Irregular Verb Errors to Avoid

No matter what form of English we speak at home, for work and formal occasions we need to be fluent in a standard form of the language.

The most common verb errors made in the use of standard English are with irregular verb forms.

A thousand years ago English had more complicated verb forms than it has now.

Today we form the past tenses of most verbs by adding the ending

-ed. For example:

Today I walk.

Yesterday I walked.

I have walked all week.

A few English verbs do not form the past tenses by adding -ed. For this reason they are called irregular verbs. For example:

Today I go.

Yesterday I went.

I have gone.

NOTE: Verbs are said to have three principal parts:

simple present: walk, go

simple past: walked, went

past participle: [have] walked, [have] gone

The past participle form is the form of the verb used with the helping verb have (have/has/had). It is with the past participle that most irregular verb errors occur.

Only about 150 irregular verbs remain in English. Of these, about 70 have two past forms to learn. The others have only one.

Speakers who wish to master a standard form of English will want to take the time to learn the irregular verb forms.

For ease of learning, I’ve grouped the irregular verbs as follows:

Irregular verbs like cut/cut/cut

Irregular verbs like find/found/found

Irregular verbs like begin/began/begun

A few irregular verbs are in the process of change. Some have an -ed form in the past, but something else in the part participle. Some have regular forms that convey a slightly different meaning from that of the irregular forms.You’ll find a list of this “mixed bag” of verbs here.

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