Home » Learning English » Verb Tenses » Introduction to Irregular Verbs

Introduction to Irregular Verbs

Irregular Verbs Feature

Irregular verbs don’t follow the usual rules for changing tense. Instead, irregular verbs are unique and often require memorizing. For instance, the verb “to go” changes to “went” in the past tense, not “goed.”

Regular and irregular verbs

Regular verbs follow a predictable pattern, adding “-ed” to form the past tense and past participle. 

Here are some examples of regular verbs:

  • “Play” becomes “Played”
  • “Clean” becomes “Cleaned”
  • “Jump” becomes “Jumped”
  • “Listen” becomes “Listened”
  • “Walk” becomes “Walked”

Irregular verbs, on the other hand, do not follow this rule. Instead, you need to memorize their past forms.

Here is a list of irregular verbs:

  • “Sing” becomes “Sang”
  • “Eat” becomes “Ate”
  • “Drive” becomes “Drove”
  • “Take” becomes “Took”
  • “Go” becomes “Went”

Regular verbs are consistent, while irregular verbs change quite a bit. The history of the English language has shaped these differences, with irregular verbs typically being older.

Patterns in Irregular Verbs

In most cases, you’ll have to memorize the various tenses of irregular verbs. But they also have some patterns.

Let’s explore a few:

1. Vowel Change

For this type of irregular verb, it changes with a different vowel in the past tense. For example, “sing” becomes “sang.”

Here are 10 examples of changing the vowel:

  1. “Sing” becomes “Sang”
  2. “Begin” becomes “Began”
  3. “Drink” becomes “Drank”
  4. “Swim” becomes “Swam”
  5. “Run” becomes “Ran”
  6. “Drive” becomes “Drove”
  7. “Ride” becomes “Rode”
  8. “Rise” becomes “Rose”
  9. “Choose” becomes “Chose”
  10. “Speak” becomes “Spoke”

Vowel change is a pattern where the vowel in the verb changes when using the past tense. This makes the verb irregular because it doesn’t follow the regular “-ed” ending rule.

2. No Change

Some verbs have the same form for past tense and past participle. Like “cut” stays “cut” in both tenses.

The “same form” category includes verbs that keep their form in the past tense and past participle, without adding “-ed.”

Here are 10 examples when there is no change for the irregular verbs.

  1. “Cut” remains “Cut”
  2. “Put” remains “Put”
  3. “Set” remains “Set”
  4. “Bet” remains “Bet”
  5. “Hit” remains “Hit”
  6. “Hurt” remains “Hurt”
  7. “Let” remains “Let”
  8. “Shut” remains “Shut”
  9. “Spread” remains “Spread”
  10. “Read” (pronounced as “red” in past tense) remains spelled as “Read”

These verbs are easy to remember because they don’t change. It’s a handy pattern to learn for irregular verbs.

Memorization Techniques

One of the best strategies I find for memorizing irregular verbs is using repetition. Mnemonic devices can help you remember irregular verbs in English.

Here are a few examples:

1. Rhyme it

Create rhymes that include the base form, past simple, and past participle. For example, “Begin, began, begun, winning the race is fun.” Another one is “Fly, flew, flown, over the sea she’s known.”

2. Story Method

Create a short story that uses the base form, past simple, and past participle of the verb. For “swim, swam, swum,” imagine a story: “Every summer, I swim in the lake. Last year, I swam further than ever. By the end, I had swum across the entire lake.”

3. Chunking

Group irregular verbs with similar patterns together. For example, “bring, brought, brought” can be memorized alongside “buy, bought, bought” because they share the “ought” pattern in the past simple and past participle forms.

Although it can feel like a daunting task, these mnemonic devices can make memorizing irregular verbs more manageable and even fun.

Common Irregular Verbs

Looking for a list of the 50 most common irregular verbs? Check out our list below. Make sure to download and print a copy of your own.

  • Be – was/were – been
  • Become – became – become
  • Begin – began – begun
  • Break – broke – broken
  • Bring – brought – brought
  • Build – built – built
  • Buy – bought – bought
  • Choose – chose – chosen
  • Come – came – come
  • Cut – cut – cut
  • Do – did – done
  • Draw – drew – drawn
  • Drink – drank – drunk
  • Drive – drove – driven
  • Eat – ate – eaten
  • Fall – fell – fallen
  • Feel – felt – felt
  • Find – found – found
  • Fly – flew – flown
  • Forget – forgot – forgotten
  • Forgive – forgave – forgiven
  • Get – got – gotten (or got)
  • Give – gave – given
  • Go – went – gone
  • Grow – grew – grown
  • Have – had – had
  • Hear – heard – heard
  • Hit – hit – hit
  • Hold – held – held
  • Keep – kept – kept
  • Know – knew – known
  • Lay – laid – laid
  • Lead – led – led
  • Leave – left – left
  • Lend – lent – lent
  • Let – let – let
  • Lie – lay – lain
  • Lose – lost – lost
  • Make – made – made
  • Mean – meant – meant
  • Meet – met – met
  • Pay – paid – paid
  • Put – put – put
  • Read – read – read
  • Ride – rode – ridden
  • Ring – rang – rung
  • Run – ran – run
  • Say – said – said
  • See – saw – seen
  • Sell – sold – sold

These verbs are a great starting point for getting familiar with irregular verb patterns in English. Scroll down to the bottom of this article if you want to copy and paste all of these irregular verbs.

The History of Irregular Verbs

The history of irregular verbs in English shows the evolution of language. These verbs are mostly remnants of Old English. Over time, they’ve resisted following a more predictable pattern of tense changes (-ed). Many core verbs remained irregular because people continued to use them in everyday speech. While new verbs tended to adopt the regular “-ed” ending for past tenses, these older verbs retained their unique, irregular forms.


One of the unfortunate things about learning English is irregular verbs. They don’t follow general rules so this makes them harder to learn.

But we’ve provided you with some strategies to never forget them. Try them out along with our list of the 50 most common irregular verbs.

Do you have any questions about irregular verbs? We’d love to hear from you. Please let us know in the comment section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *