The Etymological History of Irregular Verbs

In a capricious episode of their incredibly informative whiteboard series for Mental Floss , linguist Arika Okrent and illustrator Sean O’Neill verbally and visually hark back to the rules of Old English grammar to explain how certain verbs came to have irregular conjugations, while others remained uniform to tradition.

If you take a look at the irregular verbs in English, they happen to be some of the ones we use the most. Because we used them so frequently, their forms were reinforced over and over again giving them strength to withstand the changes around them. Less frequent words didn’t get their forms reinforced enough to resist. …And the really, really frequently used verbs, like to be’? They tend the be the most irregular of all, and they echo back to even older patterns