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Conjugating Irregular Verbs

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Our grades plummeted when we had to conjugate irregular verbs in Miss Hamrick’s class. There was no way to figure out a scheme or system that would explain the necessary forms of irregular verbs, that is, the past tense and the past participle. For most regular verbs, no problem, just add ‑ed to form both the past tense and the past participle.

But for conjugating irregular verbs, we had to engage in that most dreaded of all academic exercises:

memorization!

We had to memorize the forms of irregular verbs. So Miss Hamrick would set up all sorts of weird chants we’d have to engage in. I can hear her now:

Miss Hamrick: Repeat after me, class.
Damron: Repeat after me, class. (That always brought down the house!)
Miss Hamrick: Up front with me, Damron. We shall lead.
Miss Hamrick/Damron: Drink. Drink, drank, drunk.
Class: Drink. Drink, drank, drunk.

 

And Miss Hamrick and Damron would chant us through the most frequently used irregular verbs. The formula was always the same: State the infinitive form of the verb (drink); then repeat the first-person present tense (drink), then the past tense (drank), and then the past participle (drunk):

Miss Hamrick/Damron: Ride. Ride, rode, ridden.
Write. Write, wrote, written.
Know. Know, knew, known.
Throw. Throw, threw, thrown.
  Lie.   Lie, lay, lain. (To lie down for a nap.) (Damron smirks.)
  Lay.   Lay, laid, laid. (To place something.) (Damron smirks again.)
  Lie.   Lie, lied, lied. (To tell a falsehood.)

 

If we chanted the chant over and over again, we found we could make it through the conjugation of an irregular verb. Let’s fill in the charts for the irregular verb to see. First, we must hear that chant coming from the past millennium:

Miss Hamrick/Damron: See. See, saw, seen.

 

Present Tense, Irregular Verb

Here’s the present tense of the verb to see:

Person Singular Plural
First Person I see We see
Second Person You see You see
Third Person He-she-it sees They see

 

Past Tense, Irregular Verb

Here’s the past tense of the verb to see:

Person Singular Plural
First Person I saw We saw
Second Person You saw You saw
Third Person He-she-it saw They saw

 

Future Tense, Irregular Verb

Here’s the future tense of the verb to see:

Person Singular Plural
First Person I will see We will see
Second Person You will see You will see
Third Person He-she-it will see They will see

 

Present-Perfect Tense, Irregular Verb

Here’s the present-perfect tense of the verb to see:

Person Singular Plural
First Person I have seen We have seen
Second Person You have seen You have seen
Third Person He-she-it has seen They have seen

 

Past-Perfect Tense, Irregular Verb

Here’s the past-perfect tense of the verb to see:

Person Singular Plural
First Person I had seen We had seen
Second Person You had seen You had seen
Third Person He-she-it had seen They had seen

 

Future-Perfect Tense, Irregular Verb

Here’s the future-perfect tense of the verb to see:

Person Singular Plural
First Person I will have seen We will have seen
Second Person You will have seen You will have seen
Third Person He-she-it will have seen They will have seen

 

Hard Copy

You may download our entire discussion of the Parts of Speech. Simply download the Grammar eBook Understanding the Parts of Speech.

 

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