“I should have went.” “She might have drove.” “We had already ate.” Say “I do” to anyone with a red B on his head or chest and risk spending the rest of your life chasing him around the house and swinging a rolling pin Kevin Youkilis-style while yelling, “It’s ‘could have chosen,’ not ‘could have chose’!”
And, no, this has nothing to do with education. My guy has six years more schooling than I do. Six years. That’s wicked smart. But it wasn’t enough to free him from the curse of the participle-ino.
Of course, it’s not just Massachusetts folks who fall short of participle perfection. Residents of any state can stumble on “I have drank” vs. “I have drunk” or “The picture was hanged” vs. “The picture was hung.” Most people have no idea where to turn for help with these matters.
But everyone — even someone who keeps a picture of Tom Brady in his wallet and another under his pillow — can get participles right every time just by looking in the dictionary.
Most dictionaries use the same basic M.O. Look up any verb, say “swim,” and you’ll see listed right after it, in bold, something like, “swam, swum, swimming.” That means that the simple past tense is “swam,” the past participle is “swum,” and the progressive participle is “swimming.” That’s the standard formula for most dictionaries: main verb entry, followed by simple past tense, followed by past participle, then by the “ing” form. And if you forget that, not to worry: Most dictionaries have a “Guide to the Dictionary” section right up front.