Languages change as time goes by. English verbs are a good example of this. Many verbs that were once used in an older form - such as learnt or dreamt - are now more commonly used in their modern “regular” form, learned or dreamed, with an -ed ending.
About 200 verbs have stubbornly refused to “modernize" and many seem to follow no logical pattern. For example, if the word bite were a regular verb, its past tense would be bited. But, since bite is irregular, its correct past tense is bit or has bitten.
The oddness of these irregular verbs is challenging since we use many of them in everyday speaking and writing. Each of us has at least a few that give us trouble.
Errors most often happen with two past tense forms of the verb, the simple past and the past participle:
Let's look at the verbs see and run.
- the simple past – Carson saw the sign. Jake ran after the bus.
- the past participle – (the verb form we use with have, had, was, or were) Mark has seen the ghost twice. The race was run last night.
When we confuse past tense verb forms, mistakes like these occur: Carson seen the sign. The race was ran last night.
The most confusing of all
Lay and Lie may be the irregular verbs most often used incorrectly because they really are confusing.
Lay means to place or put down. (He lays the book on the table. Julia laid her board on the snow. The hen has laid six eggs.)
Lie means to recline. (I’m going to lie down on the sand. The bicycle lay on the ground all night. The newspaper has lain on the driveway since Monday.
How can mistakes be avoided?
Look over a list of irregular verbs. Make note of the ones that cause you some confusion and then practice them in short sentences. Soon, you’ll be confident about using the Irregulars!
For more information about our tutoring program at The Literacy & Language Center, and about how we can help your child succeed, visit us at www.literacyandlanguagecenter.com