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VERBS > Active Voice > Passive Voice > Conjugation > Defective Strong Verbs > Mood > Imperative Mood > Indicative Mood > Subjunctive Mood > BE (usage) > CHOOSE (usage) > Person/Number (usage) > SHALL/WILL (usage) > Strong Verbs > Tense > Transitive > Troublesome Verbs > Weak Verbs



244. According to form, verbs are strong or weak.


A strong verb forms its past tense by changing the vowel of the present tense form, but adds no ending; as, run, ran; drive, drove.

A weak verb always adds an ending to the present to form the past tense, and may or may not change the vowel: as, beg, begged; lay, laid; sleep, slept; catch, caught.


NOTE. Some of these also have weak forms, which are in parentheses

Present Tense. Past Tense. Past Participle.
abide abode abode
arise arose arisen
awake awoke (awaked) awoke (awaked)
bear bore borne (active)born (passive)
begin began begun
behold beheld beheld
bid bade, bid bidden, bid
bind bound bound,[adj. bounden]
bite bit bitten, bit
blow blew blown
break broke broken
chide chid chidden, chid
choose chose chosen
cleave clove, clave (cleft) cloven (cleft)
climb [clomb] climbed climbed
cling clung clung
come came come
crow crew (crowed) (crowed)
dig dug dug
do did done
draw drew drawn
drink drank drunk, drank[adj. drunken]
drive drove driven
eat ate, eat eaten, eat
fall fell fallen
fight fought fought
find found found
fling flung flung
fly flew flown
forbear forbore forborne
forget forgot forgotten
forsake forsook forsaken
freeze froze frozen
get got got [gotten]
give gave given
go went gone
grind ground ground
grow grew grown
hang hung (hanged) hung (hanged)
hold held held
know knew known
lie lay lain
ride rode ridden
ring rang rung
run ran run
see saw seen
shake shook shaken
shear shore (sheared) shorn (sheared)
shine shone shone
shoot shot shot
shrink shrank or shrunk shrunk
shrive shrove shriven
sing sang or sung sung
sink sank or sunk sunk [adj. sunken]
sit sat [sate] sat
slay slew slain
slide slid slidden, slid
sling slung slung
slink slunk slunk
smite smote smitten
speak spoke spoken
spin spun spun
spring sprang, sprung sprung
stand stood stood
stave stove (staved) (staved)
steal stole stolen
stick stuck stuck
sting stung stung
stink stunk, stank stunk
stride strode stridden
strike struck struck, stricken
string strung strung
strive strove striven
swear swore sworn
swim swam or swum swum
swing swung swung
take took taken
tear tore torn
thrive throve (thrived) thriven (thrived)
throw threw thrown
tread trod trodden, trod
wear wore worn
weave wove woven
win won won
wind wound wound
wring wrung wrung
write wrote written

Remarks on Certain Verb Forms.

246. Several of the perfect participles are seldom used except as adjectives: as, "his bounden duty," "the cloven hoof," "a drunken wretch," "a sunken snag." Stricken is used mostly of diseases; as, "stricken with paralysis."

The verb bear (to bring forth) is peculiar in having one participle (borne) for the active, and another (born) for the passive. When it means to carry or to endure, borne is also a passive.

The form clomb is not used in prose, but is much used in vulgar English, and sometimes occurs in poetry; as,—

Thou hast clomb aloft.—Wordsworth

Or pine grove whither woodman never clomb.—Coleridge

The forms of cleave are really a mixture of two verbs,—one meaning to adhere or cling; the other, to split. The former used to be cleave, cleaved, cleaved; and the latter, cleave, clave or clove, cloven. But the latter took on the weak form cleft in the past tense and past participle,—as (from Shakespeare), "O Hamlet! thou hast cleft my heart in twain,"—while cleave (to cling) sometimes has clove, as (from Holmes), "The old Latin tutor clove to Virgilius Maro." In this confusion of usage, only one set remains certain,—cleave, cleft, cleft (to split).

Crew is seldom found in present-day English.

Not a cock crew, nor a dog barked.—Irving.

Our cock, which always crew at eleven, now told us it was time for repose.—Goldsmith.

Historically, drunk is the one correct past participle of the verb drink. But drunk is very much used as an adjective, instead of drunken (meaning intoxicated); and, probably to avoid confusion with this, drank is a good deal used as a past participle: thus,—

We had each drank three times at the well.—B. Taylor.

This liquor was generally drank by Wood and Billings. —Thackeray.

Sometimes in literary English, especially in that of an earlier period, it is found that the verb eat has the past tense and past participle eat (ĕt), instead of ate and eaten; as, for example,—

It ate the food it ne'er had eat.—Coleridge.

How fairy Mab the junkets eat.—Milton.

The island princes overbold
Have eat our substance.

This is also very much used in spoken and vulgar English.

The form gotten is little used, got being the preferred form of past participle as well as past tense. One example out of many is,—

We had all got safe on shore.—De Foe.

Hung and hanged both are used as the past tense and past participle of hang; but hanged is the preferred form when we speak of execution by hanging; as,

The butler was hanged.—Bible.

The verb sat is sometimes spelled sate; for example,—

Might we have sate and talked where gowans blow.—Wordsworth.

He sate him down, and seized a pen.—Byron.

"But I sate still and finished my plaiting."—Kingsley.

Usually shear is a weak verb. Shorn and shore are not commonly used: indeed, shore is rare, even in poetry.

This heard Geraint, and grasping at his sword,
Shore thro' the swarthy neck.

Shorn is used sometimes as a participial adjective, as "a shorn lamb," but not much as a participle. We usually say, "The sheep were sheared" instead of "The sheep were shorn."

Went is borrowed as the past tense of go from the old verb wend, which is seldom used except in poetry; for example,—

If, maiden, thou would'st wend with me
To leave both tower and town.


(a) From the table (Sec. 245), make out lists of verbs having the same vowel changes as each of the following:—

  • 1. Fall, fell, fallen.
  • 2. Begin, began, begun.
  • 3. Find, found, found.
  • 4. Give, gave, given.
  • 5. Drive, drove, driven.
  • 6. Throw, threw, thrown.
  • 7. Fling, flung, flung.
  • 8. Break, broke, broken.
  • 9. Shake, shook, shaken.
  • 10. Freeze, froze, frozen.

VERBS > Active Voice > Passive Voice > Conjugation > Defective Strong Verbs > Mood > Imperative Mood > Indicative Mood > Subjunctive Mood > BE (usage) > CHOOSE (usage) > Person/Number (usage) > SHALL/WILL (usage) > Strong Verbs > Tense > Transitive > Troublesome Verbs > Weak Verbs