Regular and Irregular in English Grammar

Parts Of Speech

Words in English are either Regular and Irregular.

Regular means that when they change their form (for example, when they become plural) they follow the usual pattern. Irregular means, as you might expect, that they do not follow the usual pattern of most words.

Fortunately most words in English are regular, but a significant number of everyday words are not. In the TEFL classroom students just need to learn these.

This is explained in more detail below.

Regular & Irregular Nouns

Most words in English follow a simple regular pattern. For example, look at these nouns:

1 car
1 dog
1 hat

If we want to talk about more than one of each we simply add an -s to the end to make them plural (i.e. there’s more than one):

2 cars
2 dogs
2 hats

The majority of English nouns are regular which means they follow this simple rule. However, some nouns in English are irregular and make their plural in a different way:

child > children
man > men
sheep > sheep

See the main article, Singular and Plural Nouns‏‎.

Regular & Irregular Verbs

But it’s not just nouns which are regular or irregular in English. Look at the conjugation of this regular verb‏‎:

I walk
you walk
he/she/it walks
we walk
you walk
they walk

With regular verbs the only change in the present tense is when we add an -s to the end of the third person (he/she/it). However, there are a few irregular verbs which don’t follow this pattern such as:

I am
you are
he/she/it is
we are
you are
they are

Anything Else?

Aside from regular & irregular nouns & verbs in English there are a few other cases where the general rule of grammar doesn’t always apply.

For example we talk about traveling:

by car
by boat
by plane
on foot

Does this mean foot travel is irregular?

Also in English adjectives come before the noun they qualify in adjective phrase. But what about this example:

the good lesson
the interesting lesson
the boring lesson
the lesson proper

Then there are other examples. In English we only capitalize the first person singular; does that mean it is irregular?


There are a few other examples as well.

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