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Irregular verb

In contrast to to regular verbs[?], irregular verbs are those verbs that fall outside the standard patterns of conjugation in the languages in which they occur. They mostly exist as remnants of historical spellings and conjugations.

English Irregular verbs

The irregularity of English verbs refers to its inconsistency in forming predictable past participles and/or past tenses[?]. For all irregular verbs beside to be, other conjunctions and inflections follow the same rules of spelling as the regular verbs.

English irregular verbs are native; they originate in Old English. Whereas loanwords are regular. However, not all native English verbs are irregular.

There are about 250 irregular English verbs, and they can be classified in a number of different ways:

  • The remaining strong verbs, which display ablaut among their several tenses. E.g. ride/rode/ridden. These verbs are inherited from the parent Germanic language, and ultimately, from Indo-European Many strong verbs have a past participle in -en or -n rather than -ed.
  • Weak verbs that have been subjected to sound changes over the course of the history of English, that has rendered them irregular. Many of these acquired a long vowel in the present stem, but kept a short vowel in the preterite and past participle. E.g. hear/heard/heard
  • Weak verbs that have been the subject of contractions. E.g. have/had/had
  • Weak verbs that end in a final -t or -d that made the addition of the weak suffix -ed seem redundant. E.g. cost/cost/cost
  • A handful of surviving preterite-present[?] verbs. These can be distinguished from the rest because their third person simple present singular (the he, she, or it form) does not take a final -s. These are the remnants of what was once a fairly large Indo-European class of verbs that were conjugated in the preterite or perfect tense[?] with present tense[?] meaning. All of the surviving verbs of this class are auxiliary verbs or quasi-auxiliaries. E.g. can/could/could
  • Verbs that contain suppletive forms, which form one or more of their tenses from an entirely different root. Be is one of these. E.g. go/went/gone.
  • A number of verbs whose irregularity is chiefly due to the peculiarities of English spelling; e.g. lay/laid/laid
  • Past tense ending -ed written phonetically when devoiced to -t. e.g. burn/burnt/burnt (which also has a regular conjugation with a [d] pronunciation.)

There are fewer strong verbs and irregular verbs in modern English than there were in Old English. The force of analogy tends to reduce the number of irregular verbs over time. On the other hand contraction and sound changes can increase their number. Most of the strong verbs were regular, in that they fell into a conventional plan of conjugation, in Old English; there are so few of them left in contemporary English that they seem irregular to us.

Common irregularities include:

  • Change whatever existing vowel to [O], orthographically represented by ou or au, e.g.
    • beseech -> besought
    • bring -> brought
    • buy -> bought
    • catch -> caught
    • seek -> sought
    • teach -> taught
    • think -> thought
  • Change whatever existing vowel to [oU] (American English) or [@U] (British English), orthographically represented by o with a word-final e, e.g.
    • break -> broke
    • choose -> chose
    • freeze -> froze
    • speak -> spoke
    • steal -> stole
    Then, to form past participle, add nasal suffix -en, e.g., broke -> broken
  • No change, e.g., bet, bid, burst, cast, cost, cut, fit, hit, hurt, knit, let, put, quit, rid, set, shed, shit, shut, split, spread, sweat, thrust, wed, wet.

List of irregular English verbs:

The present[?] tense comes first, next the preterite, and the past participle comes last:

  • awake awoke awoken
  • be (was, were) been
  • bear bore born
  • beat beat beaten
  • become became become
  • begin began begun
  • bend bent bent
  • beset beset beset
  • bet bet bet
  • bid bid bid
  • bind bound bound
  • bite bit bitten
  • bleed bled bled
  • blow blew blown
  • break broke broken
  • breed bred bred
  • bring brought brought
  • broadcast broadcast broadcast
  • build built built
  • burn burned/burnt burned/burnt
  • burst burst burst
  • buy bought bought
  • can could could
  • cast cast cast
  • catch caught caught
  • choose chose chosen
  • cling clung clung
  • come came come
  • cost cost cost
  • creep crept crept
  • cut cut cut
  • deal dealt dealt
  • dig dug dug
  • dive dived/dove dived
  • do did done
  • draw drew drawn
  • dream dreamt dreamt
  • drive drove driven
  • drink drank drunk
  • eat ate eaten
  • fall fell fallen
  • feed fed fed
  • feel felt felt
  • fight fought fought
  • find found found
  • fit fit fit
  • flee fled fled
  • fling flung flung
  • fly flew flown
  • forbid forbade forbidden
  • forget forgot forgotten
  • forego forewent foregone
  • forgive forgave forgiven
  • forsake forsook forsaken
  • freeze froze frozen
  • get got got/gotten
  • give gave given
  • go went gone
  • grind ground ground
  • grow grew grown
  • hang hung hung
  • have had had
  • hear heard heard
  • hide hid hidden
  • hit hit hit
  • hold held held
  • hurt hurt hurt
  • keep kept kept
  • kneel knelt knelt
  • knit knit knit
  • know knew known
  • lay laid laid
  • lead led led
  • leap leaped/leapt leaped/leapt
  • learn learned/learnt learned/learnt
  • leave left left
  • lend lent lent
  • let let let
  • lie lay lain
  • light lit lighted
  • lose lost lost
  • make made made
  • may might might
  • mean meant meant
  • meet met met
  • misspell misspelt misspelt
  • mistake mistook mistaken
  • mow mowed mowed/mown
  • overcome overcame overcome
  • overdo overdid overdone
  • overtake overtook overtaken
  • overthrow overthrew overthrown
  • owe owed owed
  • pay paid paid
  • plead (pleaded/pled) (pleaded/pled)
  • prove proved (proved/proven)
  • put put put
  • quit quit quit
  • read read read
  • rid rid rid
  • ride rode ridden
  • ring rang rung
  • rise rose risen
  • run ran run
  • saw sawed sawed/sawn
  • say said said
  • see saw seen
  • seek sought sought
  • sell sold sold
  • send sent sent
  • set set set
  • sew sewed sewed/sewn
  • shake shook shaken
  • shall should should
  • shave shaved shaved/shaven
  • shear sheared sheared/shorn
  • shed shed shed
  • shine shone shone
  • shoe shoed shoed/shod
  • shoot shot shot
  • show showed showed/shown
  • shrink shrank shrunk
  • shut shut shut
  • sing sang sung
  • sink sank sunk
  • sit sat sat
  • sleep slept slept
  • slay slew slain
  • slide slid slid
  • sling slung slung
  • slit slit slit
  • smite smote smitten
  • sow sowed sowed/sown
  • speak spoke spoken
  • speed sped sped
  • spell spelled/spelt spelled/spelt
  • spend spent spent
  • spill spilled/spilt spilled/spilt
  • spin spun spun
  • spit spit/spat spit
  • split split split
  • spread spread spread
  • spring sprang sprung
  • stand stood stood
  • steal stole stolen
  • stick stuck stuck
  • sting stung stung
  • stink stank stunk
  • stride strode stridden
  • strike struck struck
  • string strung strung
  • strive strove striven
  • swear swore sworn
  • sweep swept swept
  • swell swelled swelled/swollen
  • swim swam swum
  • swing swung swung
  • take took taken
  • teach taught taught
  • tear tore torn
  • tell told told
  • think thought thought
  • thrive thrived/throve thrived
  • throw threw thrown
  • thrust thrust thrust
  • tread trod trodden
  • understand understood understood
  • uphold upheld upheld
  • upset upset upset
  • wake woke woken
  • wear wore worn
  • weave wove woven
  • wed, wed/wedded, wed
  • weep wept wept
  • wind wound wound
  • will would would
  • win won won
  • withhold withheld withheld
  • withstand withstood withstood
  • wring wrung wrung
  • write wrote written



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