Before you begin this week’s tutor tip, have a joke:
One day an English grammar teacher was looking ill. A student asked, "How do you feel?"
"Tense!" answered the teacher.
The student paused, then continued, "How did you feel? How have you felt? How will you feel?"
The only way to learn irregular past tense and past participles is to memorize them. How you and your learners go about memorizing them is up to you. One way that has been discussed in this space before is to make concentration cards, that is, pairs of cards with the present tense and past tense forms of a verb. If the learner finds the card with the word said, he or she then has to find the card with say to make the pair.
Another way is a sort of spoken drill. You, the tutor, say a verb, say, “say.” Then the learner says “Say, said, said.” You say “Go” and the learner is supposed to say “Go, went, gone,” and so on. Either go straight down the list in order of frequency or try grouping the verbs by how they transform. There is one group, for instance, that never changes from infinitive to simple past to past participle. This group includes mostly short words that end in ‘t,’ such as hit, cut, set, let, put, shut, hurt. Then there are some verbs that end in ink or ing. They change the vowel from short ‘i’ to short ‘e,’ as in sink - sank, sing - sang, drink - drank, fling - flang. Okay, my spell checker informs me that last verb is technically a misspelling, but I like it better the wrong way.
The last two letters of the verbs fly, throw and blow transform with –ew - -own, as in fly - flew - flown. More below the table…
|Infinitive (1st part)||Simple past (2nd part)||Past participle (3rd part)|
Of course, these rules don’t always work. You can say, “Take, took, taken,” but not “make, mook, maken” (This is really bugging my spellchecker) Well, life’s hard, and then you learn a second language. I’m just trying to make things easier—easy isn’t always going to happen. If ya want easy, learn Esperanto. See how far that gets you.
Thanks again to Catalina for providing this very helpful chart. She had another insight, for those of you who have read this far. She simplifies the terminology by saying "first part, second part and third part" of the verb rather than "infinitive, simple past and past participle." Using simple, everyday terms makes it easier to use English to talk about English than using the technical linguistic vocabulary. Any questions? Please feel free to comment on the blog. I'll be glad to reply to your questions.
And thanks to all of you who teach English to people who need it. You folks are great.