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Athabasca University

Irregular Verbs

There are a number of irregular verbs in English; they are irregular in the simple past form and, or, the past participle. Rather than learning each verb separately, many of the verbs can be put into a group of verbs that change their form in a similar way. If you are in any doubt about a verb, whether it is irregular or not, or the exact form that an irregular verb takes, your dictionary is a good reference. Many dictionaries contain a supplement listing a large number of irregular verbs alphabetically; they all indicate in the main listing if a verb is irregular, and if so the form(s) it takes.

Note:

V = vowel
C = consonant

Group I Verbs

  • The verb name, the simple past and past participle forms are all different.
  • The past participle forms ends in n.
  • Vowel change in simple past and past participle
  Change Verb name Simple Past Past Participle
1A i → a → u begin began begun
1B o/a → e blow blew blown
1C double vowel → o break broke broken
1D vowel → o (past) drive drove driven
1E a → oo (past) take took taken

Group I Verbs

1A 1B 1C 1D 1E
i → a → u o/a → e VV → o VV → o (past) a → oo (past)
begin blow bear arise forsake
drink draw break drive mistake
forbid grow choose ride* shake
ring know freeze rise take/undertake
shrink throw speak stride  
sing   steal tread  
sink   swear write  
spring   tear    
stink   wear    
swim   weave    

* spelling of past participle is 'ridden.'

Other Group 1 Verbs

Verb Name Simple Past Past Participle
be was/were been
bite bit bitten
do did done
eat ate eaten
fall fell fallen
fly flew flown
get/forget got/forgot gotten/forgotten
give/forgive gave/forgave given/forgiven
go went gone
hide hid hidden
lie lay lain
see saw seen
swell swelled swollen
wake woke woken

Group II Verbs

The simple past and past participle forms are the same.

  Change Verb name Simple Past/Past Participle
II A ee/ea → e/ea* + d feed fed
II B e → o + l d sell sold
ay → ai + d say said
i → ou + nd find found
II C ee/ea → e + (C) + t keep kept
II D i/a → u + (n) + g/k sting stung
II E Final 'd' → 't' send sent

*spelling may not change but vowel sound does change

Group II Verbs

II A II B II C II D II E
ee/ea → e/ea* + d e → o + l d ay → ai + d i ® ou + nd ee/ea → e + (C) + t i/a → u + (n) + g/k Final 'd' → 't'
flee sell lay bind creep cling bend
bleed tell pay find feel dig build
breed   say grind keep fling lend
feed     wind kneel hang* send
hear       leave** stick spend
lead       meet sting  
read***       sleep strike  
speed       sweep string  
        weep swing  
          wring  

*Hang has the meaning "to fasten or attach from above." In the other meaning of hang, "to hang a person", it is a regular verb.

** spelling, 'leave' changes to 'left.'

*** pronunciation changes from 'ea' to 'e' (long e to short e) even though the spelling remains the same.

Other Group II Verbs

Verb name → VV
+ ght
Past/past participle* Verb name → d Past/past participle Verb name → d
o/u
Past/past participle
bring brought have had shine shone
buy bought hold held spin spun
catch caught make made win won
fight fought prove proved**      
seek sought slide slid      
teach taught stand stood      
think thought            
Others                
deal dealt            
light lit            
lose lost            
mean meant            
shoot shot            
sit sat            

*au/ou spelling, but same pronunciation

** Proven is also acceptable for the past participle

Group III

The simple past is different from the other verb forms; the past participle is the same as the infinitive.

Verb Name Simple Past Past Participle
become became become
come came cone
run ran run

Group IV

The verb form stays the same in the infinitive, simple past and past participle.

Verb Name Simple Past Past Participle
bet bet bet

Other Group IV Verbs

bid hurt shut
burst let slit
cast put split
cost quit spread
cut rid thrust
fit set upset
hit shed  

Group V

The simple past is the same as the verb name; the past participle is different.

Verb Name Simple Past Past Participle
beat beat beaten

Updated September 10 2014 by Student & Academic Services

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