Irregular Verbs In Past Tense English

When speaking languages, there are certain set phrases that we use over and over again. These are known as vocabulary or words. A vocabulary is the collection of words you know, while a word list is a way to organize the knowledge you have found for a given language.

A slang dictionary is a special type of word list that only includes new or uncommon words or terms. Slang dictionaries typically do not include well-known words because these are usually spoken directly from context or implied through the tone of your voice, so they are already included in the first version of the dictionary!

Word lists organized by part of speech (or “field”) are very helpful when learning any language. This article will focus on this field and how it can be used to learn about past tense verbs in English.

Read a book

man read a book

When you want to check out an irregular verb, read a little bit of the word or phrase as part of another task. For example, if you are reading this article, then the next time you go for a walk, your goal is to get some exercise, so use that set up to look up the irregular past tense version of the word exercise!

You can also find the irregular past tense form of a verb by looking at the past form of the word. For instance, when you see the word run, we must use ran in this case for the past tense. So, the past active voice form of the verb to run is running.

With verbs such as study and eat, there isn’t a simple way to determine the past tense. The easiest way to know the past tense of these two verbs is to think about what person, action, and place they refer to.

For example, the past passive voice form of the verb to study is studied, which refers to something that was done for you, not made by you. And the past active voice form of the verb to eat is eaten, which means it referred to someone doing the eating for you. The past tense of eat is ate.

Looked up something online

Looked up something online

Online dictionaries are your best friend when it comes to knowing the past tense of irregular verbs. There you will find the exact same information as what we mentioned before, but organized into categories instead.

Many free online dictionaries have a separate section for every verb that includes the past form along with the formal way to say the word. This is very helpful because sometimes there is no clear indication as to how to use the verb in question!

A good rule of thumb is to look at the part of the sentence that contains the -ed ending and see if the conjugated verb matches that.

Went to the movies

This YouTube Video is a good source of 64 of the most used past tense verbs.

Many people struggle with past tenses of verbs due to the irregular way they are formed. This article will talk about some common irregular verbs, how to review their past tense forms, and what to do if you are having trouble!

First, let’s look at the regular past tense form of the verb go. In the past simple tense, we use “went” as the auxiliary and then add -ed or –ing after the present participle (the part of a word that comes right before the noun). For example, the present simple tense of the verb go is going, so one could say I am going now or He/She is going home immediately.

The past progressive tense is when you include the auxiliary verb be along with the present participle and then follow it with an additional linking phrase also using the auxiliary verb to make the past perfect. The past perfect is used for making statements that indicate action happened in the past, but setting context and time frame. It is not current or future, but instead looks back into the past.

Watched a video clip

Woman on sofa watching a video clip.


In the past, there was an easy way to tell when an irregular verb needed to be replaced with its regular form. You just had to look at the part of the sentence that contained the verb and see if it differed slightly. For example, in the sentence mentioned above, you would know that the word watched needs to be replaced with seen because of the -ed suffix.

However, this rule is no longer necessary due to another feature of English — the present subjunctive mood!

The present subjunctive mood is used for describing hypothetical situations. The most common use of the present subjunctive mood is creating phrases like “I wish I were able to do something” or “Hopefully someone will help me.”

Since verbs are the agents of actions, using the present subjunctive mood with them can create a good hypothsis about what action they would take. For instance, the phrase described earlier could be re-written as “If I could/would watch a movie, I would.”

Because of this, people have found a way to test whether or not if the verb needed to be replaced by adding the present subjunctive mood.

Looked up any words that are not listed

Someone looking something up in a book.


There’s one very common irregular verb type in all languages, and that is the so-called “irregular verbs.” These are words like can, be able to, have to, must, should, gotta, need to, want to, and many other ones.

These five regular parts make up their own rule. For example, the past tense of be is been, but people often refer to it as being gone because it sounds weaker. The past participle form of wanna is wanted, but most just say wanting because it seems simpler.

However, there are some twenty or so instances where this pattern does not apply. These are what we call irregular verbs! And they actually prove something about the way English works.

If you look at the list above, you will see that several don’t have a past form. Can’t, for instance, has no past form can’t, even though it exists! That would contradict our number two point, which said that every english word has its past form.

Another one is ought to, which doesn’t have a past oughts neither aught exist. This contradicts our number three point, which says that when you add prefixes and suffixes to a word, there has to be an existing word with those before it and after it.

Thought about doing something

Young man thinking about somehting.

When talking about actions that involve more than one thing, there are some verbs that can be tricky to use correctly. These are what we call irregular verbs.

Verbs like “to think” or “to want” are not hard to use, but they do have variations. For instance, when thinking is followed by an object, it becomes a noun instead of a verb.

I thought about eating breakfast today.

We often forget how difficult this type of verb is! Luckily, learning the past form of these verbs is easy enough. Just remember their part-verb structure!

Past simple of eat – ate

past simple of drink – drank

past simple of go out – went out

past simple of sit down – sat down

past simple of think – thought

Examples: I thought about eating nothing for lunch. I wanted to see a movie, so I decided to skip work.

These three sentences all contain the past tense version of the same word (thought). This makes them sound a little bit different, but also easier to understand.

It is important to know the past forms of regular verbs before moving onto the irregular ones.

Decided to do something

Making a decision as a team.


A verb that requires you to make an action or state-action is called an irregular verb. There are only five such verbs in the entire language, and they all start with the letter “to”. These are:

To read a book

To eat food

To go outside

To talk or chat (non-verb form)

To listen to a song

That’s it! You got this.

Asked someone to do something

Little girl does something that mother asks her to do.


As we learned before, the past tense of verb forms that begin with an irregular vowel is usually determined by what word you are replacing the -ing form with.

So if the action being done was called ‘walking’ then the past simple version would be ‘walked’, but if it was asked or told to walk then the past perfect would be ‘had walked’.

This way of forming the past tenses is known as the present participle system. There are many more to learn. Speaking to a native English speaker can help you with past tense irregular verbs and so much more. Why not book a lesson with Jim at My JSE Online today!

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Hello my name is Jim. I am from Portland, Oregon in the U.S. I have three people in my family. I run two small businesses that are English related. So you can take a look at my first blog post for more details. I am new to blogging. I was told this can help with SEO for my websites. If anyone is an SEO professional that can help me at a fair price. I would be open to some offers. But, I am looking for someone who is native Japanese who can speak and write English fluently along with Japanese and knows how to increase my ranking for, and My Japanese isn’t very good. 😢