Irregular verbs is one of the few things we need to actually learn by heart in English. And it seems like a lot. How many do you need? How can you learn them once and for good?
Why are there three forms of verbs?
Imagine that table of irregular verbs we all have seen once.
be – was / were – been
go – went – gone
What do they mean?
The first form is written in dictionaries. You will need to use after ‘to’, in Present Simple, and in questions in Past Simple.
- I want to be an actor.
- They go on holiday in June every year.
- Where did he go?
The second form will be used to describe the actions in the past time.
- I was at home all day yesterday.
- Where were you?
- She went to Cambridge to study maths.
The third one is a part of structures with passive and in perfect tenses (have + V3). It is translated as ‘done’ (the completed action) – it is also often referred to as Past Participle.
- Where have you been?
- Have they gone to Paris or New York?
- He has gone to a party.
It’s a great idea to consult with your local teacher to get to know the translations of the irregular verbs. This way you will be able to connect what you say in your native language with English and there is a chance you will understand them better.
How many do I need to know?
There are 100 most common irregular verbs which are enough for comfortable everyday communication.
There is no need to learn 400 or 500 of them if you are still learning English.
Master 100 – remember them well, use them confidently in speaking. And then, you will be learning the more advanced ones along with increasing your level in English.
Use the flashcards
Learn them in groups
There are several groups of irregular verbs based on their phonetic similarity. For many people, it’s easier to remember 10 verbs at a time instead of cramming the whole list.
The great thing about this system is that any new verbs you will learn you will be adding to the certain groups. So, you remember them by similarity inside the group – this is an easier way. It works very well, just try.
Don’t forget that it is very important to say the verbs out loud when learning them. You will be using them in speaking that’s why be sure you pronounce them correctly.
Any alternative ways of learning irregular verbs?
I have also picked 2 fun resources you could use in your learning. They are entertaining, not just useful. I am sure they will work for you too!
Try this game from Macmillan Dictionary. The creators promise it is highly addictive!
And of course, you can’t miss the amazing rap song from Fluency MC. This video was a social media hit and still is. Just relax and repeat! Have fun! And he also has a training video, not just a song. After listening to the song, practise here.
Learn also about the most common mistakes with English irregular verbs you need to avoid