“Pet” or “Petted”? “Grit” or “Gritted”?
Verbs usually become regular, but some verbs are becoming irregular. Find out about why some verbs buck the trend.
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Regular Verbs Versus Irregular Verbs
The answer is that some irregular verbs are more irregular than others, and even within irregular verbs, you can sometimes find patterns of regularity. One of these patterns is noticeable enough to have started spreading to other verbs. The irregular verbs we’re interested in today are the ones whose past tense and past participle are exactly like their plain form. The verb “split” is an example. You’d say, “I split the wood yesterday,” and “I had split the wood, before I remembered that Fenster said he’d do it.”
The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language lists 15 verbs besides “split” that behave this way.”
bid, burst, cast, cost, cut, hit, hurt, let, put, set, shed, shut, slit, spread, thrust
It also lists several verbs that have both irregular and regular past-tense and past-participle forms:
bet, bust, fit, quit, rid, wed, wet
So for example, you might say, “When I tried it on, the dress fit perfectly,” or “Aardvark carefully fitted the cover on top of the bowl.”
A Song About Verbs
To help you remember these 23 unusual verbs, here’s a little song:
[to tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”]
Bid and rid and burst and bust,
Spread and wed and shed and thrust,
Split and cost, cut and slit,
Hit and hurt, shut and quit,
Cast and fit and bet and set,
Lastly put and let and wet.
Why Are These Verbs Different?
Besides all having past tenses that are identical to their plain form, there are three other things these verbs have in common.