In March, August and November of last year I published the first three installments of my mini-series on the use and abuse of irregular verbs in English. Here’s the fourth and second last installment:
The English language is famous (or infamous!) for its many irregular verbs. For irregular verbs, most dictionaries list all of the irregular forms along with the base form of the verb. If you aren’t sure whether a verb is regular or irregular, and the dictionary only lists the base form, you can assume it is a regular verb. Following is a list of some of the most common irregular verbs (beginning with the letters “s”), along with a usage example for each tense.
For each verb, the three forms listed are: Base Form, Past Tense, and Past Participle.
say, said, said
– I will say it when the time is right.
– She said she was hungry after we arrived.
– I would have said it then, had I known everything.
see, saw, seen
– I can see it from here.
– They saw it the moment they got there.
– At one time, that would have been seen easily from there.
send, sent, sent
– I send you my very best wishes.
– She sent the package to you yesterday.
– By the time we arrived he had already sent it.
set (as in “to place”), set, set
– Please set the table for dinner.
– We set out on our hike at dawn.
– Had that happened, we would have been all set.
shake, shook, shaken
– Before you use it, shake the bottle vigorously.
– The explosion shook the building to its foundations.
– She was very shaken up after the accident.
shoot, shot, shot
– Shoot directly at the center of the target.
– He shot the rapids without losing his balance once.
– There was a time when he would have been shot by firing squad.
shrink, shrank, shrunk, shrunken
– You can shrink it by adding warm water.
– After the rain storm hit, the tent shrank by five per cent.
– He shrunk it so much that it eventually fit him.
– By the time we got there it was a shrunken hulk.
sing, sang, sung
– She will sing the national anthem at the game tonight.
– At last year’s competition they sang their hearts out.
– They had already sung the overture by the time we arrived.
sink, sank, sunk
– Let the container sink to the bottom by itself.
– Ten minutes after the collision, it sank to the river bed.
– By the time we got there his hopes were already sunk.
sit (as in “be seated”), sat, sat
– You can sit on the bench over there.
– We sat in the left-field bleachers.
– I would have sat there all night if necessary.
slay, slew, slain
– Anyone can slay large animals with that massive sword.
– He slew the bear in front of the cave.
– She had been slain by a group of mercenaries.
sleep, slept, slept
– I can sleep right here on the couch.
– They slept fitfully while the storm raged outside.
– I was so tired after that ordeal I would have slept anywhere.
speak, spoke, spoken
– Please speak to me.
– We spoke about the problem after the service was over.
– Had I been aware, I would have spoken about it then.
spin, spun, spun
– I see that you can spin a baton with flair.
– As soon as it hit the ice the car spun out of control.
– If Frank had been there he would have spun you a good tale.
spring, sprang, sprung
– They plan to spring him from jail tonight.
– The moment the door opened they sprang into action.
– Had I known it was safe, I would have sprung right up there.
The simple examples given above are provided to show how these verbs can be used in typical situations using the base form, the past tense, and the past participle.
To see my previous blog posts on common irregular verbs, please check: March 2014 (letters “a” to “c”), August 2014 (letters “d” to “g”), and November 2014 (letters “h” to “r”).
I will be posting one more article in this irregular verbs series in a few months.
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