Irregular Verbs: From H to S

Children (8-9) raising hands in classroom
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Irregular verbs are one of the hardest parts of the English language and there are over 200 of them! These verbs don't follow the usual grammatical rules of English, which makes them so hard to learn.

Most native speakers learn these words and their conjugations as they learn to speak the language as children. Total immersion in a language is considered one of the best ways to learn but that option isn't always available for everyone.

For those who are learning English as a second language learning the rules of grammar are important but confusing at times. The rules of English grammar are consistent until they are not. There are many exceptions to grammatical rules in English.   

Regular verbs follow certain rules as they are conjugated or change between forms. Usually, verbs change in a uniform manner like adding 'ed as for the past tense. For people who are not native speakers, one of the only ways to learn irregular verbs is simply to memorize them. As irregular verbs don't follow any real rules of grammar, there are also no tricks to learn. 

Principal Part

The principal parts of a verb refer to its different forms, like past, present, and past participle. Regular verbs follow specific rules when changing between these different forms but irregular verbs do not. 

In the table below, you will find the principal parts of the most common irregular verbs in English (from H to S).

Use the following links for lists of additional irregular verbs:

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.

Principal Parts of Irregular Verbs H-S

PRESENTPASTPAST PARTICIPLE
hang (execute)hangedhanged
hang (suspend)hunghung
havehadhad
hearheardheard
hidehidhidden
hithithit
holdheldheld
hurthurthurt
keepkeptkept
kneelknelt (or kneeled)knelt (or kneeled)
knitknitted (or knit)knitted (or knit)
knowknewknown
laylaidlaid
leaveleftleft
lendlentlent
letletlet
lie (recline)laylain
lie (fib)liedlied
lightlighted (or lit)lighted (or lit)
loselostlost
makemademade
meanmeantmeant
meetmetmet
mowmowedmowed (or mown)
paypaidpaid
proveprovedproved (or proven)
putputput
readreadread
ridrid (or ridded)rid (or ridded)
rideroderidden
ringrangrung
riseroserisen
runranrun
seesawseen
saysaidsaid
seeksoughtsought
sellsoldsold
sendsentsent
setsetset
sewsewedsewed (or sewn)
shakeshookshaken
shineshoneshone
shootshotshot
showshowedshown
shrinkshrank (or shrunk)shrunk (or shrunken)
shutshutshut
singsangsung
sinksank (or sunk)sunk (or sunken)

Why Does English Have Irregular Verbs?

Many words in the English language are borrowed from other languages. Many words in Latin or Greek have found their way into the English language for example and follow their rules of conjugation. Most words that derive from the romance languages also follow similar rules for conjugation. Where things get tricky is the number of Germanic words that have made their way into English.

These words tend not to follow what are now thought of as English conjugation rules. If you are ever unsure of how to conjugate a verb it's best to look it up in a dictionary.