Regular and irregular

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Regular and irregular verbs


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Regular and irregular verbs form a major category of English verbs.They are so called because of their forms. In this Unit you are going to learn these two types of verbs and how to use them in sentences. We will begin with regular verbs.

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After studying this unit you will be able to
  • distinguish between regular and irregular verbs by their forms
  • identify these verbs in sentences
  • use these verbs correctly in sentences

Lesson Content

Regular verbs

A regular verb is a verb whose past and past participle forms are made by your adding -d or - ed or t to its base form ie its present form.They are more common and more in number than irregular verbs.There are four types of regular verbs. These are: the simple present, the presesnt continuous,the simple future,the simple past and the past participle Although this unit is not on past tense of verbs,we will need to form the past tense of some regular verbs to illustrate the point made above about how regular verbs are formed.Here are some examples of regular verbs displayed on the table below.

Regular verbs in their forms

Base Simple Present Present continuous simple future Simple past Past participle
walk walk/walks am/is/are:walking will/shall:walk walked has/have:walked
*cry cry/cries am/is/are:crying will/shall:crying cried has/have:cried
*lay lay/lays am/is/are:laying will/shall:lay laid has/have:laid
*dream dream/dreams am/is/are:dreaming will/shall:dream dreamed/dreamt has/have:dreamed/dreamt
*stop stop/stops am/is/are:stopping will/shall:stop stopped has/have:stopped
*pay pay/pays am/is/are:paying paid will/shall:pay has/have:paid
*burn burn/burns am/is/are will/shall:burn burned/burnt has/have:burned/burnt

Note: The words with asterisk deviate a bit from the normal way regular verbs make their forms. For instance,the word ‘stop’ has additional ‘p’ to form the present continuous, the past and the past participle tenses. Note also that the ‘y’ in cry, pay and lay changed to ‘i’ and followed by ‘-ed’ and ‘-d’. Note also that the words‘dream’ and ‘burn’ could have their simple past and past participle formed by addition of ‘-ed’ or ‘-t’ to thepresent tense form.

Irregular verbs

These verbs, as the name implies, are the opposite of regular verbs. Unlike the regular verbs, they are not many and therefore not common.Here are some examples displayed in the table below.

Base Simple Present Present continuous simple future Simple past Past participle
begin begins/begin am/is/are:beginning will/shall:begin began has/have:begun
bite bite/bites am/is/are:biting will/shall:bite bit has/have:bitten
*buy buy/buys am/is/are:buying will/shall:buy bought has/have:bought
*catch catch/catches am/is/are:catching will/shall:catch caught has/have:caught
*lie lie/lies am/is/are:lying will/shall:lie lied has/have:lied

Note: Take note of the following important points about irregular verbs. (a) Irregular verbs, unlike the regular ones, do not form their simple past and past participle just by adding‘d’, ‘ed’, or ‘t’ rather, they change their vowel sound and in some cases, the end of the word is changedas well. (b) Because of their very irregular nature, you must diligently learn and commit to memory the various forms of these verbs. (c) Note that a few of the verbs marked with asterisk do not follow the usual rule of the simple past and past participle forms of irregular verbs, being of different forms. For example, the verbs bring, buy and catch have the same form of both simple and past participle thus: bring/brought/brought;buy/bought/bought;catch/caught/caught. The verb to lie,meaning to speak falsehood takes the regular"d" ending for its forms in the past,thus: lying-lied,lied.

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In this unit you learnt of two categories of verbs. These are regular and irregular verbs. You also learnt of how to form each of thses verb types and how to distinguish between the two types of verbs. You also learnt of the special features that will enable you to recognise and form some of these verbs. Such special features are listed out for you in the sections in this unit titled Note.The next unit will teach you another group of verbs,namely, transitive and intranstive verbs.

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do this exercise to practise what you learnt in this unit:

i. Write the past tense and the past participle of the verbs below. ii. Arrange the verbs into two columns, namely, regular verbs in one column and the irregular verbs in another column.

play burn want know stop think buy,fall,drink,pay,eat,lie(down),write,lay and cry.

{{Reading|Do Exercise 2 on p. 15 of Brighter Grammar Book 1