Irregular Verbs - Definition, Rules, Conjugation and Examples

Have you been finding it difficult to learn how irregular verbs work? Do not worry; we have got your back. This article on irregular verbs will help you understand the definition of irregular verbs and how to conjugate them to represent the simple past and past participle forms of verbs. There are also a number of examples and instructions on how you can remember them. Go through the table of contents given below to learn more.

Table of Contents

Definition of an Irregular Verb

An irregular verb is defined as “a verb that does not follow the usual rules of grammar. For example, ‘eat’ is an irregular verb because its past tense is ‘ate’ and its past participle is ‘eaten’, not ‘eated’,” according to the Macmillan Dictionary. According to the Oxford Learners’ Dictionary, an irregular verb is a verb that is “not formed in the normal way.” The normal way of forming past and past participle forms of a verb in English is by adding ‘ed’ to it. Irregular verbs do not follow this rule.

Conjugating Irregular Verbs – Rules and Examples

Learning to conjugate irregular verbs can be a little tricky. It is often considered a difficult task, but that is not the case. Before we start, try to unlearn the concepts or notions about irregular verbs you have in your mind. Let us start from the beginning with a fresh and clear mind.

The conjugation of irregular verbs can be learnt under three main groups based on how they behave when changed to represent the simple past and past participle forms.

It can be grouped as follows:

  • Group 1 – Irregular verbs which take the same spelling as the base verb in the simple past form and the past participle form. These verbs remain the same throughout all tense forms.
  • Group 2 – Irregular verbs which have the same spelling in the simple past form and the past participle form. There are some irregular verbs in this group that take an alternate spelling too.
  • Group 3 – Irregular verbs which have three different spelling patterns in the base form, the simple past form and the past participle form.

Let us now look at the list of irregular verbs which fall under the three groups to have a better understanding.

Irregular Verbs Examples

Group 1 – Irregular Verbs with the Same Spelling across All Forms

Base Verb

Simple Past Form

Past Participle Form

Cut

Cut

Cut

Put

Put

Put

Shut

Shut

Shut

Hurt

Hurt

Hurt

Burst

Burst

Burst

Shed

Shed

Shed

Bet

Bet

Bet

Let

Let

Let

Set

Set

Set

Hit

Hit

Hit

Split

Split

Split

Spread

Spread

Spread

Cast

Cast

Cast

Thrust

Thrust

Thrust

Group 2 – Irregular Verbs with the Same Simple Past Form and Past Participle Form

Base Verb

Simple Past Form

Past Participle Form

Bend

Bent

Bent

Bind

Bound

Bound

Find

Found

Found

Learn

Learnt/Learned

Learnt/Learned

Buy

Bought

Bought

Think

Thought

Thought

Catch

Caught

Caught

Light

Lit

Lit

Bring

Brought

Brought

Build

Built

Built

Hang

Hung

Hung

Spoil

Spoilt/Spoiled

Spoilt/Spoiled

Hear

Heard

Heard

Understand

Understood

Understood

Lose

Lost

Lost

Spill

Spilt/Spilled

Spilt/Spilled

Have

Had

Had

Burn

Burnt/Burned

Burnt/Burned

Strike

Struck

Struck

Lead

Led

Led

Say

Said

Said

Kneel

Knelt

Knelt

Dream

Dreamt/Dreamed

Dreamt/Dreamed

Hang

Hung

Hung

Make

Made

Made

Lay

Laid

Laid

Keep

Kept

Kept

Swing

Swung

Swung

Group 3 – Irregular Verbs with Completely Different Spellings for Each Form

Base Verb

Simple Past Form

Past Participle Form

Blow

Blew

Blown

Arise

Arose

Arisen

See

Saw

Seen

Run

Ran

Run

Sink

Sank

Sunk

Drink

Drank

Drunk

Sing

Sang

Sung

Break

Broke

Broken

Fly

Flew

Flown

Ring

Rang

Rung

Give

Gave

Given

Ride

Rode

Ridden

Rise

Rose

Risen

Take

Took

Taken

Shrink

Shrank

Shrunk

Strive

Strove

Striven

Throw

Threw

Thrown

Write

Wrote

Written

Show

Showed

Shown

Know

Knew

Known

Shake

Shook

Shaken

Bite

Bit

Bitten

Begin

Began

Begun

An Alternative Method to Learn Irregular Verbs and Their Conjugation

There is one other way in which you can learn irregular verbs easily by categorising words according to their change in spelling. Have a look at the following table to understand how.

Base Verb

Simple Past Form

Past Participle Form

Irregular Verbs Ending in ‘Ow/Aw’ → ‘Ew’ → ‘Own/Awn’

Blow

Blew

Blown

Throw

Threw

Thrown

Know

Knew

Known

Grow

Grew

Grown

Draw

Drew

Drawn

Irregular Verbs Ending in ‘Ise’ → ‘Ose’ → ‘Isen’

Arise

Arose

Arisen

Rise

Rose

Risen

Irregular Verbs Ending in ‘Ive’ → ‘Ove/Ave’ → ‘Iven’

Strive

Strove

Striven

Give

Gave

Given

Forgive

Forgave

Forgiven

Irregular Verbs Ending in ‘Et’ → ‘Ot’ → ‘Otten’

Get

Got

Gotten

Forget

Forgot

Forgotten

Irregular Verbs Ending in ‘Ide/Ite’ → ‘Ode/Ote/Id/It’ → ‘Idden/Itten’

Ride

Rode

Ridden

Write

Wrote

Written

Bite

Bit

Bitten

Hide

Hid

Hidden

Irregular Verbs Ending in ‘Ink/Ing/In’ → ‘Ank/Ang/An’ → ‘Unk/Ung/Un’

Sink

Sank

Sunk

Drink

Drank

Drunk

Sing

Sang

Sung

Ring

Rang

Rung

Spring

Sprang

Sprung

Begin

Began

Begun

Irregular Verbs Ending in ‘Ake’ → ‘Ook’ → ‘Aken’

Take

Took

Taken

Shake

Shook

Shaken

Mistake

Mistook

Mistaken

Irregular Verbs Ending in ‘Eak/Ake/Eal’ → ‘Oke/Ole’ → ‘Oken/Olen’

Break

Broke

Broken

Speak

Spoke

Spoken

Wake

Woke

Woken

Steal

Stole

Stolen

Irregular Verbs Ending in ‘Ear’ → ‘Ore’ → ‘Orn/Orne’

Wear

Wore

Worn

Tear

Tore

Torn

Bear

Bore

Borne

Irregular Verbs Ending in ‘Oose’ → ‘Ose’ → ‘Osen’

Choose

Chose

Chosen

Irregular Verbs With ‘Ought/Aught’ in the Simple Past and Past Participle Form

Seek

Sought

Sought

Think

Thought

Thought

Catch

Caught

Caught

Buy

Bought

Bought

Fight

Fought

Fought

Bring

Brought

Brought

Teach

Taught

Taught

Test Your Knowledge of Irregular Verbs

Find out the simple past form and the past participle form of the following irregular verbs:

1. Find

2. Give

3. Drink

4. Catch

5. See

6. Take

7. Sing

8. Choose

9. Ride

10. Write

 

Let us find out if you got the answers right.

1. Find – Found – Found

2. Give – Gave – Given

3. Drink – Drank – Drunk

4. Catch – Caught – Caught

5. See – Saw – Seen

6. Take -Took – Taken

7. Sing – Sang – Sung

8. Choose – Chose – Chosen

9. Ride – Rode – Ridden

10. Write – Wrote – Written

 

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate form of the verb as mentioned:

1. Peter _________ (use the simple past form of bring) home a puppy.

2. Emma ________ (use the simple past form of see) the car ______ (use the simple past form of hit) the little boy.

3. My cell phone was ___________ (use the past participle of steal) yesterday.

4. Have you ____________ (use the past participle of think) of what to do today?

5. Toby _________ (use the simple past form of choose) to strike first.

6. The dress you ___________ (use the simple past form of wear) yesterday looked really good on you.

7. Have you ever ___________ (use the past participle of sing) alone in front of a huge audience?

8. The little girl _________ (use the simple past form of break) the glass by mistake.

9. Has the movie _________ (use the past participle form of begin) yet?

10. The teacher ___________ (use the simple past form of mistake) Jenny for Miranda.

 

Let us find out if you got the answers right.

1. Peter brought home a puppy.

2. Emma saw the car hit the little boy.

3. My cell phone was stolen yesterday.

4. Have you thought of what to do today?

5. Toby chose to strike first.

6. The dress you wore yesterday looked really good on you.

7. Have you ever sung alone in front of a huge audience?

8. The little girl broke the glass by mistake.

9. Has the movie begun yet?

10. The teacher mistook Jenny for Miranda.

Frequently Asked Questions on Irregular Verbs in English

What are irregular verbs?

Irregular verbs are those verbs that do not follow the rules of conjugation that regular verbs follow. Each irregular verb has its own specific way of representing the simple past form and the past participle form.

What is the definition of an irregular verb?

An irregular verb is defined as “a verb that does not follow the usual rules of grammar. For example, ‘eat’ is an irregular verb because its past tense is ‘ate’ and its past participle is ‘eaten’, not ‘eated’,” according to the Macmillan Dictionary. According to the Oxford Learners’ Dictionary, an irregular verb is a verb that is “not formed in the normal way.”

Give some irregular verbs examples.

  • Wake
  • Cut
  • Put
  • Shut
  • Strive
  • Throw
  • Bend
  • Find
  • Keep
  • Teach

How do we conjugate irregular verbs to form the simple past form and the past participle form?

The conjugation of irregular verbs can be done under three main groups based on how they behave when changed to represent the simple past and past participle forms.

It can be grouped as follows:

  • Group 1 – Irregular verbs which take the same spelling as the base verb in the simple past form and the past participle form. These verbs remain the same throughout all tense forms.
  • Group 2 – Irregular verbs which have the same spelling in the simple past form and the past participle form. There are some irregular verbs in this group that take an alternate spelling too.
  • Group 3 – Irregular verbs which have three different spelling patterns in the base form, the simple past form and the past participle form.

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