Improve Your Spelling: Irregular Verbs Part 2

English is a very irregular language, as we all know! Whether learning it from infancy, or as an adult, there are many challenges and areas that can trip you up. Irregular verbs are one such area.


Tip: If you are serious about improving your spelling, then Troy and I highly recommend you try the popular spelling program, Ultimate Spelling. Click Ultimate Spelling for further information.*

 A regular verb is a "doing word" that follows standard rules for forming the past tense (when the action has happened in the past) and past participle (the adjectival form of the verb) are formed by adding "d" or "ed" to the verb. Here are some examples:

Verb Past Tense Past Participle
blush blushed blushed
exercise exercised exercised
juggle juggled juggled
twist twisted twisted

Now, an irregular verb is one where the "add d or ed" rule doesn't apply. You can see a list of some irregular verb forms in the first part of this article. What I wanted to talk about here is some verb forms that people think are completely incorrect, but are in fact correctly spelled options.

In these verb forms, the past participle form can be made with either "ed" or a single letter such as a "t" or an "n". 

Verb Past Tense Past Participle
burn burned, burnt burned, burnt
dream dreamed, dreamt dreamed, dreamt
leap leaped, leapt leaped, leapt
learn learned, learnt learned, learnt
misspell misspelled, misspelt misspelled, misspelt
mow mowed mowed, mown
prove proved proved, proven
prove proved proved, proven
saw sawed sawed, sawn
sew sewed sewed, sewn
shave shaved shaved, shaven
shoe shoed shoed, shod
show showed showed, shown 
sow sowed sowed, sown
spell spelled spelled, spelt
spill spilled spilled, spilt
swell swelled swelled, swollen
weave weaved weaved, woven

The "t" ending words in particular are often though to be incorrectly spelled (or spelt!), but are quite correct. They are just more commonly used in British English than in American English. They are: burnt, dreamt, leapt, learnt, misspelt, spelt.

Unfortunately there aren't any clear rules for forming these pesky irregular verbs, and it's just a matter of committing the correct forms to memory. Software such as Ultimate Spelling can really help you a lot in learning these words. 

*Troy and I recommend only products that we have tried and tested. These include Ultimate Spelling. We have agreed to receive a commission from some sales of Ultimate Spelling software because we are happy to endorse that software.


Last modified on Friday, 27 November 2015 23:40
English Language Skills (Denise)

English Language Skills (Denise)

I'm a syndicated puzzle writer, with 8 puzzle books to my name, including Word Searches for Dummies and Cracking Codes and Cryptograms for Dummies (with Mark Koltko-Rivera). I have a background in science and graphic design, and am a trained indexer. My favourite puzzles are cryptic crosswords. and my favourite books are murder mysteries and cookbooks. I am also a very keen knitter.

I write a blog all about puzzles, called Puzzling.

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