More Verbs To Drug You Through

Here are some lines that are similar to many I see in manuscripts I edit:

“After George drug Ralph through the mud, he sunk into his easy chair and watched TV.”

“The sun shined on the water after the sun had rose.”

“I sung a song after I swum across the lake, then I drunk a bottle of beer.”

Okay, I hope you saw some problems in these sentences. If you didn’t, that’s okay. That’s why you’re reading this blog post—to improve your grammar, right? So, don’t feel bad—you’re not alone. I’m not sure that we conjugate so many verbs incorrectly because this is how we’ve learned to talk, but whatever the reason, we need to use the correct conjugation of a verb in our writing.

If you want to get technical, what is happening is writers are using the past participle form (usually with had, as in “I had swum”) with the past indicative (the” regular old” past tense, as in “I swam.”) So here are the three correct forms of some verbs you may sometimes get confused (present, past, and past participle forms):

  • Swim, swam, swum
  • Shine, shined, shined (if you are shining shoes or some object)
  • Shine, shone, shone (if an object is shining on its own, such as the sun)
  • Rise, rose, risen (the sun had risen at six a.m.)
  • Raise, raised, raised (as in lifting your arm)
  • forbid, forbade, forbidden
  • Get, got, gotten
  • Bear, bore, borne (carry)
  • Bare, bared, bared (reveal)
  • Drink, drank, drunk
  • Hang, hanged, hanged (as in swinging from the gallows)
  • Hang, hung, hung (to suspend)
  • Shake, shook, shaken

And it’s drag, dragged, dragged—no, not drugged. That involves chemicals. Which makes me think of last week’s post and the misuse of lie and lay. “I lied on the bed after they drugged me there.” Some writers intend for this to mean they were reclining on the bed after someone pulled them along the floor. But I’m sure you see how this really means something entirely different (more like an abduction scene from a spy thriller, right?).



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  1. I know these issues from my vast experience as an interacting person. But if I wish to formalize my knowledge of verb conjugation beyond this level — both recognize and name all the various forms — can you recommend some learning resources? Online is preferred, but I am not opposed to buying a good book.

    1. There are lots of books on grammar available online. I’d recommend searching through Amazon and picking some that seem to be what you are looking for. I have about two dozen I use for reference. Some are straight verb conjugation books. But it’s good to get some books on usage and confusables too.

    2. If you wanted to get very serious about it, you could look into Old English grammar…that’s where I learned that English verbs aren’t nearly as irregular as I’d thought!

      Great post, by the way. I’ve been reading your blog for a couple months now and very much enjoying what you have to say.

  2. I love your grammar posts. It just makes me wish that all the money we spend as a nation on mindless conflicts around the world could be spent on better education for the people living within our borders.


    Jody Z

  3. I don’t know why I chuckled through this, because it’s really very helpful. Maybe it’s because you use humor to teach–well done! I think I mostly passed, but I do believe I’ve said (or written), “He forbad it.”

  4. Some improper usages would work in conversation if the person speaking came from a certain walk of life. It’s amazing to me that writers don’t HEAR that the usage is just wrong–especially the DRUG usage.

  5. It concerns me, as well, that these writers don’t hear the grammatical errors. We are more likely to ignore it in copywriting and personal blogs than in manuscripts; but, that doesn’t make it okay. The fact that we do condone such usage, anywhere, is worrying. It must affect the common denominator.

  6. Long time lurker finally commenting here. This post reminds me of a prank I did on a classmate eons ago.

    My teacher asked some students in class to say the present, past, and past participle forms of the verbs she gave. It so happened that all the verbs she gave have past participle forms ending with -en.

    She told my seatmate to give the present, past, and past participle forms of “sit”. My classmate looked at me and asked what they are.

    So, I somewhat quietly told him what to recite: sit, then sat, then…sitten (instead of sat). Imagine the laughs (and the teacher’s smile) after. 🙂

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