Appendix 2. Irregular verbs: high and low vowel qualities

Except Modal verbs, English verbs have three forms. The forms help express thought about Time (PRESENT, PAST or FUTURE) and Aspect (Simple, Progressive, Perfect, or Perfect Progressive).

 

We can comprehend the Aspect as the character of activity or faculty (compare Subchapter 3.1).

 

The first form can make the Present Simple: I write.
The second form can make the Past Simple: I wrote.
The third form can make the Perfect: I have written (Present), I had written (Past), I will have written (Future).

 

The first form and the ending –ING can express activities that are Progressive in character: I am writing. Compare Appendix 1, for patterns with ING.

 

Regular verbs take the ending –ED in the second and third form. Irregular verbs may take various shapes. They happen to have vowel patterns.

 

mean     meant      meant
meet     met      met
read     read      read
[I:]     [e:]     [e:]

 

Outside English-speaking countries, these are mostly American English or British English that people learn for their Englishes. We may compare the two distinct language varieties here. Some verbs are regular in American English, although they are irregular in British English, and the other way round. When the verb can be regular and irregular in American, we list both the forms. When the regular form prevails in American, we can mark this as REG.

 

Dependent on prevalence, we can mark forms that occur mostly in British English as BRE. When the form is associated mostly with American English, we can mark it as AME. Please note that literary American English may employ irregular verb forms for versatility, and stay with regular forms for everyday usage.

 

FIRST FORM

SECOND FORM

THIRD FORM

chide

chided / chid

chided / chid / chidden

gild

gilded REG / gilt

gilded REG / gilt

learn

learned / learnt BRE

learned / learnt BRE

 

Let us remember that speech sound [L] happens to be an individualist in American English. Appendix 1 has more also about this.

 

FIRST FORM

SECOND FORM

THIRD FORM

dial

dialed AME / dialled BRE

dialed AME / dialled BRE

Most dictionaries list irregular verbs alphabetically. We list them looking to speech sound patterns. This makes remembering irregular forms much easier. We might just read a few verbs at a time and begin to remember them. The phonetic transcription is generalized.

 

The vowel chart below shows approximate positions for high, mid, and low vowels in American English. Vowel height regards the position of the tongue in the mouth (high, mid, or low). Please mind that American English is a live language and live languages change. Vowel charts and verb lists are not forever.

 

Vowel chart__High and low vowel qualities

 

I(:)

reed, [I] bid

α

lark

o(:)

naught

e(:)

head

a(:)

car

ᴜ(:)

book

æ(:)

cat

Ʌ

not

(:)

earth

 

The colon — [:] — marks the speech sounds we pronounce longer. Vowels often become a bit higher, when prolonged. Please compare “reed” [I:] and “bid” [I].

 

[ə] is for the schwa. It is a neutral vowel sound. We find it in unstressed syllables. Very often, it becomes a full vowel as in the chart, if stressed. Some transcriptions consider [Ʌ] a reduced speech sound, too. This is why the table presents it without the colon. The [æ] joins [e] and [Ʌ] qualities.

 

IRREGULAR VERBS WITH REGARD TO VOWEL HEIGHT, HIGH TO LOW

 

We may star the second and third irregular forms that can be of same shapes, in American English. We do this to notice, not to learn by rote.

 

 

1. Second and third form [I]
[I:] — [I:] — [I:]

 

beat

beat

beaten

lean

leaned REG / leant BRE

leaned REG / leant BRE

leap

leaped REG / leapt

leaped REG / leapt

 

[I] — [I] — [I]

 

Starbuild

built

built

Stargild

gilded REG / gilt

gilded REG / gilt

Stargird

girded REG / girt

girded REG / girt

Starhit

hit

hit

Starknit

knitted / knit

knitted / knit

Starrid

ridded / rid

ridded / rid

Starspill

spilled REG / spilt

spilled REG / spilt

 

 

[ɅI] — [I] — [I]

 

Starbite

bit

bitten / bit

Starchide

chid / chided

chid / chided / chidden

Starhide

hid

hidden / hid

Starlight

lit / lighted

lit / lighted

Starslide

slid

slid

 

2. Second and third form [ᴜ:]
[ᴜ:] — [ᴜ:] — [ᴜ:]

 

Starhew

hewed REG / hewn

hewed REG / hewn

prove

proved

proved REG / proven

strew

strewed

strewed REG / strewn

 

[æ:] — [ᴜ:] — [ᴜ:]

 

Starstand

stood

stood

 

3. Second and third form [з:]
:] — [з:] — [з:]

 

Starburn

burned REG / burnt

burned REG / burnt

learn

learned / learnt BRE

learned / learnt BRE

 

[I:] — [з:] — [з:]

 

Starhear

heard

heard

 

4. Second and third form [eI]
[eI] — [eI] — [eI]

 

Starinlay

inlaid

inlaid / inlain BRE

lade

laded

laded REG / laden

Starlay

laid

laid / lain BRE

Starmake

made

made

Starpay

paid

paid

shave

shaved

shaved REG / shaven

 

[ ɅI] — [eI] — [eI]

 

lie

lay

lain

 

5. Second and third form [e]
[I:] — [e] — [e]

 

Starbereave

bereft / bereaved

bereft / bereaved

Starbleed

bled

bled

Starbreed

bred

bred

Stardeal

dealt

dealt

Stardream

dreamed AME / dreamt

dreamed AME / dreamt

Starfeed

fed

fed

Starfeel

felt

felt

Starflee

fled

fled

Starkeep

kept

kept

Starkneel

knelt / kneeled

knelt / kneeled

Starlead

led

led

Starleave

left

left

Starmean

meant

meant

Starmeet

met

met

Starread

read

read

Starsleep

slept

slept

Starspeed

sped / speeded

sped / speeded

Starsweep

swept

swept

Starweep

wept

wept

 

We may think about the place and manner we make speech sounds, to remember verb patterns. Sounds [m], [p], and [b] are close in place; [v] and [f] differ on manner, just as [l] and [r]. Sounds [t], [d], [n], and [s] are close neighbors. We can compare the verbs “to beat”, “to lean”, and “to leap”.

 

[eI] — [e] — [e]

 

Stargainsay

gainsaid

gainsaid

Starsay

said

said

 

[e] — [e] — [e]

 

Starbend

bended / bent

bended / bent

Starblend

blended REG / blent

blended REG / blent

Starbless

blessed REG / blest

blessed REG / blest

Starlend

lent

lent

Starrend

rended / rent

rended / rent

Starsend

sent

sent

Starsmell

smelled REG / smelt

smelled REG / smelt

spell

spelled AME / spelt

spelled AME / spelt

Starspend

spent

spent

 

[o] — [e] — [e]

 

Starhold

held

held

 

6. Second and third form [o]
[oI] — [oI] — [oI]

 

Starspoil

spoiled

spoiled REG / spoilt

 

[I:] — [oᴜ] — [oᴜ]

 

Starcleave

cleaved REG / clove/cleft

cleaved REG / cloven

Starfreeze

froze

frozen

Starheave

heaved REG / hove

heaved REG / hove

Starspeak

spoke

spoken

Starsteal

stole

stolen

Starweave

wove / weaved

woven / weaved

 

[eI] — [oᴜ] — [oᴜ]

 

Starbreak

broke

broken

Starstave

staved REG / stove

staved REG / stove

Starwake

woke / waked

woken / waked

 

[ᴜ:] — [oᴜ] — [oᴜ]

 

Starchoose

chose

chosen

 

[oᴜ] — [oᴜ] — [oᴜ]

 

Starmow

mowed

mowed REG / mown

Starsew

sewed

sewn / sewed AME

Starshow

showed

shown / showed AME

Starsow

sowed

sown / sowed

 

[ɅI] — [oᴜ] — [oᴜ]

 

Starshine

shone / shined AME

shone / shined AME

 

[ I:] — [o] — [o]

 

Starseek

sought

sought

Starteach

taught

taught

Starshear

sheared REG / shore

sheared REG / shorn

 

[ I] — [o] — [o]

 

Starthink

thought

thought

Starbring

brought

brought

 

[ᴜ:] — [o] — [o]

 

Starlose

lost

lost

Starshoe

shod / shoed AME

shod / shoed AME

Starshoot

shot

shot

 

:] — [o] — [o]

 

Starwork

worked REG / wrought

worked REG / wrought

 

[e] — [o] — [o]

 

Starbear

bore

borne / born

Starget

got

gotten AME / got

Starsell

sold

sold

Starswear

swore

sworn

Startell

told

told

Startear

tore

torn

Startread

trod

trodden

Starwear

wore

worn

 

[æ] — [o] — [o]

 

Starcatch

caught

caught

 

[o] — [o] — [o]

 

Starsaw

sawed

sawed REG / sawn

 

[ɅI] — [o] — [o]

 

Starbuy

bought

bought

Starfight

fought

fought

 

7. Second and third form [æ]
[I] — [æ] — [æ]

 

Starsit

sat

sat

Starspit

spat / spit AME

spat / spit AME

 

[æ] — [æ] — [æ]

 

Starhave/has

had

had

 

8. Second and third form [Ʌ]
[I] — [Ʌ] — [Ʌ]

Starcling

clung

clung

Stardig

dug

dug

Starfling

flung

flung

Starsling

slung

slung

Starslink

slunk / slinked AME

slunk / slinked AME

Starspin

spun

spun

Starstick

stuck

stuck

Starsting

stung

stung

Starstink (TABOO)

stunk (TABOO)

stunk (TABOO)

Starstring

strung

strung

Starswing

swung

swung

Starwin

won

won

Starwring

wrung

wrung

 

[æ] — [Ʌ] — [Ʌ]

 

Starhang

hung / hanged AME

hung / hanged AME

 

[ɅI] — [Ʌ] — [Ʌ]

 

Star strike

struck

struck/stricken

 

[ɅI] — [Ʌᴜ] — [Ʌᴜ]

 

Starbind

bound

bound

Starfind

found

found

Stargrind

ground

ground

Starwind

wound / winded

wound

 

The diphthong [Ʌᴜ] has a low sound, [Ʌ], right next to a high one, [ᴜ]. In speech, this makes the low quality more emphasized. This is why the diphthong is listed as lower than [Ʌ] alone. Dependent on articulatory realization, the [Ʌ] of [Ʌᴜ] could be even represented as [a:].

 

9. “Craddle” patterns: generally [A] — [B] — [A], that is, returning to first form vowels.

 

[I] — ()— [I]

[I:] — [eI]— [I:]

 

eat

ate

eaten

 

[I:] — [o]— [I:]

 

see

saw

seen

 

[I] — [eI]— [I]

 

bid

bade / bid

bidden / bid

give

gave

given

 

[I:] — [e/o]— [I]

 

be

was / were

been

 

[e] — () — [e]
[eI] — [ᴜ:]— [eI]

 

take

took

taken

shake

shook

shaken

 

[o] — () — [o]

[oᴜ] — [ᴜ]— [oᴜ]

 

blow

blew

blown

crow

crowed REG / crew

crowed

grow

grew

grown

throw

threw

thrown

 

[o] — [ᴜ]— [o]

 

draw

drew

drawn

 

[o] — [e]— [o]

 

fall

fell

fallen

 

[Ʌ] — ()— [Ʌ]

[Ʌ] — [eI]— [Ʌ]

 

come

came

come

 

[Ʌ] — [æ]— [Ʌ]

 

run

ran

run

 

10. We can join perceptions on vowel vertical and horizontal values: if we like, we can call it our “weave”. Appendix 3 deals with vowel fronting.

 

Here, we can say irregular verb vowels go down and up, as well as that they go mid-to-back.

 

[I] — [æ]— [Ʌ]

 

begin

began

begun

drink

drank

drunk

ring

rang

rung

sing

sang

sung

sink

sank

sunk

shrink

shrank / shrunk

shrunk / shrunken

spring

sprang / sprung

sprung

swim

swam

swum

 

Vowel qualities may go up all the way, at the same time becoming fronted.
[ɅI] — [oᴜ]— [I]

 

drive

drove

driven

ride

rode

ridden

rive

rived / rove BRE

rived REG / riven

rise

rose

risen

shrive

shrove / shrived AME

shriven / shrived AME

smite

smote

smitten

stride

strode

stridden

strive

strived / strove

strived / striven

thrive

thrived REG / throve

thrived REG / thriven

write

wrote

written

 

Vowel qualities may go up and down, becoming backed as well.
[ᴜ] — [ I]— [ Ʌ]

 

do

did

done

 

[oᴜ] — [e]— [Ʌ]

 

go

went

gone

 

[ɅI] — [ᴜ:] — [oᴜ]

 

fly

flew

flown

 

Some vowel patterns have a tendency to become regular, in American.

 

swell

swelled

swelled REG / swollen

 

Some irregular verbs might not take any “weave” and remain unchanged.

 

put

put

put

burst

burst REG / bursted AME

burst REG / bursted AME

hurt

hurt

hurt

bet

bet

bet

let

let

let

set

set

set

cost

costed AME / cost

costed AME / cost

broadcast

broadcasted AME / broadcast

broadcasted AME / broadcast

cast

cast

cast

cut

cut

cut

thrust

thrust

thrust

 

There is no universal explanation why there are irregular forms, and why they change after some patterns and not other. History of language cannot account fully for the language learning and use of the present day. There is also no exact estimate on the number of irregular forms, as they do not make paradigms to hold for everyone. Finally, natural languages are not mathematically calculable, and computer analyses can be only ancillary.

 

We can say that natural languages belong with human brains, therefore verb patterns agree with brain natural capabilities for language.

 

We can choose on the way we speak: not all USA people speak the same. In Los Angeles, these are not only actors’ studios to master the standard, along with eastern US, and to give less of the characteristic western [r]. In New York, the “Yankee assimilation” might make phrases as “What is your name” sound as [wæt Iǯər neIm].

 

When we choose to work on particular features, it is important that we do not overemphasize, that is, exaggerate. These are never isolated speech sounds to make a language entire. For example, some learners exaggerate their [r] “as to outdo westerners”, and neglect neighboring speech sounds.

 

Feel welcome to the grammar journey, the guidance and exercises.
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