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Verbs - Irregular Past Tense - 1

Verbs - Irregular Past Tense - 1

 

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Irregular Past - 1

 

 

Hello! In this lesson, we will learn to use some of the irregular past tenses. In a previous lesson, we learned how to form and use the simple past tense. We learned to change the base form of the verb, like "bake" to the simple past tense, like "baked".  

Irregular past tenses are also the simple past tense. But they do not end with the familiar "-ed" as the other simple past tense forms do. The most common past verbs tend to have irregular past tenses – through much use, they have undergone changes.

The irregular forms fall into groups according to the changes that the verb has undergone. We must memorize the irregular past tense forms, since there is no sure way of predicting which verbs will have which form in the irregular past tense. We will look at the irregular forms of the verbs we have used in previous lessons.

The irregular past tense group which best shows the usage of the irregular past tense is the group which makes specific vowel changes in the word. We have learned three of those verbs: "bring, buy," and "think". The past tense form of the verb "to bring" is "brought". The past tense form of the verb "to buy" is "bought", and the past tense form of "to think" is "thought". Let us look at an example of a set of questions and answers with one of these verbs.

In the simple present tense, we can form questions for the pronouns" I, you, we," and "they" with the auxiliary verb "do". For example, we might ask "Where do you buy books?" An answer in the simple present tense might be "I buy books at the bookstore.". In the simple present tense, we can form questions for "he, she, it", and names like "Jennifer" or "Mr. Smith" with the auxiliary verb "does". For example, in the simple present tense, we might ask "Where does Jennifer buy books?".  An answer in the simple present tense might be "Jennifer buys books at the bookstore.".

Compare the simple present tense questions and answers to these examples in the simple past tense. Questions in the simple past tense make use of the auxiliary verb "did". In the simple past tense, we form questions for the pronouns "I, you, we, they, he, she, it," and names such as "Jennifer" or "Mr. Smith" with the auxiliary verb "did". For example, in the simple past tense, we might ask "Where did you buy books?". An answer might be "I bought books at the bookstore.".  In the simple past tense, we might ask "Where did Jennifer buy books?". An answer in the simple past tense might be "Jennifer bought books at the bookstore.".

The irregular group which is the easiest to learn is the group in which no changes are made: the base form of the verb is the same as the simple past tense. We have learned three of those verbs: They are "put, hurt", and "cut". Let us look at an example of a set of questions and answers with one of these verbs.

In the simple present tense, we might ask: "Where do you put your books?". An answer might be: "I put my books on the bookshelf.". In the simple present tense, we might ask "Where does Jennifer put her books?" An answer might be "Jennifer puts her books on the bookshelf.".

In the simple past tense, we might ask "Where did you put your books?".An answer might be "I put my books on the bookshelf.". In the simple past tense, we might ask "Where did Jennifer put her books?". An answer might be "Jennifer put her books on the bookshelf.".

Some of the sentences look exactly the same in the simple past tense as in the simple present tense. You will see some examples when we look at the dialog.
And, as we learn in some upcoming lessons, we will not use the simple past tense form when we make a negative sentence in the simple past tense.

Now that you have an idea of how to form and use these six irregular past tense verbs, listen to the dialog. In this dialog, David is getting ready for work. He is looking for his keys.

David:  Jennifer, I am going to work. Where did you put my car keys?

Jennifer:  I put them on the table.

David:  What did you buy for my lunch?

Jennifer:  I bought tuna, for tuna salad sandwiches.

David:  Did you cut my sandwiches?

Jennifer:  Yes, I cut your sandwiches.

David:  Where did you put them?

Jennifer:  I put them in the refrigerator.

David:  Thank you. Oh, I was looking for my keys.

Jennifer:  That is what I thought.  

Now that we have learned how to form and use these six irregular past tense verbs, let us take a look at the sentences in the dialog.

David starts the conversation by telling Jennifer he is going to work and asking "Where did you put my car keys?". We notice that David uses the question word "did" in this question. The question word "did" signals that the question is in the simple past tense. The answer will need to be in the simple past tense.

Jennifer answers "I put them on the table.".If this sentence occurred in isolation, we would not know whether it was in the simple present tense or the simple past tense. Both tenses would form this sentence in the same way: "I put them on the table.". How do we know whether this sentence is in the simple present tense or the simple past? We must use context to decide. Since the question was inthe simple past tense, we can discern that the answer is also in the simple past tense.

David next asks "What did you buy for my lunch?". Since the question contains the question word "did", we know that this question is a simple past tense question.

Jennifer answers "I bought tuna, for tuna sandwiches.". The past tense form of the verb "buy" is very different from its base form, so it is evident that this sentence is in the simple past tense.

David then asks "Did you cut my sandwiches?".We notice that David uses the question word "did" in his question, signaling that this question is in the simple past tense.

Jennifer answers "Yes, I cut your sandwiches.". Like the an earlier sentence, if this sentence occurred in isolation, we would not know whether it was in the simple present tense or in the simple past tense. We know from context – the question – that this is intended to be in the simple past tense. The simple present tense sentence would look exactly the same.

David asks "Where did you put them?". Since David uses the question word "did" in his question, we know that this question is in the simple past tense.

Jennifer answers "I put them in the refrigerator.". Like the possible confusion of an earlier sentence, if this sentence occurred in isolation, we would not know whether it was in the simple present tense or in the simple past tense. We know from context – the question – that this is intended to be in the simple past tense. The simple present tense sentence would look exactly the same.

Finally, David remembers that he was originally looking for his keys. Jennifer answers "That is what I thought.". We notice that Jennifer uses the simple past tense – the irregular past tense of the verb "think".

Now that you understand the sentences form the dialog, let us listen to the dialog again. Listen for the signal for past tense questions – the question word "did".

David:  Jennifer, I am going to work. Where did you put my car keys?

Jennifer:  I put them on the table.

David:  What did you buy for my lunch?

Jennifer:  I bought tuna, for tuna salad sandwiches.

David:  Did you cut my sandwiches?

Jennifer:  Yes, I cut your sandwiches.

David:  Where did you put them?

Jennifer:  I put them in the refrigerator.

David:  Thank you. Oh, I was looking for my keys.

Jennifer:  That is what I thought.  

Great! You have learned six of the irregular past tenses. The forms are worth the time you spend memorizing them, since you will use them again and again.  Begin using them in your English conversations.