Beware of the Irregular Past Participle Forms
When reading articles on the web, especially those on personal blogs, if I see one grammatical error I hesitate to be too critical. Typos happen. When I see the same error a second time, I sense a problem.
Here are examples of the same error that occurred in two separate posts on the same site. They really stood out because overall the blogger was writing standard English.
…I’ve began to feed…
… she has began disciplining …
Television dins incorrect forms into our ears every hour of every day, and not many teachers outside the English classroom insist that their students speak a standard dialect at school. Errors with the few remaining English irregular verbs are bound to proliferate.
The most common errors with irregular verbs occur with the past participle form.
The “past participle” is the form of the verb that is used with the auxiliaries has, have, and had.
The usual error is that the writer or speaker uses the simple past where the past participle is called for.
Most English verbs form the simple past and the past participle by adding -ed to the simple present, but about 150 common English verbs do not.
More than half of these irregular verbs do not present a problem with the past participle because it’s the same as the simple past. For example:
fight fought [have] fought
find found [have] found
cling clung [have] clung
feed fed [have] fed
That leaves 65-70 irregular verbs whose past participle form is different from the simple past form. For example:
go went [have] gone
begin began [have] begun
see saw [have] seen
Most ESL sites include alphabetical lists of common irregular English verbs.
If you’d like to see a breakdown of the irregular verbs according to the form of the past participle, I’ve categorized them on my AmericanEnglishDoctor teaching site:
Category One: simple present, simple past, and past participle all spelled the same: Ex. cut cut cut
Category Two: simple past and past participle spelled the same: Ex. find found found
Category Three: past participle different from simple past: Ex. begin began begun
Browse all articles on the Grammar category or check the recommended content for you below:
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