Grammar Tip: Irregular Verb Conjugation; Some Verb Confusions

Rise–rose–risen
Be–was/were–been
Come–came–come
Lie–lay–lain

And so on. Irregular verbs are many out there.

In English, we have a standard of deriving verb forms (conjugation). Such as past tense form is formed by adding –ed, –d, –t, etc., and past participle formed by adding –ed, –en, etc. Any verb that falls outside these rules is an irregular verb. Here we can see some irregular verbs in general use and their correct usage.

1. Lie vs. Lay

Lie is a word with two meanings: 'to say any false thing', 'to recline'.

When in the first meaning, the irregular verb lie gets these tense forms: Lie–lied–lied:

I couldn’t realize that she lied to me.

In the second meaning, lie is formed thus: Lie–lay–lain

She lay on the bed.
She has been lying there for some time.


The second verb, lay should not be misinterpreted with the past tense form of lie. It means “to place something somewhere”.

I lay the books in the shelf.

It’s conjugation is thus: Lay–laid–laid

She laid the plates on the table.
The plates were laid on the table.


2. Find vs. Found

The first word, find is an irregular verb, meaning 'to discover something'. It is a fairly known word, with conjugation: Find–found–found.

The second word, found is a verb meaning ‘to establish something’, ‘provide with basis’, or ‘to cast metal or glass from mold’. In that meaning, it has the conjugation:
Found–founded–founded

Bill Gates founded Microsoft Corporation.
These ornaments were founded at Smith’s.


3. Blow vs. Blow

The verb blow is a complex term, with several meanings including: 'to exhale', 'clear the nose', 'send a kiss', 'make sound by blowing', 'move with air current', 'expel moist air', 'move by explosion', etc., depending on the situation. It is an irregular verb: Blow–blew–blown

The second word, blow is a noun with the meaning ‘a hard hit’ or a ‘setback’.

4. Shown vs. Shone

People have been found to use these words interchangeably. The first word is the PPt (past participle) form of ‘show’: Show–showed–shown.

I showed him the papers yesterday.
I had shown him the papers last week.


The word shone is PPt form of Shine, which means ‘to emit light’ or ‘be bright’.

A bright light was shone in the room.

5. Dive vs. Dove

The correct conjugation of the word dive is thus: Dive–dived/dove–dived.

Here the word ‘dove’ can cause confusion as it is the word applied to a bird. So, the suggestion is to use ‘dived’ at all places, where the PT (Past Tense) form of dive comes.

He dived from a higher base.
There is a beautiful dove at his home.


6. Fit vs. Fit

The word fit can have several meanings including: 'be appropriate', 'be at the right size', 'be compatible', 'equip with something', etc.

The word fit’s conjugation is thus: Fit–fit/fitted–fit/fitted.

The suggestion is always to use fitted for PT form and PPt form.

The trousers fitted well on him.
The chopper is fitted with extra security equipments.


Books on Irregular Verbs

Here are some Amazon books you may wish to check out, explaining further, irregular verbs:

1. English Verb Conjugations: 123 Irregular Verbs Fully Conjugated

2. English Verbs: Every Irregular Conjugation

3. English Irregular Verbs by LearningReminder® (CD-ROM)

4. 101 English Verbs: The Art of Conjugation (101 Verbs)

3 Opinions:

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  3. Thanks for sharing. It useful for me who still learning English.

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