Mastering Irregular Verbs: The Key to Higher IELTS Score

student learning irregular verbs

Irregular verbs play a vital role in the English language, so it’s important to understand them. In this article, discover what irregular verbs are and some practical tips to help you use them confidently.

What are irregular verbs and regular verbs?

You probably already know this, but just to clarify; verbs are broken down into three forms:

  • The base form: The verb
  • The past tense: Describing an action that happened in the past
  • The past participle: Describing a completed action

For regular verbs, you would usually add an “-ed” or “-d” to the end of the base form to make it past tense or past participle. For example:

  • The base form: Borrow
  • The past tense: Borrowed – “I borrowed some money.”
  • The past participle: Borrowed – “The money was borrowed.”

However, irregular verbs are a bit different because they don’t follow this rule. Why are they important? Well, they’re actually used a lot in English conversations, especially during the IELTS test. So, getting to know them beforehand is a smart move.

Navigating the four categories of irregular verbs

You’ve likely encountered various types of irregular verbs in your English studies, but knowing them inside and out can really help you boost your IELTS test score.

Chances are that you’re no stranger to these examples, but let’s make sure we’re all in sync. Here are the four different categories of irregular verbs.

#1 – All the same forms

These unique verbs keep their original form, no matter what tense they’re used in.


  • Shut
  • Hit
  • Burst
  • Cut
  • Set

#2 – The same base form and past participle

These verbs share the same base form and past participle, but they have different past tense forms.

Base form Past tense Past participle
Run Ran Run
Come Came Come
Become Became Become

#3 – The same past tense and past participle

These verbs change their base form but keep the same past tense and past participle.

Base form Past tense Past participle
Make Made Made
Bring Brought Brought
Find Found Found
Say Said Said

#4 – All forms are different

The trickiest of them all, these verbs all have different forms.

Base form Past tense Past participle
Begin Began Begun
Drive Drove Driven
Fly Flew Flown

Irregular verb examples that will impress your IELTS examiner

While a good grasp of all types of irregular verbs will certainly earn you points, if you want to go the extra mile, focus on the irregular verbs with different base forms, past tense and past participles. These verbs are the most complex, so they’ll be sure to impress your examiner. Here are some examples:

Base form Past tense Past participle
Arise Arose Arisen
Ride Rode Ridden
Awake Awoke Awoken
Freeze Froze Frozen
Write Wrote Written
Sing Sang Sung
Forsake Forsook Forsaken
Speak Spoke Spoken
Burn Burnt Burned

7 tips to help you learn irregular verbs

Finding the best ways for you to learn may take trial and error, but with regular practice, you’ll be mastering irregular verbs in no time!

Tip #1 – Make a list of irregular verbs

Start by making a list of the irregular verbs you need to learn, this will help you practice without forgetting any.

Tip #2 – Study the past tense and past participle forms

It’s important to know how these verbs change in past tense and past participles, this will help you use them correctly.

Tip #3 – Practice using the verbs in sentences.

This is a great way to memorise the forms of the verbs and to learn how to use them correctly. You can practice by either writing or speaking sentences.

Tip #4 – Try using flashcards or memory tricks

Flashcards or tricks like rhymes or sayings can help you memorise irregular verbs and their past tense forms.

Tip #5 – Listen to and watch English speakers using the verbs.

Hearing how these verbs are used by native English speakers can really help. Try listening to the radio, watching TV or looking up videos online.

Tip #6 – Try to use the verbs yourself

The more you use the verbs, the better you will become at remembering them, try to use the verbs in your everyday conversations and writing.

Tip #7 – Don’t give up!

Learning irregular verbs takes time. Don’t feel bad if you can’t master them overnight, just keep practising and you’ll get better.

Ready to take the next step?

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