December 2011 E-News from Elizabeth Claire
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What's the best way to group
past tenses? Last month, I wrote my reasons for teaching the past tense before the
present tense. If you missed that, it is in the archives at my website.
In this month's E-News, I'll suggest ways to group the irregular past
tense verbs. The past tense forms of the irregular verbs are a matter
of vocabulary, practice, and some assisted memorizing. The past forms
are easier to remember when they are in groups of the same pattern, rather
than in alphabetical order with all three principal parts listed for memorizing.
I prefer grammar by discovery, or grammar by analysis rather than grammar
as a prescription. That way, students have already been exposed to the
language, been bathed in its sounds, have formed some unconscious hypotheses
about how things are working. When we get to a formal presentation, students
then go "Ah hah!" and either "I know that," or "I
was wondering about that."
I point out that of the 5,000 verbs they are likely to eventually have
in their speaking, reading and writing vocabulary, 4,900 of them form
the past in a regular pattern, by adding d or ed, with some
spelling shifts such as changing y to i in certain cases
(carry, hurry), and doubling the final consonant before adding
ed in others (trip/tripped).
And that the 100 irregular verbs are by far the most common ones
they'll hear and use, so it's important to learn them.
I teach the simple past form and leave the past participle and its applications
for a later time when students are ready to listen for, speak, and write
By focusing on the simple past forms of verbs, it is easier to group
irregular verbs into categories. I give enough practice with a category
so it is second nature before adding a new group. I teach do/did
first so I can use the negative and question forms in student practices.
Group I: The most common verbs, that have uniquely formed pasts without following any group patterns, but are so dense in our linguistic environment, and so useful, and so often heard, that they might as well be taught before the others: come/came; become/became; do/did; eat/ate; get/got; forget/forgot; have/had; lose/lost; make/made; read/read; see/saw; go/went. Having facility with these common verbs will go a long way in reducing errors of speech or understanding.
Group II: Verbs that don't change form for the past: beat, burst, cost, cut, hit, hurt, let, put, quit, set, shut, slit, spit, spread, sweat, wet. Well, those are nice and neat, like a freebie, even if they are not the most useful verbs. They don't raise any anxiety.
Group III: Verbs whose vowel sound changes to long o: break/broke; choose/chose; dive/dove; drive/drove; freeze/froze; ride/rode; rise/rose; sell/sold; shine/shone (when intransitive); speak/spoke; steal/stole; swear/swore; tear/tore; tell/told; wear/wore; wake/woke; weave/wove; write/wrote.
Group IV: Verbs that change to ew: blow/blew; draw/drew; fly/flew; grow/grew; know/knew; throw/threw.
Group V: Verbs that change their endings to ought or aught: buy/bought; bring/brought; fight/fought; think/thought; catch/caught; teach/taught.
Group VI: Verbs that change their vowel sound to short e: bleed/bled; flee/fled; feed/fed; lead/led;fall/fell; meet/met; hold/held.
Group VII: Verbs that change a long ee sound to short e sound and add t at the end: creep/crept;deal/dealt; feel/felt;keep/kept; mean/meant; sleep/slept; speed/sped; sweep/swept; weep/wept . and leave/left with the spelling change of v to f.
Group VIII: Verbs with final t that changes to d: bend/bent; build/built; lend/lent; send/sent; spend/spent.
Group IX: Verbs whose middle vowel changes to short a: begin/began; drink/drank; ring/rang; run/ran; sing/sang; sink/sank; sit/sat; spring/sprang; stink/stank; swim/swam.
Group X: Verbs that have oo in the past form: shake/shook; stand/stood; take/took; understand/understood.
Group XI: Verbs with ay that changes to aid: lay/laid; pay/paid; say/said (sound change here).
Group XII: Verbs that change their inner vowel sound to short u: dig/dug; fling/flung; shrink/shrunk; slink/slunk; spin/spun; sting/stung; strike/struck; swing/swung; win/won (odd spelling)
Group XIII: Verbs with ind that changes to ound: bind/bound; find/found; grind/ground; wind/wound.
Group XIV: Verbs with long i that change to short i: hide/hid; bite/bit; slide/slid.
An extension of Group II, verbs that follow no rhyme or reason or pattern (but are not as common as the ones listed in group II: hear/heard; shoot/shot; lie/lay
Let me know if I've left any out, OK?
Copyright Elizabeth Claire 1985, 2011.
Preview: Easy English NEWS for December 2011
Your Health: Dr. Majid Ali: Part Two of Eat Well for a Longer Life
- We are Seven Billion!
Food for thought on population growth, needs, factors, differences among
continents, countries, religions; new problems.
- Life in the U.S.A. Looking for a Job,
Part One Practical
information and suggestions to overcome discouragement in looking for
a job. The focus of part one is what employers are looking for; how to
network, persist, and "be in the right place at the right time."
- Events in December covered in Easy
- Preparing for Winter
- New Year's Eve
- Temperature Conversion short cut
Ask a Speech Coach: Weak
of stress and which words not to stress.
Heroes and History: Clement
Clark Moore and America's most popular poem
A Visit from St. Nicholas: (The
complete poem on a two-page spread with extensive word help and illustrations!)
Plus our regular features:
This Is Your Page (readers' stories), Funny Stuff, Idioms, the
Crossword Puzzle, Let's Talk About It, and Word Help
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until December 31, 2011. Happy Holidays!
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Teacher's Guide, Quizzes and Cloze Exercises for December's Easy English
FREE materials, including Holiday
Song Book with 18 traditional songs, all with wordhelp.
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