Dive, Dove, Have Diven

by Cherie Tucker

October 2013

There are several verbs that people don't need to have trouble with, but for some reason they do. Regular verbs are made into past or future tenses by changing the ending: walk, walked, have walked, am walking. Easy as that. It is usually the irregular ones that make us crazy: lie, lay, have lain, am lying (remember those?).

There are a couple of verbs, however, that were born entirely regular, but people either aren't aware of it or they have forgotten. The first one is dive. It is as regular as can be: dive, dived, have dived. I know that the past tense dove is more commonly heard of late, and it can be used as the past tense in contemporary speech, but it usually sends you to the logical but hilarious have diven. When my son's high school swim team switched divisions, they had to add divers to their team. Hearing the swimmers and their parents try to talk about diving was always the same. It would start with "Have you ever . . .," and then there would be stuttering or silence. It's have you ever dived. The other regular verb that causes trouble is sneak. It changes tense like this: sneak, sneaked, have sneaked, am sneaking. But what about snuck, you ask. That is an Americanism, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, that came about in the 19th Century. It is becoming more and more common in everyday speech, as is dove, and spell check won't call you on it either. But neither mixes well with others in more formal writing or in historical fiction that is set in a time before snuck sneaked in.

Cherie Tucker, owner of GrammarWorks, has taught writing basics to professionals since 1987, presenting at the PNWA conference.  She currently teaches Practical Grammar for Editors at the University of Washington’s Editing Certification program and edits as well.  GrammarWorks@msn.com.


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