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Understanding Irregular Verbs (English, Spanish, Preterite, List, Examples)

What are irregular verbs? And how are they different from “regular” verbs? Irregular verbs can get formed in the many verb tenses. Because of the many forms they can take, they can get quite confusing for English and non-English speakers.

Let’s learn about irregular verbs in this worksheet…

What are irregular verbs?

Irregular verbs are verbs that don’t adhere to standard patterns.

When forming the past tense and the past participle forms of regular verbs, the basic grammar rules of contemporary English require the addition of the suffixes “-ed” or “-d.”

However, irregular verbs replace their many forms with wholly unique terms when functioning as the primary verb in a phrase.

Verb /vərb/use (a word that is not conventionally used as a verb, typically a noun) as a verb.
Irregular Verb /əˈreɡyələr vərb/Irregular verbs are verbs that do not follow the normal patterns for tense and past participle. While most English regular verbs use the ending “-ed” for the past tense and participle forms, irregular verbs each have their own unique tense forms and past participles.

Difference between regular verbs and irregular verbs

It is helpful to think of irregular verbs in conjunction with dancing and singing activities. This is because “dance” is a regular verb, while “sing” is considered an irregular verb.

No major twist or surprise is involved with the conjugation of the verb “dance;” instead, you just apply the same procedure as you would with most other verbs.

Simply adding “-ed” or, in this example, just “-d” to the base form will produce both the simple past tense and the past participle forms of the verb, as the base form already ends in “e.”

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Dance – Danced – Danced

However, due to the peculiar nature of the word “sing,” the conventional principles cannot be applied.

Because “sung” is not the acceptable form of this verb, you cannot use it in this context. Instead, the verb “sing” has its own singular past tense and singular past participle forms.

Memorizing “sing’s” special forms is the only method to acquire the ability to conjugate the verb correctly.

Sing – Sang – Sung

In actual reality, you would finish with conjugations such as these:

  1. The boys sang and danced until the wee hours of the morning.
  2. She has sung on stage before so she should not be frightened.
  3. She loves music sung only by particular artists.

It makes no difference whether the verb is regular or irregular; the present simple tense is always conjugated similarly.

This involves adding a “-s” or “-es” to the end of the word for the third-person singular form. Be conscious that certain exceptions, such as the verb “be,” have specific forms for use in the present tense as well.

What are irregular subjective verbs?

Although the subjunctive forms of many Spanish verbs are irregular, all of them (with the exception of the verbs dar and estar) utilize the same ends as regular verbs.

Stem-changing verbs

There are three different categories of -ir verbs that alter their stem, and each of these verbs changes their stem in at least part of the subjunctive conjugations they can take.

1. E to IE

The stem change is maintained in all single forms (yo, t, and él) and the third-person plural (ellos).

irregular verbs
Spanish chart

2. E to I

Every form has an I in the stem, regardless of whether or not it appears in the present tense.

irregular verbs
Spanish chart

3. O to UE

The stem change is maintained in all single forms as well as the third-person plural.

irregular verbs
Spanish chart

Irregular first person singular

The vast majority of verbs, including all G verbs, that have an irregular first-person singular conjugation also employ that conjugation as the stem for the subjunctive.


  1. sea – seamos
  2. seas – seais
  3. sea – sean
  4. sepa – sepamos
Irregular verbs infographic
Irregular verbs infographic

How do you conjugate irregular verbs?

It is necessary to commit each irregular verb to memory because their conjugation does not adhere to any particular norms.

An irregular verb is a verb that, to generate the past tense, does not add the endings -ed or -d.

The name “irregular” gives the impression that these verbs are seldom used, but in reality, they are pretty common in both written and spoken communication.


  1. do – did – done
  2. go – went – gone
  3. sing – sang – sung
  4. ring – rang – rung
  5. have – has – had
  6. see – saw – seen
  7. eat – ate – eaten

List of irregular verbs

If you’re interested, here is a list of irregular verbs in the English language.

The following is a list of frequent irregular verbs that you may use as a study aid and as a fast reference tool in the event that you forget one in the future.

Base formPast simplePast participle

Base form

  1. buy
  2. find
  3. make
  4. say
  5. win
  6. become
  7. know
  8. drive
  9. drink
  10. fight
  11. begin
  12. arise
  13. beat
  14. bind
  15. break
  16. mistake
  17. sell
  18. shake
  19. spring
  20. stink
  21. weep
  22. win
  23. write
  24. tear
  25. teach

Past simple form

  1. bought
  2. found
  3. made
  4. said
  5. won
  6. became
  7. knew
  8. drove
  9. drank
  10. fought
  11. began
  12. arose
  13. beat
  14. bound
  15. broke
  16. mistook
  17. sold
  18. shook
  19. sprang
  20. stank
  21. wept
  22. won
  23. wrote
  24. tore
  25. taught

Past participle form

  1. bought
  2. found
  3. made
  4. said
  5. won
  6. become
  7. known
  8. driven
  9. drunk
  10. fought
  11. begun
  12. arisen
  13. beaten
  14. bound
  15. broken
  16. mistaken
  17. sold
  18. shaken
  19. sprung
  20. stunk
  21. wept
  22. won
  23. written
  24. torn
  25. taught

Different Variations of Irregular Verbs

When changing tenses, regular verbs follow specific patterns; irregular verbs, on the other hand, do not. Conjugation is handled differently by each of these languages.

However, there are four basic categories of irregular verbs, and being familiar with these categories should make it easier for you to learn irregular verbs.

Irregular Verbs With Different Forms in Every Tense

The most challenging irregular verbs for students of the English language are those that have various forms for the present tense, the past tense, and the past participle, all of which involve the word “had” along with the verb.

For instance, the most irregular verb in the English language is the one that simply means “to do.” This results in:

  • do/does in present tense (We do our homework.)
  • did in past tense (We did our homework.)
  • done in past participle (We have done our homework.)

Irregular Verb Forms That Have the Same Past Participle and Past Tense

Several irregular verbs only undergo one modification. Because their forms for the past tense and the past participle are the same, deciding how to conjugate them is a little bit simpler.

For instance, the word “to buy” is transformed into:

  • buy in present tense (I buy at least five books when I visit the bookstore.)
  • bought in past tense (I bought at least five books when I visited the bookstore.)
  • bought in past participle (I have bought at least five books from the bookstore.)

Irregular Verbs That Only Alter Their Form in the Past Tense

A number of irregular verbs have the same form for the present tense as well as the form for the past participle, although they do not share the same form for the past tense.

For instance, the word “to come” is transformed into:

  • come in present tense (They come to class together.)
  • came in past tense (They came to class together.)
  • come in past participle (They have come to class together.)

Verbs with Unchangeable Patterns That Are Always Irregular

Last but not least, there are irregular verbs that always retain the same form. Because the majority of these verbs finish in -t, it should be simpler to recognize them if you get them mixed up.

For instance, the verb “to put” is still in use:

  • put in present tense (I put the book in the shelf.)
  • put in past tense (I put the book in the shelf yesterday.)
  • put in past participle (I have put the book in the shelf.)

Irregular Verb Exceptions

There are a few irregular verbs that do not fully fall into any of these categories, despite the fact that the majority of irregular verbs do. These verbs are as follows:

  • beat (becomes beat in past tense and beaten in past participle) (becomes beat in past tense and beaten in past participle)
  • read (still written the same, but pronounced “red” in past tense and past participle) (still spelled the same, but pronounced “red” in past tense and past participle)

The patterns outlined above are followed by irregular verbs with the exception of these two categories.

Strong vs. weak verbs

Although they are pretty similar, strong verbs and weak verbs are frequently mistaken for one another, even though irregular verbs and regular verbs are highly similar.

Strong verbs are any verbs that alter their vowels in the past tense, such as how the I in “sing” turns to an a for the past tense.

For example, “sing” is a strong verb. On the other hand, weak verbs maintain the same vowel when translated into the past tense, such as the an in dance.

When we keep these criteria in mind, we can recognize that powerful verbs are all irregular. The source of the problem is weak verbs because a portion of weak verbs is also irregular in form.

The verb “sleep” is one of the most typical instances of an irregular and weak form of the verb:

Sleep – Slept – Slept

Even though the word “sleep” has its own unique forms of the past tense and the past participle (“slept”), it nevertheless maintains the vowel e as its primary form, which makes it a weak verb.

In a similar vein, weak verbs include those with irregular forms that do not undergo any changes, such as “bet” or “spread.”

What Percentage of Verbs in the English Language Are Irregular?

Over 200 irregular verbs may be found in the English language. Verbs like “to be,” “to have,” and “to say” are examples of these. They are among the most frequently used verbs in the English language.

Because some conjugations are worded differently, British English contains a greater number of irregular verbs than American English.

For instance, “to spell” is a regular verb in American English, where the past tense is “spelled,” but in British English, where the past tense is “spelt,” “to spell” is an irregular verb.

What exactly is the subjunctive in Spanish?

In a word, the subjunctive is a technique of describing “virtual information” in Spanish that uses verbs in a certain way.

To put it another way, rather than just expressing a fact, our emotional impression, prejudice, or attitude toward something is being discussed here.

And here is the truly important part: it’s not a tense at all; rather, it’s a mood.

When attempting to explain an activity that has already taken place, we utilize verb tenses such as the presente, the pretérito imperfecto (also known as the imperfect tense in Spanish), and the futuro.

Indicativo, subjuntivo, and imperativo are the three moods that we utilize to express how we feel about the action in question.

How to Make Use of the Subjunctive in Spanish

The subjunctive voice is called for when a statement should be taken with a grain of salt.

Naturally, some assertions are impressionistic, which implies that the extent of inevitability or indecision will rely on how the orator understands the event that they are referring to.

This is because the speaker’s perception of the event will determine how certain or unsure the statement is.

  1. We frequently utilize the indicative mood when we are sure of something.
  2. We frequently utilize the subjunctive mood when we are unsure of something.

Here is one of the simplest illustrations of this:

Indicative: Veo que estás bien – I notice you’re well.

Subjunctive: Espero que estés bien – I wish you’re well.

In the foremost illustration, we can confidently utilize the indicative mood since we can see that the individual with whom we are conversing is in good health.

Because this is how we interpret what we see, we phrase this statement as if it were a fact (using the indicative mood), even if it might not be entirely accurate.

In the latter illustration, it is unknown whether the individual is currently well or will become well shortly.

We utilize the subjunctive mood to communicate our wish and anticipation that the individual in question is doing well, even though this statement cannot be shown to be true.

The simplest method to prevent getting these emotions confused with one another is to remember the following:

  • When something is accurate or established as a reality, the indicative mood is utilized.
  • When discussing something that isn’t a fact, the subjunctive mood is the appropriate choice.

It may take the form of a wish, a possibility, or a likelihood.

It is essential to remember that the tone of either expression can be used in many contexts in place of the other, depending on the construction of the phrase.

Tenses In The Subjunctive Mood

Six distinct tenses may get used with the subjunctive mood. These tenses are determined by certain factors, such as if you are speaking about the present, the past, or the future.

1. The subjunctive present tense

I wish you to come – Quiero que vengas

2. Imperfect Subjunctive

If I were you, I would study more – Si fuera tu, estudiara más

3. Past perfect subjunctive

You should have completed the assignment prior to attending class – Hubieras realizado la tarea antes de ir a class

4. Present Perfect Subjunctive

I wish you’ve had a pleasant day – Espero que hayas tenido un buen día.

5. Future Subjunctive

Durmiere más de ser possible

6. Future Perfect Subjunctive

Hubiere descansado más el fin de semana

Present Subjunctive

In hypothetical scenarios, the Present Subjunctive is the correct tense to utilize.

We utilize this mood whenever we want to convey wants, offer commands, make requests or ideas, forbid, request, or instruct others.

When we make any of these requests, the answer we receive is always speculative because we cannot predict what the other individual will speak or do in response to our inquiry.

Comparing the Present Subjunctive with the Indicative

Comparing a subjunctive mood to an example of the indicative mood that is comparable to it is frequently the simplest and most practical approach to gaining an understanding of subjunctive moods.

Imperfect Subjunctive

Whether the primary verb in the phrase refers to the present or the past, the imperfect subjunctive mood can be used to talk about events that took place either in the past or present.

This mood is used to communicate civility and, once again, longing, anticipations, sentiments, or unknown cases. In general, this mood is used to express uncertainty.

If you wish to relate it to anything that exists in English, you might say that it is analogous to the way that conditional “If” phrases are written.

Subjunctive form of the present perfect tense

This tenor is appropriate to employ when the event we are discussing took place in the past, but its repercussions can be felt in the present or the future.

Subjunctive form of the past perfect tense

This expression is used to discuss about events that have happened in the past, but we regret that they were not finished, and we express our regret by using this expression.

Future Subjunctive

To begin, it is important to note that this mood is no longer utilized in the everyday discussion that takes place amongst native speakers.

Future Perfect Subjunctive

It represents acts that have not really taken place but are expected to be completed in a hypothetical future.

Thankfully, the conjugation is straightforward since the mood possesses an ideal structure, which we have seen earlier.

The construction uses the verb “haber” conjugated in the future subjunctive we have just discussed and the main verb’s past participle.

Common questions

What’s the difference between preterite verbs and irregular verbs (Spanish vs. English)?

When used in the present tense, the stem form of some verbs transforms into something that is not easily recognized, making those verbs genuinely irregular.

You should not consider these verbs to be stem changers since the patterns that stem-changing verbs typically follow are not followed by these verbs. These verbs likewise do not utilize the typical ends for the preterite tense, but a set of endings are used for all these irregular verbs.

Many of the verbs used most often in the language have irregular forms in the preterite tense.

irregular verbs

U-stem verbs

Even though these verbs do not have an u in their infinitive form, some irregular verbs have an u as part of the stem form of the verb in the preterite tense.

Every form of the preterite conjugation uses the irregular stem mentioned next to the verbs in the accompanying chart.

irregular verbs

I-stem verbs

There are a few verbs that have an irregular stem that include the letter i. Although some of these verbs may have been stem changers in the present tense, it is highly crucial to keep in mind that they are not regarded to be stem changers in the preterite tense. Remembering this fact is incredibly important.

The norms for a stem-changing verb in the preterite tense are not followed by i-stem verbs, in the same way that they are not followed by u-stem verbs. I-stem verbs also do not employ the typical ends that stem-changing verbs normally use.

irregular verbs

J-stem verbs

With one notable exception, the endings of the irregular preterite verbs that finish in the letter j are the same as those of the other irregular preterite verbs.

When the irregular stem ends in j, the ellos, ellas, and ustedes endings drop the letter I and become jeron. This occurs regardless of whether the stem is regular or irregular.

irregular verbs

Very irregular preterite verbs

It is necessary to just commit to memory the irregular preterite verbs since they do not conform to any patterns.

It just so happens that the forms of the verbs ser (to be) and ir (to travel) are identical in the preterite tense.

Because of the similarities between the forms of these two verbs, the preterite tenses of the verbs ver (to see) and dar (to give) are frequently learned together.

Ver makes use of the standard endings for a regular er verb in the preterite tense; it is considered an irregular verb because it lacks accent marks.

The fact that the verb dar is conjugated like ver even though it is an ar verb is one of the peculiar things about dar.

irregular verbs
irregular verbs

What is the most effective method for learning all of these irregular verbs?

  • Pay close attention every time you encounter a new verb, first in the interactive portion of your course, and then in the digital workbook.
  • Create your own examples to illustrate each new verb that you discover.
  • Participate in the online quizes about irregular verbs, or evaluate your current level of English.
  • You should maintain a journal in English and jot down a few items you accomplished each day.
  • Read a book intended for English language students. Reading is a great way to practice and review since books are complete with verbs in their past forms. This makes reading a very valuable activity. 
  • Concentrate on mastering a few irregular verbs all at once.
  • Participate in the free lessons and events offered by the social club at Wall Street English to obtain additional training in using regular and irregular verbs.


What are common irregular verbs?

Spoken, spend, forgotten, forgive, eaten, fall, broken, break, torn, tore, tell, lost, make.


  1. How To Learn Regular And Irregular English Verbs
  2. Spanish Subjunctive Simplified For Beginners
  3. Spanish subjunctive: the ultimate guide (dos & don’ts)
  4. Spanish Grammar in Context
  5. Forming the Subjunctive of Regular and Irregular Spanish Verbs
  6. Present Subjunctive: Truly Irregular Verbs
  7. What Are Irregular Verbs?
  8. Irregular verbs
  9. Irregulars in the Preterite Tense
  10. Irregular Preterite Verbs: Past Tense Spanish Made Simple
  11. What Is an Irregular Verb? Definition and Types Explained
  12. Conjugating Irregular Verbs
  13. Subjunctive: Irregular Conjugations
  14. How to Use Irregular Verbs
  15. Irregular Verbs

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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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