Top irregular verbs in English

Although irregular verbs might seem challenging at first, the truth is you don’t need to worry too much. It’s essential to recognize which verbs are irregular and which are not, so you can avoid simple mistakes. Also, understanding the four types of irregular verbs will help you categorize them easily and get the conjugation right when speaking or writing.

Are you prepared to begin? This useful guide will explain everything you need to know about irregular verbs in English, including the most frequently used ones, along with five expert tips for mastering them. Let’s start!

What are irregular verbs in English and how many are there?

Irregular verbs are different from regular ones because they don’t follow the typical conjugation rules. Regular verbs often end with -d or -ed when changing forms. However, irregular verbs don’t follow these patterns for either the simple past or the past participle — sometimes not for both. While English has about 200 irregular verbs, many of them are not frequently used. Here, we’ve listed the most common irregular verbs for you.

Types of irregular verbs in English

Before we delve into the comprehensive list of irregular verbs in English, let’s first review the four types of irregular verbs so you know what to expect.

Irregular verbs with consistent base form, past tense, and past participle:

This type is among the most common and easiest to learn. With these verbs, you simply maintain the infinitive form for both the past tense and past participle. Examples include:

  • Bid
  • Broadcast
  • Set

Irregular verbs with the same past tense and past participle:

Another type involves verbs that share the same conjugation for both the simple past and past participle. These are relatively straightforward to remember, as you use the same conjugation for both tenses. Examples include:

  • Bend → Bent
  • Build → Built
  • Get → Got

Irregular verbs with consistent base form and past participle:

This category comprises the wildcard verbs of English. While the simple past may have a unique and often irregular conjugation, the past participle remains identical to the base verb. Although this may seem counterintuitive, the list of verbs in this category is not extensive. Examples include:

  • Run → Ran
  • Become → Became
  • Overcome → Overcame

Irregular verbs with distinct base form, past tense, and past participle:

Finally, we encounter verbs where each tense is entirely different from the others. Although this might appear challenging to learn, we have some tricks to help you memorize them easily. Keep reading to discover more! For now, here are examples of verbs in this category, featuring the base form followed by the simple past conjugation and the past participle:

  • Freeze → Froze → Frozen
  • Write → Wrote → Written
  • Eat → Ate → Eaten
InfinitiveSimple pastPast participleExample
To awakeAwokeAwokenI was awoken in the middle of the night by a loud bang.
To beWas/wereBeenI think I might have already been asleep by the time you called me.
To becomeBecameBecomeShe became the top swimmer in her high school.
To beginBeganBegunI rushed as much as I could, but the competition had already begun by the time I got there.
To bidBidBidShe bid him farewell on a cold, rainy night.
To biteBitBittenLuckily, I’ve never been bitten by a snake.
To bleedBledBledI got a nosebleed last night and bled all over my pillowcase.
To breakBrokeBrokenThe handle broke as soon as I touched it.
To bringBroughtBroughtShe brought the same cookies she had brought last year!
To buildBuiltBuiltThis house was built in the 19th century.
To burnBurned or burntBurn or burntI made some mac & cheese, but I left it in the oven too long and burnt it to a crisp!
To buyBoughtBoughtShe bought him a new car for his birthday.
To catchCaughtCaughtWe caught our kid using his phone past his bedtime, so we had to take it away.
To chooseChoseChosenThe dress I had chosen is no longer in stock.
To comeCameComeI’m shocked, this news really came out of the blue.
To costCostCostEven though she bought this art piece as an investment, she had to sell it for less than what it had originally cost her.
To cutCutCutDue to budget constraints, the school cut its arts program last year.
To digDugDugThe dog randomly dug out a bone from the ground.
To doDidDoneIt was too late by the time he realized what he had done.
To drawDrewDrawnHe was quite impressed with the results, considering he had never drawn anything like that before.
To dreamDreamed or dreamtDreamed or dreamtThey finally moved into the home they had always dreamt of.
To driveDroveDrivenI had never driven on a coastline like this before.
To drinkDrankDrunkI had already drunk too much wine by the time we started having dinner.
To eatAteEatenI was so hungry I could have eaten a whole cow!
To fallFellFallenNathan wasn’t careful so he fell into the river.
To feedFedFedEven though it was a very long time, they kept me very well fed.
To feelFeltFeltI felt like you weren’t listening to me.
To fightFoughtFoughtI fought really hard to get to where I am today.
To findFoundFoundYou should check with the lost and found department to see if they have your card.
To flyFlewFlownThe bird flew away before the cat could catch it.
To forgetForgotForgottenI had forgotten about the homework assignment, but luckily, I remembered right before the deadline.
To forgiveForgaveForgivenNo need to apologize, you’re already forgiven!
To freezeFrozeFrozenHe froze when he heard her voice.
To getGotGotI got a new pair of jeans yesterday.
To giveGaveGivenHe gave me flowers on our first date!
To goWentGoneOh, she’s already gone! She left this morning.
To growGrewGrownI didn’t like the carpet at first, but it grew on me.
To haveHadHadI think he already had lunch, so we can start eating without him
To hearHeardHeardHey! I heard you’re coming to visit next month?
To hideHidHiddenThey found a hidden treasure at the beach and became rich!
To hitHitHitHe got injured while skiing because he hit a tree.
To holdHeldHeldMy cat loves being held like a little baby.
To hurtHurtHurtYour words really hurt me, so it will take some time for me to move on.
To keepKeptKeptI kept your letter after all these years.
To knowKnewKnownI wish I had known before I came all the way here!
To layLaidLaidThey laid a strong foundation before beginning construction on the megaproject.
To leadLedLedPoor management led to the bankruptcy of what once was a thriving company.
To learnLearnedLearnedI was placed two math levels above my grade because I had already learned most of what they were studying.
To leaveLeftLeftI rushed to the airport to meet there, but she had already left by the time I got there.
To lendLentLentHere are the books you had lent me.
To letLetLetOur teacher let us out of class a few minutes early.
To loseLostLostI can’t believe I found the jacket I thought I had lost years ago!
To makeMadeMadeThis dish is what made this restaurant an international phenomenon.
To meanMeantMeantI don’t know what she meant by that, but she seems upset.
To meetMetMetI had never met someone like you.
To payPaidPaidAs long as I’m being paid, I don’t mind staying after closing.
To proveProvedProvenWe’re all innocent until proven guilty in the court of law.
To putPutPutI can’t find my scarf. I know I put it somewhere, but I can’t remember where!
To quitQuitQuitHe had already quit his job before I had a chance to convince him not to.
To readReadReadHe read her a bedtime story before putting her to bed.
To rideRodeRiddenI’ve ridden every single rollercoaster in this theme park.
To ringRangRungHe rang me up at the cash register upstairs.
To riseRoseRisenIt’s very inspiring to see how you rose from the bottom.
To runRanRunYou should have already run at least 20 miles in one go before you attempt to run a marathon.
To saySaidSaidI misunderstood what she had said.
To seeSawSeenThat was the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen.
To sellSoldSoldFortunately, the house sold in less than two weeks.
To sendSentSentI sent my bags ahead of time so they were already at the hotel when I got there.
To setSetSetI set the table earlier today so we should be ready for dinner.
To showShowedShownHe had already shown her the birthday party invite, so he ruined the surprise.
To shutShutShutI forgot to shut the window and now my room is full of mosquitoes.
To singSangSungShe sang a beautiful song at our wedding.
To sitSatSatMy mom forgot she had to pick me up from school so I just sat there and waited for her for hours.
To sleepSleptSleptI hadn’t slept that well in a really long time.
To sowSowedSownThe farmers sowed diligently all day long, but soon they will be able to feast on their harvest.
To speakSpokeSpokenThere you have it, spoken like a true native!
To spendSpentSpentI spent the whole afternoon studying Spanish, and I think it’s actually paying off!
To spinSpunSpunEverything was fine at first, but things just spun out of control.
To standStoodStoodNobody dared to help after the accident, everyone just stood there in shock.
To stealStoleStolenThey stopped construction because the government found out it was being financed with stolen money.
To stingStungStungI’m very lucky because I’ve never been stung by a bee.
To swearSworeSwornI could’ve sworn I saw you at the mall the other day.
To swimSwamSwumI swam all the way to the island and back yesterday.
To takeTookTakenI think what I said might’ve been taken out of context.
To teachTaughtTaughtHaving taught children for over two decades, I think I can speak to children effectively.
To tearToreTornI’m torn between these two dresses, what do you think?
To tellToldToldI’ve told you a million times to always lock the door when you leave!
To thinkThoughtThoughtLearning English is much easier than I thought.
To throwThrewThrownI threw my bags on the floor and ran to give him a hug as soon as I got home.
To understandUnderstoodUnderstoodI finally understood how to conjugate verbs in Spanish after taking a few more online classes.
To wakeWokeWokenShe woke me up right in time to make it to the airport to catch my flight.
To wearWoreWornHe wore a sharp-looking suit with a striking red tie to the gala.
To winWonWonThey placed me with some novice players, so I had won the game before it even began.
To writeWroteWrittenI think this might be the most beautiful story ever written.

3 best strategies for learning irregular verbs

Here are three effective strategies for mastering irregular verbs:

Organize them by type

Before tackling all irregular verbs randomly, categorize them based on their patterns. Since memorizing over 100 irregular verbs at once can be overwhelming, prioritize those most relevant to you and group them by type. This approach simplifies understanding what makes each verb irregular. It helps you recognize whether you need to alter the entire verb or just the stem, and whether the changes apply to all verb tenses or only specific ones.

Say them out loud  

Memorizing irregular verbs becomes more manageable when you learn all three verb conjugations together. This not only aids in remembering which conjugations require special attention but also allows you to create a memorable rhyme. For instance, try quickly reciting these conjugations:

Freeze, froze, frozen

Begin, began, begun

Sing, sang, sung

Wear, wore, worn

Doesn’t it feel like a fun tongue twister?

Always check if a verb is irregular

Not all verbs are irregular; the vast majority follow regular conjugation rules. However, a common mistake among English learners is treating irregular verbs as regular ones. Therefore, whenever you encounter a new verb, consult a dictionary to confirm whether it’s irregular or regular.