Irregular English verbs with regular variants in the past tense and/or the past participle : A corpus-based study of light, speed, and prove

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Engelska institutionen

Abstract: About fifty out of approximately 250 irregular English verbs have regular alternatives in the past tense and/or the past participle. There are often marked preferences for using the irregular or the regular form of the verbs, influenced by several factors. The present corpus-based study investigates the distributions in contemporary British (BrE) and American English (AmE) of the two alternative past tense forms for the two verbs “light”, and “speed” as well as the two past participle variants for the verb “prove”. The factors which are considered in the study are (1) language variety, (2) past tense vs. past participle, and (3) transitive vs. intransitive use of the verbs. It is demonstrated that there are (verb specific) significant differences in frequencies across the factors. Some issues for the study are discussed, in particular unreliable tagging in the corpora used as well as potential sources for random or systematic errors. Some avenues for additional research are proposed.

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