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.

PRESENT PAST PAST PARTICIPLE
arise arose arisen
be were (singular was) been
beat beat beaten (or beat)
become became become
begin began begun
bend bent bent
bite bit bitten
bleed bled bled
blow blew blown
break broke broken
bring brought brought
build built built
burst burst burst
buy bought bought
cast cast cast
catch caught caught
choose chose chosen
cling clung clung
come came come
cost cost cost
cut cut cut
deal dealt dealt
dig dug dug
dive dived (or dove) dived
do did done
draw drew drawn
drink drank drunk
drive drove driven
eat ate eaten
fall fell fallen
feed fed fed
feel felt felt
fight fought fought
find found found
fly flew flown
forget forgot forgotten
freeze froze frozen
get got got (or gotten)
give gave given
go went gone
grow grew grown

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