce, and some people treat ‘text’ as an irregular verb, while others say that it is regular, with -ed. There is no authority giving rules to the English language, so both uses can be correct. Other verbs can be both regular and irregular at the same time too, e.g.
…and so on. You can use either form, but the -ed ending is accepted as the modern form.
3.5.3 In general, it would be better for learners of English if all English verbs could be regular! If English could be reformed so that learners just added -ed to every verb to make past tense and past participle forms, it would remove a big headache from the learning process. For example we could see the following new regular verbs:
…and so on. I feel sure that the language would survive such a change! In fact, when English native speaker children begin to write their own sentences and stories at primary school they often naturally write irregular verbs as regular, with -ed endings, for example:
Children learning English grammar often sense a logical rule – past tense of verbs end in -ed – only for their teacher to dash their hopes:
Teacher: No, that’s wrong. It should be ‘thought’.
Child: But why?
Teacher: It’s just like that. (Or, more helpful:) Because ‘think’ is an irregular verb…
Child: But why?
Teacher: Er… [long pause] It just is, OK?
3.5.4 In terms of spelling, we usually add -ed to regular verbs to make the past tense and past participle forms:
want + ed = wanted
work + ed = worked
However, if a verb ends with ‘e’ we add only ‘d’:
change + d = changed
love + d = loved
Sometimes we have to double the final consonant before adding -ed:
beg + g + ed = begged
rob + b + ed = robbed
Sometimes we have to delete the ‘y’ at the end of an infinitive verb and add ‘ied’:
fry – y + ied = fried
try – y + ied = tried
3.5.5 If a verb is irregular you just have to learn the different forms. (See the list of 40 common irregular verbs: learn-40-common-irregular-verbs-in-english.) It is impossible learn-40-common-irregular-verbs-in-english to predict the forms of irregular verbs and there is no choice but to learn them. You need to get familiar with them, study them, test yourself, correct yourself, study them again, and continue the process until you know them by heart. A small number of irregular verbs have three forms the same, e.g. let, put, hit, bet, bid, set, cut, shut, cut, spread, and quit:
Some irregular verbs have two forms the same, e.g.:
While the rest have three forms different, e.g.:
3.5.6 The -ed ending of regular verbs is pronounced in three different ways, depending on the final sound of the infinitive verb. See this worksheet to learn more about this issue: how-to-pronounce-the-past-ed-form-of-regular-verbs. See the list of 200 common regular verbs in English, ordered by final sound: 200-common-regular-verbs-in-english-ordered-by-pronunciation.
Ex. 3.5.1 Writing Complete the table here: the-40-most-common-verbs-in-english-in-order-gap-fill.
Ex. 3.5.2 Writing Regular verbs – complete the gaps in the table here: learn-40-common-regular-verbs-in-english-practice.
Ex. 3.5.3 Writing Irregular verbs – complete the gaps in the table here: learn-40-common-irregular-verbs-in-english-practice.
Ex. 3.5.4 Writing Write each verb in the correct box below:
Ex. 3.5.5 Reading Complete each sentence by adding the best form of the verb:
1. I (been/went/gone) ____________________ shopping yesterday.
2. He hasn’t (bought/bring/brought) ____________________ his passport.
3. Emily (choose/chosed/chose) ____________________ a light blue carpet for her living room.
4. Have you (get/got/getted) ____________________ your train ticket?
5. James (drove/drive/driven) ____________________ a long way to visit his girlfriend, but she was out.
6. I have (grow/growed/grown) ____________________ two big tomato plants.
7. Don (put/putted/puts) ____________________ his bag on the table and went upstairs.
8. I (thinked/thunk/thought) ____________________ I (knew/new/known) ____________________ you from somewhere.
9. We (leaved/left/leaving) ____________________ on Monday night at about eight o’clock.
10. Sarah has (swim/swam/swum) ____________________ for her country in the Olympics.
11. Lenny (wore/weared/wearing) ____________________ a new suit and tie to work.
12. The whole kitchen (stink/stank/stinked) ____________________ of garlic and onions!
13. Darling, you have (stole/stolen/stealed) ____________________ my heart!
14. Maggie (taken/took/taked) ____________________ a pen out of her bag and wrote a quick note to her husband.
15. Ludwig van Beethoven (wrote/written/writed) ____________________ some fantastic symphonies.
Ex. 3.5.6 Reading Write the sentences again, changing each verb in red from the present simple to the past simple tense:
1. I wake up at 6.50am when I hear the alarm clock.
2. I jump out of bed and switch it off before it wakes up all the neighbours.
3. I switch on the light and the heater, because it’s cold in my room.
4. I use the bathroom; then look for a clean shirt to wear.
5. I go into the kitchen and put the kettle on.
6. I get dressed and brush my hair.
7. I have a shave and then pack my bag ready for work.
8. The kettle boils so I make a cup of tea; then I watch TV for a few minutes.
9. I open all the curtains in my house and pick up my sandwiches from the fridge.
10. I put on my shoes and coat; then check that I haven’t forgotten anything.
11. I leave on the light in the hall because I know it will be dark when I get home.
12. I unlock and open the front door; then I go outside.
13. I lock the front door and walk a few metres to my car.
14. I get into the car and turn the key in the ignition.
15. I put on a tape and turn up the volume.
16. I look in my mirrors, then reverse up the drive and onto the road.
17. I drive for five miles until I reach a traffic-jam.
18. I sit in the traffic-jam for twenty minutes; I drive forward slowly, a few metres at a time.
19. I change the tape in my car stereo, and tap my fingers on the steering wheel.
20. I put on the radio and listen to the news, followed by the weather forecast.
21. The radio plays one of my favourite songs, so I sing along loudly.
22. I turn right into the road where I always leave my car. I park and turn off the engine.
23. I get out and shut the door. I lock my car door and then walk for about twenty minutes.
24. I buy a newspaper and a sandwich at the newsagent; then I head for work.
25. As I enter the building I say “Hi” to the people I work with.
26. I get to my desk at about 8.50 am and put down my bag.
27. I’m ready for another cup of tea and to
have a long nap start the day!
Ex. 3.5.7 Writing Translate 20 common irregular verbs from Clear Alphabet (see Lesson 1.6):
1. Bee ________________________
2. Reed ________________________
3. Hiy ________________________
4. See ________________________
5. Bai ________________________
6. Breik ________________________
7. Eet ________________________
8. Rait ________________________
9. Sleep ________________________
10. Meet ________________________
11. Faind ________________________
12. Bring ________________________
13. Greu ________________________
14. Ttingk ________________________
15. Neu ________________________
16. bi Kum ________________________
17. Draiv ________________________
18. f Get ________________________
19. Leev ________________________
20. Tel ________________________
Ex. 3.5.8 Writing Translate 20 common irregular verbs into Clear Alphabet:
1. make ________________________
2. build ________________________
3. lose ________________________
4. take ________________________
5. drink ________________________
6. let ________________________
7. have ________________________
8. can ________________________
9. do ________________________
10. catch ________________________
11. ring ________________________
12. get ________________________
13. feel ________________________
14. go ________________________
15. put ________________________
16. pay ________________________
17. wear ________________________
18. send ________________________
19. understand _____________________
20. fly ________________________
Ex. 3.5.9 Reading Complete each gap with an irregular verb in past simple. Choose from:
Note: you will need to use some verbs more than once.
I’m writing to tell you about something that happened yesterday. I 1)__________ up at the usual time – about 10 am – 2)__________ a shower and 3)__________ breakfast. I 4)__________ a big bowl of cereal and some toast and watched TV for a while. Then I 5)__________ into the kitchen where I 6)__________ a funny noise. I 7)__________ it 8)__________ from behind the cooker. I 9)__________ my tool box and moved the cooker out of the way.
The noise 10)__________ louder but I couldn’t see anything. I 11)__________ my uncle to ask his advice. He 12)__________ that he 13)__________ it could be a gas leak. When I 14)__________ this I just panicked! I 15)__________ the phone down, 16)__________ outside, 17)__________ in my car and 18)__________ to the local police station. I 19)__________ them about my gas leak but the constable 20)__________ his patience with me. He 21)__________ that I should have phoned the gas company. He 22)__________ his report, then 23)__________ the gas company for me.
Then I remembered that my house doesn’t have gas – only electricity! I 24)__________ really stupid and 25)__________ that the constable would be angry with me for wasting his time, so I 26)__________ out of the police station while he 27)__________ still on the phone. I 28)__________ home to try to find out what the noise 29)__________. On the way I 30)__________ a newspaper and I 31)__________ about an escaped llama that 32)__________ out of the city safari park last Wednesday.
When I 33)__________ home I 34)__________ my key in the door, turned it, 35)__________ inside and straight away 36)__________ that funny noise again. I 37)__________ my breath and opened the door slowly. Guess what? I 38)__________ the llama hiding in my cupboard! I 39)__________ him stay and he 40)__________ in my garden last night. The snoring 41)__________ so loud! This morning I 42)__________ him back to the safari park. They 43)__________ really pleased to see him again and 44)__________ me a reward of £50!
Hope you are well. Write soon and let me know how you are. Your friend,
Ex. 3.5.10 Reading a) Read the story below. All of the irregular verbs in past tense have the wrong ending – a regular -ed ending! Underline each one. b) Write the story again, using the correct past tense form of each irregular verb. c) Underline the regular verbs in past tense form:
A few days ago Michael Morrison heared a really good programme about yaks on the radio. He remembered that he once readed a very interesting book about yaks, and he decided to buy a copy and read it again. The next day he waked up early, haved a shower, getted dressed, runned downstairs, haved breakfast, then phoned his friend Mandy Minton, who beed a zoologist, but unfortunately she didn’t know about the book. Michael putted on his coat and goed outside. He drived to the library and asked the assistant if they haved a copy of “Yaks of the World – Illustrated Edition”. The assistant thinked for a moment and spended a few minutes checking the records on his computer, but nothing comed up.
Michael leaved the library and walked into town. He stopped at the huge bookstore on Crompton Street and goed in. He browsed the books, but could not find “Yaks of the World” anywhere – illustrated or not. A bookseller sayed that there beed a book called “Just Yaks”, but Michael did not want it. A passing vegan telled Michael to try a specialist bookseller on Marriott Street – a place where they selled unusual books. Michael thanked the lady and payed for a copy of “Bridge Repair Weekly” magazine. At the specialist bookstore on Marriott Street Michael feeled sure that he would find the book he wanted, but after talking with a very quiet man in a long cardigan, Michael understanded that they didn’t have any books about yaks – or indeed any other kind of long-haired animal. He exited the shop sadly and drived home.
He maked a quick sandwich and watched an excellent online video about clever llamas on YouTube. Then he haved a bright idea: “I haven’t looked online for the book yet!” He spended the next few hours searching for the book in online bookstores, auction sites, and forums – but without any luck. There beed no such book as: “Yaks of the World – Illustrated Edition” “Maybe I dreamed it,” he sighed to himself and goed to bed, where he doed in fact dream about finding the book. In his dream he seed it at the bottom of his wardrobe, underneath a pile of socks. When he waked up he looked in his wardrobe, but there beed not any books there. Only the socks.
A fews days later, Michael sitted down at his computer and begined to write the first chapter of “Yaks of the World – Illustrated Edition”. After fourteen years of hard work – including many trips to the zoo – it beed finally ready to publish and it becomed a number one bestseller – among zoologists.