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Regular vs Irregular Verbs: Let’s Talk About the Past

Action, state of being, and linking words are incredibly important in the English language. Why? Because you’ll find a verb in every written and spoken sentence. In addition, both irregular and regular verbs describe what people do and who they are. This article will teach you about the regular verbs definition, the difference between regular and irregular verbs and the special irregular imperfect verbs. You’ll also discover why tense is so important when learning about regular verbs and irregular verbs.

After you know the basics, look at this page for further information. It includes irregular verbs examples, links to irregular verbs list pdf from other sources, and fodder to create your own irregular verbs worksheet and definitions. This will help you define irregular verbs and give you your own regular verbs definition. 

What are Regular Verbs?

Regular verbs follow a consistent conjugation pattern. The stem stays the same when it comes to the present tense, but if you want to talk about the past, then you add different suffixes to set the tense. 

Regular Verbs examples:

  • I can jump high, mom!

The base form is jump. In the present tense the word remains the same. Adding a suffix to the end of the word looks like this.

  • I jumped higher, mom!

Just adding the -ed to the end of the stem word conjugates it to relate it to a state of being in the recent past.  There are a few patterns to memorize if you want to remember all the regular word structures, however.

The first conjugation pattern works with words that have a long vowel sound ending in a consonant. This is also the same pattern you use when a word that contains a combination of consonants at the end of the word. Regular words include the words: bake, play, label, and blend.

  • Infinitive: “Blend”
  • Past: “Blended
  • Present Participle: “Blending
  • Past Participle: “Blended
  • Present (I, You, We, They): “Blend”
  • Present (He, She, It): “Blends

Another form of regular action and state of being words that end in an e follow a slightly different pattern, but the idea is the same. For example, here’s the conjugation pattern for the word smile.

  • Infinitive: “Smile”
  • Past: “Smiled
  • Present Participle: “Smiling
  • Past Participle: “Smiled
  • Present (He, She, It): “Smiles

Also, when using regular and irregular verbs in the past participle, the word can act as an adjective. It describes nouns or pronouns that the word is referring to. 

  • The hurried lawyer rushed to his seat.

The word lawyer is the pronoun. The word, hurried is the past participle describing the lawyer’s movement.  This sentence adds to the irregular verbs examples down below but we will get to how it functions in the next section.

See the pattern? Here’s the regular verbs definition: Words that follow the regular verbs pattern including the past and past participle rules that add the suffix -ed to the end of an action or state of being. Sometimes the e already belongs to the root word and you simply add a -d to the past and past participle forms. This pattern is standard, which is why a verb that follows this pattern is called regular.

You’re probably wondering, “If these are regular verbs, what is an irregular verb?” Let’s discover what irregular verbs and irregular past tense verbs are and why they’re so special in the English language. Now you know the regular verbs definition, it’s time to define irregular verbs.

What are Irregular Verbs?

If your normal action or state of being word follows a certain pattern, then you notice your irregular verb is a bit quirky. What is an irregular verb? You can define irregular and regular verbs by looking at their past and past participle tenses and see the repeated patterns in their conjugations.

The irregular verbs examples below do not follow the standard -d or -ed suffix pattern. Let’s look at a short list of irregular verbs and memorize more irregular past tense verbs. 

List of Irregular Verbs Examples

Irregular Base Form Irregular Verb Past Tense Form Irregular Verb Past Participle Form
Go Went Gone
Take Took Taken
See Saw Seen
Know Knew Known
Get Got Gotten
Give Gave Given
Tell Told Told

 

As you can see, irregular past tense verbs don’t follow regular past tense or past participle structure. However, there are some common traits that many irregular past tense verbs have. Learning these irregular verbs examples that follow these traits will increase the number of irregular and regular verbs you may know and answer the question “what is an irregular verb?”

Use this further reading to learn more and experiment with irregular verbs examples. Try creating your very own irregular verbs worksheet once you’re done and define irregular verbs in combination with your new regular verbs definition. At the end of this article, be sure to download the irregular verbs list pdf that’s included.

What’s the Difference Between Regular and Irregular Verbs?

There are four identifying traits of an irregular verb. Some irregular past tense verbs have the same base form, past tense form, and past participle form. Others have the same past tense and past participle form, but a different present tense. Furthermore, there’s also a group of words that have the suffix -en as their past participle. Lastly, irregular verbs can have three different present, past, and past participle forms! These are the prime differences between irregular and regular verbs.

Here are a couple tables to help you see the patterns that both a regular and an irregular verb could follow. These tables can be used as an introductory guide to recognizing the differences between regular and irregular verbs, but are not comprehensive.

Charts for Irregular and Regular Verbs

Irregular Verb: Past Tenses

Base form  Past Tense Form Past Participle Form
am (to be) was was going to
cut cut cut
dig dug dug
lay laid laid
ring rang rung
sing sang sung
think thought thought
bring brought brought

 

Regular Verb: Past Tense

Base Form Past Tense Forms
dance danced
fate fated
laugh laughed
plant planted
cry cried
try tried
fit fitted
trip tripped

 

Other than that, there are a number of irregular verbs that conjugate differently  and using the list of irregular verbs can help. The regular verbs definition states that the same base form for past tense and past participle occur every time for regular words. To define irregular verbs, depending on the word, there are four different traits to pay attention to. Suffixes ending in -en, unchanging tense form, only one past participle changes, or all tense forms can be completely different.

Are you unsure about using regular and irregular verbs in your English assignment? Ready to know what is an irregular verb? Irregular and regular verbs have many more differences than you think. To define irregular verbs, use the irregular verbs examples in this section and download the Irregular Verbs List PDF at the end. Further down, you’ll find an irregular verbs worksheet, as well. Try out the grammar check from Citation Machine Plus. As you’re writing, easily start citing your sources in MLA format (or another style) with Citation Machine Plus’s citing tools!

What are Irregular Imperfect Verbs?

If you speak another language such as Spanish or French, you’re probably wondering whether there are irregular imperfect verbs in English. In other languages, irregular imperfect verbs discuss events in the past that are continuous. However, there’s no imperfective form in English, and instead English speakers use “used to” and past continuous instead of irregular imperfect verbs. In other languages, irregular imperfect refers to the imperfect tense, simply known as the imperfect. Here’s an example to tell the difference:

  • I used to go jogging everyday.
  • He used to be inspired by art, but now it does nothing for him.

Both the action and state of being that are bolded identify a continuous yet vague point in time. The irregular imperfect verbs take the action word jogging, and the state of being inspired, and their past participle forms and add used to before them to create the tense. 

Know the difference between regular and irregular verbs, yet? Beginning to understand the difference between regular and irregular verbs takes time. Examining the irregular verbs examples is good practice and will help you define irregular verbs even further.

Why Focus on Irregular Past Tense Verbs?

Action and state of being words that don’t follow a standard structure are some of the oldest and most common words in the English language. Without them communication is possible, yet basic. Thus, it’s important to learn how to use irregular verbs to develop your vocabulary. Being able to define what is an irregular verb will take your grammar to new heights.

Here’s a list of irregular verbs and irregular past tense verbs that you can save or print as Irregular Verbs List PDF. That way, you can review the irregular verbs list PDF whenever you need a refresher. Don’t forget about the irregular verbs worksheet too, and once you’re ready write your own regular verbs definition and define irregular verbs.

A List of Irregular Verbs

Here’s a useful list of commonly used irregular verbs you might encounter or use. 

Base Form Past Tense Past Participle
(to) be was/were been
begin began begun
bite bit bitten/bit
break broke broken
bring brought brought
buy bought bought
catch caught caught
choose chose chosen
come came come
do did done
draw drew drawn
dream dreamed/dreamt dreamt
drive drove driven
drown drowned drowned
eat ate eaten
fall fell fallen
fight fought fought
fly flew flown
forget forgot forgotten
forgive forgave forgiven
freeze froze frozen
get got got/gotten
give gave given
go went gone
grow grew grown
hang hung hung
hide hid hidden
know knew known
lose lost lost
ride rode ridden
ring rang rung
rise rose risen
run ran run
see saw seen
shake shook shaken
sing sang sung
sit sat sat
speak spoke spoken
swim swam swum
take took taken
tear tore torn
throw threw thrown
uses used used
wear wore worn
write wrote written

What are Irregular Verbs? An Irregular Verbs Worksheet

The list of irregular verbs above contains 46 of the most common irregular words that are listed as an irregular verb. This includes both irregular imperfect verbs and irregular past tense verbs. Hopefully you can easily see how they differ from regular verbs. Memorize as many as you can, and then use the irregular verbs worksheet. It’s below and used in combination with the irregular verbs list PDF

Write your own regular and irregular verbs below:

Base Form Past Tense Past Participle
be
begin begun
bite bit bitten/bit
break
bring brought
catch
choose chosen
come came
do done
drag dragged
draw drew
dream dreamt
drive drove
drown drowned
eat eaten
fall fell
fight fought
fly flown
forget forgot
forgive
freeze froze
get got/gotten
give gave
go went
grow grown
hang hung
hide hidden
know knew
lose
ride rode
ring rung
rise rose
run run
see
shake shaken
sing sang
sit sat
speak
swim swum
take took taken
tear tore
throw threw
uses
wear wore
write written

 

Were you able to correctly fill in the irregular verbs above? Asking yourself, what is an irregular verb, will help you get familiar with this part of speech. Irregular and regular verbs, irregular past tenses, and the special irregular imperfect verbs are quite a handful to master. Go over the list of irregular verbs and answer ‘what is an irregular verb?’ and download the list of irregular verbs via the Irregular Verbs List PDF anytime. The irregular verbs worksheet can be reused, too. 

Once you’re done, why not take some time to learn about APA format and more styles for citing your next research paper? Give it a try by following the above links.


Published March 5, 2019. Updated April 23, 2020.

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