Verb Conjugation: Spelling Review Study Guide (page 4)

Updated on Aug 25, 2011

List #5: i becomes a and u

In some irregular verbs, the i in the present tense form changes to an a in the past tense and a u in the past participle.

Present Tense Past Tense Past Participle
drink drank drunk
ring rang rung
sing sang sung
sink sank sunk
swim swam swum

List #6: Options

Some irregular verbs have more than one acceptable past tense or past participle form.

Present Tense Past Tense Past Participle
bid bid or bade bid or bidden
dream dreamed or dreamt dreamed or dreamt
leap leaped or leapt leaped or leapt
prove proved proved or proven

List #7: The Rest

The following four verbs don't really follow any pattern.

Present Tense Past Tense Past Participle
do did done
go went gone
lie lay lain
light lit lighted


IT IS UNDERSTANDABLE that you might feel a little overwhelmed looking at these lists. There are an awful lot of irregular verbs and most of them do not seem to have any relationship to one another. You can see patterns in some words, especially rhyming words-the words sleep, weep, sweep, and creep all drop the second e and add a -t when forming their past tense and past participle (slept, wept, swept, and crept)-but these sorts of patterns usually only pertain to a handful of words. There are many words whose past tense and past participle forms end in the letters -ought-thought, fought, bought, sought-but a look at their present tense forms shows little connections between the verbs (think, fight, buy, seek).

So how are you supposed to remember all these exceptions? The best key to memorizing the irregular verbs is practice, practice, and more practice. Practice doesn't always have to be boring, however. Try to turn your practice time into a game. For instance, write the present tense forms of the irregular word list on a piece of paper. Start a timer and write down the past tense and past participle of each verb. See how long it takes you to complete the entire list and see if you can beat that time.

Sometimes it helps to practice with a friend. One game you can play is called Verb Tennis. Player one says the base form of the verb. Player two then says the past tense of the verb. Player one must then say the past participle of the verb. Player two must then respond with a new verb. The game continues until one person makes a mistake. Whoever had the last correct answer then gets a point. Play continues until one player reaches ten points.


In this lesson, we learned that verbs are the part of speech that expresses "existence, action, or occurrence." We learned that there are five potentially different spelling forms of verbs: present tense form, third person singular present tense form (whew!), past tense form, present participle form, and past participle form. The present tense form is also known as the base form.

We learned the following rules that apply to conjugation of regular verbs:

  1. The present tense (or base) form of a verb is the infinitive of the verb minus the word to.
  2. Add -s to make the third person singular present tense form. If the verb ends in a consonant + -y combination, change the -y to an i and add -es.
  3. Add -d or -ed to make the past tense form.
  4. Add -ing to form the present participle. (Don't forget the exception to this rule discussed on page 151.)
  5. Add -d or -ed to regular verbs to form the past participle.

We learned that the verb be has several different forms, which are:

We also looked at a list of irregular verbs that have to be memorized and learned a few tricks for remembering them.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Verb Conjugation: Spelling Review Practice Exercises

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