We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Today is the fourth post in the series on misused word pairs. These are words which are frequently substituted for each other even though they don’t have the same meaning.
Today’s word is not part of a pair in the same sense as those discussed in the earlier posts. Today’s word is a misconjugation of a verb.
You remember conjugating verbs sometime back in school? Present tense, past tense, past participle, and so forth? Oh, you were asleep that day? Pity.
Anyhow, the use of the proper tense of the verb tells your reader or listener when the action or state of being you are trying to convey took place. Is it taking place right now (present tense)? Did it take place yesterday or at some other specific time in the past (past tense)? Or has it taken place numerous times in the past (past participle)?
Most of us can conjugate most verbs without any trouble, but there’s one verb in particular that seems to baffle many of us. For some reason, we have trouble conjugating the verb to dive. Since dive rhymes with drive, we want to make its past tense rhyme with drove.
Since we drive today and drove yesterday, we want to say we dive today and dove yesterday. If that were so, I supposed we should say we have diven many times in the past. Wouldn’t that make sense? Yet, no one ever says that. We know diven is not correct. Why don’t we go ahead and learn that dove is not correct either.
The past tense of the verb to dive is dived. So is the past participle. I dive today. I dived yesterday. I have dived many times in the past.
When you use dove for your past tense, spellcheck will approve it, because d-o-v-e does spell a word. Unfortunately, that word describes a game bird. It’s a noun, not a verb.
Let’s try to remember this point. To dive is a fairly common verb, and its past tense is one of the most frequently misused words in the language. Correcting that is a simple matter. Just remember that no one has ever diven. Maybe that will help us all to remember not to dove for a verb. It’s dived.
Let’s all learn this simple rule of word usage so we can write more intelligent and coherent prose.
What grammatical misuse bothers you? What particular area of grammar would you like help with? I’d love to hear and help.
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