Lesson plan

Regular vs. Irregular Verbs

Are you a rule-follower or a rule-breaker? Irregular verbs break all the rules! Use this lesson to teach your students how to use the correct past tense form of regular and irregular verbs.
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Students will be able to form and use regular and irregular past tense verbs in a complete sentence.

(3 minutes)
  • Prompt the class to think about a common school rule, such as “No running in the hallways.” Ask students to think about a time when it would be okay to break the rule. Accept answers and allow for discussion.
  • Point out that there are often exceptions to the rules when it comes to grammar, too.
(10 minutes)
  • Access prior knowledge by asking students to think about how to form a past tense verb. Remind them that -ed is added to the end of most verbs to form the past tense.
  • Draw a T-Chart on the board and label the left side "Regular".
  • Write examples on the board, such as jump → jumped, call → called, and fix → fixed. Explain that these are all examples of regular verbs. Regular verbs form their past tense by adding -ed.
  • Connect back to the lesson introduction and explain that there are verbs that break the rules. Irregular verbs are verbs that do not form their past tense by adding -d or -ed. Irregular verbs change when they move from present to past tense.
  • Label the right side of the T-Chart "Irregular." List examples on the chart, such as write → wrote, bite → bit, and run → ran. Point out that these verbs changed from present to past tense, but they do not have the -ed at the end.
  • Display a copy of the Irregular Past-Tense Verbs: Found It! worksheet and model changing the present tense irregular verb to its correct past tense. Think aloud about how the verbs change by reading the sentences with the verbs conjugated incorrectly, and then read them aloud with correct past tense verbs. For example, read “The movie beginned 10 minutes ago.” Then read, “The movie began 10 minutes ago.”
(10 minutes)
  • Display two sentences on the board with the verbs in present tense form and model conjugating the verbs correctly. Think aloud about whether the verb is regular or irregular, and how that affects the past tense form.
    • The family ____ the zoo. (visit)
    • They ____ in line waiting to see the elephant exhibit. (stand)
  • Invite students to take out whiteboards and whiteboard markers.
  • Display more sentences on the board and have learners write the past tense verb on their whiteboard. Have students show and say their answers. Call on nonvolunteers to explain their answers in complete sentences. Example sentences include:
    • He ____ to his dentist appointment this afternoon. (go)
    • I ____ at the dinner table last night. (sit)
    • The leaves ____ from the trees when it was windy. (fall)
    • He ____ a funny story this morning. (tell)
    • The dog ____ her new toy in the backyard. (hide)
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute a copy of the Irregular Verbs worksheet to each student. Review that irregular verbs do not follow the same rules as regular verbs do when it comes to the past tense forms. Go over the examples at the top of the page.
  • Give students time to choose the correct past tense form of each verb. Tell students they will soon share their answers in partnerships.
  • Review partnership/group discussion rules before beginning the conversation:
    1. ____ to gain the floor
    2. Speak one at a time
    3. Listen to others
    4. Stay on topic
  • Fill in the blank for #1 with an agreed-upon way to gain the floor, such as students raising their hands or holding the talking stick.
  • Ask students to give you a thumbs up if they can agree to follow the rules during the discussion.


  • Provide a more extensive list of examples of regular and irregular verbs for struggling learners.
  • Use a word wall with visuals to support students with understanding word meanings.
  • Reduce the number of questions on the Irregular Verbs worksheet.
  • Give struggling students extra practice with irregular verbs in the Irregular Verbs 1 Exercise.
  • Teach a pre-lesson about regular verbs and how to form the correct past tense. This will give students background knowledge about verbs and verb tenses.


  • Challenge advanced learners to pick out all present tense verbs from a page in their independent reading book. Identify each verb as regular or irregular, and record the past tense form of it.
  • Instruct students to write a short story in past tense, only including irregular verbs. Have them circle the verbs and let a partner check their work.
(10 minutes)
  • Put students in an A-B partnership and have them go over the Irregular Verbs worksheet. Partner A will read aloud the odd questions, while Partner B will read aloud the even questions. Instruct the partnerships to say their answers, or requested information, in complete sentences. Discuss each answer, such as whether they agree or find discrepancies. Circulate and observe conversations for correct answers and note the details students use to support their answers.
  • Give each student an index card for the Exit Ticket. Instruct them to conjugate the verb correctly to complete the sentence. Display the following sentences on the board:
    • I ____ my friend about the show I watched last night. (tell)
    • We ____ next to each other during the movies. (sit)
    • During the game, I ____ behind the couch. (hide)
(2 minutes)
  • Review the correct answers for the Exit Ticket.
  • Remind students that irregular verbs do not follow the same rules as regular verbs. It is up to us to memorize the past tense forms of irregular verbs since they do not follow any simple rules.
  • Challenge students to notice irregular verbs in conversations, other lessons at school, and when they are reading.

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