irregular verbs

There are approximately 200 irregular verbs in the English language. These verbs form the past and past participle (have + verb) tenses differently from the present. These irregularities can be a nagging source of confusion for many writers and speakers of English.

Below is a handful of irregular verbs that seem to be most frequently misused (even by the educated among us. Tsk tsk). Most English handbooks should have a complete listing of all 200 or so of these verbs.

Present Past Past Participle Examples of Incorrect Usage
come came (have) come I have came too early. (have come)
drink drank (have) drunk They have drank too much wine. (have drunk)
go went (have) gone She has went to work. (has gone)
ride rode (have) ridden I have rode a bike since I was 10. (have ridden)
run ran (have) run I have ran four miles. (have run)
see saw (have) seen I seen the accident as it was happening. (saw)
speak spoke (have) spoken We have spoke on the phone. (have spoken)
write wrote (have) written I have wrote a letter. (have written)

Posted in Grammar.

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  1. Dark Penguin says:

    Just in the past 20 years I’ve noticed that the correct use of irregular verbs seems to be a lost art, even among professional journalists and newsreaders. It seems that even professional users of the language are no longer to accept more than two root forms for any verb, so we now have shrink/shrunk/shrunk and sink/sunk/sunk where we used to have shrink/SHRANK/shrunk, etc. Conversely, writers seem unwilling to believe that the past participle of a verb can be the same as the present tense, so we now have run/ran/ran and come/came/came. And if the past participle ends in “-en”, then the preterite now gets used for both past forms, as in eat/ate/ate.

    I hate this. It’s like nails on chalkboard to me, and if I hear it said by a talking head on TV or see it written by someone who should know better, it distracts my attention from what they’re saying or writing.

  2. mohannad alshbbe says:

    what about the verb get
    do we say have got or have gotten
    and the vern learn, is it regular or irregular?

    • Rachel V. says:

      For the verb get: Get, got, have gotten.
      Learn is a regular verb: Learn, learned, have learned.

      • Dark Penguin says:

        @Rachel V. said:

        “For the verb get: Get, got, have gotten.”

        That’s an Americanism (or possibly North Americanism). Even in American, ‘gotten’ isn’t always used. “Have got”, usually with the contraction, is used to denote ownership, possession and for other figurative senses, e.g. “I’ve got a smartphone” or “I’ve got it!” or “You’ve got to do better.” OTOH “gotten” is the past participle used in senses having to do with “getting somewhere”, “getting things done”, etc. It refers more to the process you went through in the getting.

        With regard to ‘learn’, it’s slightly irregular outside of North America–learn/learnt/learnt.

  3. Amanda says:

    First mentioning I’m not being a native speaker… An irregular verb that confuses me is the verb – to sing, I have sung? I sang a song? is that right?

  4. charin .w says:

    There are seventeen words that don’t change the form whether you’re using as a present time,past or past participle,Here are…..

  5. Sara says:

    I wrote a list with ALL the irregular verbs in English on my sis’ blog. See it:

  6. Jo says:

    Someone I know recently wrote something I am not too sure about. He wrote “Have your wishes came true?” Now, since it is past tense, Is the word came or come used?

  7. venkat says:

    So which is correct? Please advise me

    I saw the accident as it happened.


    I have seen the accident as it was happening

  8. Joanne Hornsby says:

    I might be wrong about this, but “I have seen the accident as it was happening” given as correct in the irregular verb examples jarred my senses. I think the only correct way to express this thought in correct English is “I saw the accident as it happened.” Other views?

    • Rachel V. says:

      Joanne, thank you for directing this to my attention. I wrote these examples several years ago, and that incorrect verb usage must have been an oversight that no one brought to my attention before now. I will correct it.

  9. israel says:


  10. Rachel V. says:

    K: Thanks for the suggestion. This is an interesting one.

  11. K. Garner says:

    Have you included a comment on the negative with “used”? Too often this appears as “I didn’t use” or “I didn’t used”.
    “Used” appears in one verb form only. There is no past participle of “used” in the sense of “I had the habit of”. The verb exists only in the past tense and is not directly connected with the verb “to use”. Thus the correct negative form is “I used not”.

  12. sriram says:

    irregular verbs and its correct usage are really useful, however it will be better if we can add more uncommon irregular verbs to the above list.