Appendix 3. Irregular verbs, back and front vowels

As all live languages, American English is not a monolith. It has regional varieties. We mark regional forms as R, “regional”.

Edition in progress.

Regional varieties have second and third forms the same more often — we may compare the forms for “chide” or “hide”.

chide chid chid
hide hid hid


Regional variants also may follow a front-to-mid pattern more often.

We may mark this with a flourish.

spin spanR spun

Regular forms may prevail in standard American. They are not a novelty, however. King James’ Bible has a form as “builded”, for example.

Archaic or obsolete forms are those out of regular use. We do not

need to predict which forms might be alive; we can mark

forms that occur rarely as A, “aged”.

We will find our aged forms especially in poetry. Authors ― also American ― have used the forms for adjectives. We may follow in our wrought writings; we yet always have choice as learned people.




The prejudice about the language standard is that it excludes regional variety or prescribes which verb forms might ever be in use. Neither is true. These are prescriptive attitudes to language, and not language itself, to try to make rulings.


1. Second and third forms <o> – <o>

<oI> — <oI> — <oI>

The <oI> resolves in y as in year, backed more than <o> alone.

spoil spoiled /spoilt spoiled/spoilt
<o> – <o> – <o>
saw sawed sawed/sawn
<ᴜ:> – <o> – <o>
lose lost lost
shoe shod/shoed shod/shoed/shoddenR
shoot shot shot/shottenR
<з> — <o> — <o>
work worked/wroughtA (transitive sense) workedPREV / wroughtA (transitive sense)
<ɅI > — <o> — <o>
buy bought bought
fight fought/foutR/fitR fought/foughtenR/foutR/ fitR
<æ> — <o> — <o>
catch caught/catchedR caught/catchedR
<e:> — <o> — <o>
bear bore borne/born/boreR
sell sold sold
swear swore/swareR sworn/sworeR
tear tore/tareA torn/tareA/toreR
tell told told
tread trod/treaded trodden/trodR/treadR
wear wore worn/woreR

Please compare:

To bear, to lower the prices; beared <e>, beared <e>.

To tear <tI:r>, to fill with tears, shed tears; teared <I:>, teared <I:>

<I> — <o> — <o>
bring brought/ brangR / brungR/ broughtenR brought/ brangR / brungR/ broughtenR
seek sought sought
shear sheared/shoreR sheared/shorn
teach taught taught
think thought/thunkR thought/ thunkR
<ou> — <o> — <o>
mow: to cut, crop mowed mowed/mown
mow: to pile as in a haymow mowed mowed
mow: to make faces mowed mowed
sew: to stitch sewed sewed/sewn
show showed showed/shown
sow sowed sowed/sown
Please compare to sew, to drain of water; sewed, sewed.

<ᴜ> — <o> — <o>

choose chose chosen/choseR
<ɅI> — <o> — <o>
shine shone/shined shone/shined
<eI> — <o> — <o>
break broke/brakeR broken/brokeR
stave stove/staved stove/staved
wake woke/waked woken/waked/wokeR
<I:> — <o> — <o>
cleave: to separate clove/cleaved/cleft/claveA cloven/cleaved/cleft/
cleave to: to adhere clove/cleaved/claveA clove/cleaved
freeze froze/frizR frozen/frozeR/frizR
heave hove/heaved/hovedR hove/heaved/hovenA&R
speak spoke/spakeA spoken/spokeA
steal stole stolen/stoleR
weave: to interlace wove/weaved woven/weaved
Please compare to weave: to waver; weaved <I:>, weaved <I:>.

2. Second and third forms <:> — <:>

<æ> — <:> — <:>

stand stood stood

3. Second and third forms <з> — <з>

<з> — <з> — <з>

burn burned/burnt/brentR/bruntRBE burned/burnt/brentR/bruntRBE
learn                      learned/learntBE           learned/learntBE
<I> — <з> — <з>
hear    heard/hearedR / hearnA heard/hearedR / hearnA
4. Second and third forms <Ʌ> — <Ʌ>

<ɅI> — <Ʌ> — <Ʌ>

strike struck struck/stricken
<Ʌ> — <Ʌ> — <Ʌ>
thrust thrust thrust
<æ> — <Ʌ> — <Ʌ>
hang hung/hanged hung/hanged
<e> — <Ʌ> — <Ʌ>
get got/gatA got/gotten
<I> — <Ʌ> — <Ʌ>
cling clung/clangA clung
dig dug dug
fling flung/flangR flung
sling: to throw slung/slangR slung
sling: to put in a sling slung/slinged slung/slinged
slink slunk/slinkedR/slankR slunk
spin spun/spanR spun
stick stuck stuck
sting stung/stangR stung
stink (TABOO) stunk/stankR stunk
string stringed/strung/strangR stringed/strung
swing swung/swangR swung
win won won
wring wrung wrung
Please compare:

To cling: to make a metallic sound; clinged, clinged.

To sling: to drink alcohol (TABOO); slung/slinged, slung/slinged.

To stick: to arrange, to support with a stick; sticked, sticked.

Please compare the regional British to win: to reside (intransitive) winned, winned., and to win as to dry, won, won.


<ɅI> — <Ʌ> — <Ʌ>

bind bound bound/boundedA
find found found
grind ground/grindedR/groundenA ground/grindedR/ groundenA
wind: to warp winded <ɅI> / wound winded <ɅI> / wound
wind: to blow a horn winded <ɅI> / wound winded <ɅI> / wound
Please compare to wind, to limit the breath, to expose to wind, dry; winded <ɅI>, winded <ɅI>, and to wind, to smell a scent;

winded <ɅI>, winded <ɅI>.

5. Second and third form <e> — <e>

<o> — <e> — <e>

hold held/hiltR held/holdenR
<e> — <e> — <e>
bend bent/bendedR bent/bendedR
blend: to blind, to deceive (aged, transitive only) blend/blentA blent/blendedA
blend: to mix blendedPREV / blent blendedPREV / blent
bless blessedPREV / blest blessedPREV / blest
lend lent lent
rend rended/rent rended/rent
send sent sent
smell smelledPREV / smeltBE smelled/smeltBE
spell spelled/speltBE spelled/speltBE
spend spent spent
Please compare:

To blessA: to shake, brandish (a weapon); blessedA, blessedA.

To spell: to take turns, to allow to rest; spelled, spelled.

To spell: to becharm; spelled, spelled.


<eI> — <e> — <e>

gainsay gainsaid gainsaid
say said/saidestA/saidstA said

Please compare to say: to assay, to try, to test;

(as)sayed <eI>, (as)sayed <eI>.

<I> — <e> — <e>
bereave bereaved/bereft bereaved/bereft/bereavenA
bleed bled/bleededR bled/bleededR
breed bred bred
deal dealt dealt
dream dreamed/dreamt dreamed/dreamt
feed fed fed
feel felt felt
flee fled fled
keep kept kept
kneel kneeled/knelt kneeled/knelt
lead led led
lean leaned/ leantBE leaned/leantBE
leap leapedPREV / leapt leapedPREV / leapt
leave left left
mean meant/meanedA meant/meanedA
meet met met
read read read
sleep slept slept
speed speeded/sped speeded/sped
sweep swept swept
weep wept wept
Please compare:

To bleedR: to be drained for, e.g. money (in the passive) TABOO;

bleededR <I:>, bleededR.

To bleedR: to produce or to make pass (baseball slang) TABOO;

bleededR <I:>, bleededR.

To lead <led>, to cover in lead; leaded <e>, leaded.

To lean, to make inclined; leaned <I:>, leaned.

To leave: to produce leaves; leaved <I:>, leaved.

To mean: to mediateA; meanedA <I:>, meanedA.


<ɅI> — <eI> — <eI>

lie: to repose lay lain/lienA <Iə>
Please compare to lie <ɅI>, to make a false statement; lied <ɅI>, lied.

<eI> — <eI> — <eI>

inlay inlaid inlaid
lade laded laded/laden
lay laid laid
make made made
pay paid paid
shave shaved shavedPREV /shaven
Please compare:

To pay: to slacken (a rope, for example); paid/payed, paid/payed.

To shave: to reduce in amount; shaved, shaved.

6. Second and third forms <I> — <I>

<ɅI> — <I> — <I>

bite bit bitten/bitR
chide chided /chid/chodeA chided /chid/chidden
hide hid hidden/hid
light: to brighten lighted/lit lighted/lit
light: to dismount lightedPREV / lit lightedPREV / lit
slide slid/slidedR/slodR slid/slidedR/sliddenA
Please compare:

To hide: to punish by beating TABOO; hided <ɅI>, hided.

To be/feel slided: to be/feel cheated or wasted (in the passive) TABOO; slided <ɅI>, slided.

To slip-slide: to become lower in grade; slip-slided <ɅI>, slip-slided.

<I> — <I> — <I>cccc
build built/buildedA built/buildedA
gild gilded/gilt gilded/gilt
gird girded/girt girded/girt
hit hit hit
knit knitted/knit/knetR knitted/knit/knetR
rid ridded /rid ridded /rid
spill spilled /spilt spilled /spilt
Please compare:

To girdBE: to strike, to mock; girdedBE, girdedBE.

<I:> — <I:> — <I:>
beat beat beaten/beatR/betR

7. We may view irregular patterns as back-to-front.

<ɅI:> — <oᴜ> — <I:>

drive drove/draveA/drivR/druvR driven/droveA/ drivR/druvR
ride rode/ridR/radeR ridden/ridR/rodeR
rise rose/riseA/rizR risen/rizR
rive rived/rove rived/riven
shrive shrived/shrove shrived/shriven
smite smote/smit smitten/smote/smit
stride strode stridden
strive strived/strove strived/striven/stroveR/
thrive thrived/throve thrived/thriven
write wrote/writR written/wroteR/writR
The <I> in <ɅI:> becomes a glide’ it sounds as the y in “you”.

8. We also may view irregular patterns as front-to-mid.

<I> — <æ> — <Ʌ>

begin began/begunR begun
drink drank/drunkR/drinkedR drunk/drankR/drinkedR/ drunkenA
ring rang rung
shrink shrank/shrunkR shrunk/shrunken
sing sang/sungR sung/sangR
sink sank/sunkR sunk/sunken
spring sprang/sprungR sprung
swim swam/swumR swum/swamR
Please compare:

To ring: to put on or form a ring; ringed <I>, ringed.

To spring: to supply with springs; springed <I>PREV / sprung,

springed <I>PREV / sprung.


<I> — <æ> — <æ>

sit sat/sotR/sateA sat/sotR/sittenA
spit spit/spat spit/spat/spittedR/spittenA
Please compare to spit: to fix (like) with a spit, that is, a pointed rod; spitted, spitted.

9. Third form vowel quality may recur to the base form.

<o> — <ᴜ> — <o>
draw drew/drawedR drawn
know knew/knowedR known/knowedR
<o> — <e> — <o>
fall fell fallen
<o> — <ᴜ> — <o>
blow: to make a current of air blew/blowedR blown/blowedR
blow, (aged, to blossom) blewA blown/bloweA
crow crowedPREV / crew crowed
grow grew/growedR grown/growedR
throw threw/throwedR/trunR thrown/throwedR
<Ʌ> — <æ> — <Ʌ>
run ran/runR run
<Ʌ> — <eI> — <Ʌ>
come came/comeR/comedR come/comedR
<eI> — <ᴜ> — <eI>
shake shook/shakedR/shakenR shaken/shakedR
take took/takenR taken/tookR
<I> — <eI> — <I>
bid bade/bid/badA bidden/bid/bade
give gave/give/givR/guvR given/givR/guvR
<I:> — <o:> — <I:>
see saw/seedR/seenR seen/seedR/sawR
<I:> — <o:/e:> — <I:>
be was/were been
<I:> — <eI> — <I:>
eat ate/eatR eaten/eatR
Learning, we may focus on particular speech sounds.
<:> — <I> — <Ʌ>
do did/doneR/didstA done
<ou> — <e> — <Ʌ>
go went/goedR gone/wentR
<ɅI> — <U> — <oU>
fly flew flown
<e> — <e> — <o>
swell swelled swelled/swollen
The verb to have remains “focused”.



<æ> — <æ> — <æ>

have/has had had


Let us try an exercise.

Exercise 31. Let us think if we could “sum up” verb forms. If we look these here up in a dictionary, we will find that word sense may not be a mere sum. Let us think what the three verb forms would be:


become, befall, beget, behold, beseech, beset, betake, bethink, forbear, forbid, forecast, foreknow, foresee, foretell, forget, forgive, forsake, forswear, hamstring, miscast, misdeal, misgive, mislay, mislead, misspell, misspend, mistake, misunderstand, outbid, outdo, outgo, outgrow, outride, outrun, outshine, overbear, overcast, overcome, overdo, overhang, overhear, overlay, overleap, overlie, overlook, override, overrun, oversee, overshoot, oversleep, overtake, overthrow, partake, recast, remake, repay, rerun, reset, retell, rewrite, unbend, unbind, underbid, undergo, understand, undertake, undo, waylay, withdraw, withhold, withstand.