I seem to be on a roll about Grammarbites (I have now decided on Grammarbites rather than Microgrammar), especially about verbs, which I find more interesting than anything else – I don’t know why. The first two installments are here and here.
Vs and Ving – spelling and pronunciation
All main English verbs have at least V/plain present, Vs and Ving forms. Regular verbs also have a V-ps/V-pp form, which is made by adding –ed to the V form. Irregular verbs have either no, one or two additional forms for V-ps and/or V-pp. There are about 100 common and 50 uncommon irregular verbs.
There are a few spelling and pronunciation rules for all Vs and Ving forms:
Spelling – general rule: add –s
ends with (t)ch, ss, sh, (z)z, x – add –es: reach > reaches, pass > passes, wish > wishes, buzz > buzzes, mix > mixes
ends with –o – add –es: do > does (note the change of pronunciation), go > goes
ends with consonant + y – change y to i and add –es: carry > carries
ends with /tʃ/, /dʒ/, /s/, /ʃ/, /z/, /ʒ/, /ks/ – pronounced as an extra syllable: reaches, changes, passes, wishes, buzzes, rouges, mixes
ends with /p/, /t/, /k/, /θ/, /f/ (unvoiced) – pronounced /s/: keeps, gets, makes (the silent e doesn’t change this pronunciation rule), baths (the baby), stuffs
ends with /m/, /n/, /ŋ/, /b/, /d/, /g/, /v/, /ð/, /l/ and all vowels (voiced) – pronounced /z/: comes, means, brings, describes, finds, drags, gives, breathes, tells, is, has, does, goes
Spelling – general rule: add -ing
ends with e – delete the e, add –ing: have > having
ends with short vowel + short consonant – double the consonant, add –ing: get > getting
Pronunciation: some native English speakers change all Vings to Vin: bein, havin, doin. This is often written as bein’, havin’, doin’.
Regular V-ps – spelling and pronunciation
All regular English verbs have a V-ps/V-pp form made by adding –ed to the V form: looked, wanted, worked, needed, seemed …
There are a few spelling and pronunciation rules:
Spelling – general rule: add –ed
ends with e – add –d: use > used
ends with consonant + y – change y to i and add –ed: carry > carried
ends with short vowel + short consonant – double the consonant and add –ed: stop > stopped
ends with /t/, /d/ – pronounced as an extra syllable: wanted, needed
ends with /p/, /tʃ/, /k/, /θ/, /f/, /s/, /ks/, /ʃ/ sounds (unvoiced) – pronounced /t/: helped, reached, looked, bathed (the baby), stuffed, passed, fixed, wished
ends with /m/, /n/, /ŋ/, b, /dʒ/, /g/, /v/, /ð/, /z/, /ʒ/, /l/ sounds and all vowels (voiced) – pronounced /d/: seemed, turned, belonged, described, changed, dragged, moved, breathed, used, rouged, called, tried
Dictionaries do not include the V-ps/V-pp form of regular verbs, as these can be made by applying the rules above.
Irregular past tense verbs either do not change at all – put put put – or change in ways other than adding –ed – beat beat beaten, come came come, say said said (this is the most common group), see saw seen (this is the most important group, and the hardest to learn and remember).
Dictionaries include the V-ps and V-pp forms of irregular verbs, almost every dictionary and textbook has a list of common ones, and almost every English language classroom has a poster of them. There are no patterns: you must learn and remember each one.
Irregular V-ps (and V-pp)
Although there are no patterns for irregular verbs, there are a few small groups. These are (there may a few more words in some groups, but these are certainly the most common ones):
similar to put (no change for V-ps and V-pp)
beat (or beat beat beaten), bet, bid, burst, cast, cost, cut, fit (or fit fitted), hit, hurt, knit (or knit knitted), let, quit, set, shed, shut, spit (or spit spat), split, spread
similar to come (V-pp is the same as V)
become became become, run ran ran
similar to say (V-ps and V-pp are the same)
• lay laid, pay paid
• bind bound, bleed bled, breed bred, cling clung, dig dug, dive dove (or dive dived), feed fed, find found, fling flung, get got (or get got gotten), hang hung (or hang hanged), light lit (or light lighted), hold held, lead led, meet met, read read, shine shone (or shine shined), shoot shot, sit sat, slide slid, spin spun, spit spat (or spit spit), spring sprung, stick stuck, swing swung, strike struck (or strike struck stricken), win won, wind wound
• flee fled, hear heard, say~says said, sell sold, tell told
• deal dealt, feel felt, keep kept, kneel knelt, leave left, lose lost, mean meant, sleep slept, sweep swept, weep wept
• bend bent, build built, lend lent, send sent, spend spent
• bring brought, buy bought, catch caught, fight fought, seek sought, teach taught, think thought
• have had, make made, stand stood, understand understood
similar to see saw seen (V-ps and V-pp different)
• beat beat beaten (or beat beat beat)
• saw sawed sawn, show showed shown, swell swelled swollen
• bid bade bidden, blow blew blown, draw drew drawn, eat ate eaten, fall fell fallen, forbid forbade forbidden, forgive forgave forgiven, give gave given, grow grew grown, know knew known, see saw seen, shake shook shaken, show showed shown, take took taken, throw threw thrown
• bear bore born/borne, bite bit bitten, break broke broken, choose chose chosen, forget forgot forgotten, freeze froze frozen, get got gotten (or get got), hide hid hidden, lie lay lain, speak spoke spoken, steal stole stolen, swear swore sworn, tear tore torn, wake woke woken, wear wore worn, weave wove woven
• drive drove driven, fly flew flown, ride rode ridden, rise rose risen, stride strode stridden, strike struck stricken (or strike struck), strive strove striven (or strive strived), write wrote written
• begin began begun, drink drank drunk, ring rang rung, sing sang sung, sink sank sunk, swim swam swum
• be are am is were was been, do does did, go went gone
Some verbs have a regular V-ps/V-pp form alongside an irregular form.
• fit fitted/fit, knit knitted/knit
• burn burned/burnt, creep creeped/crept, dream dreamed/dreamt, kneel kneeled/knelt, lean
leaned/leant, leap leaped/leapt, learn learned/learnt, smell smelled/smelt, speed speeded/sped, spell spelled/spelt, spill spilled/spilt, spoil spoiled/spoilt
• dive dived/dove, light lighted/lit, shine shine/shone, strive strived/strove strived/striven
Two forms, non-standard forms
Some verbs have two forms which are (usually) used in different contexts.
bear bore born/borne
Born is used in passive voice to refer to birth with the focus on the baby: Her three children had been born before she was 21. Borne is used to refer to pregnancy and birth with the focus on the mother: She had borne three children before she was 21.
Hanged is usually used to refer to a means of execution: They hanged the prisoner in the courtyard. Hung is used in all other contexts: They hung the banner in the courtyard.
strike struck struck/stricken
Stricken can be used in passive voice to refer to sudden death, disease, suffering or fear: I was stricken/struck by a serious illness. Struck is used in all other contexts: I was struck by a serious thought.
Some verbs exist right on the boundary between regular and irregular, standard and non-standard forms.
Pled probably just classifies as standard because of its use in the very formal context of US law: They pled (not) guilty. Even then, pleaded (not) guilty is more common, as are pleaded their innocence and pleaded with the judge.
Sneaked is definitely, but snuck has increased in use over the last 50 years. Many language commenters seriously disapprove of it, but it’s here to stay, especially in informal speech.
Dragged is definitely standard, but drug is used especially in informal speech in US English.
Older forms, V-pps as adjectives
Some forms and spellings were used in older periods of English and still just exist as alternative spellings, especially as adjectives in old-style cafés and restaurants (whipt cream, alongside whipped) or in religious worship (blest, alongside blessed). In other cases, the regular spelling is the older form: layed, alongside laid, and payed, alongside paid. Though note the difference between A: Please relay my message. B: I have already relayed your message and A: Please relay (re–lay) my carpet. B: I have already relaid (re–laid) your carpet.
Most V-pps can be used as adjectives, and some now exist largely or wholly as adjectives, usually in set phrases:
a forlorn hope (from forlese, to lose completely)
a graven image (from grave, to carve or cut, compare (x) a graved image and engrave, an engraved image)
a heavy-laden or heavily laden truck (from lade, to fill or load, compare a heavy-loaded or heavily loaded truck)
unkempt hair (from comb, compare uncombed hair)
molten metal (from melt, compare melted metal)
pent-up emotions (from pen, to enclose, compare penned-up emotions)
a misshapen body (from shape, compare a misshaped body, (?) a shaped body)
an overwrought person (from work, compare an overworked person)
a clean-shaven (or cleanly shaven) man (from shave, compare a clean-shaved or cleanly shaved man, (?) a shaven or shaved man)
sodden with rain (from seethe, to boil (that is, covered in water), now only used for cooking or ‘with anger’)
a staid person (from stay, that is, one who stays the same).
Longer irregular verbs, different patterns
Almost all the most common irregular verbs have just one syllable. Longer irregular verbs are all built by adding a prefix to a one-syllable one: become, forbid, forget, forgive, understand (even if the meaning is very different). Sometimes words look like they might be related but aren’t: relay (carpet) is related to lay, so we have relaid (alongside relayed (a message)), but delay isn’t related, and is regular.
Other similar multi-syllable irregular verbs are: alight, awake, forecast, foresee, forego, foretell, miscast, mislead, misread, mistake, misunderstand, offset, outspread, overcome, overhear, overeat, override, oversee, overrun, overshoot, overthrow, overtake, overwrite, partake, prepay, preset, rebuild, recast, redo, redraw, relay, repay, reread, remake, reset, rewrite, rethink, telecast, undo, unwind, undergo, undertake, upset, uphold, withdraw, withhold. A very small number are made with a ‘real’ word as a prefix: babysit, breastfeed, broadcast, proofread, sightsee, sublet, waylay. All of these are generally used in the same ways as the one-syllable verbs they are based on.
Sometimes similar words have different patterns:
bid (in an auction or card game) – bid bid bid and bid (say farewell, or command) – bid bade bidden
bind (tie) – bind bound and bound (jump) bound bounded
find (discover) – find found and found (establish) – found founded
lie (in bed) – lie lay lain, lay (an egg, a table) – lay laid laid and lie (tell an untruth) – lie lied (see here and here)
ring (a bell, on a phone) – ring rang rung and ring (surround) – ring ringed
see – see saw seen and saw (wood) – saw sawed sawn
wind (twist, wrap a bandage) – wind wound [/waʊnd/] and wound [/wu:nd/] (injure) – wound wounded.