Five Frequently Misused Verbs: Go, Come, Write, Give, and Eat
Among the most frequently used words in English, these five verbs are also the most frequently misused.
The error occurs when the simple past forms are used to form the present or past perfect, giving such examples as:
When he got there, I’d already went.
Has he came yet?
He had wrote her twenty letters.
He’s gave everything away.
The cat has ate the canary.
One could object that such usage is so obviously incorrect that it hardly merits a mention.
Consider, however, that there was a time when the construction “Me and my friends go to the movies every week” would have been considered the obvious mark of an uneducated person. These days, it’s impossible to watch a talk show without hearing it uttered by speakers who have presumably completed many years of school.
It is an axiom among economists that bad money drives out good. Nonstandard grammar–especially when spoken by celebrities–can drive out the standard variety.
For the record, therefore, here are examples of standard usage:
Today I go. Yesterday I went. I have gone there many times.
Today I come to the party. Yesterday he came to the party. He has come to all our parties.
Today I write. Yesterday I wrote. I have written every week.
Today I give. Yesterday I gave. I have given every year.
Today I eat breakfast. Yesterday I ate oat bran. I have eaten lunch.
Since the difficulty is only with the form used with “have” or “had,” one way to overcome the problem where it exists might be to practice saying the perfect form over and over until it sounds correct: have gone, have gone, have gone; have eaten, have eaten, have eaten and so on.
Subscribe to Daily Writing Tips and get a free eBook!
- Our weekly newsletter is free (one email per week, on Tuesdays)
- You will improve your English, guaranteed.
- Get our "100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid" eBook free.
Keep learning! Browse the Grammar category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:
- 25 Subordinating Conjunctions
- 20 Words Meaning "Being or Existing in the Past"
- 90 Verbs Starting with “Ex-”