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A Word, Please:

Living in the past participle

February 03, 2010|By June Casagrande

So now that you know where to find the past participle of any verb, you just need to make sure you know what a past participle is. Just think of it as the one that goes with “have.” Today I swim. Yesterday I swam. In the past I have swum. Today I write. Yesterday I wrote. In the past I have written. Today I sleep. Yesterday I slept. In the past I have slept. Today I rise. Yesterday I rose. In the past I have risen.

But be warned. If you look up a verb like “walk” in some dictionaries, you’ll get no such help. “Webster’s New World College Dictionary” contains no “walked” or “walking” after its main entry for “walk.”

Does that mean your job just got harder? On the contrary, it just got easier.

“Webster’s New World’s” guide to using the dictionary says, “this dictionary usually shows only those inflected forms that are irregular or that present specific difficulties. Regular inflected forms are usually not shown.”

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Regular verbs like “walk,” as we all know, go: Today I walk. Yesterday I walked. In the past I have walked. The simple past and the past participle are the same — they’re just the root verb with an “ed” on the end.

For those who got thrown off by the word “inflected,” Webster’s has you covered there, too. Right in the “Guide to the Dictionary” it says, “Inflection is the way some words change form so as to serve particular grammatic functions.”

So even folks who can’t pronounce “Mark parked the car in the yard” have no excuse for adding, “because he had rode the train that day.”


Get in touch JUNE CASAGRANDE is a freelance writer and author of “Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies” and “Mortal Syntax: 101 Language Choices That Will Get You Clobbered by the Grammar Snobs — Even If You’re Right.” She may be reached at JuneTCN@aol.com. Get in touch JUNE CASAGRANDE is a freelance writer and author of “Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies” and “Mortal Syntax: 101 Language Choices That Will Get You Clobbered by the Grammar Snobs — Even If You’re Right.” She may be reached at JuneTCN@aol.com.

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