What are irregular verbs in English and how many are there?

Irregular verbs are those that don’t follow regular conjugation rules. Those usually involve adding -d or -ed at the end of the base form of a verb. Irregular verbs do not follow these patterns either for the simple past or the past participle — or neither one of the two. Although there are around 200 irregular verbs in English, many of them aren’t commonly used at all. Below, we’ve included 117 of the most common irregular verbs for you.

Types of irregular verbs in English

Before we jump into the ultimate list of irregular verbs in English, let’s start by reviewing the four kinds of irregular verbs so you know what to expect.

Irregular verbs with the same base form, past tense, and past participle

One of the most common types of irregular verbs is also the easiest to learn. For these types of verbs, all you have to do is keep the infinitive form of the verb as is and use it for both the past tense and the past participle. Some common examples include:

  • Bid
  • Broadcast
  • Set

Irregular verbs with the same past tense and past participle

Another type of irregular verb involves those that use the same conjugation for the simple past and past participle tenses. These are also relatively easy to learn, as you’ll just have to use to remember to use the same conjugation for both tenses. Here are some examples with the base form followed by the irregular conjugation:

  • Bend → Bent
  • Build → Built
  • Get → Got

Irregular verbs with the same base form and past participle

This type of irregular verb includes the wildcards of all English verbs. While the simple past will have a unique and often irregular conjugation, the past participle will be exactly the same as the base verb. While this might sound counterintuitive, rest assured that the list of verbs in this category isn’t long. Here are some examples of verbs with the base form followed by the simple past form (remember that the past participle is the same as the base form!):

  • Run → Ran
  • Become → Became
  • Overcome → Overcame

Irregular verbs with a different base form, past tense, and past participle

Finally, we have irregular verbs where each tense is completely different from each other. While it may sound like this might be the trickiest type of verb to learn, we’ve got a few tricks to memorize them easily. Keep reading until the end of this blog to learn more! For now, here are a few examples of verbs in this category, starting with the base form followed by the simple past conjugation and the past participle:

  • Freeze → Froze → Frozen
  • Write → Wrote → Written
  • Eat → Ate → Eaten

List of the 117 most common irregular verbs in English and their past tense conjugation

Now that you’re familiar with the four types of irregular verbs in English, let’s take a look at 117 irregular verbs in English:

InfinitiveSimple PastPast ParticipleExample
To awakeAwokeAwokenI was awoken in the middle of the night by a loud bang.
To beWas/wereBeenI think I might have already been asleep by the time you called me.
To bearBoreBornEven though he wasn’t responsible for the accident, he alone bore the consequences.
To beatBeatBeatenYou beat me to the punch! I was about to say that.
To becomeBecameBecomeShe became the top swimmer in her high school.
To beginBeganBegunI rushed as much as I could, but the competition had already begun by the time I got there.
To bendBentBentI can’t use this part anymore because it’s bent.
To bidBidBidShe bid him farewell on a cold, rainy night.
To biteBitBittenLuckily, I’ve never been bitten by a snake.
To bleedBledBledI got a nosebleed last night and bled all over my pillowcase.
To blowBlewBlownI think he blew it out of proportion — it really wasn’t that big of a deal.
To breakBrokeBrokenThe handle broke as soon as I touched it.
To bringBroughtBroughtShe brought the same cookies she had brought last year!
To broadcastBroadcastBroadcastThe news report was broadcast this morning.
To buildBuiltBuiltThis house was built in the 19th century.
To burnBurned or burntBurn or burntI made some mac & cheese, but I left it in the oven too long and burnt it to a crisp!
To bustBustBustThe original dam bust from all the pressure in 1987, so they had to build a new one.
To buyBoughtBoughtShe bought him a new car for his birthday.
To catchCaughtCaughtWe caught our kid using his phone past his bedtime, so we had to take it away.
To chooseChoseChosenThe dress I had chosen is no longer in stock.
To clingClungClungThe cat clung on to the roof for dear life.
To comeCameComeI’m shocked, this news really came out of the blue.
To costCostCostEven though she bought this art piece as an investment, she had to sell it for less than what it had originally cost her.
To creepCreptCreptThe intruder crept into our house without making any noise.
To cutCutCutDue to budget constraints, the school cut its arts program last year.
To digDugDugThe dog randomly dug out a bone from the ground.
To doDidDoneIt was too late by the time he realized what he had done.
To drawDrewDrawnHe was quite impressed with the results, considering he had never drawn anything like that before.
To dreamDreamed or dreamtDreamed or dreamtThey finally moved into the home they had always dreamt of.
To driveDroveDrivenI had never driven on a coastline like this before.
To drinkDrankDrunkI had already drunk too much wine by the time we started having dinner.
To eatAteEatenI was so hungry I could have eaten a whole cow!
To fallFellFallenNathan wasn’t careful so he fell into the river.
To feedFedFedEven though it was a very long time, they kept me very well fed.
To feelFeltFeltI felt like you weren’t listening to me.
To fightFoughtFoughtI fought really hard to get to where I am today.
To findFoundFoundYou should check with the lost and found department to see if they have your card.
To fleeFledFledThey fled their war-torn country when they were just children.
To flingFlungFlungHe just grabbed my notebook and flung it out the window!
To flyFlewFlownThe bird flew away before the cat could catch it.
To forbidForbadeForbiddenTaking photos inside the museum is strictly forbidden.
To forgetForgotForgottenI had forgotten about the homework assignment, but luckily, I remembered right before the deadline.
To forgiveForgaveForgivenNo need to apologize, you’re already forgiven!
To freezeFrozeFrozenHe froze when he heard her voice.
To getGotGotI got a new pair of jeans yesterday.
To giveGaveGivenHe gave me flowers on our first date!
To grindGroundGroundDo you want to buy ground coffee or whole beans?
To goWentGoneOh, she’s already gone! She left this morning.
To growGrewGrownI didn’t like the carpet at first, but it grew on me.
To hangHungHungHe hung his laundry in the balcony and it flew off!
To haveHadHadI think he already had lunch, so we can start eating without him
To hearHeardHeardHey! I heard you’re coming to visit next month?
To hideHidHiddenThey found a hidden treasure at the beach and became rich!
To hitHitHitHe got injured while skiing because he hit a tree.
To holdHeldHeldMy cat loves being held like a little baby.
To hurtHurtHurtYour words really hurt me, so it will take some time for me to move on.
To keepKeptKeptI kept your letter after all these years.
To knowKnewKnownI wish I had known before I came all the way here!
To layLaidLaidThey laid a strong foundation before beginning construction on the megaproject.
To leadLedLedPoor management led to the bankruptcy of what once was a thriving company.
To learnLearnedLearnedI was placed two math levels above my grade because I had already learned most of what they were studying.
To leaveLeftLeftI rushed to the airport to meet there, but she had already left by the time I got there.
To lendLentLentHere are the books you had lent me.
To letLetLetOur teacher let us out of class a few minutes early.
To lieLayLainYesterday was a great day, I just lay by the beach and ate a bunch of fruits.
To loseLostLostI can’t believe I found the jacket I thought I had lost years ago!
To makeMadeMadeThis dish is what made this restaurant an international phenomenon.
To meanMeantMeantI don’t know what she meant by that, but she seems upset.
To meetMetMetI had never met someone like you.
To payPaidPaidAs long as I’m being paid, I don’t mind staying after closing.
To proveProvedProvenWe’re all innocent until proven guilty in the court of law.
To putPutPutI can’t find my scarf. I know I put it somewhere, but I can’t remember where!
To quitQuitQuitHe had already quit his job before I had a chance to convince him not to.
To readReadReadHe read her a bedtime story before putting her to bed.
To rideRodeRiddenI’ve ridden every single rollercoaster in this theme park.
To ringRangRungHe rang me up at the cash register upstairs.
To riseRoseRisenIt’s very inspiring to see how you rose from the bottom.
To runRanRunYou should have already run at least 20 miles in one go before you attempt to run a marathon.
To saySaidSaidI misunderstood what she had said.
To seeSawSeenThat was the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen.
To seekSoughtSoughtI sought some advice from my thesis advisor, but he was upset I even asked!
To sellSoldSoldFortunately, the house sold in less than two weeks.
To sendSentSentI sent my bags ahead of time so they were already at the hotel when I got there.
To setSetSetI set the table earlier today so we should be ready for dinner.
To sewSewedSewnThis one-of-a-kind, hand-sewn dress was passed on to me by my grandma.
To shakeShookShakenI’m still a little shaken from the car accident, but, thankfully, I’m okay.
To showShowedShownHe had already shown her the birthday party invite, so he ruined the surprise.
To shutShutShutI forgot to shut the window and now my room is full of mosquitoes.
To singSangSungShe sang a beautiful song at our wedding.
To sinkSankSunkThe boat sank to the bottom of the ocean after hitting an iceberg.
To sitSatSatMy mom forgot she had to pick me up from school so I just sat there and waited for her for hours.
To sleepSleptSleptI hadn’t slept that well in a really long time.
To slideSlidSlidThe dog slid down the waterslide like an enthusiastic child.
To slingSlungSlungI was already on my way out but I still slung a few pieces of candy in my bag.
To sowSowedSownThe farmers sowed diligently all day long, but soon they will be able to feast on their harvest.
To speakSpokeSpokenThere you have it, spoken like a true native!
To spendSpentSpentI spent the whole afternoon studying Spanish, and I think it’s actually paying off!
To spinSpunSpunEverything was fine at first, but things just spun out of control.
To standStoodStoodNobody dared to help after the accident, everyone just stood there in shock.
To stealStoleStolenThey stopped construction because the government found out it was being financed with stolen money.
To stingStungStungI’m very lucky because I’ve never been stung by a bee.
To stinkStankStunkAll of our fruits went bad because the power went out while we were away, so our fridge stunk terribly when we returned.
To swearSworeSwornI could’ve sworn I saw you at the mall the other day.
To swimSwamSwumI swam all the way to the island and back yesterday.
To swingSwungSwungI swung at the ball as hard as I could, but I still didn’t hit a home run.
To takeTookTakenI think what I said might’ve been taken out of context.
To teachTaughtTaughtHaving taught children for over two decades, I think I can speak to children effectively.
To tearToreTornI’m torn between these two dresses, what do you think?
To tellToldToldI’ve told you a million times to always lock the door when you leave!
To thinkThoughtThoughtLearning English is much easier than I thought.
To throwThrewThrownI threw my bags on the floor and ran to give him a hug as soon as I got home.
To understandUnderstoodUnderstoodI finally understood how to conjugate verbs in Spanish after taking a few more online classes.
To wakeWokeWokenShe woke me up right in time to make it to the airport to catch my flight.
To wearWoreWornHe wore a sharp-looking suit with a striking red tie to the gala.
To weepWeptWeptI was able to get over my last breakup, but only after I had wept for several days.
To winWonWonThey placed me with some novice players, so I had won the game before it even began.
To writeWroteWrittenI think this might be the most beautiful story ever written.

5 best strategies for learning irregular verbs

1. Group them by type

Before you set out to memorize all irregular verbs without a structure, you should group the ones you want to learn by type. Of course, you won’t memorize 100+ irregular verbs in one go, so selecting the verbs that are most important to you and grouping them by type will make it much easier for you to remember what makes that verb irregular. That way, you’ll know if you’ll need to change the entire verb or if you get to keep the stem, and if you should change them in all verb tenses or just one or two.

2. Recite the infinitive, simple past, and past participle forms

Memorizing irregular verbs can be easier if you memorize all three verb conjugations in one go. Not only will it make it easier to remember which conjugations need special attention, but you’ll also be able to create a fun rhyme in your head, which will increase your chances of remembering all three conjugations. For example, try saying the following conjugations very quickly:

  • Freeze, froze, frozen
  • Begin, began, begun
  • Sing, sang, sung
  • Stink, stank, stunk
  • Wear, wore, worn

Isn’t it kinda fun? It’s almost like you’re saying a short little tongue twister!

3. Always check if a verb is irregular

Of course, not all verbs are irregular. An overwhelming majority of English verbs are regular, so you can just follow regular conjugation rules then. However, one of the most common mistakes English learners make is conjugating irregular verbs assuming that they can be conjugated like regular verbs. Thus, any time you learn a new verb, make sure to look it up in the dictionary to double-check whether you’re dealing with a regular on an irregular verb!

4. Use spaced repetition software for hard verbs

Every now and then, you’ll run into some particularly difficult verbs that will make you mess up over and over again — and that’s totally okay! When that happens, simply add the word and its conjugations to your favorite spaced repetition software (SRS) and keep reviewing it until you’ve got it! If you don’t have an SRS tool yet, check out Anki, which is one of the favorite tools of language learners.

5. Listen to music with irregular verbs

Let’s face it, studying a new language is much more effective when it’s fun! That’s why it’s such a good idea to use music to learn a language, even for things like irregular verbs. Some fun songs that include a healthy amount of irregular verbs include:

  • Return to Sender by Elvis Presley
  • Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones
  • Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion

All three of the songs above will help you memorize some helpful irregular verbs as each one contains many irregular verbs that can be easily burned into your psyche after a few listens.

Skip the headaches with this handy list of English irregular verbs

English isn’t a conjugation-heavy language, so make sure you don’t make the easily avoidable mistakes of conjugating an irregular verb as if it were a regular verb! In this article, we’ve covered some of the most common irregular verbs, the four types of irregular verbs, and five unmissable tips to memorize all these irregular verbs!

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