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2.7 Verbs: Irregular Verbs
Many English verbs are irregular: their simple past and past participle forms are unpredictable.

The verbs you've been working with in Applications 12 through 17 have been regular verbs which move through their four forms in a regular way, adding either -ed or -ing to the base. But irregular verbs break that pattern. Although their present participles always end in the usual -ing, you can't count on the -ed endings for the simple past and past participle forms.

The verb to be is the most irregular of all.

You are patient with me when I am in trouble. Many times I have been glad that you were nearby.
This verb, whether it acts as an auxiliary, a main verb, or a single-word verb, appears in more forms than any other verb. Here are examples of its eight forms:

Base Simple present Simple past Present participle Past participle
I can be I am
You are
She is
I was
We were
I am being I have been

Most verbs appear in their base form for the simple present tense, but the verb to be doesn't. Instead it uses three different simple present forms. Further, the simple past tense of this verb has two forms. Chapter 12 will explain how to decide which form to use in each of these tenses. The following application will help you see what you already know about choosing the forms of the verb to be.

Application 18

The other irregular verbs have only four forms.

No other verb is as irregular as to be, but some may be unfamiliar to you. There are two versions of our list of common irregular verbs:

Whichever you use, be sure to return to this page (using your browser's "back" or "return" button) to take applications 19 and 20, listed below.

Application 19 Application 20  

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