Let’s Keep Some of the Old Verb Forms

By Maeve Maddox

When it comes to some irregular verbs, I really hate to see the old past participle forms “regularized” to the dominant “-ed” ending.

Here’s an odd “regularization” of split:

Data is splitted between the protocols HTTP and FTP.

To be fair, I found this example on a site belonging to a company based in Germany. It’s a logical mistake for a non-native English speaker.

Split is one of those rare verbs that never changes its form:

Today they split the data.
Yesterday they split the data.
The data is split between protocols.
The data has been split.

This next example is from an online chat:

… the Rabbi of Bardichev…always seeked to judge Jews favorably…

As far as I can tell, the site is based in the U.S. The person who typed this sentence is well-educated. I have no way of knowing if he’s a native English speaker, but I’m pretty sure that he is. It may be that seek is undergoing the same change as slay.

I’ve often expressed my aversion to slayed as the simple past of slay, “to kill.” I much prefer the forms slay, slew, (have) slain. I’ll continue to use the old forms in my own writing, but I realize that many other writers are going with the “-ed” forms.

Unlike “slayed,” I’ve never seen “seeked” before. I hope this is just a personal aberration.

The “-ed” change has already taken place with seek’s cousin, beseech: “to beg urgently.” Both words derive from Old English secan, “visit, inquire, pursue.”
He beseeched her to change her mind raises no hackles for me, although I might still find a use for besought in my writing.

What do readers think? Should all English verbs be regularized to “-ed” forms? Or do you have old-fashioned favorites you’d hate to see make the change?

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31 Responses to “Let’s Keep Some of the Old Verb Forms”

  • Rocco

    English was my favorite subject in school, i (just kidding Kathy) ….. I love our language.

    I have always felt though, that some of our rules are for calrity and precision while others seemed intentionally complex. If a large percentage of people all use the same incorrect form, it is usually a convenience issue. I guess when enough people do it it becomes ok?

    I have to admit, professional teachers, writers and speakers are held to a higher standard than the average Joe. We count on you to keep the rest of us in the know, so thank you for your tireless efforts at learning our beautifully complex language and being masters of it.

    PS If I butchered our beautiful language with bad spelling and poor grammer please consider it tolerence therapy. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was one of the few lucky students that was taught ITA in the 70’s. I loved it, but being so beautifully simple, it fostered some neglect at mastering the real deal.

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