Irregular Verbs

All new verbs in English are regular.

  • I photocopied the report.
  • She faxed it to me.
  • They emailed everybody about it.
  • I googled my name and got more than 20 000 responses.

There are approximately 180 irregular verbs. You don't need to learn all of them because some of these are very rare but many others are very useful and you do need to know them.
What's the easiest way to learn them? Some people think you should learn a list 'by heart'. Others think you should not learn them at all – you will just gradually acquire them over time.
One useful method is to note down new irregular verbs as you meet them. It is useful to write these verbs (or any vocabulary you want to learn) in sentences and learn those rather than the individual word.
Which is easier to learn?

  • stick stuck stuck
  • I stuck the photo into my album.

Another technique is to classify the irregular verbs into 4 categories.
1. All forms the same

  • set set set
  • cost cost cost

2. Similar sound groups

  • beat beat beaten
  • eat ate eaten
  • blow blew blown
  • throw threw thrown
  • drink drank drunk
  • sing sang sung
  • speak spoke spoken
  • wake woke woken

3. The second and third forms are the same.

  • bend bent bent
  • sleep slept slept
  • spend spent spent
  • bring brought brought
  • buy bought bought
  • teach taught taught
  • have had had
  • pay paid paid
  • say said said

4. The "unclassifiables"

  • come came come
  • do did done
  • go went gone
  • show showed show

As you meet new irregular verbs, try to decide in which category they fall.

exercise 1

exercise 2

exercise 3

exercise 4

exercise 5

exercise 6

exercise 7

exercise 8

Return to List of Grammar Lessons