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

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 help talk about activities we view as Progressive in character:
I am writing.

Regular verbs take the ending ED, in the second and third forms. Irregular verbs may take various shapes and show vowel patterns.

mean meant meant
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, and the other way round. When the verb can be regular and irregular in American, we list both the forms. When either regular or irregular form prevails in American, we can mark it as PREV.

Dependent on prevalence, we can mark forms that occur mostly in British English as BE. When the form is associated mostly with American English, we can mark it as AE.

Please note that literary American English may employ irregular verb forms for versatility, and stay with regular forms for everyday usage.

chide chided / chid chided / chid / chidden
gild gildedPREV / gilt gildedPREV / gilt
learn learned / learntBE learned / learntBE

Let us remember, the speech sound <L> happens to be an individualist in American English. Appendix 1 has more.

dial dialedAE

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

For clarity, the vowel chart below shows a generalized picture 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 may not last forever.


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

The symbol <ə> is for the shwa. It is a neutral vowel sound. We find it in unstressed syllables. If stressed, the shwa most often becomes a full vowel. Some transcriptions consider <Λ> a reduced speech sound, too. This is why the table presents it without the colon.

The <æ> joins <e> and <Λ> qualities.

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

1. Second and third form: <I>
<I:> — <I:> — <I:>
beat beat beaten
lean leanedPREV / leantBE leanedPREV / leantBE
leap leapedPREV / leapt leapedPREV / leapt
<I> — <I> — <I>
build built built
gild gildedPREV / gilt gildedPREV / gilt
gird girdedPREV / girt girdedPREV / girt
hit hit hit
knit knitted / knit knitted / knit
rid ridded / rid ridded / rid
spill spilledPREV / spilt spilledPREV / spilt
<ɅI> — <I> — <I>
bite bit bitten / bit
chide chid / chided chid / chided / chidden
hide hid hidden / hid
light lit / lighted lit / lighted
slide slid slid
2. Second and third form <U:>
<U:> — <U:> — <U:>
hew hewedPREV / hewn hewedPREV / hewn
prove proved provedPREV / proven
strew strewed strewedPREV / strewn
<æ:> — <U:> — <U:>
stand stood stood
3. Second and third form: <eI>
<eI> — <eI> — <eI>
inlay inlaid inlaid / inlainBE
lade laded ladedPREV / laden
lay laid laid / lainBE
make made made
pay paid paid
shave shaved shavedPREV / shaven
<ΛI> — <eI> — <eI>
lie lay lain
4. Second and third form: <e>
<I:> — <e> — <e>
bereave bereft / bereaved bereft / bereaved
bleed bled bled
breed bred bred
deal dealt dealt
dream dreamedAE / dreamt dreamedAE / dreamt
feed fed fed
feel felt felt
flee fled fled
keep kept kept
kneel knelt / kneeled knelt / kneeled
lead led led
leave left left
mean meant meant
meet met met
read read read
sleep slept slept
speed sped / speeded sped / speeded
sweep swept swept
weep wept wept

To remember verb patterns, we may think about the place and manner we make speech sounds. The sounds <p> and <b>, or <v> and <f> differ in voicing solely; <l> and <r> share much in place, and differ in manner, similarly to <t>, <d>, <n>, and <s>. We can compare the verbs “to beat”, “to lean”, and “to leap”.

<eI> — <e> — <e>
gainsay gainsaid gainsaid
say said said
<e> — <e> — <e>
bend bended / bent bended / bent
blend blendedPREV / blent blendedPREV / blent
bless blessedPREV / blest blessedPREV / blest
lend lent lent
rend rended / rent rended / rent
send sent sent
smell smelledPREV / smelt smelledPREV / smelt
spell spelledAE / spelt spelledAE / spelt
spend spent spent
<o> — <e> — <e>
hold held held
5. Second and third form <з:>
<I:> — <з:> — <з:>
hear heard heard
<з:> — <з:> — <з:>
burn burnedPREV / burnt burnedPREV / burnt
learn learned / learntBE learned / learntBE
6. Second and third form <o>
<I:> — <o> — <o>
cleave cleavedPREV /clove/cleft cleavedPREV / cloven
freeze froze frozen
heave heavedPREV / hove heavedPREV / hove
speak spoke spoken
steal stole stolen
weave wove / weaved woven / weaved
<ᴜ:> — <o> — <o>
choose chose chosen
<eI> — <o> — <o>
break broke broken
stave stavedPREV / stove stavedPREV / stove
wake woke / waked woken / waked
<oᴜ> — <o> — <o>
mow mowed mowedPREV / mown
sew sewed sewn / sewedAE
show showed shown / showedAE
sow sowed sown / sowed
<ɅI> — <o> — <o>
shine shone / shinedAE shone / shinedAE
<I:> — <o> — <o>
seek sought sought
teach taught taught
shear shearedPREV/ shore shearedPREV / shorn
<I> — <o> — <o>
bring brought brought
think thought thought
<ᴜ:> — <o> — <o>
lose lost lost
shoe shod / shoedAE shod / shoedAE
shoot shot shot
<e> — <o> — <o>
bear bore borne / born
get got gottenAE / got
sell sold sold
swear swore sworn
tell told told
tear tore torn
tread trod trodden
wear wore worn
<з:> — <o> — <o>
work workedPREV / wrought workedPREV / wrought
<o> — <o> — <o>
saw sawed sawedPREV / sawn
<æ> — <o> — <o>
catch caught caught
<ɅI> — <o> — <o>
buy bought bought
fight fought fought
<oI> — <oI> — <oI>
spoil spoiled spoiledPREV / spoilt
7. Second and third form: <Ʌ>
<I> — <Ʌ> — <Ʌ>
cling clung clung
dig dug dug
fling flung flung
sling slung slung
slink slunk / slinkedAE slunk / slinkedAE
spin spun spun
stick stuck stuck
sting stung stung
stink (TABOO) stunk (TABOO) stunk (TABOO)
string strung strung
swing swung swung
win won won
wring wrung wrung
<æ> — <Ʌ> — <Ʌ>
hang hung / hangedAE hung / hangedAE
<ɅI> — <Ʌ> — <Ʌ>
strike struck struck/stricken
<ɅI> — <Ʌ> — <Ʌ>
bind bound bound
find found found
grind ground ground
wind wound / winded wound
Right next to the high vowel quality <ᴜ>, the quality <Ʌ> receives more emphasis, and can be listed as lower than <Ʌ> alone.
8. Second and third form: <æ>
<I> — <æ> — <æ>
sit sat sat
spit spat / spitAE spat / spitAE
<æ> — <æ> — <æ>
have/has had had
9. “Cradle” patterns return to first form vowels, in the third form.
<I:> — <eI>— <I:>
eat ate eaten
<I:> — <o/e>— <I:>
be was / were been
<I:> — <o>— <I:>
see saw seen
<I> — <eI>— <I>
bid bade / bid bidden / bid
give gave given
<eI> — <ᴜ:>— <eI>
take took taken
shake shook shaken
<o> — <ᴜ>— <o>
blow blew blown
crow crowedPREV / crew crowed
grow grew grown
throw threw thrown
<o> — <ᴜ>— <o>
draw drew drawn
<o> — <e>— <o>
fall fell fallen
<Ʌ> — <eI>— <Ʌ>
come came come
run ran run
Not only <æ> may settle below the center, on <Ʌ>.
<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
<ᴜ> — <I>— < Ʌ>
do did done
<oᴜ> — <e>— <Ʌ>
go went gone
As a starting value, <ɅI> resolves with own quality or tends towards <I>; it may round up with <o> or <ᴜ>, as we can compare throughout the listing.
<ɅI> — <oᴜ>— <I>
drive drove driven
ride rode ridden
rive rived / roveBE rivedPREV / riven
rise rose risen
shrive shrove / shrivedAE shriven / shrivedAE
smite smote smitten
stride strode stridden
strive strived / strove strived / striven
thrive thrivedPREV / throve thrivedPREV / thriven
write wrote written
<ɅI> — <ᴜ:> — <oᴜ>
fly flew flown
Some vowel patterns tend to become regular, in American.
swell swelled swelledPREV / swollen
Some verbs are irregular by remaining unchanged.
put put put
burst burstPREV / burstedAE burstPREV / burstedAE
hurt hurt hurt
bet bet bet
let let let
set set set
cost costedAE / cost costedAE / cost
broadcast broadcastedAE / broadcast broadcastedAE / broadcast
cast cast cast
cut cut cut
thrust thrust thrust