40 Irregular Verbs That Can End in “-t”

By Mark Nichol

The predominant way to represent the past tense of a verb is to add -ed, but some verbs take -t as a variant ending, or even as the only form. Here are forty such verbs, including some ubiquitous words (like left and shot) we may not even think of as having irregular forms because they are the only forms we know — for example, leaved and shooted are not options — as well as some that survive only in poetry or mock-archaic usage.

1. Bent: the only correct form of the past tense of bend, although the archaic form bended is used jocularly, for example in the phrase “on bended knee”
2. Blest: a variant form of the past tense of bless
3. Built: the primary form of the past tense of build, though builded is used in some dialects
4. Burnt: a variant form of the past tense of burn; used in favor of the primary spelling in names of pigments such as burnt orange and burnt sienna (familiar to Crayola crayon aficionados)
5. Clapt: a variant form of the past tense of clap
6. Cleft: a variant form of the past tense of cleave; also, a noun or adjective referring to a split
7. Clept: the past tense of the archaic term clepe (“name,” call”; the present-tense and past-tense words are also spelled yclepe and yclept)
8. Crept: the only correct form of the past tense of creep, except in the slang sense of being creeped out, or unsettled
9. Dealt: the only correct form of the past tense of deal
10. Dreamt: a variant form of the past tense of dream
11. Drest: an obsolete variant form of the past tense of dress
12. Dwelt: a variant form of the past tense of dwell
13. Felt: the only correct form of the past tense of feel; also, a noun referring to a type of material or a similar substance
14. Gilt: a variant form of the past tense of gild; also, a synonym for gold or a noun or adjective referring to gold plating or other surfacing, or a young female pig
15. Girt: a variant form of the past tense of gird
16. Kent: a variant form of the past tense of ken, an archaic synonym for know or recognize
17. Knelt: the primary form of the past tense of kneel
18. Leant: an alternate form of the past tense of lean, used mostly in British English but occasionally appearing in American English usage as well (pronounced “lent”)
19. Leapt: a variant form of the past tense of leap (see this related post)
20. Learnt: an alternate form of the past tense of learn, used mostly in British English but occasionally appearing in American English usage as well
21. Left: the only correct form of the past tense of leave, meaning “go,” although the past tense for leave in the sense of forming leaves is leaved
22. Lent: the only correct form of the past tense of lend
23. Lost: the only correct form of the past tense of lose
24. Meant: the only correct form of the past tense of mean (pronounced “ment”)
25. Pent: an alternate form of the past tense of pen, meaning “confine,” although the past tense for pen in the sense of writing is penned
26. Reft: an alternate form of the past tense of reave
27. Rent: an alternate form of the past tense of rend
28. Sent: the only correct form of the past tense of send
29. Shot: the only correct form of the past tense of shoot
30. Slept: the only correct form of the past tense of sleep
31. Slipt: a variant form of the past tense of slip
32. Smelt: a variant form of the past tense of smell; also, a noun referring to a type of fish or a verb for melting or reducing metal or another substance
33. Spelt: an alternate form of the past tense of spell, used mostly in British English but occasionally appearing in American English usage as well; also, a noun referring to a type of wheat
34. Spent: the only correct form of the past tense of spend
35. Spilt: a variant form of the past tense of spill
36. Spoilt: a variant form of the past tense of spoil
37. Stript: a variant form of the past tense of strip
38. Vext: a variant form of the past tense of vex
39. Wept: the only correct form of the past tense of weep
40. Went: the only correct form of the past tense of go

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6 Responses to “40 Irregular Verbs That Can End in “-t””

  • Tim

    Commenting here is quite intimidating. 🙂

    OK, so – “22. Lent: the only correct form of the past tense of loan”

    Why isn’t “loaned” the past tense of “loan?” And why isn’t “lent” the past tense of “lend?”

  • johnesh

    “Earnt”, while rare, is acceptable in British English.

  • Tony Hearn

    “22. Lent: the only correct form of the past tense of loan”. I think you will find that it is the normal past form of’ lend’, and that the past of ‘loan is ‘loaned’.

    “31. Slipt: a variant form of the past tense of strip”. Misprint for ‘slip’
    ‘slipt is an an archaic alternative to ‘slipped’, though I think rare.

    Hugh Ashton on your site (‘Three Alternatives’) quotes the New Oxford American Dictionary:
    “There was also a note about the difference between the use of “alternate” and “alternative” in American and British English – anyone writing for both markets should be very well aware of this distinction – it’s a very important linguistic distinction and is not to be ignored.” So please, Mark, don’t ignore it!! The irritation this usage arouses is borne out by the subsequent postings on the page.

  • Lena

    I commend Tony’s observation on both Lent and Slipt. Excellent!

  • Mark Nichol

    Tony:

    The errors in items number 22 and number 31 have been corrected.

    Also, I realize that many Daily Writing Tips readers are speakers and writers of British English or a variant, but I know American English, and for practical purposes I must focus on it at the expense of discussion of its sibling tongue. Perhaps we need a BE edition of DWT.

  • Sally

    You ommitted ‘kept’ and ‘swept (oh, you referenced them in the ‘lept’ article!).

    In ‘Commonwealth’ English, ‘leapt’ is fairly standard – as are ‘cleft’ and ‘reft’ (both root words are rare anyway, though we find ‘bereft’).

    As you point out, Mark, many of these are acceptable as past *participles* or participial adjectives.

    An amusing example of how outmoded some of these are occurs in the fourth line of the Australian national anthem – “Our home is GIRT by sea = surrounded by water.” Many Aussies are *still* confused by this line – older Australians, who remember the name Gertrude (often shortened to Gert or Gertie) think of a woman frolicking on the beach!

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