Like many languages, English has a lot of irregular verbs, and they are not easy to learn. Many English learners spend many hours practicing them, while even native speakers get them wrong from time to time. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why they exist at all, you’re not the only one. Let’s take a look at why English has irregular verbs and why it’s important to learn them.
Play, played, walk, walked, love, loved, go, went. What’s going on?! Irregular verbs are verbs which do not follow the usual rules, which is why many of us have a hard time remembering them all. But why do they exist?
Many irregular verbs are the most common verbs, such as go, come, eat and drink. Many of these verbs come from ‘Old English’, when verb forms were even more complicated, with at least seven different types of verb formations.
Over time, English verbs became simpler and more similar to each other. Many people, particularly non-natives, used the verbs in a regular form, and over a long period of time these forms became normal.
Interestingly, the more common the verb, the less likely it is to be regular. This is the same for all Indo-European languages.
It also depends on whether you are speaking British or American English. British English contains more irregular verbs, so whereas as Americans will say ‘burned’ and ‘dreamed’, Brits will say ‘burnt’ and ‘dreamt’.
What about learning irregular verbs? Well, my only real advice is this: practice! Verbs are the most important part of learning a language, so if you want to speak good English, make sure you learn them well. Check out our previous blog on some of the best ways to learn English, or alternatively download our free app for learning irregular verbs, available now for both iOS and Android!