22.2 types of irregularities

One should be aware that there are three different types of irregular verbs. What we are going to say now is valid as well for Spanish and French.

1) irregular in writing, but not in the pronunciation

In this grammar we don't call a verb that suffers a modification of its radical in writing, but not in the pronunciation irregular because that would be really strange. A verb which suffers a modification of its radical just to maintain the regularity of the pronunciation is not irregular because the important thing is how it is pronounced and not how it is written. Let's have a look at the verb cercare. It has in the present two irregularities.

io cerco
  tu cerchi
  lui / lei cerca
  noi cerchiamo
  voi cercate
  loro cercano

But is it useful or logical to say that cercare is a irregular verb? If we would write in a regular way as shown it below, it would be regular in writing, but very irregular in the pronunciation.

"regular" in writing very irregular in the pronouciation
  tu cerci /tschertschi/
noi cerciamo /tschertschiamo/

Because the c is pronounced like /k/ in front of a / o / u and pronounced like /tsch/ after i / e the pronunciation would change completely and so the h is necessary to preserve the pronunciation. Those who call this kind of verbs irregular suppose that the writing is more important than the pronunciation.

2) some forms are irregular in the pronounciation

If there is a change in the pronunciation of the radical of a verb we can really call it irregular. Irregular for example is the passato remoto of the verb dire in the first and third person singular as well as in the third person plural.

io dissi
  tu dicesti
  lui / lei disse
  noi dicemmo
  voi diceste
  loro dissero

3) The verb is completely irregular

Some verbs are completely irregular, there is nothing left from the radical. This few words you have to learn by heart. It is a strange kind of phenomenon that in every language the most used verbs are the most irregular verbs. In any language for instance the very important verb to be is completely irregular.

to be (English) sein (german) essere (Italian) ser (Spanish)
  I was ich war io era yo era
  you was du warst tu eri tu eras
  he / she was er / sie war lui / lei era él / ella era
  we were wir waren noi eravamo nosotros éramos
  you were ihr wart voi eravate vosotros erais
  they were sie waren loro erano ellos / ellas eran

This very frequent verbs we have already used in this manual several hundred times. Very few verbs are completely irregular and we know them all already.




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