How to Use Irregular Verbs

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Not all verbs are created equal. Irregular verbs are action words that don't follow the usual verb rules. Regular verbs take the ending "ed," in the past tense, but irregular verbs have different spelling for different tenses. Follow these tips to use irregular verbs properly.

  • Recognize irregular verbs like the following: arise, begin, bring, come, drink, drive, eat and freeze. Look for a list in your dictionary or online if you want to see the many irregular verbs used in the English language.

  • Write the past tense of an irregular verb using an auxiliary verb like "has." Auxiliary verbs are helping verbs that go along with regular verbs.

  • Use an auxiliary verb with an irregular verb when using the past participle as in the sentence, "The boy had forgotten about the event until he saw the sign." The auxiliary verb is "had" and the verb is "forgotten."

  • Try the verb forgot. You would say "I will forget" in the future tense and "I forgot" in the past. Add an auxiliary verb when writing the past using a past participle as in the sentence "I had forgotten."

  • Check a dictionary if you are unsure of the correct way to write the past tense of an irregular verb. You may find some verbs easy to confuse like the verb "arise" which can be "arose" and "arisen" in the past tenses.

  • Add an auxiliary verb to your irregular verb to show actions occurring at distinct times. For example, "I spoke" means it happened in the past but "I had spoken when the argument started" means the argument is the near past and the speaking occurred in the distant past before the argument started.

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