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Irregular lexical verb

From Teflpedia

An irregular lexical verb is a lexical verb that is also an irregular verb. These are often referred to simply as "irregular verbs", which is not inaccurate, though the group of irregular lexical verbs excludes those full modal verbs that are also irregular.

In total there are some 470 irregular verbs in English,[1] of which many, if not most, are archaic and/or infrequently used. Around 90 could be considered essential to learners, and of these, many are everyday verbs, which makes learning them easier.

A prerequisite for this article is Regular verb.

Common irregular verbs[edit | edit source]

The three primary verbs in English are irregular; these are be, have, do. These are also used as lexical verbs.

Additionally, the next nine most common English lexical verbs are irregular. These are say, go, get, make, know, think, take, see and come [2]

Pedagogy[edit | edit source]

The past tense is introduced at elementary level, and at this stage, only the preterite has to be learnt, so past participle are ignored. The verbs are roughly learned in the order of their frequency, so that English language learners typically learn the twelve most common irregular verbs before learning their first regular verb, which is want. After this, English language learners may over-regularise irregular verbs by analogy with regular verbs.

The present perfect is introduced at approximately pre-intermediate level, at which point past participles become relevant.


Grouping[edit | edit source]

English irregular verbs can be grouped into similar patterns based on their vowel changes (if any), and whether or not they take the past participle -en suffix. These are (incomplete table):

Type Example most common verb from this set Vowel change Takes -ed or -en
Invariant irregular verb put+put+put None Neither
I-A-U irregular verb begin + began + begun /ɪ - æ - ʌ/ Neither
I-U-U irregular verb win + won + won, but swing+swung+swung has more typical spelling /ɪ - ʌ - ʌ/ Neither
Long E - short E irregular verb feel + felt + felt /i: - e - e / Takes -ed
I-A-A irregular verb sit + sat + sat /ɪ - æ - æ / Neither
aɪ-aʊ-aʊ irregular verb find + found + found /aɪ - aʊ - aʊ/ Neither
əʊ-u:-əʊn irregular verb know + knew + known /əʊ - u: - əʊ/ PP -en only

References[edit | edit source]