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Irregular Verbs - A List

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In the English language, we have fewer than 200 irregular verbs. (A fairly complete list appears in Garner Oxford, pp. 195-97.) Below are some causing the most trouble. Remember, use the past tense for statements showing that something happened in the past. Use the past participle to form the perfect tenses (with have) or the passive voice (with to be). I have included some regular verbs (sneak and dive) that either have developed some acceptable irregular forms (snuck and dove) or cause all sorts of arguments (loan as a verb). Review the list below.

Irregular Verbs

Verb Past Tense Past Participle
arise arose arisen
awake awoke awoke1
awaken awakened awakened1
wake woke woken1
waken wakened wakened1
beat beat beaten
become became become
begin began begun
bend bent bent
bet bet bet
bite bit bitten
bleed bled bled
blow blew blown
break broke broken
bring brought brought
burst burst burst
cast cast cast
come came come
dive (regular) dived dived
dive (irregular) dove (OK inAmerica) dived2
do did done
drink drank drunk
drive drove driven
fall fell fallen
forget forgot forgotten
forgive forgave forgiven
freeze froze frozen
get got gotten, got (“I’ve got.”)3
give gave given
go went gone
hang (a picture) hung hung
hang (a criminal) hanged hanged
kneel knelt knelt
lay (to place) laid laid
lead led led
lend lent lent
loan loaned loaned4
lie (to recline) lay lain
light lit lit
ride rode ridden
ring rang rung
rise rose risen
see saw seen
shine shone shone
shrink shrank shrunk
sing sang sung
sneak (regular) sneaked sneaked
sneak   (irregular) snuck (OK in America) snuck5
speak spoke spoken
speed sped sped
spend spent spent
spring sprang sprung
steal stole stolen
sting stung stung
stride strode stridden
string strung strung
swear swore sworn
sweat sweat sweat
swim swam swum
take took taken
tear tore torn
throw threw thrown
thrust thrust thrust
wear wore worn
weave wove woven
wind wound wound
write wrote written

 

1 New Fowler refers to the network of forms for these words—awake, awaken, wake, waken—as a “philological nightmare.” New Fowler, p. 82.

2 The word dove can serve as the past tense of dive. Longfellow used it in 1855; F. Scott Fitzgerald used it in 1940; and the New Yorker used it in 1988 and 1989. New Fowler, p. 222. In your master’s thesis, however, you should used the older form of the past tense—dived. Please note, however, that the past participle of dive is always dived. Thus, you would not say, I have dove into the pond. Instead: I have dived into the pond.

3 See the list of “Problem Words” at Grammar.com. Click here for the section on Problem Words.

4 The word loan has been a verb in the English language for more than 800 years. Though some say its use should be restricted to financial settings, it means the same as lend. So you may loan money or loan clothing to the flood victims. In formal settings, you should use lend as a verb and loan as a noun. Random House, pp. 1126-27.

5 Acknowledging that snuck does not often appear in highly formal writing, Random House notes that it does appear in fiction and in journalism. Random House, p. 1807. Use sneaked in your master’s thesis.

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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