Q. Can you tell me what the rules are which govern how you change bite to bit and catch to caught, please.
This is a tricky topic and there aren't really any rules.
For example, although the past tense of 'bite' is 'bit', the past tense of 'spite' is 'spited' (meaning to do something to 'spite' someone)
Also while the past tense of 'catch' is 'caught', the past tense of 'match' is 'matched'.
Now there is a kind of rule that applies to some verbs in English. Some very short words are known as 'strong' verbs and these kind of verbs change the noun in the stem of the verb when it goes in to the past tense. So:
*'eat' become 'ate'
*'fight' becomes 'fought'
*'buy' becomes 'bought'
*'say' becomes 'said'
*'come' becomes 'came' and so on.
However, most verbs make the past tense by adding an '-ed' to the end, so 'look' becomes 'looked'.
In English though, there are always exceptions to any rule, so don't assume this is always the case.
I hope you don't get too much of this in your English class, as it's very tricky. I used to teach this on A Level English Language, can you believe that!
Submitted by: Tim, (Age 11)
Back to full list of questions
A highly interactive Key Stage 3 English site designed specifically to meet the needs of En3 Writing, Spelling and Punctuation.
Way with Words
Write poetry with Benjamin Zephaniah. The fun site also contains word games and a useful glossary.