In my editing I sometimes encounter a case where the author gets a verb’s past tense wrong. Here are three errors I’ve encountered a few times. These are incorrect:
He broadcasted his location over the radio.
The weatherman forecasted that it would rain today.
The knight thrusted his sword into the thief.
There are more verbs than we realize whose present tense, past tense, and past participles are the same and don’t take the normal -ed endings of regular verbs. Most of them are common enough that we take them for granted: put, hurt, bet, shut, let, quit, and several others.
He puts his money in the bank every week.
He put his money in the bank yesterday.
He has always put his money in the bank.
In the list below, note that some of these verbs exist in two acceptable forms, with or without the -ed ending. For some, the -ed form is more common; for others the opposite is the case.
Of course, the language is constantly changing, so we may see some of these less common forms shift into common use, just as “sunk” is now an acceptable past tense of “sink” (instead of “sank”) and “drank” has become an acceptable past participle of “drink” instead of “drunk.”
So pay attention to these and to avoid errors in your writing.
However, all is fair when it comes to adding color to the language of some of your characters. Just know that you’re doing this intentionally, not out of ignorance as a writer.
NOTE: The following table is one I put together from data from several sources. You’re free to copy or print it. (And if you’re wondering, it was a bit of a pain to format it because I’m not super html savvy.)
|Present||Simple past||Past participle|
|(1st/3rd person)||(1st & 3rd same)||(only one form)|
While the present and past tense of “read” are spelled the same, we’re all aware of the different pronunciation (reed/red).
“Spat” is primarily used in the UK, while “spit is used in the US.
“Quitted” is rare in the US, but more common in the UK.
For some of these, one form is more formal, while the other is more informal.
The verb “slit” has two different uses. When used in the sense of cutting, the past and participle is “slit.” When used to refer to the eyes being barely open, then the past tense is “slitted” (He slitted his eyes to keep out the bright light.) “Slitted” is also an adjective referring to something having slits.