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Learn About What Makes a Verb “Regular” or “Irregular”

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What makes a verb “regular” or “irregular”? We’ll go over the distinction and provide examples of both types of verbs.

What's the difference between an Irregular verb vs Regular Verb? | Learn more below.
Do you know the difference between regular and irregular verbs?
Quick Summary on Regular and Irregular Verbs
  • Regular verbs follow typical conjugation patterns (like dance/danced/danced), whereas irregular verbs do not (like drive/drove/driven).
  • It is the simple past tense and past participle of an irregular verb that has no usual pattern to follow. Take the verb hide as another example:
    • He hid in the closet. (Simple past tense)
      He had hidden in the closet several times before. (Past participle)

“Regular Verb” vs. “Irregular Verb”

If you can form the simple past tense and past participle of a verb simply by adding “–edor “–d” to it, then it’s a regular verb. A verb that doesn’t follow these patterns is an irregular verb. Below, we’ll go over what past tense and past participle means, elaborate on the differences between regular and irregular verbs, and provide examples.


Verb Forms: Past Tense and Past Participle

Let’s dive in.

All verbs in the English language (except for to be), have five forms: base form (infinitive), past tense, part participle, present participle, and third-person singular (or –s form).

  • Base form: (to) talk
  • Past tense: talked
  • Past participle: talked
  • Present participle: talking
  • Third-person singular: talks

When figuring out if a verb is regular or irregular, the forms you have to consider are past tense and past participle.

Past tense refers to something that happened in the past. For example, the past tense of jump is jumped.

The kids jumped in the bounce house.

Past participle refers to an action that was started and completed in the past. Auxiliary verbs (e.g., to have) precede past participles.

The kids have jumped in the bounce house.

Past tense and past participle are similar, but past tense leaves open the possibility that the action will continue to occur in the future. The kids jumped in the bounce house (and might continue to jump again later on). However, the kids have jumped in the bounce house implies the jumping started and ended (there’s no more jumping happening later on).


What Are “Regular Verbs”?

When the past tense and past participle of a verb is formed by adding “–ed” or “–d”, it’s a regular verb.

We honor our ancestors.
(Base)
We honored our ancestors.
(Simple past)
We had honored our ancestors every year for the past 20 years.
(Past perfect with past participle included)
Are verbs regular or irregular?
“Honor” is a regular verb.

Examples of “Regular Verbs”

Base

Past Tense

Past Participle

love

loved

loved

obey

obeyed

obeyed

watch

watched

watched

act

acted

acted

enjoy

enjoyed

enjoyed


What Are “Irregular Verbs”?

When a verb’s past tense or past participle form doesn’t follow the “–ed” or “–d” pattern, then it’s an irregular verb.

We will fly from New York to San Francisco.
(Base)
We flew from New York to San Francisco.
(Simple past)
We had flown from New York to San Francisco.
(Past perfect with past participle included)
Do you understand what is the difference between a regular and irregular verb?
“Fly” is an irregular verb.

Irregular verbs are challenging because their conjugation patterns vary and are unpredictable.

Examples of “Irregular Verbs”

Base

Past Tense

Past Participle

fall

fell

fallen

choose

chose

chosen

draw

drew

drawn

break

broke

broken

sing

sang

sung


Mastering “Regular Verbs” and “Irregular Verbs”

One of the most difficult aspects of verbs is learning to conjugate irregular verbs. Unfortunately, because there are no patterns to follow, the best way to remember them is through practice and familiarization.

If you want to ensure you’re always using a word's correct past tense and past participle, use LanguageTool as your spelling and grammar checker. This multilingual writing assistance can detect incorrect use of verbs and enhance your writing by suggesting stylistic improvements.


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