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Eat, ate, eaten... Verbs in English don't always follow the -ed pattern, so we're focussing on irregular verbs in this session. Listen to 6 Minute Vocabulary, and then do some activities to show off your verb skills!

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6 Minute Vocabulary

Verbs, verbs, verbs

In this programme we look at the difficult subject of irregular verbs: verbs that don't behave normally. Unfortunately, not all verbs take -ed in the past and perfect tenses. For example, look at what happens to the verb choose in the past simple and present perfect:

  • I chose a black dress last time (past simple)
  • I've chosen a black dress again (present perfect)

Note: Past participle

In the last sentence, the word chosen is what we call the past participle. The past participle is used in the present perfect (I have chosen), the past perfect (I had chosen), passives (it is chosen) and adjectives (the chosen one).

To do

Listen to this episode of 6 Minute Vocabulary. In the programme, Mike says his phone is missing. But who took it? Mike thinks Neil has taken it. Is Mike right?

문서 읽고 엑티비티를 하세요

스크립트 보기 스크립트 숨기기

Catherine     
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. I'm Catherine.

Finn
And I'm Finn. Actually Catherine, sorry I'm late.

Catherine
You should be.

Finn
It's taken me forever to get here!

Catherine
I know.

Finn
The bus took hours.

Catherine
Oh did it really, Finn? But you usually take the train.

Finn
I missed it today.

Catherine
OK, no problem. Because actually, Finn, you've introduced today's topic with the words: take, took, taken...

Finn
Ah yes, irregular verbs.

Catherine
That's right. We're going to look at three different groups of irregular verbs. So, let's start by listening to Mike and Neil's conversation. And poor Mike can't find his phone.

Finn
Oh no. While you listen, think about this question: How many times has Abdullah rung?

INSERT
Mike
Have you seen my phone, Neil?

Neil
Well, I haven't taken it.

Mike
I didn't say you 'took' it. I just said 'Have you seen it?'

Neil
I saw it on your desk this morning.

Mike
I can't see it here! I've got to ring Abdullah. He rang again today. He's rung me five times this week...  

Neil
I'll ring it for you - I'll just get my phone... out... of... my pocket... Oh, this is your phone! You put it on my desk by mistake... So, where have I put my phone? I always put it in my pocket...

Catherine
So we asked you: How many times has Abdullah rung this week?

Finn
And the answer is: five. He's rung five times this week.  

Catherine
Ring... rang... rung. So, the past simple of ring is rang, and the past participle is rung. 

Finn
There are several irregular verbs like ring, with different forms for the base verb, past simple and past participle.

Catherine
The verb take, for example, which we had earlier. Listen out for it in this clip.

INSERT CLIP 1
Neil
Well, I haven't taken it.

Mike
I didn't say you 'took' it. I just said 'Have you seen it?'

Neil
I saw it on your desk this morning.

Mike
I can't see it here!

Finn
So the verb take changes to took in the past simple...

Catherine
...and taken in the past participle.

Finn
We also heard see, saw and seen.

Catherine
...three different forms again. See is the main verb, saw is the past simple...

Finn
...and seen is the past participle.

Catherine
Other verbs that follow this pattern are write, wrote, written...

Finn
...break, broke, broken...

Catherine
...speak, spoke, spoken...

Finn
...and choose, chose, chosen.

Catherine
Good. Now, in the clip we also heard say and said. The verb say belongs to a different group of irregular verbs.

Finn
Yes, verbs in this group have just two different forms. For example, with say, said, said, the past simple and the past participle are the same.

Catherine
Other verbs in this second group are:

Finn
Tell, told, told; have, had, had; lose, lost, lost...

Catherine
...meet, met, met; find, found, found.

Finn
Very good. Now, in the third group of irregular verbs we are looking at today, all three forms are the same.

Catherine
Listen to this clip and see if you can spot an example.

INSERT
Neil
Oh, this is your phone. You put it on my desk by mistake... So, where have I put my phone? I always put it in my pocket...

Finn
So, we had put, put, put - all three forms are exactly the same.

Catherine
Other verbs in this group include cut, cut, cut; let, let, let and shut, shut, shut.

IDENT          
You’re listening to bbclearningenglish.com

Catherine
And we're talking about three different groups of irregular verbs. In one group, the verb is the same in all three forms, like put, put, put.

Finn
In another group the verb is the same in two of its forms, like say, said, said.

Catherine
...and in the third, and biggest group, all three forms are different, like take, took, taken. 

Finn
And now, it's quiz time! Question one. What are the three forms of the verb shut – as in shut the door?  

Catherine
And the answer is shut, shut, shut.

Finn
That's right. Number two. What are the three forms of the verb find - as in find some money

Catherine
And the answer is find, found, found.

Finn
And number three: Which of these verbs is different in all three forms: a) have, b) choose or c) let?

Catherine
And the answer is b) choose, chose, chosen. The others are a) have, had, had and c) is let, let, let.

Finn
And that's the end of the quiz, quiz, quiz. Well done if you got them right.

Catherine
And now, today's top tip, tip, tip for learning vocabulary: most good grammar books and websites have verb tables. So find a good one, print it if you can, and check it regularly. Use a highlighter pen to mark the verbs that you find tricky or that you really need to know.

Finn
There's more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.

Both              
Bye!

Downloads

You can download 6 Minute Vocabulary from our Unit 12 Downloads page. Remember, you can also subscribe to the podcast version.

So, it was Neil who took Mike's phone. But it was an accident, so we'll forgive him! Have a look at the grammar notes. We'll do some practice on the next activity page.

Verbs with three different forms

Take is an irregular verb which has three different forms:

  • infinitive = take
  • past simple = took
  • past participle = taken

We can refer to the forms as: take, took, taken. Other verbs which follow this pattern include:

  • break, broke, broken
  • choose, chose, chosen
  • ring, rang, rung
  • see, saw, seen

Verbs with two different forms

  • find, found, found
  • have, had, had
  • lose, lost, lost
  • meet, met, met

Verbs with only one form

  • cut, cut, cut
  • let, let, let
  • put, put, put
  • shut, shut, shut

Next

Well done. Now it's time to see how much you remember about these three categories of irregular verbs, as we do an activity to test your general understanding.

Session Vocabulary

  • Irregular verbs with three forms:

    break, broke, broken
    choose, chose, chosen
    ring, rang, rung
    see, saw, seen
    take, took, taken
    write, wrote, written

    Irregular verbs with two forms:

    find, found, found
    have, had, had
    lose, lost, lost
    meet, met, met
    say, said, said
    tell, told, told

    Irregular verbs with one form:

    cut, cut, cut
    let, let, let
    put, put, put
    shut, shut, shut