Irregular Verbs: From H to S

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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

PRESENT PAST PAST PARTICIPLE
hang (execute) hanged hanged
hang (suspend) hung hung
have had had
hear heard heard
hide hid hidden
hit hit hit
hold held held
hurt hurt hurt
keep kept kept
kneel knelt (or kneeled) knelt (or kneeled)
knit knitted (or knit) knitted (or knit)
know knew known
lay laid laid
leave left left
lend lent lent
let let let
lie (recline) lay lain
lie (fib) lied lied
light lighted (or lit) lighted (or lit)
lose lost lost
make made made
mean meant meant
meet met met
mow mowed mowed (or mown)
pay paid paid
prove proved proved (or proven)
put put put
read read read
rid rid (or ridded) rid (or ridded)
ride rode ridden
ring rang rung
rise rose risen
run ran run
see saw seen
say said said
seek sought sought
sell sold sold
send sent sent
set set set
sew sewed sewed (or sewn)
shake shook shaken
shine shone shone
shoot shot shot
show showed shown
shrink shrank (or shrunk) shrunk (or shrunken)
shut shut shut
sing sang sung
sink sank (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.