Verb Mistakes #3: Irregular Past Participles

By Maeve Maddox

The following verb errors appear in sources that could be expected to observe rules of standard usage.

Incorrect: The victim could have eaten or drank something by accident. (TV detective)
Correct : The victim could have eaten or drunk something by accident.

The principal parts of drink are drink, drank, (have) drunk.

Incorrect: Tonight was certainly a 40-minute battle and could have went the other way. (College football coach who has earned a master’s degree from LSU)
Correct : Tonight was certainly a 40-minute battle and could have gone the other way.

The principal parts of go are go, went, (have) gone.

Incorrect: Toddler Who May Have Ate Baking Soda Dies (Headline on news site)
Correct : Toddler Who May Have Eaten Baking Soda Dies

The principal parts of eat are eat, ate, (have) eaten.

Incorrect: Educated, skilled, and sometimes encouraged by their white progenitors, persons of mixed descent might have ran middle-sized farms and specialized businesses and practiced crafts either rejected by whites or inaccessible to enslaved black people. (National Park Service archeology site)
Correct : Educated, skilled, and sometimes encouraged by their white progenitors, persons of mixed descent might have run middle-sized farms and specialized businesses and practiced crafts either rejected by whites or inaccessible to enslaved black people.

The principal parts of run are run, ran, (have) run.

Incorrect: For the State to maintain Criminal Vehicular Operation charges against a driver, the person causing the injury of another must have drove their vehicle in a grossly negligent manner. (Minnesota law firm site)
Correct : For the State to maintain Criminal Vehicular Operation charges against a driver, the person causing the injury of another must have driven their vehicle in a grossly negligent manner.

The principal parts of drive are drive, drove, (have) driven.

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5 Responses to “Verb Mistakes #3: Irregular Past Participles”

  • venqax

    You covered had drank and had went. The other one I encounter most often is broke where broken belongs. In fact, I think I hear, “We couldn’t come because Ed had broke his leg”, and, “My cellphone is broke, again” more than I hear the word broken.

    This is strangely common among native English speakers to whom you would think (wrongly, I guess) it would simply sound wrong. Can you really have any post-elementary education at all– and work at a law firm– and have, “must have drove their vehicle” sound okay to you? How is that possible? “Who may have at baking soda?” I think it is something that really needs explanation from linguistic psychologists or someone, although I’m afraid they would just put stamp of approval on it, as regular linguists* would.

    *Is it possible to get a bad grade on a written assignment in linguistics school? Do they actually encourage students to ignore or to “creatively” violate rules of grammar, orthoepy, syntax, spelling, etc.? I’ve wondered about that.

  • Carol Svecz

    I love this, but many of my answers in the verb re-writes were correct but marked incorrect.

  • dragonwielder

    venqax, in my linguistics classes in college we were still expected to use good grammar & spelling. But I can’t say what other professors at other universities would do…

    I don’t understand how common this is, either. How could (presumably educated) native speakers who make these errors think that they’re acceptable English?

  • thebluebird11

    Sadly, I hear these horrible butcherings of our language way too often. I have always assumed that people who speak this way came from homes where their parents spoke that way, either because they were uneducated, improperly educated or just didn’t care enough to make the effort to put the “n” on the end of “broke,” or something. It absolutely grates on my ear to hear people make these mistakes, and I have a neighbor who does it all the time (thank goodness she is not currently on speaking terms with me). However, not to toot my own horn, maybe more to pay homage to DWT and its contribution to the betterment of my life over these years, I have mellowed out a bit in terms of the way I handle things that grate on my ears. In the past, I would jump to correct people. Now, I just let things slide off my back. I have gotten all the support I need from DWT to know when I’m right, and it’s comforting to know that there are others who have peeves similar to mine. That knowledge is enough to keep me from trying to correct the entire world. I am happy to come here, learn something and tend my own garden, so to speak. I have learned to let others tend theirs, or not.

  • Kurt Kaiser

    I agree 100% and think its a shame that we accept the butchery of the English language at any level , it’s makes me wonder what other things a person may not care about. Especially public speakers , Lawers, Judges, and columnist of important news media magazines and Internet correspondents. passing along misuse of the basic rules of grammar should be unacceptable. (I would say “its a sin” but no one seems to care about sinning anymore). What drives me crazy and is so commonly misused is when to use the word “a” or “an” in a sentance. My back round in education is basically 7th grade level I failed all English classes and math classes since 7th grade until I finally quit school at winter break of 11th grade and failing the proficiency test. I jumped right into the work force taking a job in a machine shop learning how to drill, tap, counterbore, and countersink aluminum parts manufactured for D.O.D. in 6 months I changed to the Electronics mfg. And remained in that field for the next 21 years. I currently install hardwood floors for a living and own nothing and have no retirement and I owe various government and state entities more money then I could ever payand more then I have ever dreamed if having in a checking or savings account.

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