Irregular Verbs: Why We Need Them

Most of English verbs are irregular. It is impossible to avoid irregular verbs if you speak or write in English. Moreover, such verbs can reveal whether the speaker or writer is a native or not. The correct usage of irregular verbs also shows an educational level of a person. It is common for uneducated people to misuse irregular verbs. If you don’t want to fall into that category and give a bad impression, then you have to study grammar. Luckily for you, there are a lot of helpful grammar related articles that can help you to clarify some questions. However, if you are not a native speaker, the task of learning irregular verbs is more complicated for you. In this post, we will try to make this process as easy as possible for you and find new ways how you can learn irregular verbs.

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Regular and Irregular Verbs: What Is the Difference

English language has only two types of verbs in this regard — regular and irregular. And before we step into the field of irregular verbs, it would be helpful if we firstly understood the main points of regular verbs.

Regular verbs are called so, because they follow the regular pattern. They adhere to one rule, which states that if you want to form a past form of a verb, you have to add –ed at its end. For example:

Julie smiled to her new friend.

They never closed the door to their house.

On the contrary, irregular verbs are called so, because they don’t follow the established rules. Each of irregular verbs has its own way of forming a Past Simple and Past Participle. For example:

The children ran away to hide from the cold rain.

I saw him yesterday on my way to work.

As it was mentioned before, most of verbs in English language are irregular. In fact, even the most often used verbs are irregular, such as to be and to have. There are about 200 of them, and if you count their prefixed forms, the list would count more than 600 irregular verbs. It would be very hard and not really necessary to memorize all of them. You could speak and write perfectly well if you learn just the most commonly used irregular verbs. Nevertheless, if you are curious to see the full list, you can always find it online.

Where They Come From and Why We Need Them

A lot of language learners ask, why do we need all these irregular verbs? They only make things more complicated so why English cannot change their grammar and make all verbs regular? It is a good question, but unfortunately there cannot be a perfect clear answer to it. Langue is a complex unity that exists and evolves together with a society, and the attempts to manage it artificially almost never succeed. Some elements of grammar and words come and go, and it is connected to the way people use them. However, things cannot disappear from a language, because some grammarians decided so. There will always be opposing points of view. The same way it happened with irregular verbs in English.

Practically all English irregular verbs come from Old English or derive from strong Germanic words. Other foreign words that joined English in later times follow the standard –ed pattern. Naturally, there were discussions among linguists about reforming this part of grammar and getting rid of irregular verbs. However, the opponents of this idea claim that irregular verbs are a historical heritage of English language and it would be a crime to remove those words out of usage. Any language is not only a mean of communication, but it is also a cultural domain of the nation, which shows where the culture came from and how it evolved.

Therefore, irregular verbs have no particular functional purpose. They are just a part of the language, and all the learner can do is to respect the fact and try to learn them.

Conjugation

When you begin learning irregular verbs, you will hear a lot about conjugation. So let’s at first understand what conjugation is, so the word would not leave you confused. Conjugation is the process of creating changed forms of verbs. Conjugation varies depending on gender, number, tense, mood and other grammar aspects. However, the conjugation we discuss today is strictly limited to the tense of the verbs.

The Commonly Misused Irregular Verbs

The format of this post doesn’t allow us to present all most commonly used irregular verbs. Nevertheless, we will mention the most important ones that you will definitely need in every piece of writing, be it a letter, essay or research paper. Coincidentally, these verbs are also being very often misused. So let’s revise them and try to memorize.

Infinitive

Past Simple

Past Participle

to be

was/were

been

have

had

had

go

went

gone

do

did

done

know

knew

known

How to Learn Irregular Verbs

The question that troubles minds of most of the English learners is ‘how to learn irregular verbs?’ The most likely your teachers tell you that you just have to memorize them. It is true, that there is no special pattern or rule that you could learn in order to know how to conjugate each verb. And ultimately, memorization is the only choice you have got. However, there are different ways you can do it. Let’s look at the most effective ones:

  • Reading. As the saying goes, reading is the best type of learning. When you read English books, articles or blog posts about grammar, you inevitably stumble upon irregular verbs. It is one of the best ways to learn, because you the words are used in context, and this is how our mind remembers things;
  • Writing. If you use irregular verbs in your writing, it engages your memory in the most active way. It will guarantee that the words learned this way, will stay with you forever. All you need to do is to take an irregular verb and to create a sentence using this verb in context;
  • Flashcards. This is the method for very busy people. You can buy ready flashcards in the bookstore or download the printable set online. However, it would be better if you created them yourself, because it will be additional learning for you. You will need a stack of small square papers. On one side you write an infinitive form of the verb, and on the other side — Past Simple and Past Participle. Carry the cards with you when you go to college or work, you could revise them when you are in the public transport or waiting in line at the supermarket.

Irregular verbs are an inherent part of English language, and whether you like learning them or not, you will not be able to write a proper essay or have a conversation without them. Nevertheless, the process of memorizing the irregular verbs doesn’t have to be painful. Hopefully, after reading this article you understood how irregular verbs work and why we need them. And, these few methods from above will help you to make learning effortless and successful for you. And if you want to be sure that you conjugated the verbs in your paper correctly, you can always contact us and our editors will help you with that for a very moderate price.

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