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Introduction to irregular verbs

Words like "walk" and "look" are regular verbs – they behave in a predictable way. But there's a whole class of words in English, called irregular verbs, that are harder to predict. David, KA's Grammar Fellow, explains.

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Video transcript

- Hello grammarians. Today I want to start talking about irregular verbs. That is to say verbs that are a little weird. You know, we have this idea of a regular verb that we can conjugate in all tenses and it's just going to behave in a way that we expect. Like for example the verb talk. So if we take a regular verb and we put it in the past, the present, and the future, this is what it's going to look like. Present tense, talk. Future tense, will talk. Past tense, talked, with that e-d ending. But there are plenty of verbs in English, as you have no doubt discovered, that don't follow that basic rule. Present tense is one form of the verb, then the past tense is the present with e-d tacked onto it, and then the future with will tacked onto the front. And there are plenty of words in English, as you have no doubt discovered, that don't behave that way at all. So let's take another -- let's take an irregular word like run. Present tense, run. Future tense, will run. Past tense, ran. Oh weird. Super duper weird. Now there are a lot of irregular verbs in English, but you're listening to someone with a grammar book the size of a car. So I think between the two of us we can figure this out together. But for now, let's just focus on four verbs. To be, to have, to do, and to say. So let's take these verbs and make them work for a bunch of different people in different times. So in the first person, when we're talking about ourselves, when I'm talking about myself. In the present I would say I am. I have. I do. I say. If we're talking about someone else, in the present in the singular, we would say she is, she has, she does, and she says. So the third person singular is different in the way that these words are pronounced. So am because of this entirely different word is, have doesn't become haves, it's has, and do doesn't become does, it becomes does, we actually change the vowel sound here, just like say doesn't become says, we don't say she says in standard American English, we say she says. In the present tense, we are, we have, we do, we say. And in the past tense in the first person, these four verbs form the following: I was, I had, I did, and I said. And in the plural past it was we were, we had, we did, and we said. These four verbs are some of the strangest ones in English, but they're the most important. In another video, I'm going to go through some broad rules that govern the rest of the irregular verbs in English. You can learn anything. David, out!