Teaching your child

Don't let irregular verbs burst your bubble

Don't let irregular verbs burst your bubble

September 16, 2005|by LISA PREJEAN

How well do you know verbs? Are your children learning correct grammar when they hear you speak? Do you sometimes wonder if what you're saying is correct?

At some point, most people ask themselves these questions.

A verb, you probably remember from English class, is a word that shows action, state of being, helps another verb or links another word to the subject.

Regular verbs are easy to use.

Take a verb such as walk.

I walk. (present tense)

I am walking. (present participle)

Yesterday, I walked. (past tense)

I have walked. (past participle)

Simple enough - just add


"-ed" to the root word and you're talking about the past. Add a helping verb and "-ing" to the root word and you've got a present participle. Add a helping verb and an "-ed" to the root word and there's your past participle.

Unfortunately, in English, there are as many exceptions as there are rules. In this case, the exceptions are called irregular verbs.

For the most part, you can't just add an "-ed" or an "-ing" to the end to change the tense of an irregular verb.

Let's say you're at a child's birthday party and a balloon comes in contact with a sharp object.

Do you say, "Oh, your balloon busted!" or "Oh, your balloon burst!"

Think about it. Read through those two sentences again. Do you have an answer?

If you picked, "Oh, your balloon burst!" give yourself a pat on the back.

How many other incorrect verbs can you spot? Look at the following sentences. If the verb is right, circle correct at the end of the sentence. If the verb is wrong, circle incorrect at the end of the sentence and write the correct verb in the blank.

1. While playing hide and seek, the little boy snuck around the corner.

Correct Incorrect ________

2. The pitcher wasn't looking, so Matt stole first base.

Correct Incorrect ________

3. All the neighbors had brung covered dishes to the gathering.

Correct Incorrect ________

4. The little boy throwed a tantrum in the middle of the store.

Correct Incorrect ________

5. Because the little girl watered her sapling, it growed into a big tree.

Correct Incorrect ________

6. Sally was attackted by bees when she went near the hive.

Correct Incorrect ________

7. We ate dinner at the Joneses' house Saturday night.

Correct Incorrect ________

8. The cricket climbed up the stem of the plant.

Correct Incorrect ________

9. She was glad that her puppy hadn't drownded when he fell in the stream.

Correct Incorrect ________

10. He was so hungry, he could have aten a horse.

Correct Incorrect ________


1. Incorrect. The correct verb form is sneaked.

2. Correct.

3. Incorrect. The correct verb form is brought.

4. Incorrect. The correct verb form is threw.

5. Incorrect. The correct verb form is grew.

6. Incorrect. The correct verb form is attacked.

7. Correct.

8. Correct.

9. Incorrect. The correct verb form is drowned.

10. Incorrect. The correct verb form is eaten.

How'd you do? If you missed zero or just one, congratulations. You are a verb whiz. If you missed two or three, you're an average verb student. If you missed four or more, you might need to review irregular verbs. Check out this Web site for help: Then take the quiz at this Web site: to see if you do any better.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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