Irregular Families

Hey, Eric here.  I hope you have enjoyed my recent article, How to Speak English Perfectly. Today, I would like to address Irregular Families. We aren’t talking about my weird Uncle Harold here.

No, it’s families of irregular verbs. Think of the uses you need these for: adjectives, conditional phrases using perfect tenses, and for describing several past or future events in sequence.  Just among past participles, all of that is available if we can just learn and remember irregular verbs. Consider for example, these families with the following endings:

-[ao]ught (e.g., Caught)

-[tt|dd]en (e.g., Written)

-[au]n[gk] (e.g., Drunk)

If you want to download an irregular verb list in PDF, just enter your email and download it for free!

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Before jumping head-first into these however, let’s cover the most important among irregular verbs; namely those often needed as auxiliary verbs.

To Do: Do-Does / Did / Done

To Be: Am-Is-Are / Was-Were /  Been

To Have: Have-Has / Had /Had

I need the infinitive To Do when I have no other helping verb and need to ask a question, negate meaning or both.

I learn. Do I learn? I do not learn. Don’t I learn?

If, by virtue of the continuous or perfect tense you encounter, there is already an auxiliary verb, use that instead of adding To Do. For example,

I have arrived. Have I arrived? I have not arrived. Have I not arrived?

I am arriving. Am I arriving? I am not arriving. Am I not arriving?

Finally,  infinitive To Be is needed as shown above in continuous tenses, but also in the assignment of characteristics and identity.

She is tired. Is she tired? She is not tired. Isn’t she tired?

Once again note we do not add To Do if not necessary, as when To Have or To Be are available.

English Irregular Verb list

Now that we have the most important irregular verbs memorized, let’s cherry pick our first irregular verb family to memorize; those that do not change at all in past and past participle forms!

Base / Past / Past Participle

Hit / Hit / Hit

Put / Put / Put

Set / Set / Set

Bet / Bet / Bet

Burst / Burst / Burst

Cost / Cost / Cost

Cut / Cut / Cut

Fit / Fit / Fit

Hurt / Hurt / Hurt

Let / Let / Let

Quit / Quit / Quit

Shut / Shut / Shut

Split / Split / Split

Spread / Spread / Spread

In the next installment of Irregular Families, we will identify and discuss another family of irregular verbs sharing common spelling patterns that make it easier to ultimately build a complete stock of useful irregular verbs which otherwise might remain stubbornly distant and  intimidating. Distant and intimidating should be reserved for descriptions of  my weird Uncle Harold. So stay tuned for more installments of Irregular Families.

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