Irregular Verbs and Their Principal Parts

Understanding Strong Verbs

A broken plate
The principal parts of the irregular verb break are break, broke, and broken. Erna Vader/Getty Images

In the English language, all verbs have different forms or tenses. These can include present tense, simple past tense, and past participle. Irregular verbs, also known as strong verbs, are deemed irregular because they do not follow the system of adding -d, -ed, or -ied at the end to form the past tense. No pattern of spelling an irregular verb in past tense is predictable, which means these spellings must be memorized.

Irregular Verbs in Present Tense, Past Tense, and Past Participle

  • Fly-flew-flown: I can fly the kite by myself. I flew the kite by myself. I have flown the kite by myself before.
  • Rise-rose-risen: Let him rise on his own. He rose too soon. He had risen before they told him not to.
  • Shrink-shrank-shrunk: The cotton material will shrink. The cotton material shrank. The cotton material had shrunk in the dryer.
  • Sink-sank-sunk: The boat might sink in the Gulf of Mexico. The boat sank in the Gulf of MexicoThe boat had sunk in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Feel-felt-felt: I feel wonderful today. I felt wonderful yesterday. I had felt great until yesterday.
  • Bite-bit-bitten: The dog might bite you. The dog bit your hand. The dog has bitten many people in the past.
  • Come-came-come: Please come to my house. She came to my house. All of my teammates have come to my house.
  • Catch-caught-caught: I can catch the ball in the air. I caught the ball in the air. I have caught all of the balls in the air.
  • Draw-drew-drawn: I can draw the picture. I drew the picture. I have drawn many pictures.
  • Drive-drove-driven: I can drive there easily. I drove there easily. I might have driven there easier if I had the correct directions.
  • Eat-ate-eaten: Let's eat the large pizza. We ate the large pizza. We have eaten many large pizzas.
  • Fall-fell-fallen: I fall every time I stand up. I fell when I stood up. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
  • Go-went-gone: Go back home tonight. She went home tonight. They have gone home tonight.
  • Hang-hung-hung: Hang your hat here. He hung his hat on the bench. Many have hung from the gallows in the medieval fortress.
  • Lay-laid-laid: Lay the boxes on the table. He laid the boxes on the table. He has laid the boxes on the table and left the room.

Principal Parts of Irregular Verbs

In the table below, you will find the principal parts of some of the most common irregular verbs in English. To find the correct past or past participle form of a verb not included in the list, check your dictionary. If the dictionary gives only the present form of the verb, presume that the verb is regular and forms the past and past participle by adding -d or -ed.

PRESENTPASTPAST PARTICIPLE
arise arosearisen
bewere (singular was)been
beatbeatbeaten (or beat)
becomebecamebecome
beginbeganbegun
bendbentbent
bitebitbitten
bleedbledbled
blowblewblown
breakbrokebroken
bringbroughtbrought
buildbuiltbuilt
burstburstburst
buyboughtbought
castcastcast
catchcaughtcaught
choosechosechosen
clingclungclung
comecamecome
costcostcost
cutcutcut
dealdealtdealt
digdugdug
divedived (or dove)dived
dodiddone
drawdrewdrawn
drinkdrankdrunk
drivedrovedriven
eatateeaten
fallfellfallen
feedfedfed
feelfeltfelt
fightfoughtfought
findfoundfound
flyflewflown
forgetforgotforgotten
freezefrozefrozen
getgotgot (or gotten)
givegavegiven
gowentgone
growgrewgrown

 

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