Writing (or talking) about the present is easy. But what about the past? Getting your verbs mixed up can be extremely humiliating and irregular verbs are such a pain. The key is to work through them one by one. Let’s start by taking a look at “to catch”, using it as an example for further work.
KNOWING WHICH VERB TO USE
In English, the simple past tense is mostly formed by adding -ed to the end of the verb. If only all past tense verbs were that easy! The problem for English language learners is the array of changes that take place when forming the past tense of irregular verbs – either the vowels, the spelling or the pronunciation changes.
So how do you remember which verb to use? Simple! Think of a common verb such as dancing.
I am dancing.
Yesterday, I danced with my friends at the party.
Soon, I will dance with my father on my debut.
But what about catching? Is the past tense catched or caught?
I am catching the ball.
Yesterday, I catched the ball.
Hmmmm, does it sound right? I don’t think so.
How about this:
Yesterday, I caught the ball.
Does that sound better now? Yes? Yes!
Now, to be able to remember caught as the past tense of catch, we need to think of familiar words that rhyme with it and simply memorize.
I caught the astronaut sleeping in his training class a week ago.
Yesterday, I caught my parents’ distraught over my brother’s failing grades.
I never thought Miguel will be caught from stealing last night.
IRREGULAR VERBS: USING “WILL HAVE“
Finally, there is will have caught. When do we use this? We use the perfective will have when we are looking back at a point in time when something happened.
By the end of the decade, authorities will have caught Saddam Hussein.
I will cook by three o’clock. He will have caught the train going home.
We also use it if we are looking back to the past.
Look at the time. Jimmy will have caught the bus to Paris.
It’s half past seven. Mother will have caught Alfonso playing video games.
Learning irregular verbs will be easier if you learn them right from the beginning. Evey time you learn a new verb, it is always recommended that you also learn its tenses as well. Moreover, you can also make learning irregular verbs fun and exciting! Aside from pairing it with its rhyming word, how about you turn memorizing into a game? You can also learn irregular verbs in sentences, with songs, by leaving lists of irregular verbs around where you can always see them and most of all, ask people to correct you every time you make mistakes. This is great not only for learning irregular verbs but for your English speaking as well.
After reading this, that list of irregular verbs doesn’t look so frightening anymore, does it? Show me what you’ve learnt by writing a comment using the word ‘caught’.