1. What are Irregular Verbs?
In the English language, we use verbs to describe our actions or states of being, and there are two types of verbs: regular verbs and irregular verbs. Most English verbs are regular verbs, and these follow a consistent pattern when conjugated. On the other hand, irregular verbs do not follow a consistent pattern when conjugated.
However, irregular verbs account for approximately 200 of the most commonly used English verbs. Not only are irregular verbs common, but some of them are necessary for constructing basic sentences, such as:
- I saw the dog. —————————————> Saw is a conjugation of the irregular verb see.
- I went to school. ————————————> Went is a conjugation of the irregular verb go.
- I had two dollars. ———————————–> Had is a conjugation of the irregular verb have.
So, you need to learn irregular verbs if you want to learn English, and old fashioned memorization is the only way to learn all the conjugations.
2. Forms of Irregular Verbs
English verbs have five basic forms used to express time: the root (sometimes called the base form), third-person singular, the simple past, the past participle and the present participle. The root is the base form of a verb from which the other forms are constructed. In English, it’s important to focus on the conjugations of irregular verbs when talking about the past, specifically the simple past and the past participle, because this is where the irregularities occur.
The simple past is used to talk about completed actions in the past. The past participle is combined with auxiliary verbs to form perfect, passive and conditional tenses. Auxiliary verbs are helping verbs that give more information on the time or mood of the main verb.
Regular verbs form the simple past and the past participle by adding an -ed or -d to the end of the root; for example, create becomes created and text becomes texted when forming the simple past and the past participle. Notice below, that the auxiliary verbs have/has are being used to show the past participle, but they are not used in the simple past.
- Yesterday, I created the painting.
- Joe texted Sally last Monday.
- I have created a painting.
- Joe has texted
However, irregular verbs do not follow a consistent pattern when forming the simple past or the past participle; for example, be becomes was (singular) /were (plural) when forming the simple past and been when forming the past participle.
- Yesterday, I was at school.
- Yesterday, Joe and Sally were in class.
- I have been in school today.
- Joe has been with Sally.
So remember, irregular words should not be conjugated like regular verbs. For example, when conjugating the verbs see and eat, the following sentences would be INCORRECT.
- Joe seed the dog. INCORRECT
- Joe eated the apple. INCORRECT
Simple Past – CORRECT conjugations without auxiliary verbs
- Joe saw the dog. CORRECT
- Joe ate the apple. CORRECT
Past Participle – CORRECT conjugations with auxiliary verbs
- Joe has seen the dog. CORRECT
- Joe has eaten the apple. CORRECT
Below are some of the most common irregular verbs used in the English language.
3. Common Irregular Verbs
|Root (Base Form)||Simple Past||Past Participle|