Spelling Irregular Verbs Study Guide

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Updated on Sep 28, 2011


Regular verbs have a variety of tenses. The same is true of irregular verbs. In this lesson, you will learn what irregular verbs are and how you can best remember the correct ways to form them.

NOW THAT YOU understand the various verb tenses and how regular verbs are conjugated, let's look at the irregular verbs. With regular verbs, which comprise the majority of verbs in the English language, you can add -ed to the end of the word with little or no change (aside from some words that require you to double the final consonant or only add -d to words already ending in -e). With irregular verbs, however, that is not the case. Irregular verbs are words that don't follow a predictable pattern, like adding -ed to form the past tense. Unfortunately, for people who like to follow rules closely, there are many irregular verbs in the English language. The only way to learn the conjugation of these verbs into tenses is to memorize them.

Common Irregular Verbs 

The following chart shows the conjugation of most common irregular verbs. Don't let yourself be intimidated by the number of verbs that are irregular. The more you look at the list, the more you'll realize that you are already very familiar with many of these words and their spellings. In fact, for many people, this list will simply serve as a reminder of how the verbs are spelled.

As you read through the list, take note of words whose spelling does not make sense to you, or with which you are not familiar. Highlight those words and either add them to your spelling list or create flash cards based on them.

The chart groups the irregular verbs together based on the patterns they follow when forming the past tense and the past participle.

Irregular Verbs

Irregular Verbs

Irregular Verbs

Irregular Verbs

Irregular Verbs

Irregular Verbs

Irregular Verbs


TIP: Watch out for the verb to be, which is conjugated unlike any other verb. It is the only verb in the English language with an infinitive that differs from the present tense form. The infinitive is to be while the present tense is am, is, or are. So you would say:

  • I am hungry. (first person singular)
  • We are hungry. (first person plural)
  • You are hungry. (second person)
  • He (or she) is hungry. (third person singular)
  • They are hungry. (third person plural)

The past tense and past participle forms are even trickier. The past tense of to be is was or were. The past participle form is been. For these forms, you would say:

  • I was hungry. I had been hungry. (first person singular)
  • We were hungry. We had been hungry.
  • You were hungry. You had been hungry.

He (or she) was hungry. He (or she) had been hungry. (third person singular)

They were hungry. They had been hungry. (third person plural) To be is the most common verb in the English language. But because it is confusing to conjugate, it is often misused. Memorizing the tenses of to be will help you improve not only your spelling but your grammar as well.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Spelling Irregular Verbs Practice Exercises

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