• Home
  • Blog
  • Verbs

What Is an Irregular Verb? | List, Examples & Definition

Verbs updated on  February 5, 2024 4 min read
With regular verbs, we form the simple past and past participle by adding “-ed” (or “-d” if the verb already ends in “e”).

Irregular verbs do not follow the regular rule of adding “-ed” or “-d” to form the simple past or the past participle forms.

Irregular verbs examples
I spoke to the principal about your concerns.
My cat has caught a mouse.
We sang happy birthday and then he blew out the candles and cut the cake.

What is an irregular verb?  

Most English verbs are regular verbs, which we change to the simple past and past participle forms by adding “-ed” (or “-d” if the verb already ends in “e”). They sometimes change spelling in other ways, such as “try” becoming “tried.”

Although most verbs are regular, there are hundreds of irregular verbs that do not follow the regular rule of adding “-ed” or “-d” to form the simple past or the past participle forms. They can change in a variety of ways or not change at all.

Irregular verbs examples
Your brother will swim with you tomorrow.
My brother swam with me yesterday.
My brother has swum with me every day this week.

I will choose a movie.
I chose a movie.
I have chosen a movie.

I will cut the cake.
I cut the cake an hour ago.
I have cut the cake already.

Note
We use the simple past tense to describe actions and events that were completed in the past (e.g., “I ate a lot last night”).

The past participle form of a verb has a few uses:

  • It’s used with a form of “have” in perfect verb tenses (e.g., “I have eaten already”).
  • It’s used for the passive voice (e.g., “the cake was eaten within minutes”).
  • It can be used as an adjective to modify a noun (e.g., “he threw away the half-eaten sandwich”).

Regular vs irregular verbs

Regular verbs are always the same in both the simple past and past participle forms, while the past and past participle forms of irregular verbs can be (but aren’t always) different.

Examples: Past and past participle forms
He will ask too much of me.
He asked too much of me.
He has asked too much of me.

I will do as you ask.
I did as you asked.
I have done as you asked.

I will send the message.
I sent the message.
I have sent the message.

Some verbs have both a regular and an irregular form (e.g., “burn” can become “burned” or “burnt”). Generally, the regular form is more common in American English and the irregular form is more common in British English. Some other examples include “spelled” or “spelt,” “dreamed” or “dreamt,” and “learned” or “learnt.”

Irregular verbs list

Irregular verbs can change in similar ways (e.g., “keep” becomes “kept,” and “sleep” becomes “slept”), but there are no easy patterns or formulas that will help you learn every conjugation. The only way to learn them is through repetition, practice, and familiarity.

Below is a list of some common irregular verbs in their base, past, and past participle forms. We also have a more comprehensive irregular verbs list available for you to download.

Base form

Simple past

Past participle

be (is, am, are)

was/were

been

begin

began

begun

buy

bought

bought

catch

caught

caught

come

came

come

do

did

done

drink

drank

drunk

eat

ate

eaten

feel

felt

felt

fly

flew

flown

get

got

got

give

gave

given

go

went

gone

grow

grew

grown

have

had

had

hear

heard

heard

make

made

made

pay

paid

paid

run

ran

run

say

said

said

see

saw

seen

sing

sang

sung

speak

spoke

spoken

stand

stood

stood

take

took

taken

write

wrote

written

Note
Compound words and words with prefixes will use the same conjugation as the final word (e.g., “set” in “offset”).

Irregular verbs exercises

Test your understanding of irregular verbs with these exercise questions.
Do you want to know more about commas, parts of speech, email, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Verbs

Nouns

Rhetoric

Present participle

Concrete noun

Oxymoron

Linking verb

Common noun

Double entendre

Auxiliary verb

Abstract noun

Sibilance

Simple present tense

Proper noun

Cliché

Modal verb

Appositive

Paraprosdokian


Frequently asked questions about irregular verbs

What are some irregular past tense verbs?

Irregular verbs don’t follow the regular rules for forming the simple past tense and the past participle form. While regular verbs need the addition of “-ed” (or “-d” if the verb already ends in “e”), irregular verbs can change in a variety of ways or not change at all.

Here are some examples of irregular verbs in the simple past and past participle forms:

  • be (is, am, are) - was/were - been
  • do - did - done
  • eat - ate - eaten
  • go - went - gone
  • sing - sang - sung

What’s the difference between regular and irregular verbs?

We change regular verbs to the simple past and past participle forms by adding “-ed” (or “-d” if the verb already ends in “e”). For example, “talk” becomes “talked” and “dance” becomes “danced.”

Some regular verbs change their spelling in other ways, such as doubling the final letter or replacing “-y” with “-ied,” but they still follow predictable patterns. Regular verbs are always the same in their past and past participle forms.

Irregular verbs don’t follow the regular rule of adding “-ed” or “-d” to form the simple past and the past participle forms. They can change in a variety of ways or not change at all, and their simple past and past participle forms can be (but aren’t always) different.

For example, “go” becomes “went” in the simple past but is “gone” as a past participle, while “hit” is the same in all three forms.

Tags

Sophie Shores

Sophie has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Publishing, and a passion for great writing. She’s taught English overseas and has experience editing both business and academic writing.

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.