Irregular Verbs

In the English language verbs have different forms or tenses. There is the present tense, the simple past tense and past participle, to name a few. Most regular verbs have the simple past and the past participle spelled like the present tense except the past tenses have a “d” or “ed” added to the regular form.

However, with irregular verbs it’s a different story.

What are irregular verbs?

Irregular verbs are common verbs in the English language that do not follow the simple system of adding “d” or “ed” to the end of the word to form the past tense. That means the spellings can be a little tricky. Some irregular verbs follow patterns, such as drink–drank, spring–sprang, know-knew, and blow-blew but you can’t use those patterns with predictability. Unfortunately, learning irregular verbs means memorization.

Before we move on, let’s take a moment to review three basic tenses in the English language as this may help with your understanding irregular verbs.

The present tense of a verb stands alone and shows the present tense.

Fly the kite.

I feel great right now!

The past tense is used to represent past events.

I flew the kite.

I felt great yesterday, too!

The past participle is used with the helping verbs have, has, and had to form perfect tenses.

1.  Present perfect.

I have flown the kite.

I have felt great today!

2.  Past perfect

I had flown the kite very well until the wind died down.

I had felt great until recently.

3.  Future perfect

I will have flown the kite 5 miles by the end of the day.

I will have felt great three days in a row after tomorrow.

Examples of irregular verbs

To show you irregular verbs in their whacky, unpredictable glory, below you’ll find many examples that begin in the present tense, followed by the simple past tense, and then the past participle.

awake–awoke–awoken be-was, where–been
beat–beat–beat began–began–begun
bite–bit–bitten bleed–bled–bled
below–blue–blown break–broke–broken
bring–brought–brought build–built–built
burn–burned/burnt–burned/burnt burst–burst–burst
by–bought–bought catch–caught-caught
come–came–come creep–crept–crept
cut–cut–cut deal–dealt–dealt
dig–dug–dug do–did–done
draw–drew–drawn drink-drank-drunk
eat-ate-eaten fall-fell-fallen
fling-flung-flung fly-flew-flown
forget-forgot-forgotten forgive-forgave-forgiven
get-got-gotten go-went-gone
grow-grew-grown hang-hung-hung
hit-hit-hit lay-laid-laid
lead-led-led lie-lay-lain
mistake-mistook-mistaken overcome-overcame-overcame
plead-pled-pled ring-rang-rung
rise-rose-risen see-saw-seen
sew-sewed-sewed shake-shook-shaken
shear-shore-shorn shoe-shoed-shoed
shrink-shrank-shrunk sing-sang-sung
sink-sank-sunk sit-sat-sat
speed-sped-sped spring-sprang-sprung
sting-stung-stung strive-strove-strive
swear-swore-sworn swim-swam-swum
teach-taught-taught throw-threw-threw
tread-trod-trodden wake-woke-woken
weep-wept-wept win-won-won
wring-wrung-wrung write-wrote-written


There are many more, but that’s a good sampling. Now, here are some examples of a few irregular verbs used in sentences.

  • Watch out, the dog may bite you.
  • The dog bit the hand that fed him.
  • That dog has bitten many people in the past.
  • Please come to the party.
  • My best friends came to the party.
  • All of my best friends have come to the party.
  • Catch the ball.
  • I caught the ball.
  • I have caught many balls in my life.
  • Draw a picture, Steve.
  • Steve drew a picture for Mary.
  • Steve has drawn beautiful pictures for all of his friends.
  • Let’s eat!
  • We had our cake and ate it, too.
  • I have eaten so much cake I think I may be ill.
  • I fall in the lake every time I walk by.
  • James fell in the lake, too.
  • Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
  • Go home now.
  • Larry went home.
  • Everyone has gone home.
  • Hang your hat here.
  • John hung his hat on the hat tree.
  • Many have hung from the gallows of the Old West.
  • Lay the packages on the table.
  • Michael laid the packages on the table.
  • Michael has laid the packages on the table and now he’s going back for more.

So there you have it – irregular verbs in a nutshell. Remember an irregular verb has no predictable pattern and doesn’t end in “d” or “ed.”