Irregular Verbs

March 16th, 2023 in Grammar by April Michelle Davis 0

To make a verb past tense, we usually add –ed to the end of a verb. For example, “help” changes to “helped,” “shop” changes to “shopped,” and “move” changes to “moved.” These are called regular verbs.

However, verbs like “get,” “hold,” and “have” are irregular and do not follow any clear pattern when making the shift to the past tense.

The problem with irregular verbs is that the only real way to know them is to memorize them. Still, even if you do become pretty confident in your ability to recognize and conjugate an irregular verb, you may notice that there are some competing past tense forms of irregular verbs.

Is it “dreamed” or “dreamt”?

In America, we say “dreamed,” “burned,” and “learned,” but British English speakers say “dreamt,” “burnt,” and “learned.” Why is this?

In Old English, regular verbs used to be the exception rather than the rule. Over time, English evolved in a way so that many verbs became simpler and regular. For some reason, the British chose to hang on to Old English words like “dreamt” while Americans chose to regularize these words.

Shined vs. Shone

This type of verb evolution also explains why many people are confused as to whether the past tense of “shine” is “shined” or “shone.” The truth is there’s no easy answer. Some writers prefer to use “shone” when talking about light-emission and “shined” when talking about polishing an object.

He shone the flashlight into the room.

I shined my shoes this morning.

“Shined” and “shone” are becoming more and more interchangeable. We might take this as proof that our language is constantly evolving.