Speaking Activity: Irregular Verbs – Correct the Mistakes (ESL)

ESL Level: Intermediate+
Class Time: 35 minutes (without extension)
Language Focus: past tense and past participles of irregular verbs, reported speech (optional)
Worksheet Downloadirregular-verbs-past-tense-speaking.docx

Activity Description

In Part 1, students complete the irregular verb table by themselves. You can allow them to use the Internet or a textbook if necessary. You probably won't need to take up the answers because (many) of the answers will come up in Part 2.

For Part 2, students, in pairs, will read questions to each other. Each question has an error in irregular verb conjugation. The partner, upon hearing the question with an error, should correct the error by clarifying the question. So the students practice their listening skills, don't let them read the question their partner is asking. (Instead, they should listen to it!)

There are two methods of clarification on the worksheet:

  1. using a direct quote (but maybe changing the pronoun); or
  2. using reported speech (and shifting the verb back a tense)

If you haven't studied reported speech, then delete this from the worksheet. It will only confuse your students -- it takes several classes to learn.

After the student has fixed the error in the question, s/he should answer it. This is meant to be a speaking activity, after all.

Worksheet Web Preview

Irregular Verb — Past Tense and Past Participles

Part 1. Complete the table with the past tense and past participle of the irregular verbs. E.g. go / went / gone































Part 2 - Pairwork: Find a partner and decide who is Student A and Student B.

Then ask your questions (below) each other. Each question contains an error. Your partner should find the error, correct it by clarifying the question, and then answer it. For example,

A: Jenny, have you ever went to a costume party?

B: Sorry. Do you mean, “Have you/I ever gone to a costume party?” [Direct Speech]-or-

Sorry. Did you ask me if I had ever gone to a costume party? [Reported speech, verb shifted]

A: Yes. Exactly.

B: Oh. Yes, I have. Last week, in fact, I dressed up as a panda….


Student A

1.     Have you ever fighted with a close friend?

2.     When was the last time you beated a drum? Why?

3.     What is the worst thing that has ever bited you?

4.     Who chosed your clothes?

5.     If you had to get some words or a phrase drawed on your skin, what would it be?

6.     Who's the coolest person that you've ever hanged out with?

7.     Have you ever hurted yourself while on vacation?

8.     What's the strangest thing that you've rided?

Student B

1.     Have you ever flyed first class? Or in a helicopter?

2.     When was the last time that you falled down?

3.     When was the last time that you sleeped outside?

4.     Where is the most beautiful place where you have swimmed?

5.     What problems in Canada have you dealed with successfully?

6.     When was the last time that you swimmed in nature?

7.     Have you recently forgived someone for a mistake they made?

8.     What prices have rised recently?

Possible Extension Activity: Irregular Verb Circles

Once completed, you can ask the students to put their papers away. Then you can drill them on the conjugations. Clap to a 1-2-3 rhythm and chant a verb's conjugations (e.g. "eat - ate - eaten / fight - fought - fought / hit - hit - hit"). Say it to a rhythm.

Next, get all your students to stand up. Begin an elimination game by staying the present tense of an irregular verb ("Swim"). The student to your right should then say "Swam" and then the student to his/her right will say "Swum." If there are no mistakes, the next student begins with a new verb ("Go") and the circle continues. When someone makes a mistake, they have to sit down.

Once the students understand the game, then, if you have a large class (like I do), get the students to form their own groups of 4 students. Have them make a circle and play the game. Encourage them to stay on rhythm -- this will make it more challenging and fun.


A game with clapping may sound a bit childish, but my adults (aged 20-70) like it. It's amazing how some students are masters are irregular verbs, while some are generally clueless. Hopefully this activity will help! Review them regularly (via chant or drilling) or they'll forget.

- Matthew Barton (copyright) / Creator of Englishcurrent.com

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3 comments on “Speaking Activity: Irregular Verbs – Correct the Mistakes (ESL)

  1. amanpreet kaur gill (Posted on 4-22-2016 at 00:20) Reply

    it was an interesting exercise that helped me to remember the grammar rules after so long…..

  2. Jojo (Posted on 3-23-2019 at 19:08) Reply

    You have made a mistake. Student B should ask “Have you ever BEEN”. Gone means that he hasn’t come back yet!

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-23-2019 at 19:45) Reply

      I disagree. Either can be used in North American English.

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