Grammar-Monster.com(#gm)

Irregular Verbs

What Are Irregular Verbs?

homesitemapA-Z grammar terms irregular verbs
An irregular verb is one that does not form its simple past tense or its past participle by adding "-ed" or "-d" to the base form.

Irregular verbs contrast with regular verbs, which form the simple past tense and past participle by adding "-ed" or "-d."

Let's compare an irregular verb to a regular verb:
Irregular VerbSimple Past TestPast Participle
arisearosearisen
Regular VerbSimple Past TestPast Participle
jumpjumpedhas jumped
Remember that the simple past tense describes a completed activity that happened in the past. For example:
  • Alan forgot the balloon.
  • Sarah froze the fish.
The past participle is the form that can be used with "have" to form a specific verb tense or as an adjective. For example:
  • Oops, I have forgotten the balloons.
  • Buy frozen fish.

Table of Contents

  • Find the Irregular Verb Test
  • Spell the Irregular Verbs Test
  • Irregular Verbs Are Common
  • Irregular Verbs vs Regular Verbs
  • The Most Common Irregular Verbs
  • Verbs with Irregular and Regular Forms
  • Irregular Verbs That Don't Change
  • Irregular Verbs Can Be Strong or Weak Verbs
  • Why Irregular Verbs Are Important
  • Test Time!
regular and irregular verbs

Find the Irregular Verb Test

It's your go! Select the irregular verb.
(Hint: Find the verb whose past forms do not end "-ed" or "-d.")

Spell the Irregular Verbs Test

Click on the green letters to spell the past tense and then the past participle of the irregular verb shown.
Irregular Verb
Past Tense Past Participle

Irregular Verbs Are Common

Ironically, the most commonly used verbs in English are all irregular:
Base FormSimple Past TensePast Participle
bewas/werehas been
comecamehas come
dodidhas done
getgothas got (small British flag)
gotten (small American flag)
gowenthas gone
havehadhas had
knowknewhas known
makemadehas made
saysaidhas said
seesawhas seen
taketookhas taken
thinkthoughthas thought
With an irregular verb, the past form and past participle are often different (but not always). For example:
Irregular VerbSimple Past TensePast Participle
beginbeganhas begun
breakbrokehas broken
buyboughthas bought

Irregular Verbs vs Regular Verbs

Compare the past forms of the irregular verbs above with the past forms of these regular verbs. Notice that the regular verbs add just "-ed" or "-d":
Regular VerbSimple Past TensePast Participle
cookcookedhas cooked
playplayedhas played
dancedancedhas danced

The Most Common Irregular Verbs

The most common irregular verbs in English are be, have, and do. Aside from these three (which deserve a special status for being both main or auxiliary verbs), the top 10 irregular verbs in English are:
  • see, say, go, come, know, get, give, become, find, and think.
Here is a fuller list of the most common irregular verbs in English:
Irregular VerbPast SimplePast Participle
arisearosearisen
bewas/werebeen
beatbeatbeaten
becomebecamebecome
bendbentbent
beginbeganbegun
betbetbet
bindboundbound
bitebitbitten
bleedbledbled
blowblewblown
breakbrokebroken
breedbredbred
bringbroughtbrought
buildbuiltbuilt
buyboughtbought
catchcaughtcaught
choosechosechosen
comecamecome
costcostcost
cutcutcut
dealdealtdealt
digdugdug
dodiddone
drawdrewdrawn
drinkdrankdrunk
drivedrovedriven
eatateeaten
fallfellfallen
feedfedfed
feelfeltfelt
fightfoughtfought
findfoundfound
flyflewflown
forbidforbadeforbidden
forgetforgotforgotten
forgiveforgaveforgiven
freezefrozefrozen
getgotgot (small British flag)
gotten (small American flag)
givegavegiven
gowentgone
growgrewgrown
havehadhad
hearheardheard
hidehidhidden
hithithit
holdheldheld
hurthurthurt
keepkeptkept
knowknewknown
laylaidlaid
leadledled
leaveleftleft
lendlentlent
letletlet
lielaylain
lightlitlit
loselostlost
makemademade
meanmeantmeant
meetmetmet
paypaidpaid
putputput
quitquitquit
readreadread
rideroderidden
ringrangrung
riseroserisen
runranrun
saysaidsaid
seesawseen
sellsoldsold
sendsentsent
setsetset
shakeshookshaken
shineshoneshone
shootshotshot
showshowedshown
shutshutshut
singsangsung
sinksanksunk
sitsatsat
sleepsleptslept
slideslidslid
speakspokespoken
spendspentspent
spinspunspun
spreadspreadspread
standstoodstood
stealstolestolen
stickstuckstuck
stingstungstung
strikestruckstruck
swearsworesworn
sweepsweptswept
swimswamswum
swingswungswung
taketooktaken
teachtaughttaught
teartoretorn
telltoldtold
thinkthoughtthought
throwthrewthrown
understandunderstoodunderstood
wakewokewoken
wearworeworn
winwonwon
withdrawwithdrewwithdrawn
writewrotewritten

Verbs with Irregular and Regular Forms

The following verbs can be regular or irregular:
VerbPast SimplePast Participle
burnburned OR burntburned OR burnt
dreamdreamed OR dreamtdreamed OR dreamt
learnlearned OR learntlearned OR learnt
hanghung
also hanged
hung
also hanged
smellsmelled OR smeltsmelled OR smelt
spellspelled OR speltspelled OR spelt
The second form (e.g., learnt, dreamt) is more common in British English.

Irregular Verbs That Don't Change

Some irregular verbs do not change their forms for the simple past tense and the past participle:
VerbPast SimplePast Participle
betbetbet
broadcastbroadcastbroadcast
cutcutcut
hithithit
hurthurthurt
letletlet
putputput
quitquitquit
readreadread
setsetset
shutshutshut
spreadspreadspread

Irregular Verbs Can Be Strong or Weak Verbs

An irregular verb can be either a weak verb (when its past forms end "-d" or "-t") or a strong verb. Here are some examples of strong and weak irregular verbs:
Base FormSimple Past TensePast Participlecomment
growgrewhas grownirregular verb (strong)
freezefrozehas frozenirregular verb (strong)
telltoldhas toldirregular verb (weak)
shootshothas shotirregular verb (weak)

Infographic Explaining Strong, Weak, Regular, and Irregular Verbs

The terms "irregular verb" and "strong verb" are not synonyms (i.e., they do not mean the same). Similarly, the terms "regular verb" and "weak verb" are not synonyms.

Here is a Venn diagram that explains how verbs are classified:
weak, strong, regular, and irregular verbs
Read more about weak verbs.

Why Irregular Verbs Are Important

Somewhat counter-intuitively, the most common verbs in English are irregular. So, if you're learning or teaching English, you must embrace them. There's no real trick to learning how to use irregular verbs. You just have to learn them. The truth is that you won't master English without studying them.

Good luck!

Key Point

author logo

This page was written by Craig Shrives.

You might also like...

Help us improve...

Was something wrong with this page?

Use #gm to find us quicker.

Create a QR code for this, or any, page.

confirmatory test

This test is printable and sendable

green heart logo