Five Past Participle Verb Mistakes That Make a Person Sound, um, Uneducated

There are many grammar problems that people (even professionals, speakers/pastors, and writers) can get by with today without sounding like fingernails on a chalkboard. (Is that analogy too old school to use nowadays?) ūüôā


I listen to talking books as I drive, clean, cook, and edit‚ÄĒand even million dollar best sellers somehow get away with things like ‚Äúshe had less smiles for him today than before‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúcontest between the two of us–who works the most; who works the hardest; who is the most tired‚ÄĚ (ouch!). However, when it comes to past participles, finger nails on the chalkboard do not even describe the sound of a couple of those from the pulpit or webinar!


Irregular verbs are just that‚ÄĒirregular. And irregularity, but its very nature, can be, um…..uncomfortable. (Sorry!)

The most common errors with irregular verbs occur with the past participle form.The ‚Äúpast participle‚ÄĚ is the form of the verb that is used with the being or helping verbs has, have, and had.



There are two errors made with past participles:

(1) Saying the past participle form (like run from the meme above) when you need the past (ran): I run all over town today.

(2) Saying the past tense (ran, again from the meme) when you need the past participle (run): I had ran through the campground.


Here is the scoop on forming past participles in terms of regular vs irregular:

(1) Most English verbs form the past tense and the past participle by adding ed‚ÄĒwant/wanted, help/helped, etc.

(2) About 150 common English verbs do not form them with ed only‚ÄĒhave/had, find/found

(3) Over half of the irregular verbs that do not use ed are easy because their past is the same as their past participle form:

Today I find

Yesterday I found

Before that I HAVE found


(4) That leaves about seventy irregular verbs with different past participles than past tense‚ÄĒand this is where the Five Past Participle Verb Mistakes That Make a Person Sound, um, Uneducated comes in:

Today I go; yesterday I went; before that I have gone

Today I run; yesterday I ran; before that I have run

Many people do not notice if someone uses the wrong swim/swam/swum or even run/ran/run, but there are a handful that sound so wrong that they truly can make a speaker sound at least undereducated (from what he might be!)‚ÄĒand can truly detract from your message.



So‚ÄĒdon‚Äôt say these!
(1) Ran for run….I have RUN.

(2) Gave for given…I have GIVEN.

(3) Went for gone…I have GONE. (very common…very bad!)

(4) Wrote for written….I have WRITTEN.

(5) Did for done…I have DONE.



Other common past participle errors:

swim         swam               had swum

dive          dived/dove      had dived

ring           rang                 had rung

spit           spit/spat          had spat

lie¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† lay¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† had¬† lain¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† (to lie down yourself …not to place)

lay¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† laid¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† had laid¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† (to place something…lay it down)

hang¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† hung¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† had hung¬†¬†¬† (to hang a picture….not to kill)

hang        hanged            had hanged     (to hang someone/execute)





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