3. Verbs

3.3 Non-finite Verb Forms

3.3.1 The infinitive

The principles governing the use of the bare infinitive and the to-infinitive are to a great extent those of present-day StE. Thus, the bare infinitive is used after (1) the auxiliary do, (2) modal auxiliaries, (3) dare and need, (4) had better and would/had rather, (5) verbs of perception, and (6) verbs of permission or causation, such as have, let and make. For the use of the bare infinitive after the auxiliary do, see 3.2.3; after modal auxiliaries (can, may, must, shall/will, should/would), see 3.2.4, 3.2.5, 3.2.6, 3.2.7 and 3.2.8; after dare and need, see 3.2.10. The to-infinitive is used in contexts other than those enumerated above. The use of the infinitive with the verb go will be discussed below.

The use of the bare infinitive after had better and would/had rather is illustrated by examples 3.65 (a-b).

3.65 (a) I better- tell- you about- start about farming (Lt. Eversden SC)
  (b) I rather be outside in the garden (Newton JF)

In examples 3.65 (a-b), the expression has no discernible first component (i.e. had/would). However, the expression is interpreted by the speaker as having two components, as shown by the tag question We better = pick ’em up, [ɑ:nt] we? (Willingham ES). [22]

Both the bare infinitive and the to-infinitive are attested with the verb go, as in:

3.66 (a) There’s no trouble to go buy it (West Wickham CC)
  (b) We used to go drive a plough for him (Willingham AA)
  (c) You’d go to plough from seven till two o’clock. (Fulbourn CM

The constructions go drive and go buy in examples 3.66 (a-b) may be survivals of an old usage. In OE and ME, many verbs of motion were followed by a bare infinitive; in early ModE, bare infinitives were still common with come and go, and indeed still are in AmE (e.g. go buy) (Mustanoja 1960: 535). According to the OED (go. v. 32.a.), the use of the bare infinitive with the verb go is now archaic and dialectal. [23]

With verbs of motion other than go, the to-infinitive is used, as illustrated by the example He’d come to get his hand warmed (Rampton TR).

In addition to the main verb + infinitive construction, the type go and buy, come and fetch, etc. is frequently attested in the interviews for the present study. This construction can be illustrated with such examples as If you looked after horses, used t(o) get fifteen shillings a week. Had to go and feed them ’fore = ’fo- w- come to work = five o’clock in the morning (Bassingbourn BR) and He used to come and shoe the horses from Harston (Newton JF). Formerly, the infinitive followed directly after the verb come, without the intercession of and (OED. come. v.3.e; e.g. 1598 SHAKS. Merry W. iv.ii.80 Quicke, quicke, wee’le come dresse you straight.)

The bare infinitive also occurs in a number of other constructions. For instance, it is used after the verb help, as in the example:


But that’s a good beverage I expect. That used to help make ’em work but = ... (Harston AS)

The bare infinitive was commonly used with the verb help in older English, and is still used occasionally in this way in British English and frequently in American English (Curme 1931: 125; Quirk et al. 1979: 841). [24]

In the MAIN VERB + NOUN/PRONOUN + INFINITIVE construction (traditionally termed the accusative with infinitive), the bare infinitive is attested with verbs of perception, as illustrated by examples 3.68 (a-b).

3.68 (a) He heard a horse come up in the shoeing shed. (Rampton TR)
  (b) You sit and watch them run across. (Newton JF)

Similarly, the bare infinitive is attested with verbs of permission or causation, as in:

3.69 (a) They couldn’t have that happen, could they? (Willingham SS)
  (b) And whatever I got I used to let ’em have. (Waterbeach BB)
  (c) They make them come in from Cambridge. (Waterbeach BB)

The bare infinitive is also occasionally attested with the verb want in this construction, as in the examples:

3.70 (a) My father want me go home that day. (Waterbeach BB)
  (b) And didn’t I want them horses look better. (Rampton TR)

The to-infinitive is also attested with the verb want, as in the example Somebody wanted the two mares to go to the ploughing match (Rampton TR).

In the material for the present study, the perfect infinitive is attested after modal auxiliaries, as in examples 3.71 (a-c). This construction often indicates strong probability.

3.71 (a) He must-a-been a strong man in his- in his time (Willingham SS)
  (b) *’s brought one. You could have done. (Rampton HP)
  (c) If he’d-a-been three parts drunk like he was sometimes, he would-a-shot you (Willingham ES) [25]

The ‘have’ of the perfect infinitive often occurs in its contracted form ‘a’, as is often the case in dialect speech.

In addition to the bare infinitive and the to-infinitive, there are a few instances of the infinitive with for to, as illustrated by the example Let them go then for to gather harvest (Swaffham Prior EW).

3.3.2 Participles and verbal nouns in -ing

English has two kinds of participles: (1) the present participle and (2) the past participle. The present participle ends in -ing. [26] The past participles of regular verbs end in -ed, whereas the forms of the past participles of irregular verbs vary considerably. In the material for the present study, the forms used in past-participle functions are often different from those used in past-participle functions in StE. These forms will be discussed below.

The -ing form may be prefixed with a-. Wright (1898: 2) notes that in dialects “the prefix a- is used before present participles or verbal nouns with the verb to be to form continuous tenses”. In his description of the history of THE TYPE ‘A-HUNTING’, Mustanoja (1960: 577-578, 581) observes that the construction comprising the verbal noun in -ing (‘gerund’) preceded by a preposition on has been used since OE; from ME on, the preposition also occurred in a weakened form (an and a). Thus, what dialectologists (e.g. Wright, Wakelin) term the prefix a- attached to present participles or verbal nouns was originally the preposition on, later weakened to the form a (cf. the origin of the a- used before past participles; the origin of the a- was the prefix an- or a- (< of-) in ME (Mustanoja 1960: 581)). According to Mustanoja (1960: 578), the type to be a-doing enjoyed its greatest popularity between 1500 and 1700.

The type to be a-doing has survived in various dialects. Wright (EDD 1898-1905 Online. A) illustrates the usage at the end of the 19th century with the examples He’ll be a puggin’ all as he can, from Gloucestershire (Glo. 1), Thaay be a-vightin, from Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire (Glo. 2, Berks. 1, Oxf. 1), ‘Is she a-going?’ he said (Ward Bessie Costell 1895), from Bedfordshire, Who is a goin’ to buy?, (Downe Ballads 1895) from Essex, She’s alwas a making mischief about somebody or another, from Kent, and I’ve been a-draing this forty year (Hiskyns Talpa 1852), from Surrey. Wright further specifies the area that uses a- by listing the counties where a- is not attested: Huntingdonshire, north-west Norfolk and eastern Kent, and all the counties north of Pembrokeshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Rutland, northern Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, with the exception of eastern Lancashire, northern Lincolnshire and Leicestershire. An examination of the list of the counties and examples given by Wright reveals that the a- is attested in two counties bordering southern Cambridgeshire, namely Bedfordshire and Essex, [27] whereas, with the exception of Lincolnshire and north-east, south-east and south-west Norfolk, it is not attested in the counties bordering northern Cambridgeshire.

Additional evidence from earlier usage is presented by Wakelin. In his discussion, based mainly on the 1950s- SED material (SED V.8.6; III.1.12), Wakelin (1972a: 121) observes that an a- is prefixed to the present participle in scattered places in the Midlands, both East and West, as far north as Cheshire and south Lincolnshire and as far west as Wiltshire and Gloucestershire; this prefix is not used in Essex, Surrey, Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. Wakelin thus gives a very general overview of the regions where the a- is attested. [28] Like Wright, Wakelin does not clearly include or exclude Cambridgeshire among the counties where a present participle is prefixed by a-. This is probably due to the scarcity of information on Cambridgeshire dialect speech and the fact that the SED Cambridgeshire replies (V.8.6; III.1.12) show forms with and without a-.

The present participle prefixed by a- is used by informants of the present study. The usage is attested in the progressive, as illustrated by examples 3.72 (a-c).

3.72 (a)

I’m been a-roding in the cut (i.e., mowing grass and rods out of the ditch). (Rampton HP)

  (b) He’d been a-threshing down there. (Rampton TR)
  (c) They used to be a-digging [turf]. (Swaffham Prior EW)

For more examples of the present participle in the progressive present, past, present perfect and past perfect, and progressive infinitive constructions, see 3.1.4.

Hughes & Trudgill (1979: 59) claim that sat and stood are “widely used in parts of the north and west of England” where StE has sitting and standing. [29] However, this usage is not limited to the north and west of England. [30] For instance, it is recorded in Suffolk in the 1970s, with instances such as That (i.e. a brick oven) was stood like that (Blaxhall). [31] It also occurs in Cambridgeshire: Beauchamp (1977: 8) observes this construction in the dialect of Chatteris (a small town 25 miles from Cambridge) and illustrates it with the examples I was sat and I was stood (with the explanation “representing StE I was sitting and I was standing”). However, no instances of the type he was sat, he was stood were attested in the interviews for the present study. [32]

In addition to the progressives, the -ing forms have two other functions. Present participles and verbal nouns in -ing are used with verbs of motion to express purpose, and present participles also occur in the construction MAIN VERB + NP/PRONOUN + PARTICIPLE. Present participles and verbal nouns in -ing used to express purpose are usually accompanied by the verbs go and come, which are the most frequent verbs of motion both in the present material and in StE. [33] Illustrations of this usage include:

3.73 (a) that were the best place [he] ever went a-thatching (Rampton TR)
  (b) There used to be a man come round here = buying up antiques (Rampton HP)

Both prefixed and non-prefixed forms are attested in this structure.

In the construction MAIN VERB + NP/PRONOUN + PARTICIPLE, the participle is used especially after verbs of perception (cf. the use of the infinitive after verbs of perception). Often there is no apparent reason for the choice between the infinitive and the participle, although the rhythm of speech may play a certain role. This usage is illustrated by examples 3.74 (a-b).

3.74 (a) You wouldn’t see boys playing football and cricket Sundays (Willingham ES)
  (b) I used to stand and watch him mowing (Willingham ET)

In addition, present and past participles are used attributively, as in:

3.75 (a)
MH: What is a watermess?
ET: Well, you break your bread up =
MH: Yes
ET: you put your scalding water on (Willingham)
  (b) (Th)at used to separate the milk = and the cream. The cream used to go in one big = pan and the separated milk used to come in the other (Swaffham Prior EW).

Neither prefixed participles after verbs of perception nor prefixed attributive participles are attested in the interviews recorded for the present study.

However, like the present participle and verbal noun, the past participle may be prefixed by a-. According to Mustanoja (1960: 581), past participles were used with the prefix an- or a- (< of-) in ME. Like the use of the prefix a- with present participles and verbal nouns, this usage has survived in dialects, as noted by scholars such as Wakelin (1972a: 121), who states that “the present and past participles in dialect are often preceded by the prefix a-”. [34] Basing his evidence on the SED replies (IX.3.2; IX.3.3; IX.5.6) along with material collected between the 1950s and early 1970s (e.g. two tape-recordings made by Ihalainen in Somerset in the 1970s), Wakelin (1972a: 121) further notes that “a- before the past participle has a mainly south-western distribution”. [35]

In the interviews for the present study, past participles are not usually prefixed by a-. Nevertheless, there are a few instances with the prefixed past participle in the passive construction, as illustrated by examples 3.76 (a-b).

3.76 (a)

How to break it? Well, you get one out the field what’s = never been a-handled. You got to put a = halter- head and halter we call them … (Burwell GW)

  (b) I went to be a-tested there. (Waterbeach BB)

In other aspects, the forms used in the past-participle functions show great variation in the material for the present study. These forms can be divided into four main categories: (1) -ed forms, (2) forms that are identical to those used as simple past forms in StE, (3) forms that are identical to the base forms, and (4) irregular forms identical to those used in StE. More verbs fall into category (1) in my material than in StE. The verbs blow, draw, grow and sow have the regular -ed ending. (The simple past forms of these verbs are also regular, as discussed in In category (2), the attested forms are ate, broke, drew, froze, took, went and wrote. [36] Thus, the verb draw has two dialectal past-participle forms, drawed and drew. In category (3), the forms are beat, give, take and tread. Thus, the verb take has two dialectal past-participle forms, took and take.

The use of the past participles of category (1) is illustrated by examples 3.77 (a-b) for the present and past perfect constructions, and by example 3.77 (c) for the passive construction.

3.77 (a) I been loading a thatcher but I never laid none on. I’ve drawed the straw for ’em. (West Wickham CC)
  (b) That had blowed a hill up (Waterbeach BB)
  (c) [It was] not far off o’ the = where the corn wa (for StE was) sowed.(Bassingbourn BR)

The use of the past participles of category (2), i.e. forms that are identical to those used as simple-past forms in StE, is illustrated by examples 3.78 (a-b) for the present and past perfect, example 3.78 (c) for the perfect infinitive after a modal auxiliary, example 3.78 (d) for the passive, and example 3.78 (e) for the passive infinitive.

3.78 (a) I’m ate (for StE I’ve eaten) so many eel (Willingham SS)
  (b) ’cause they could see where they’d went (Willingham SS)

That was the third prize which he should took (for StE should have taken). (Waterbeach BB)

  (d) Because all our corn = was took down to Haverhill (Castle Camps JH)
  (e) The furrows used to be drew out for ’ em (Castle Camps JH)

According to Wright (1923: 80), the forms took and went were used for past participles in the 19th century, the former in central-eastern and southern dialects, and the latter in southern and Midland dialects. Drawing evidence mainly from Lowman’s (Guy S. Lowman, Jr.) material from the 1930s, Viereck (1972: 194) observes that “in folk speech the leveled took is used as past participle almost everywhere in Southern England…. In the eastern portions of the East Midlands, however, Standard English taken is almost as common as took.” Basing his conclusions on the SED material collected some twenty years later, Viereck further notes that “results reveal in the East Midlands a spreading of standard taken only in Leicestershire, Rutland, and Northamptonshire. Elsewhere in this area the situation has remained unchanged”. This is also the situation in Cambridgeshire, where the form took (SED IX.3.7) is reported from the localities, Elsworth and Little Downham, visited by the SED fieldworker. Further evidence comes from Beauchamp (1977: 7), who observes that in the Chatteris dialect, “the simple past form of a verb is sometimes used as a past participle”. The usage is illustrated with the examples Today they’re took up with the harvester and They should have went yesterday. [37] For the past participle went used with modal auxiliaries, see e.g. 3.2.4.

The past participle of the verb freeze shows great variation. In addition to the form froze (i.e. the StE simple-past form), the forms frez and frorn are attested in the interviews for the present study, as illustrated by the examples [They] skate down to Ely and back, er, on the- the water frez over (Waterbeach BB) and we wont (for StE weren’t) satisfied at all if we- if we got … half-frorn apples (Willingham ES). According to the OED (freeze, v.), the dialectal and vulgar form friz occurred in the 19th century. Wright (1961: 149) also gives the past participle friz for East Anglia. The form frez is a Cambridgeshire variant pronunciation of friz. The dialectal form frorn occurred in the 15th to 16th centuries and in the 19th century (OED. freeze, v.). [38] In the Cambridgeshire dialect, this form is used only in the attributive function. The use of the form froze is illustrated the example:


and that froze our taps and next we carted water in the house, and weeks all cattle = out o’ = out o’ the farmhouse = in pails. There was, oh, they was froze underground. (Newton JF)

According to the OED (break, v.), the past participle broken was often shortened to broke from the end of the 14th century. This shortened form was exceedingly common in prose and speech during the 17th and 18th centuries. The past participle form broke is still common in dialects. [39] In Cambridgeshire it was reported in the past perfect construction in the SED (IX.3.5). In the interviews for the present study, it is attested in instances such as 3.80.

3.80     That’s all broke up now. (Rampton TR)

The use of the past participles of category (3), i.e. forms identical with the base forms, is illustrated in examples 3.81 (a-b) for the passive construction, example 3.81 (c) for the structure corresponding to a reduced relative clause, and example 3.81 (d) for an absolute past participle clause.

3.81 (a) [I] never got beat with him only once (the meaning is ‘I always won the first prize with this horse’) (Burwell GW)
  (b) and where they walk around the table that’s- that (i.e. the straw on the brick floor) were tread down (Willingham ES)
  (c) I’m had a hundred = hundreds of pints give me playing mo- mouth-organ (Willingham ES)
  (d) but the real brown bread is- is the flour ground with the- with not the bran take out of it (Waterbeach BB)

The use of the past participles of category (4), i.e. irregular forms corresponding to those in StE, is illustrated by examples 3.82 (a-b) for the present perfect construction and by 3.82 (c) for the past perfect construction.

3.82 (a) I een’t (for StE haven’t) bought new seed ... for eight year. (West Wickham CC)
  (b) I’m heard father tell that tale. (Willingham SS)
  (c) I heard the train whistle you may depend I’d had me lunch and I’d had me dinner (Rampton TR)

For the auxiliaries of the present perfect, see 3.2.1. For the form een’t as the negative form of the auxiliary in the present perfect, see 5.1.


[22] The speaker (ES) frequently uses the auxiliary verb be in cases where the auxiliary have is used in StE. In addition, the initial [h] of the full verb have is often omitted in Cambridgeshire dialect speech. Therefore, instances such as that illustrated by the tag question produced by ES are problematic. The use of be in this tag question may relate to an older usage. The original construction was me, us, etc. were better (OED better, 4.b). In the course of time, the nominative (I, he, etc.) supplanted the dative and had took the place of were.

[23] However, compare, for instance, the discussion about the omission of to and the glottalisation and devoicing associated with cliticised to in Shorrocks (1999: 245-247; 1990: 33-35).

[24] In his discussion of the dialect of Farnworth and District, Shorrocks (1999: 247) observes that to (or for to) is optional after the verb help. Shorrocks further points out that, in broad terms, this is also the case in dialects such as U.S. English, Canadian English and, to a lesser degree, Standard British English. Shorrocks refers to Burchfield (1996: 357), who suggests that the to-infinitive “appears to be the more usual in Britain”, in contrast to dialects such as U.S. English.

[25] In this example, ’d-a-been may stand for had have been. Miller & Weinert (1998: 85) claim that conditional clauses “expressing events that can no longer happen also occur with the pluperfect replaced by had + have, the latter typically in its reduced form ’ve”. Their examples include you wouldn’t have got Mark’s place if you’d ’ve come up last year (for ‘had come up’). In his Grammar of the Dialect of the Bolton Area, Shorrocks (1999: 129-130, also Shorrocks 1980: 580-581) discusses the same construction, that is, the construction ’ad (+ NEGATIVE PARTICLE) + ’ave + -ed PARTICIPLE, and notes that this formation is typical of conditional clauses. Shorrocks illustrates the construction with the examples if Edith Dootson hadn’t have come (hadn’t come), if I’d have thought (if I’d thought), if we’d have known (if we’d known), and “If he’d have been killed (if he’d been killed),” ’er (she) said, “we’d have still had to have laughed.” (In his grammar, Shorrocks transcribes the examples phonetically. The examples presented here are written with the corresponding orthographic transcriptions by Shorrocks.) Shorrocks further claims that the interpretation of the affirmative construction as “would + ’ave + -ed PARTICIPLE” is implausible, “because the equivalent negatives show initial ’ad rather than would, and placement of emphatic stress on the auxiliary likewise reveals ’ad, as If they ’adn’t ’a’ kept it goin’ ... ’if they hadn’t kept it going ...’.” In Cambridgeshire dialect speech, the negative construction is infrequent. However, in the data in Vasko (2005) (where the data consists of interviews with 38 speakers, i.e. a larger amount of data than in the present study), the construction occurs in instances such as They’d had this carriage and horse for another wedding, so we got it, you know, where we shouldn’t have done it, if it ’adn’t-a-been for more than one wedding (Waterbeach SB). (The transcription principles in Vasko (2005) are those used in the Helsinki Corpus of British English Dialects. Thus, they differ from the principles used in the present study, i.e. the Cambridgeshire Dialect Grammar. For the Helsinki Corpus of British English Dialects, see http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/CoRD/corpora/Dialects/index.html.)

[26] In the interviews for the present study, the present-participle suffix is usually pronounced [n]. Wright (1905: 224) states that final unstressed [ŋ] has generally become [n] in all dialects of England. For example, in East Anglian popular speech between 1880 and 1920, “the final g is always mute; for instance, taking is never distinguishable from taken” (Forby 1970: 152), and, in Suffolk speech from the 20th century, “the final ‘g’ is seldom sounded in the present participle” (Claxton 1968: 12). According to Wyld (1953: 289), the substitution of n for ng [ŋ] was at one time apparently almost universal in every type of English speech. Referring to the speech of the late 1940s and early 1950s, Wyld further notes that this habit is common in practically all regional dialects of the South and South Midlands, and among large sections of speakers of Received Standard English. Hughes & Trudgill (1979: 34) make a similar statement. They note that most non-RP speakers do not have [ŋ] in the suffix -ing; they have [n] instead, particularly in informal styles.

[27] The present participle prefixed with a- is also attested in Suffolk, although this county is not mentioned by Wright. The form probably existed in Suffolk before the early 20th century although it was not noted until this time. Claxton (1968: 12-13) claimed that the present participle was “usually preceded by ‘a’ as in Middle English, e.g. a-ridin’, a-walkin’, a-smokin’ and a-takin’.” Claxton further provided the example Oi must be a-goin’ don’t Oi’ll be late a-gittin’ home. The prefix a- was still attested in Suffolk in the 1970s. The Helsinki Corpus of British English Dialects includes instances such as She = was a-feeding this oven with the brushes (Blythburgh) and If you work for me, and I’m a-building a house for him, I pay you high wages (Lavenham). The examples were transcribed by Kirsti Peitsara, University of Helsinki.

[28] An even less specific distribution is provided by Edwards & Weltens (1985: 109), who describe ”the use of a prefixed present participle, a-doing, a-coming, etc.” as “a very common variation, especially in the Midlands and parts of S. England”.

[29] The use of this feature in the north of England is described by scholars such as Shorrocks (1980: 557) in his study of the dialect of Farnworth and district. Shorrocks illustrates the usage with the examples thou wasn’t stood up and he was sit in the sink (the form sit is the past participle form in his data). All examples by Shorrocks have been transcribed by using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Thus, the examples given here are his ‘translations’ into words with orthographic spelling. This feature is observed in the south-west of England by Ihalainen (1990a: 89) in his Somerset sample, collected in the 1970s. Ihalainen discusses the verbs sit, stand and lie (which, according to Ihalainen, is a weak verb in Somerset English) and illustrates the usage with the example She was sat in that chair what you are sat now (JS).

[30] Edwards & Weltens (1985: 109) found the construction reported in Manchester, the West Wirral and Reading. However, in their Urban British Dialect Grammar, Cheshire et al. (1989: 200) reported the construction was sat, was stood from a large number of schools taking part in the Survey. Cheshire et al. further noted that there were some regional preferences and presumed that “perhaps this distribution points to a recent diffusion of these features from the north and the west of England, so that although they once had a regional distribution, they are now becoming characteristic of a general non-standard or semi-standard variety of English”. Klemola (1999, 2002) suggests that the construction of the type be sat, be stood might have arisen from a confusion of the present and past participles due to the fact that their dialectal forms were phonetically identical. Häcker (2009) concludes that the type be sat has been in use for centuries. Häcker further argues that the recent increase in frequency of this form is the result of the connotations of the -ing form “such as deliberate behaviour which do not match the typical use of the verb sit”, and that the dialectal construction BE + PAST PARTICIPLE “is preferred in present-day northern English to avoid unwanted connotations”.

[31] This example is included in the Suffolk sub-corpus of the Helsinki Corpus of British English Dialects. The Suffolk sub-corpus data was transcribed by Kirsti Peitsara, University of Helsinki.

[32] Burchfield (1985: 55) includes sat in what he calls ‘wrong participles’ and illustrates the usage with the example He was sat there (correctly sitting). Another ‘wrong participle’ example given by Burchfield is This needs changed (correctly this needs changing). Burchfield considers both to be “unacceptable in any circumstances” in spoken English grammar.

[33] The figures for the StE frequency are based on the BNC frequency counts given in Leech et al. (2001: List 5.2: Frequency list of verbs in the whole corpus [by lemma]).

[34] Wakelin (1986: 36) also notes the distinct origins of the prefix a-, explaining that a- ([ə]) from OE on + verbal noun is prefixed to present participles and a- ([ə]) from OE ge-, ME y-, i- + past participle is prefixed to past participles.

[35] Edwards & Weltens (1985: 110) agree with Wakelin (1972a: 121) and claim that “the prefixed past participle a-done, a-found, etc.” has mainly south-western distribution. However, they note that it also occurs in the South Wales, Berkshire and Cockney dialects.

[36] In addition, the form wrote is attested in instances such as “Well,” he says, “She’s wrote from Canada” (Swavesey TW). This example is in Vasko (2005), a study which draws on a larger database than the present study. The form wrote is also recorded in Elsworth and Little Downham, Cambridgeshire, in the SED (VI.5.5).

[37] According to Edwards & Weltens (1985: 110), the form went is common in dialects. For instance, the Helsinki Corpus of British English Dialects include the example If I had went much farther, I should have been in the water (Pymore, northern Cambridgeshire) and the Newcastle Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English has Well if I’d went to night-schools and all that ... (Beal et al. 2007. http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/journal/volumes/01/beal_et_al/).

[38] In the Suffolk dialect, “the paradigm freezefriz frore/froren (also spelled frawn or frorne) seems to be agreed on by most authors” (Peitsara 1996: 298-299). The form froze is also attested in Suffolk. The Helsinki Corpus of British English Dialects include instances such as Blimey, when you woke up in the morn your pattens (i.e. ice-skates) were froze on ye (Kelsale).

[39] The past participles of irregular verbs identical with StE simple past forms are common in regional dialects. In his list of irregular verbs attested in the dialect of Farnworth and district, Shorrocks (1980: 585-193) gives the past participle forms broke, brought, spoke (with the comment ‘less usual than spoken’), stood, took and wrote (and written, with the comment ‘less common’). In the Suffolk dialect, Claxton (1968: 12) notes forms such as broke, spoke and took. The Helsinki Corpus of British English Dialects includes the form broke from various regions in examples such as He said, “I caught an old hare last night,” he said, “but when I went there she’d broke the cord.” (Pettaugh, Suffolk), I said, “Me leg’s broke.” (Stocumber, Somerset) and I had me leg broke. I was in hospital … I had both bones broke in me leg (Westleigh, Devon).