Irregular Verbs

First the good news - all new verbs in English are regular.

However, that doesn't help you to learn the approximately 180 irregular verbs which do exist. Luckily some of these are extremely rare but many others are very useful and you need to know them.

So how do you learn them? Some teachers think you should learn a list of them 'by heart'. Other teachers think you should not learn them at all – you will just gradually acquire them over time.

One useful method is to note down new irregular verbs as you meet them. But how should you note them?

It is useful to put these verbs (or any vocabulary you want to learn) into sentences and learn those rather than the individual word.

Which do you think is easier to learn?

stick stuck stuck

I stuck the photo into my album.

Another good technique is to classify the irregular verbs into 4 categories.

1. All forms the same

cost cost cost

set set set

2. Similar sound groups

beat beat beaten

eat ate eaten


blow blew blown

throw threw thrown


drink drank drunk

sing sang sung


speak spoke spoken

wake woke woken

3. The second and third forms are the same.

bend bent bent

sleep slept slept

spend spent spent


bring brought brought

buy bought bought

teach taught taught


have had had

pay paid paid

say said said

4. The "unclassifiables"

come came come

do did done

go went gone

show showed shown

As you meet new irregular verbs, try to decide in which category they fall.



exercise 1

exercise 2

exercise 3

exercise 4

exercise 5

exercise 6

Return to List of Grammar Lessons

You will find different grammar exercises and more grammar explanations on our sister site English Grammar Secrets