Dictionary.com

Snuck or Sneaked

snuck, sneaked, chalkboard

You may have heard that snuck as the past tense of sneak is improper English, but does this designation hold water?

Like leaked as the past tense of leak, sneaked was the original past tense and past participle for sneak, which means “to move in a stealthy or furtive manner.” Used as early as the late 1800s, snuck has become the standard variant past tense and past participle of the verb sneak. Though some grammarians, particularly in Britain, still prefer sneaked, snuck has achieved widespread acceptance and usage in edited writing, including fiction and journalism.

How did this strange form sneak into standard English? Writing in 1995 in the New York Times, language maven William Safire explores how colloquial usage slowly standardizes by examining how shrunk overtook shrank as the preferred past tense of the verb shrink. He pinpoints the 1989 film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids as pushing the use of shrank into obscurity in favor of the past participle shrunk for the simple past tense. He also discusses–and uses–snuck as the past tense form of sneak, calling it a “perfect example of a usage that has crept (informally creeped) up on us.”

Which form do you prefer?

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211 Comments

  1. Brian -  September 22, 2016 - 8:19 am

    So what about dived instead of dove? Also, the verb addicting instead of the adjective addictive?

    Reply
    • Jessi -  September 25, 2016 - 9:19 am

      I’m pretty sure that dove is more accurate

      Reply
      • Riley -  October 2, 2016 - 5:50 pm

        Yeah, that’s what I hear people say. Only my little sis says dived! :)

        Reply
  2. Mara -  August 1, 2016 - 8:20 pm

    The beauty of the English language is that it is evolving. Whether we like it or not. Using ‘snuck’ or ‘sneaked’ won’t hurt. Unless you favor the one more than the other. Otherwise, it would still make sense either you use ‘sneaked’ or ‘snuck’ Preference, people. Preference.

    Reply
    • Pillai -  August 22, 2016 - 12:12 am

      Since both are ‘legal’ now, I guess it does fall to preference… agreed!

      I do use ‘snuck’ in informal conversations, however I do use ‘sneaked’ in written and especially formal written communiqués.

      Reply
    • Riley -  October 2, 2016 - 5:51 pm

      I only say “snuck” ;) :) :D

      Reply
  3. Josef Baumert -  April 11, 2016 - 8:08 am

    i am going to copy and paste these comments onto my english paper and graduate months early.

    Reply
    • Iris L. -  July 30, 2016 - 10:04 am

      saem xD

      (such an original comment.)

      Reply
      • joshuainmahass -  December 5, 2016 - 8:06 am

        seam vs same XD

        Reply
  4. Michael -  March 20, 2016 - 12:12 am

    I’ve grown up in America only hearing snuck as past tense/past participle, so sneaked sounds strange to me. I’m amazed by how hostile people in these comments are to such a small change in a language that has had quite the history of big changes. A few hundred years ago we would all be wrong for saying helped instead of holp/holpen along with many other verbs that have changed with time, so why is there so much resistance to snuck? People seem to forget that their “rules” of language are really just suggestions and as soon as a majority (or even strong minority) create a new rule, the old is replaced.

    Reply
  5. Hannah -  January 1, 2016 - 5:43 pm

    Reminds me of that time on the old late show when Jennifer Garner told Conan O’Brien, after he used the word “snuck”, that he went to Harvard he should know there’s no such thing as the word ‘snuck.’ Then Conan brought out a dictionary and proved her wrong. xp

    Reply
    • Markus -  March 14, 2016 - 1:00 am

      It’s like saying or using ain’t, which while it is a word, it simply shouldn’t be. Snuck, among many words, come from lazy and ignorant people who because of pop culture force it to a daily use and becomes normal. Conan was right but due to mass stupidity. Jenn was reasonably right.

      Reply
      • Mark -  March 15, 2016 - 9:54 am

        Who’s to say what should or shouldn’t be words? Contractions are a natural and typical direction for words to evolve. As a general rule the fewer phonemes the better. “Am not” has 4 if you don’t count the pause between words. “A”, “m”, “no”, “t”. “Ain’t” has 3, “Ai”, “n”, “t”. It’s as natural as “won’t”.

        “Snuck” is the same way. It has 3 consonant sounds, “s” “n” “k”. Much better than the clunky “sneaked”, which has a total of 4 consonants.

        Reply
      • Markus 2.0 -  March 15, 2016 - 12:13 pm

        You’re so right Markus. That is after all why we are all speaking middle english still.

        Here, enjoy:

        And smale foules maken melodie,
        That slepen alle night with open eye,
        So priketh hem nature in hir corages;
        Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages.
        Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 9.

        Reply
  6. Renee S. -  October 13, 2015 - 10:21 am

    It’s like the difference between someone being hung to death or hanged. It’s confusing but when I’m teaching my daughter I do want her to know the correct way to write it and say it in America or Britain. ;)

    Reply
    • Riki -  March 29, 2016 - 9:22 am

      That is one of the most frustrating phrases in the English language, to me. 99% of the people I know say it incorrectly. I guess you could say it’s a pet-peeve of mine. The easy way to teach your daughter to remember is that all standard grammatical rules apply to these words (ie: hung a picture) except when you are talking about hanging someone during an execution. If someone is being “hung” by chains and tortured but not killed, “hung” is correct.
      However, if someone is being executed, “hanged” is correct.
      The original phrase during an execution was “[so and so]…shall be hanged by the neck until dead”.
      I hope that helps. (:

      Reply
      • Pillai -  August 22, 2016 - 12:00 am

        When it comes to the ‘hang until dead’ scenario, it’s a good idea to take it straight out of the law books, as it is a legal decision handed down by a judge usually.

        Also, semantically, when someone is hung off something, it could be by a meat hook etc. When the person is hanged, then the imagery presented is of that person hanging by a noose to his / her neck.

        So, in consideration of the above points, ‘hanged until dead’ being the standard court sentence, I’d suggest it be a guide.

        Hope this helps.

        Regards

        Reply
  7. jlbnola -  July 28, 2015 - 2:21 pm

    Sneaked is correct, because, according to a grammar school teacher 35 years ago: “Snuck sounds like something that would come out of your nose.” Talk about burning something into your memory…

    Reply
    • Rita -  July 30, 2016 - 7:29 am

      I like “sneaked” better. I never heard “snuck” when I was going to school only in the last few years. I am 66.

      Reply
  8. Aaron_of_Portsmouth -  July 18, 2015 - 1:38 pm

    Although I’m not going to lose any sleep over “snuck” vs “sneaked”, I’ve always felt that “snuck” sounds “dorky” and tend to use “sneaked” instead. However, depending on my audience, I’ve resorted to “snuck”, with an attendant minor shudder up my spine.

    Reply
    • Will_of_Portland -  July 21, 2015 - 2:37 pm

      Tomato tomahto

      Reply
    • Mamasama -  August 29, 2015 - 6:00 pm

      Audience does play a role. “Snuck” comes in handy when rhyming, and I’d bet that Dr. Seuss wouldn’t reject that!

      Reply
  9. Douglas -  July 16, 2015 - 5:58 am

    I think both are wrong. It should be sneak (infinitive), snoke (simple past), snoken (past participle). LOL

    Reply
  10. Daff -  July 13, 2015 - 6:41 am

    I know I am a little late on this article but here are my thoughts:

    There is a reason why when you search up what language do British people speak, British English pops up. Not just English, as the language Americans speak. So if there is difference in between the two countries literature or grammar, it is because we technically speak different languages.(So can all of you guys stop calling Americans stupid, we aren’t as dumb as you really think). I personally believe that either term is correct, even if sneaked is an actual word and snuck is not. “I sneaked out last night.” is as correct as “I snuck out last night.” It just depends on the person and how they feel which sentence is more correct to them. (Opinions will be opinions, you cant change someone’s opinions even if the facts are there.)

    Reply
    • Linda -  July 16, 2015 - 10:43 pm

      well said. Thank you.

      Regards,

      An American soul.

      Reply
    • Madi -  August 18, 2015 - 8:46 pm

      That’s a good point. I never thought of it as a different language, but the more you think about it Ameicans kind of do have their own language comparing to British English n.n

      (Just so you know I am Australian)

      Reply
    • Mamasama -  August 29, 2015 - 6:08 pm

      Author Bill Bryson, having been born in America and spent a long time in Britain, has 2 wonderful books on the differences between American English and British English. The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way (1990) and Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States (1994) are fun reads about the multitude of quirks that make English such a tricky language to master.

      Reply
    • Mara -  August 1, 2016 - 8:14 pm

      You can actually change someone else’s opinions by giving the facts. That is if that person acknowledges facts.

      Reply
  11. Danielle Volle -  July 12, 2015 - 7:28 pm

    Some of you are super uptight. If you love a language, let it grow!

    Reply
  12. Hello -  July 11, 2015 - 11:50 am

    Of course it’s sneaked because snuck is under lined red.

    Reply
    • Feces Face -  July 14, 2015 - 8:07 pm

      Really? Is it sneaked? So I am guessing you would say ‘I sneaked past my Mum’ instead of ‘I snuck past my Mum’?

      Reply
      • Mara -  August 1, 2016 - 8:10 pm

        Both are correct.

        Reply
  13. Hello -  July 11, 2015 - 11:49 am

    Of course it’s sneaked because snuck is under lined red

    Reply
  14. Why not snuk or snook? -  July 11, 2015 - 10:52 am

    There is no c in sneak.

    Reply
    • Danielle Volle -  July 13, 2015 - 11:24 pm

      Um, because English words with / ʌ / (uh) vowel sounds don’t end in uk. Period. That would break a much more fundamental rule of the language.

      Reply
    • Linda -  July 16, 2015 - 10:46 pm

      snuk or snook…it has rhythm…the reader will understand your point. However, this spelling would not work in the business world.

      Reply
  15. Ramona -  July 10, 2015 - 3:51 pm

    Is it ( who would have thought or who would have thunk)? I have always used what I was taught. Think, thought, thought. Now it appears people are starting to use, ( Think, thought, thunk) . I will continue to use thought, myself.

    Reply
    • WillyJ -  July 26, 2015 - 9:52 am

      Who’da thunk it?

      Reply
      • Aryanna -  November 30, 2016 - 8:50 am

        Well I say snuck

        Reply
  16. Serious lundon -  July 10, 2015 - 9:55 am

    I understand the issue that many people have with the word “snuck,” and I wholeheartedly agree it isn’t proper past tense for sneak. However The simple fact remain languages evolve and will continue to evolve. People who fail to acknowledge this appear just as ignorant, if not more so then the term they are rejecting. Anyone who has studied the evolution of language can clearly see this. Take old English for example, in relation to the “proper English” you may speak now seems just as lazy as the ignorant Americanisms people claim to hate so much. Even more so the people who sneer at people for using a different sounding term are no much better then the people who consider Ebonics a substandard form of English. The bottom line is that languages change and evolve and people whoe fail to accept this are often close minded and lack culture.

    Reply
    • Eob -  July 11, 2015 - 3:07 am

      OK, you keep saying “then the” when using comparisons. How about you use the correct grammar?

      Reply
    • Billy Bean -  July 11, 2015 - 5:49 pm

      I appreciate your point. But consider the possibility that languages, like cultures in general, might possibly devolve. Not all change is necessarily for the better.

      Reply
      • Bobby! -  July 16, 2015 - 12:43 pm

        I absolutely agree that many additions to a language cause it to devolve. Most words have roots that mean something; and if you know the meaning of the roots you can infer the meaning of the word! Even without the context of a sentence. When you add words that aren’t based on known roots, words, prefixes, suffixes, etc. you just make the language even more incomprehensible! Just a collection of words you have to memorize! They break the rules of conjugation, spelling, and pronunciation! Making it even harder to learn and understand.

        If you want to put a “word” (e.g. snuck, learnt, thunk, text as a verb, twerk, etc.) in a dictionary, why would we not mark it as slang and discourage its use?!?!

        Reply
        • WillyJ -  July 26, 2015 - 9:59 am

          Often slang terms become mainstream. I would argue that languages cannot ‘devolve’ as change is inevitable and constant. Language is organic and as long as 7 billion of us are talking, it will change. C
          hange cannot be stopped. Ask Geoffery Chaucer!

          Reply
        • Markus 2.0 -  March 15, 2016 - 12:15 pm

          No.

          To claim a language devolves it to claim that it is best as it is used here and now, or alternately that you possess authority to tell others when the language is at its best.

          Devolving doesn’t happen.

          Reply
          • Bostancia -  March 30, 2016 - 9:49 pm

            Have you seed “Idiocracy”? It bees a movie. People couldn’t not keep learnt soes they getted dumber. Yas. Language devolvded.

      • Lee Donovan -  July 30, 2015 - 8:06 am

        Social media (Twitter and Face Book, in particular) have created a whole new sub genre of writing where “it’s not the spelling or grammar that are important, it’s the content.” Even though I am all in favor of language change and growth, I completely agree with you that not all change is a good thing, and that a language can, indeed, devolve. I see it everyday in the aforementioned media.

        Also, prescriptivism, in any form, is taken as an affront, by many who use those media, as the ramblings of an uptight grammar Nazi who has nothing better to do with his time than to correct others. My perspective on it is this: if you’re going to commit something to writing, it behooves the author’s credibility to, at the very least, proofread his work.

        Reply
  17. Mud -  July 10, 2015 - 8:51 am

    Oh yeah .. just 1 other t’ing. How is it “correct” to say/write, ” .. if this were not so .. ” ?

    I always was lernt, you say “this was” .. , i.e., “this” doesn’t were. But, “this” does was. Kinda like, “If I were you, I wouldn’t piss of the English teacher.” I “were”? Nope. I “was”. Yessir.

    Reply
    • nbjbjbhujbhujb -  July 10, 2015 - 8:39 pm

      bubybuubhybuibhujkjbhbhb

      Reply
    • Brad -  July 11, 2015 - 6:58 pm

      Mud, I can almost understand your English to a point where I will try to provide a response to what I think you’re asking.

      The use of was / were comes as the past tense of the verb “to be”. That is, in the first person tense, one would say “I was….” whereas in the second person one would say “you were….”.

      However, the exception to this comes with the subjunctive / conditional tense. The use of the subjunctive / conditional tense is easily identifiable when the sentence commences with “if”. For example, “if this were not so…” (even though you know that it is so, thus your using a hypothetical tense, or subjunctive tense) and is followed by the conditional “would / could / should”. For example, “if this were not so, I would…..” or “if I were rich, I would buy a big boat” or “if I were president, I would decree a public holiday”.

      Here you can see that I am clearly not rich and clearly not the president, and as my big boat and the public holiday are conditional on me being rich / president, then you also know that these events are not going to ensue.

      Note the example that you provided also follows this structure.

      Reply
      • Brad -  July 11, 2015 - 7:27 pm

        Correction…….”thus, you’re using a hypothetical tense”.

        Reply
      • baileysgrandmom -  July 23, 2015 - 2:20 pm

        “…conditional on MY being rich/president…” Am I right?

        Reply
    • Doreen -  July 12, 2015 - 4:52 am

      This is a conditional clause – i.e. IF something happened or did not happen. IF is followed by a subjunctive verb. The subjunctive form of “was” is “were” so instead of saying I wish I was ten years younger, you would say I wish I were ten years younger

      Reply
    • Craig Thorley -  July 12, 2015 - 8:31 am

      The subjunctive case disagrees with you. Sorry.

      Reply
    • Michael -  July 12, 2015 - 9:08 am

      That’s because these are in the subjunctive mood, expressing uncertainty, doubt or contingency. Therefore ‘If I were you’ is right, as is ‘If this were not so’. You were taught the correct indicative forms but no more.

      Reply
    • Bastiat -  July 12, 2015 - 9:51 am

      Read up on the subjunctive mood in English.

      Reply
    • Shane -  July 12, 2015 - 4:56 pm

      Lernt is not a word. Learnt can be but the proper spelling “learned” is far more common. Nobody “was learned” anything. People learn. Or they are taught. The verbs must be used correctly. “You always learned” “You were always taught.” Saying “I was always learned” is blatantly incorrect use of grammar.
      Don’t piss “off” the teacher.

      Reply
    • Connor -  July 12, 2015 - 8:28 pm

      When you say “if it were” or “if I were” you are using the subjunctive mood (in grammar, mood is different from tense). In English this mood refers to things that are not true or that unlikely to be true. Many people don’t use the subjunctive mood properly at all times and it is mildly annoying. “If I was” is INCORRECT. “If I were” is the correct way to use “to be” in the subjunctive mood. In English, verbs in the subjunctive mood look the same as verbs in the past tense. Consider the sentences “If it rained, I would stay in inside” or “If he went to the store, she would go too”. Both of these are phrases in subjunctive. You could also phrase them as “if it were to rain/if he were to go”. A very popular song even contains the lyrics “If I were a rich man.” I hope I could help you with the confusion.

      Reply
    • Chris -  July 12, 2015 - 8:56 pm

      Please study the subjunctive tense for more information on why “if this were ~” is perfectly acceptable English.

      Reply
    • chava -  July 13, 2015 - 3:46 am

      It’s the subjunctive. Maybe it wasn’t taught in your school.

      Reply
  18. Mud -  July 10, 2015 - 8:35 am

    As far as “text” not being a verb, I USED TO believe the same, and told my younger daughter the same .. before I started texting, that is.

    Accdg to our hosts, dictionary.com says ..

    text
    noun
    1.
    * blah-dee
    * blah
    14.

    verb (used without object), Digital Technology
    15.
    to send a text message :
    Texting while driving is an accident asking to happen.
    verb (used with object), Digital Technology
    16.
    to send a text message about or containing:
    He texted a long wish list to his parents two days before his eighteenth birthday.
    Compare instant message (def 2).
    17.
    to send a text message to:
    The only way I can ever reach her is to text her.

    So, as ye olde sayinge goeth .. “The only constant in life is change.” Or something similar. You get my drift. Or the drift belonging to who(m)ever.

    !!PEACE!!

    Reply
    • Ed -  July 10, 2015 - 7:13 pm

      Having been educated in an English boys-only Grammar school, expressions like “snuck” “shrunk” and, even worse “dove” are uttered by ignorant, uneducated, language challenged peasants. But the worst one of all, the one that makes my blood boil and adrenalin to flow, is “seen”‘ The next time I hear two women talking and one says “I seen you at the supermarket yesterday” I will certainly need to be physically restrained!

      Reply
  19. John Terrell -  July 10, 2015 - 8:28 am

    I will always use “sneaked” rather than “snuck”.

    On a related subject: why are the bubble heads who read (rather than report) the news on TV now our arbiters of pronunciation?

    Reply
    • liebly -  July 10, 2015 - 1:40 pm

      News anchors should be put out to pasture! I am beyond appalled at their lack of grammar–and the same goes for sports reporters! Basic rules learned in fourth grade taught us ALL not to end most sentences and questions without prepositions! My nerves cannot take the sheer stupidity! What about the word “BUST” during weather reports??? REALLY? Are you kidding me?? Your comment was the best one I’ve read!!! Thank you for posting it!

      Reply
    • bob -  July 10, 2015 - 4:19 pm

      I thought snuck was the past tense of sneaked *shrugs*

      Reply
  20. Kayles -  July 10, 2015 - 8:16 am

    To me it has always been “I snuck out last night” rather than “I sneaked out last night”. However, you would say ” I caught you sneaking out last night”. It all comes down to preference, I don’t believe either one is wrong.

    Reply
    • Hatzic -  July 11, 2015 - 12:05 pm

      Yes, and it comes down to a bit more than preference as shown through your example – “snuck” can’t totally replace “sneak” because a person wouldn’t say “I caught you snucking out last night.” I use both terms however I prefer sneaked over snuck – just because it’s more phonetically pleasant and resonate. When you try saying a drawn out version of each word the tonal difference between them is significant, with “snuck” a decidedly less sophisticated cousin.

      Reply
    • Guylaine -  July 13, 2015 - 8:53 am

      I agree with you, but I will say “He sneaked in through the back door, and snuck out through the window 5 minutes later.”

      I think it is just due to the ease of pronunciation.

      Best.

      Reply
  21. Randall -  July 10, 2015 - 4:42 am

    Thou we find grammar useful it is still fun

    Reply
  22. Rajat Jain -  July 10, 2015 - 3:14 am

    As a grammar school educated Briton, one would have thought that I for one would want to insist on the correct use of the grammar relentlessly drilled into me. However in these globalised more homogenous times, we can’t hold onto to past snobberies and prevent the influence of international influences. It’s what makes language colourful (note spelling!) and progressive.

    Take the word “purdah” for example, incorporated into the English language to apply the state of secrecy that must be applied during for example election times. As an Indian I shudder every time I hear its butchered pronunciation in English (not unlike American “route” !!).

    However I recognise language develops and mutates until even colloquialisms become standard usage. I’m not advocating misspelling, but if it has become part of common parlance, then society has to accept that it becomes part of the lingua franca.

    How many of us are guilty of saying “I googled that piece of information” before it officially became recognised as a dictionary word? Thus it is with snuck, it has indeed sneaked its way into what should be viewed as acceptable usage. Language is after all there to serve communication, not to be a slave to rules (spellings being the exception). We should let go off this imperial colonial nonsense that a word has to be spelt in the King’s language.

    I fear it is the unwillingness to adopt that is a manifestation of laziness and not the other way round. If we had to adhere to stringent ancient rules of language we would be talking in tongues of Chaucer. Americanisms are not lazy language, just easier and simpler (and that is not a euphemism for less sophisticated!).

    Reply
    • Serious lundon -  July 10, 2015 - 10:01 am

      I could not agree more with what you said. You stated everything i wanted to say but in a more profound way.

      Reply
  23. Zoe -  July 9, 2015 - 9:10 pm

    To everyone saying they cringe when they hear ugly Americanisms like “snuck,” you sound very pretentious. Get over it, people are going to use grammar in a different way, no matter how insulted you feel. You sound like there’s a stick up your British butt. Calm down.

    Reply
    • Nina -  July 11, 2015 - 11:50 am

      I agree. I always used “snuck” because “sneaked” sounds very unintelligent (to me, anyway), but whatever. Uh, I kind of feel like the British don’t like anything Americans do because of a certain war….

      Reply
      • John Murphy -  July 14, 2015 - 7:19 pm

        The differences are not political, so references to ‘a certain war’ are frivolous. The United States had a process of grammatical and spelling rationalisation conducted by Webster, whereas European speakers of English did not. Therefore the languages vary.

        Reply
    • WillyJ -  July 26, 2015 - 10:19 am

      Proper English or “the King’s English” doesn’t really exist anyway. The “King’s English” after the Norman invasion was French! Hence beef, not oxflesch, etc. It is a polyglot of Germanic, Celtic, Romance and today, many other languages, spoken around the world by billions of people. As long as we can understand each other, don’t worry about it!
      The first thing I was told by native speakers when learning a second language was that they could tell a language learner from natives because the natives make more errors of grammar

      Reply
  24. Word spy -  July 9, 2015 - 7:36 pm

    Dear reader, I think both words work, but sneaked sounds better, although snuck is alright. Happy hunting!

    Reply
  25. You -  July 9, 2015 - 7:09 pm

    I prefer snuck because it just sounds right because that is what I am used to hearing. I believe however that either is acceptable because both are in common usage however some similar words with past tense other than -ed sound stupid if incorrect as they are currently not accepted but may be accepted in the future as words evolve.

    Reply
    • Rod -  July 11, 2015 - 6:09 am

      Familiarity is part of what makes a language what it is, or becomes.

      If “snuck” is the past tense of “sneak,” will “luck” become the past tense of “leak?” I hope not.

      Reply
  26. Mike Logan -  July 9, 2015 - 1:40 am

    Along with “gotten”and “dove,” the dreadful “Snuck” rattled and irritated my Tympanum when I lived in the USA. All three send shudders of hatred through me.

    It always has been, and forever WILL be… “sneaked.”

    There are far too many lazy, ignorant Americanisms being used in Britain… it’s got to stop.

    Reply
    • Sean Loftus -  July 9, 2015 - 10:20 am

      Sneaked is the correct choice because “you didn’t snuck out”, “you sneaked out.” I was always taught to try to reword the sentence to see if the tense sticks.

      Reply
      • Mark -  July 9, 2015 - 5:38 pm

        “Didn’t” and “snuck” are both past tense – That’s why it doesn’t work. If you said, “you didn’t sneaked out”, it would be just as illogical.

        Reply
      • Bianca B -  July 10, 2015 - 4:56 am

        True

        Reply
      • Joe -  July 10, 2015 - 5:15 am

        I had thought the correct usage was “I done snuck out of the house”

        Reply
        • Manima -  July 12, 2015 - 8:23 pm

          I surely hope not. You sound like a very Southern American, and our strange form of American English fixes things that aren’t broken (i.e. a plate of food). Definitely not the place to learn proper English.

          Reply
        • rie -  September 13, 2015 - 4:51 pm

          No no, it’s “I done gone snucked out thuh house”

          Reply
      • Jamie -  July 10, 2015 - 8:41 am

        I’m confused by this comment. “You didn’t snuck out” isn’t right but nor is “you didn’t sneaked out.” It would be “you didn’t sneak out” either way… so how is this helpful?

        Though I agree, definitely the past tense should be “sneaked.”

        Reply
    • Bridget Chase -  July 9, 2015 - 4:27 pm

      Hello people! Consider the following:

      “Did you sneak out of the house last night?”

      Mother to father, “Johnnie snuck out last night!”

      So we have utilized BOTH, yes BOTH ‘snuck’ and ‘sneak’! It depends on how you are using it?

      How about this, “He sneaked a peek at his birthday present” OR
      “He snuck a peek at his birthday present”.

      Reply
      • dunkan -  July 13, 2015 - 3:15 am

        your name reminds me of bridget jones dear !

        Reply
    • k -  July 9, 2015 - 6:54 pm

      The English language is always changing, in 60 years the word snuck will be considered proper English. But thank you for using proper vocabulary and grammar in your comment.

      Reply
    • Samantha -  July 10, 2015 - 1:53 am

      I understand the shudders of horror at “Dove” and “Snuck,” which I have not used in my writing since elementary years because it just felt plane wrong, but which word are we comparing “gotten” with?

      Forgive my being a clueless American. I’ve not had much of a chance to catch up on proper wording, as I’m surrounded by illiterate idiots half the time. You know, California surfers and valley girls. Not very helpful people when one wishes to keep up with proper speech, free of “dudes” and “Like literally OMGs.”

      Reply
    • The Grammarist -  July 10, 2015 - 3:34 am

      Why did the Brits stop using the correct past participle of “to get?”

      “That gotten is primarily used in North America has given rise to the mistaken belief that it is American in origin and hence new and inferior. But gotten is in fact an old form, predating the United States and Canada by several centuries. It fell out of favor in British English by the 18th century, but it was eventually picked up again on the other side of the Atlantic, perhaps by analogy with forgotten.

      The vehemence of some Britons’ scorn for gotten likely has to do with the fact that it has gained ground in British English over the last couple of decades. Many English speakers from outside North America resist the encroachment of so-called Americanisms (many of which, like gotten, are not actually American in origin) on their versions of English, and, for mysterious reasons, some feel especially strongly about gotten.”

      Reply
    • Bianca B -  July 10, 2015 - 4:56 am

      I have always used ‘snuck’. Now that i have typed it in it says it isn’t a word so i’m curious.

      Reply
    • BrianC -  July 10, 2015 - 7:43 am

      You can say that “snuck” and maybe probably even “dove” are Americanisms, but not “gotten”. That one was actually used as the past participle of “get” before colonization of the Americas.

      Reply
    • Billy Bean -  July 11, 2015 - 5:55 pm

      As an ugly American myself, I find myself in complete agreement with you on this particular point. America;s last really great export was probably rock ‘n’ roll — I mean, “rock and roll.”

      Reply
    • Jane Doe -  July 12, 2015 - 12:43 pm

      Sorry, snobby Mr. Brit. “Gotten” is an older form of English that is no longer in use in Britain. The fact that the Brits do not use it anymore does not mean it is an Americanism and thus a bad thing.

      And listen, you lost the American colonies over two hundred years ago and it’s time you and your countrymen got over your absurd snobbery about American English.

      Reply
      • Jane Doe -  July 12, 2015 - 12:46 pm

        Just to clarify: I did not mean to imply that Americanisms are a bad thing, only that you, Mr. Snobby Brit, think so.

        Reply
    • Grammar Police -  July 12, 2015 - 2:58 pm

      It’s got to stop is incorrect grammar. It has to stop is correct.

      Reply
    • Danielle Volle -  July 12, 2015 - 7:11 pm

      Wait, does gotten always sound wrong to you? I would definitely say, “You’ve gotten a lot done since I was here last,” or “I’ve gotten behind.” I could sub out for different verbs, but they would have a different emphasis (and altered the meaning).

      Reply
    • Grogor Vagonabee -  July 12, 2015 - 11:39 pm

      Shudders of hatred? How glad I am that I do not have such a thin skin as dost thou. Snuck snuck snuck snuck. Hee hee.

      Reply
    • Donald Arkin -  July 24, 2015 - 3:00 am

      I refuse to be drug into this controversy.

      Reply
    • WillyJ -  July 26, 2015 - 10:28 am

      Actually, Mike, sneaked first appears in the written form around 1600. So it HASN’T always been…

      Reply
  27. oscar -  July 9, 2015 - 12:34 am

    SNEAKED!! How on earth did snuk sneak into our vocabulary?

    Reply
    • Mark -  July 9, 2015 - 5:30 pm

      It just snuck up on us; people don’t learn language in a static classroom environment – it’s absorbed through social interaction.

      Take the word “shrink”: I can bare even imagine someone ever using the term “shrinked head” or even “shrunk head” in place of the proper term: “shrunken head”.

      What you consider the “rules” must have crept up on us back when one would have said “creeped” – language won’t stop evolving just because it would make you more comfortable if it did so.

      Reply
    • bob -  July 9, 2015 - 6:04 pm

      lol

      Reply
    • Markus 2.0 -  March 15, 2016 - 12:20 pm

      The same way what you spoke now snuck up from:

      And smale foules maken melodie,
      That slepen alle night with open eye,
      So priketh hem nature in hir corages;
      Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages.
      Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 9.

      Reply
  28. bobby -  July 8, 2015 - 9:55 pm

    please tell us-do we say a historical or an historical. I did not study nistory.

    Reply
    • calvin michel -  July 9, 2015 - 10:03 am

      I was always taught an historical, an hour, but strangely a haystack? Does anyone know about the this?

      Reply
      • Sheri -  July 11, 2015 - 7:22 am

        Use “an” in front of words that begin with a vowel (or vowel sound). “Hour” begins with a vowel sound. However, to me “an historic” is a mystery because “historic” is not a vowel sound.

        Reply
        • Rad Thomas -  July 28, 2015 - 8:29 am

          Aitch is not, technically a consonant, it is an aspirant, so if one were to be really picky, it should be “an haystack”, but that just sounds odd. I believe it does come from the fact that, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the English upper classes affected not to pronounce their aitches (or indeed their g’s – as in goin’ or fishin’). Just another way of using language to claim membership of a group and exclude others.

          Reply
      • rie -  September 13, 2015 - 5:00 pm

        If you pronounce the h, it’s ‘a’ — ‘a haystack, a hat’. If the h is silent (mute), it’s ‘an’ — ‘an hour, an honour’.

        History(etc) is strange. I’m pretty sure it’s related to the fact that the French l’histoire is a mute h, and retained that characteristic for a while after we borrowed it. (If they’d borrowed from us I’m pretty sure it would be aspirate rather than mute h, and so would be la histoire)

        Reply
    • Sheri -  July 9, 2015 - 11:30 am

      I will always say “sneaked” because I won’t lower my standard of English to accommodate those who don’t know the rules of the language. I have long tried to find why “an historic” is better than “a historic”. Is it because Brits don’t pronounce the “h” in “historic”?

      Reply
      • Grammar Police -  July 12, 2015 - 3:06 pm

        I’ve seen it written both ways in various publications. I believe it is proper to say “a historic”. Although I admit to me “an historic” sounds better.

        Reply
  29. EZ Tempo -  July 8, 2015 - 3:12 pm

    Missus Watson, my 5th & 6th grade teacher, admonished us for those two years, back 1961-3, that if we didn’t want to sound ignorant and ill-bred, we’d forever banish “snuck” from our vocabulary. She was a wise — and surprisingly progressive — woman, Mrs. Watson. I still cringe and sneer a little when I hear people use “snuck.”

    Reply
    • oscar -  July 9, 2015 - 12:12 am

      I could not agree more. On the ignorant and I’ll-bred comment. The “americanisation” of the English language is abhorrent. Whilst I’m moaning I should also say normalcy is not a word, one should say normality. Text is not a verb so please do not say texted in my company.

      Reply
      • calvin michel -  July 9, 2015 - 10:29 am

        The normalcy instead of normality is part of a growing fascination with any form of a word that ends in -cy. I hear two or three similar examples every day. For some reason, texting doesn’t bother me anymore than typing. Both are simply the result of the introduction of a new technology.,

        Reply
      • Ignacio -  July 9, 2015 - 2:59 pm

        Oscar.

        Text can in fact be a verb (to text- the action of sending a text message). “Texted” is the correct past tense form of “text” (a verb).

        Then again, what would an american know?

        Reply
        • Ignacio -  July 9, 2015 - 3:00 pm

          Correction: American

          Reply
        • Grammar Police -  July 12, 2015 - 3:08 pm

          tuxt?!

          Reply
      • Liss -  July 10, 2015 - 6:12 am

        Finally!
        Do you have any idea how low I’ve managed to confuse myself with the alleged word ‘normalcy’? As a non-native speaker, I had actually reached the point where I just assumed that I’d been mishearing and mispronouncing the word for years, because I’ve always said ‘nor-mal-UH-see’. Everyone corrects me and say’s that the word I’m looking for is actually ‘nor-mal-cee’.
        You’ve given me the right word though! Nor-mal-UH-tee. Thank you, that makes far more sense!

        Reply
      • Markus 2.0 -  March 15, 2016 - 12:21 pm

        You could not agree more, yet your grammar is pitiful.

        Step off your high horse lest you be the one to look ignorant and ill-bred.

        Language evolves. If you disagree than I challenge you to speak like Chaucer at work.

        And smale foules maken melodie,
        That slepen alle night with open eye,
        So priketh hem nature in hir corages;
        Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages.
        Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 9.

        Reply
  30. GHBill -  July 8, 2015 - 11:51 am

    I use both. I think “snuck” works better if it has an object.

    Reply
  31. Druffmaul -  July 8, 2015 - 10:56 am

    It’s always been snuck where I’m from, “sneaked” sounds very awkward to my ears. I realize it’s the other way around for a lot of people, I can live with that.

    Reply
  32. Ralph -  July 8, 2015 - 10:22 am

    Hi All. If speak is spoke, why can’t sneak then be snoke because snuck suck. I’ll rather settle for ‘sneaked’

    Reply
    • Carrington -  July 8, 2015 - 3:47 pm

      by correct english and grammar, speak is being able to be used in the present and future tenses, however spoke is being used for past tense purposes therefore the past tense of sneak is snuck, it can be sneaked as well, it just depends on where you use and more specifically where you are from.

      Reply
  33. Trang suc cuoi -  July 8, 2015 - 12:10 am

    I’ve always used ‘snuck.’

    Reply
  34. Michelle -  July 7, 2015 - 7:43 pm

    I use sneaked

    Reply
  35. Michelle -  July 7, 2015 - 7:42 pm

    I think it is sneaked,because it makes more sense to say sneaked than snuck. “I sneaked in the night “not “I snuck in the night” it is my option not yours!;)

    Reply
    • Danielle Volle -  July 12, 2015 - 7:23 pm

      Hey, this is one usage where I agree that snuck sounds really weird! I honestly didn’t know it was considered incorrect until just now. I was like, “duh, it’s snuck … wait, what?!”
      Anyway, I could be projecting, but I think people who say snuck would be more likely to say, “I crept in the night,” or “I creeped in the night.” Probably the latter, because we’re ignorant. :P

      Reply
    • Manima -  July 12, 2015 - 8:27 pm

      I think “I snuck out last night” sounds better than “I sneaked out last night”, but “She sneaked down the hall” seems better than “She snuck down the hall”. Honestly, though, I’d probably use either one to write/speak of a subject not in first-person point of view.

      Reply
  36. syntotic -  July 6, 2015 - 8:50 pm

    I am sure Spanish speakers are forcing into English language regularities akin to Spanish direct translations and declinations because native Spanish speakers always pose as native English speakers in written texts.

    Reply
    • Rad Thomas -  July 8, 2015 - 5:54 am

      For syntotic

      Your evidence, please?

      Reply
  37. Melanie L. -  July 6, 2015 - 5:59 pm

    I’ve always used ‘snuck.’

    Reply
    • jiya -  July 8, 2015 - 7:39 am

      Its not snuk its sneak

      Reply
  38. Lois J. Fink -  July 6, 2015 - 7:21 am

    I certainly agree with promoting the correct English version of sneaked, rather than snuck. Now, could we also petition for a campaign to abolish the use of the word drug as past participle of the word drag? An example of this is, “the cat drug a mouse through the open door.” I have been especially sensitive to this usage since living in the southern U.S.A. I’ve even witnessed teachers using it, I’m ashamed to say. Not ashamed, however, to have corrected the teachers.

    Reply
    • Josie -  July 6, 2015 - 9:57 pm

      I’m in complete agreement with the proper usage of grammar. I won’t claim to be perfect, but I Do strive to at least sound, and write, according to proper grammar usage.

      It seems ‘we’ acquiesce to those who are lazy to use, or ignorant of, proper grammar usage.

      I was taught at a young age, if one uses proper grammar, s/he will advance further in life than one who doesn’t, as s/he will at least sound/appear more educated. After all, would a manager feel comfortable and/or confident having an uneducated-sounding employee represent him/her at a board meeting?

      Reply
      • Nemesis -  July 7, 2015 - 2:18 pm

        I have experienced that when you tout ur skills(wether they be real or fiction) that managers and hiring officers are often flummoxed, as if they are terrified of you taking their job. Just my 2 satoshi worth.

        -Jillette

        Reply
    • Manima -  July 12, 2015 - 8:36 pm

      Living in the Southern region of America, I’ve probably used the worst grammar at times when speaking, but I generally strive to write properly. Many Southern phrases sound strange in one context, but perfectly natural in another. I understand the importance of proper grammar –I’d hardly survive English class without it! But if language is developed in order to communicate ideas and information, then perhaps we shouldn’t consider it such a high offense if a dialect deviates from what is “proper”. (So long as the information is something that can be understood in the dialect, that is. I understand it might be necessary to intervene if someone speaks nothing but gibberish.)

      Reply
  39. Naresh -  July 5, 2015 - 11:19 pm

    I would continue to prefer sneaked.

    Reply
    • sachiun -  July 7, 2015 - 4:26 am

      it is snuck.past participle of sneak

      Reply
      • jiya -  July 8, 2015 - 7:39 am

        But its mostly called sneak

        Reply
  40. Rad Thomas -  July 4, 2015 - 10:25 am

    Language is a system of arbitrary symbols, both phonetic and visual. It is also in a constant state of flux, to reflect the way the world changes; if this were not so, we would still be speaking Indo-European. It really does not matter if we say “snuck” or “sneaked”, or indeed use both from time to time. What matters is that the communicator/communicatrix and the communicatee both know what is intended.

    Reply
    • CommonSense -  July 8, 2015 - 1:11 pm

      All the internets to you, good sir!
      I wholeheartedly agree with you.

      Reply
  41. Lorraine -  July 3, 2015 - 7:03 pm

    of course that which annoys me most is the ÿou and I…” versus the “you and me..” .Even professional talkers’/speakers make this error and so often i have almost thrown my coffee cup at a journalist on TV in protest.
    Then there are the sports commentators who speak of winning “6 games in a row” and I visualize 6 football fields side by side each containing a playing team at the same time.

    Reply
    • Vonda -  July 7, 2015 - 3:34 pm

      I get really annoyed when reading or listening to the me being used before anyone else. I was taught to put myself last and will continue to do so… You and I agree…. not me and you agree

      Reply
    • Donald Arkin -  July 24, 2015 - 3:06 am

      The phrase “six games in a row” is nothing more than a simple metaphor, like putting “the cart before the horse”.

      Reply
  42. Lorraine -  July 3, 2015 - 6:46 pm

    enjoying the discussions. What ever happened to the word persuade? Everyone seems to use the word convince these days, and there are times when convince just doesn’t seem appropriate.

    Reply
    • Randy Savage -  July 9, 2015 - 5:40 pm

      OH YEAH!!!
      It doesn’t matter really… all of you act so uptight and sophisticated anyways. So not so start anything but really there is no need to complain about this even if people agree there will still be people who do the opposite of what you want

      -P.S.
      OOH YEAH!!!

      Reply
  43. Arty -  July 3, 2015 - 10:59 am

    I don’t get you guys. I mean, like, I’m all, you know, cool with evolution. Survival of the fittest and all that. Consider the fact that language morphs as a reflection of social evolution. So you can either sip your tea and grumble about the barbarians, or you can invest some money in education. Even that won’t stop change.

    Reply
  44. Andrew Steitz -  July 3, 2015 - 8:40 am

    While I, too, am a grammar snob (LOL), I suspect the reason snuck has invaded Americanish (a little good humored poke at our brethren across the “pond”) is because of ease of pronunciation.
    Sneaked, although “officially” one syllable (unless, for some reason, you choose to say “sneak-ed” as in “learned” when used to described an educated person not the past tense of learn), requires a “full stop” of the airflow between the k and the t sounds at the end making it “feel” like a second syllable and thus slowing down speech.

    Reply
  45. Lin Geary -  July 3, 2015 - 6:20 am

    In 2015, we are 15 years into the third millennium of the Common Era, and exactly 400 years beyond the staging of Shakespeare’s last effort at putting together a satiric new play. Much seems to have changed for us since then, especially after our hasty adoption (a century and a half earlier) of the Renaissance printing press. But a great deal of our modernity since then has also remained resistant to change by dint of our growing addiction to this technology of mechanized repeatability. In an age now dedicated to exploring the outer limits of the universe, creating weapons of mass destruction, and turning everyone and everything into some kind of digital doll, we must now do our damnedest to hold onto our sanity by clucking about the mutating past tense of an English verb. I do sympathize. My grandparents who saw the age of the automobile appear out of nowhere would have been more tolerant of orthographic change, as are my grandchildren who can translate the workings of the Large Hadron Collider into a text-savvy rap-song or twitter message. For what it’s worth though, I still prefer to hang on to my hot water bottle and look for some inkling of certainty in the Chicago Manual of Style as I ponder where we are all headed.

    Reply
    • Prabahar -  July 8, 2015 - 4:24 am

      nice boss!

      Reply
  46. Lulz -  July 3, 2015 - 5:06 am

    I personally prefer snuck. Sneaked is a bit too…..um…..it just feels weird on my tongue….

    Reply
  47. Eva -  July 3, 2015 - 4:46 am

    Interesting. I always just thought the correct and only term was snuck. I say snuck anyways.

    Reply
  48. Louie A -  July 2, 2015 - 11:47 pm

    I would still use sneaked. Snuck sounds awful.

    Reply
  49. psychlops -  July 2, 2015 - 9:05 pm

    Sneaked or snuck seems to me the preference may be the context in which one is used to using it. I sneaked a peek, but it snuck up on me. What really annoys me is the use of bit when the word bitten should be used.

    Reply
  50. Darrell Clark -  July 2, 2015 - 6:36 pm

    Snuck sounds like hick language. And busted is poor language usage (like ain’t, it should NEVER be used; both busted and ain’t are solecisms).

    Reply
  51. Jim -  July 2, 2015 - 6:19 pm

    We all know that the dictionary is a tool which reflects common usage of the language, that language is a “bottom-up” enterprise, not something which is dictated from the “top down”.

    So I cringe every time I see the word “lead” used as a simple past tense or as a past participle of the verb “to lead”, because I believe if it continues, then eventually it will not only be considered okay, but it will be considered “proper”.

    For now, though, I’ll shout when I cringe: It’s “led”, people! It’s not like the verb “to read”, folks. Écoutez-moi:

    Swim, swam, swum (swɪm, swæm, swʌm).
    Drink, drank, drunk (drɪŋk, dræŋk, drʌŋk).
    Know, knew, known (noʊ, nu, noʊn).
    See, saw, seen (si, sɔ, sin).
    Read, read, read (rid, rɛd, rɛd).
    Lead, led, led (lid, lɛd, lɛd)!

    Reply
  52. nida -  July 2, 2015 - 5:10 pm

    I preferred both, it’s up to the speaker or writer how to use the word.

    Reply
  53. Tracy -  July 2, 2015 - 4:57 pm

    I cannot help but notice that, while fists beat chests over nouns, adjectives and adverbs are crashing into verbs, carrying innocent pronouns with them into ugly crashed grammar all over this comment section. We must be careful whereof we detail our perfectionist longings.

    Reply
  54. Patrick -  July 2, 2015 - 3:24 pm

    I love these arcane debates. English is not the same since we lost the “yod” of Early English. I think we all need to stand around the campfire, clutching one ear and lamenting the decline of civilization in a slightly off-key minor chord.

    As someone who has occasionally had the good fortune to loiter in the various Courts of our present monarch, I can assure you that grammar is not considered a topic for polite company – whereas corgi poo is.

    Reply
  55. alan -  July 2, 2015 - 1:48 pm

    as long as usage is not confined by politically correct rules of the (week) (day), it is all ok with me.

    Reply
    • Karen Pratt -  July 2, 2015 - 9:25 pm

      Language is dynamic, not static, and that is one of the reasons it is so fabulously rich. Because it is not merely written, but spoken between living creatures, language itself is a living, growing, changing entity. I read far enough down the thread to get to the comment about pled being an Americanism much like “she medalled” versus “she won a medal,” and the idea that nouns should be nouns, verbs should be verbs, and past tense forms should always follow standard rules. Writers who hold to that opinion should be APPALLED by Shakespeare (and I doubt they are). I have read that he increased the English vocabulary by about thirty percent, and often did so by breaking the rules. One of his favorite transgressions? Change a noun to a verb, or vice versa. BECAUSE OF THIS English is filled with many more possibilities for nuance, for word play, for poetic quality, and for giving flesh to a particular character’s personality. In the debate of Rules versus Riches, I will take the riches!

      Reply
      • Donald Arkin -  July 24, 2015 - 3:12 am

        There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. English could accommodate a good deal of expanding in Shakespeare’s day, and his coinages didn’t cause confusion. In short, he was a poet, not so the news readers who say “We’ll be back momentarily”.

        Reply
    • felix -  July 3, 2015 - 1:55 am

      snuck sounds more reasonable. Sneaked could be confused with sneak!

      Reply
    • Dan -  July 3, 2015 - 8:47 am

      I believe that American “slang” language has taken over the “proper” English way of talking and writing and such words as, “snuck”, “hung” (for hanged), and “shrunk” are now sadly in the “English” vocabulary.

      Reply
      • Aretee -  July 12, 2015 - 1:19 pm

        Ha! That reminds me; in 5th grade, my teacher constantly said ‘hung’. I corrected her so often that, while speaking to the class, she once said something along the lines of ‘…the man was hung, or as Aretee insists; ‘hanged’. She continued saying hung, though. Also, I understood that I was to keep my mouth shut!

        Reply
    • Lona -  July 3, 2015 - 7:49 pm

      When my English teacher was frustrated beyond belief by our murder of the language, he would say.

      “You speak well English good for being in this country such a short distance!”

      or

      “I’ll learn yous guys good English yet!”

      Reply
    • Ruth Raymond -  July 5, 2015 - 8:24 am

      Personally I prefer sneaked. My dad was my example when it came to correctly spoken words and just because a word is “accepted” does niot make it right. Why pollute proper grammar with an “accepted” version?

      Reply
  56. Steve -  July 2, 2015 - 11:39 am

    SNEAKED! Snuck still makes my skin crawl.

    Reply
    • Kincaid -  July 2, 2015 - 12:28 pm

      I much prefer SNEAKED because SNUCK feels like a contraction of
      SNOT and SUCK.

      Reply
      • ombir kaushik -  July 4, 2015 - 8:24 am

        just go away as sneak

        Reply
      • TurningLeaves -  July 4, 2015 - 9:45 am

        I, too, prefer ‘sneaked’. ‘Snuck’ sounds like an onomatopoeic word for when you try to pull your boot out of mud.

        Reply
        • Billy Bean -  July 11, 2015 - 5:59 pm

          “Snuck” is actually the past participle of “snick” (snick; snack; have snuck).

          Reply
    • Leslie -  July 3, 2015 - 6:35 am

      Ditto, Steve-

      Sneaked!!

      Reply
  57. Judith Veronese -  July 2, 2015 - 11:19 am

    I go nuts with ….pled and pleaded. Another is busted for broke or broken. There are so many of these happening and it makes me feel old.

    Judi Veronese

    Reply
    • Leslie -  July 3, 2015 - 7:23 am

      Is the lexicon changing?
      Should I move to England upon retirement?

      It’s becoming difficult for me to embrace these new forms of words.

      I say we preserve the language as best as we can, using as many media outlets as possible.

      English needs our help!

      Reply
  58. Harvey Wachtel -  July 2, 2015 - 10:59 am

    I usually side with the usage that preserves or achieves the most consistency. I’d say the reason “sneaked” sounds “more elegant” is that it is consistent with the default conjugation for regular verbs. The last thing English needs is another irregular verb. As for already-irregular strong verbs, there are patterns for their conjugations, and confusing the past participle forms with the past tense forms smacks of illiteracy (“I should of went” and “I seen you with her”), which is why you won’t catch me using “swum” or “shrunk” as a past tense.

    Now if we could only do something about “normalcy”….

    Reply
    • P MacDonald -  July 2, 2015 - 12:06 pm

      What smacks even more of illiteracy is the improper use of “should of.” The grammatically correct “should have” is frequently spoken as the contraction, “should’ve”, which is mispronounced and subsequently written as “should of.” It is wrong, just as “shoulda” is wrong.

      Reply
      • abbi -  July 2, 2015 - 8:26 pm

        Coulda shoulda woulda. . . .

        Reply
      • Charlene Libby -  July 4, 2015 - 7:26 am

        Oh, thank you for posting the clarification to support the correct usage of the should’ve.
        I was sent from the room as punishment in elementary school. I corrected a teacher’s pet & was sent home with a note from my worst teacher ever.
        My grandmother returned the note to the principal requesting that the teacher should HAVE further educational opportunities if he were to continue teaching English.
        I will consider myself eligible for a lifetime achievement award if we could get the vast majority to use *you’re and your*
        depicting their proper usage.
        Thank you, char.

        Reply
      • Maena -  July 10, 2015 - 6:21 am

        In a similar vein, there’s the spoken contraction “‘sall”, which obviously replaces the properly spoken/written “that’s all”. Yet I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen people write “is all”. It makes me cringe every single time.

        Reply
  59. grammargal -  July 2, 2015 - 10:58 am

    The word snuck just looks and sounds weird to me

    Reply
    • Josephine -  July 2, 2015 - 2:14 pm

      I agree. It sounds like whoever is doing the sneaking is very sneaky. I prefer “sneaked”, “shrank”, “drank”. I don’t know which is more correct though: “pled” or “pleaded”???

      Reply
      • Carolyn -  July 3, 2015 - 3:28 pm

        Pleaded

        Reply
  60. Anne Williams -  July 2, 2015 - 10:57 am

    WE always used the past tense of sneak as sneaked, i.e. I sneaked past the door hoping they would not see me’. We considered SNUCK as bad grammar and sounds perfectly horrible. The same with ‘shrink’. i.e Wool garments can shrink if washed in very hot water. ‘”Oh dear, I shrank my cardigan’!! As for ‘THUNK’ we always thought this was just used in Walt Disney cartoons.
    Wish the Americans and others would NOT MURDER the Queen’s English as we have our own young folk who do so and ave invented a whole ‘other ‘lingo which needs translation.
    We notice that grammar is now also being slaughtered. i.e “You COULD OF told me”. and shudder as it is now even being spelled as above. Whatever happened to ‘HAVE’??

    Reply
  61. 14words -  July 2, 2015 - 10:50 am

    For an inverse example of colloquialism triumphing over correctness: Has anyone else noticed the widespread use of “spit” as a past tense reference, instead of “spat”?
    It is not a very nice word to begin with, but becomes even worse when used this way!

    Reply
  62. cc -  July 2, 2015 - 10:38 am

    Every time I hear “snuck” I imaging a stupid, illiterate red-neck. It’s still not a word in my book.

    Reply
    • jc -  July 4, 2015 - 4:35 am

      Us rednecks tend to imagine scary language blunders rather than imaging them.

      Reply
      • mc -  July 10, 2015 - 6:23 am

        Touché…

        Reply
  63. Mike -  July 2, 2015 - 10:01 am

    I’m old school so snuck is what was always used, sneaked sounds like you are not really sure of what you should say.

    Reply
  64. MyKe Pham -  July 2, 2015 - 10:00 am

    This word snuck was elusive to me and I thought it was because English is my second tongue. Thank you for the authoritative clarification!
    And then I wondered about two things.
    - One, the word leak like in “Snowden leaked the NSA documents”. Would this wound up morphing into “luck”?
    - Two, if a popular movie’s title can push a verb, an irregular one to boot, that was established many years in our language into obscurity, how fragile is our language? This acceptance has made me a little less confident in my pitiful command of English (and I thought the movie folks had used that “shrunk” incorrectly on purpose, to attract attention).

    Reply
    • Lloyd Chase -  July 5, 2015 - 1:48 am

      Teenage kid walks up to checkout register, gave empty soda bottle to cashier, and when she asked about the contents of the bottle, he replied “I drunk it”. A dispute followed over paying 5 cents for bottle return which is secondary to whether drank or drunk is proper form of past tense, I personally have never used drunk as a verb. Doesn’t sound right.

      Reply
  65. Don -  July 2, 2015 - 9:46 am

    When is pleaded guilty going to be replace by pled?

    Reply
    • Dianne Marshall-Holdip from the Caribbean -  July 2, 2015 - 10:25 am

      Pled is an Americanism and not representative of Standard English. It is akin to ‘medalled’. To medal is not a verb but “to win a medal”. We need to guard against changing vocabulary as opposed to when news anchors make an error and we allow it to stand as a replacement. Who is responsible for ensuring that this does not occur.

      Reply
  66. Bob Dunn -  July 2, 2015 - 9:44 am

    The first I heard “snuck” was back in the day when “Dizzy Dean” was the leading baseball announcer, along with Peewee Reece. Dizzy would proclaim, ” …just snuck onto third base”. Some times the runner “slud” to home plate. Does that make it proper usage? Probably not.

    Reply
    • John -  July 2, 2015 - 9:54 am

      I believe it’s Peewee Reese with an “s” not “c.” It visually rhymes with geese, not fleece.

      Reply
  67. Ruthie -  July 2, 2015 - 9:40 am

    I don’t like it. When will we start using thunk for past tense of thank and/or think. “He thunk his mother for the gift.” I have always heard “Who woulda thunk it?” but always thought it was an example of bad grammar usage. That’s another example of our language going downhill: coulda, shoulda, woulda used to stand for the contractions could’ve, would’ve, should’ve, but nowadays when spelled as two words they have become could of, should of, would of. Like I said, I don’t like seeing the English language evolve, especially so sloppily

    Reply
    • Scarlett -  July 2, 2015 - 10:36 am

      I’m with you, I don’t like seeing the evolution of language due simply to laziness or ignorance. One of my pet peeves is the usage of “impact” as a verb when it is meant to be a noun (e.g. “The drought has impacted the farming community” which should be “…has had an impact on…”). However, the sheer number of people making this error has overwhelmed the small number of people still attempting to use the word properly, and the language seems to have absorbed this change with little resistance. I find it frustrating.

      Reply
    • Amyh -  July 3, 2015 - 12:32 pm

      I see “thunk” as a sound effect from cartoons, so “He thunk his mother for the gift.” meant he wasn’t pleased with it and bounced it off her head or something. I know, violence, blah blah blah, but the sound is what I “heard”, not the past tense of “thank”.

      Reply
  68. Jcui -  July 2, 2015 - 9:34 am

    I prefer sneaked. Sounds more elegant.

    Reply
    • Marisa -  July 5, 2015 - 12:55 am

      I absolutely agree ! Sounds are ver y important when choosing between 2 or more words: we should pay attention to this, when we speak we create sort of music… So why not to choose the best melody ?

      Reply
  69. P k o -  July 1, 2015 - 8:13 pm

    Job

    Reply
  70. Julian Locke -  July 1, 2015 - 3:04 pm

    Dear sirs,

    I am disappointed, although not in the least surprised, that this short article is so Amerigocentric, as is much of the Internet.

    (The word “Amerigocentric” is of my own coinage, but a quick Internet search reveals that others have thought of it too. It is modelled, obviously, on “Anglocentric”. The word “modelled”, with two els, is the British English version of “modeled”. The word “els”… well, I’m sure you get the idea.)

    Specifically, while “shrunk” may gradually be replacing “shrank” as the Simple Past form of “shrink” in the U.S.A, it has not (yet) even begun to do so in the U.K. As for “snuck”, we would, I hope, beat it away with heavy sticks should it try to sneak or bludgeon its way into this fortress built by nature. (I originally wrote “beat it off”, but it quickly occurred to me that it might be sniggeringly misinterpreted.)

    I am, of course, being slightly facetious here, but please, please acknowledge the pond-divided differences when writing about the “English” language.

    Indignantly yours (with well-wishing admiration for your site),

    Julian Locke

    Reply
    • grammargal -  July 2, 2015 - 10:59 am

      I agree

      Reply
    • Brad Schulz -  July 2, 2015 - 2:32 pm

      LOL… I’m an American who wholeheartedly agrees.

      I’ll gladly beat away (with heavy sticks) anyone who uses “snuck” in a sentence. Every little bit helps.

      Reply
      • Lulz -  July 3, 2015 - 5:07 am

        You’re too extreme….

        Reply
      • Chrisanthie -  July 4, 2015 - 6:26 am

        English grammar and spelling are hard enough already ( and sometimes so illogical too ) to those whose mother tongue is not English. Now need we make it sound ridiculous and irritating as well ? Americans should discover a language of their own, to play around with as they wish, instead of trying to vandalize the Queen’s language. I would hate it and not tolerate it, if anyone tries to experiment trash words with my mother tongue.
        “Snuck ” sounds utterly looney, and I will be the last person to stand in a crowd and use such a word. If I dare do, am I then supposed to explain to the crowd that this is modern American stuff, lest they think me crazy?
        Hey you silly Americans, next time don’t tell us that the past tense of “eat” is EATED, “drink” is DRINKED “sleep” is SLEEPED, “catch” is CATCHED and a whole lot of such other American rubbish.
        Pl. do not ruin the beauty, elegance and the intrigue of English.

        Reply
        • Trollalala -  July 8, 2015 - 2:23 pm

          Walk into and English pub, then an American bar, and tell me who is really vandalizing your precious mother language my good lady.

          Reply
        • Kayles -  July 10, 2015 - 8:20 am

          I’m Australian, where we descended from British colonies and we use snuck. Don’t blame other countries for vandalising the language, everyone does it.

          Reply
    • Marta Adair -  July 3, 2015 - 8:31 am

      I’m an American, raised in America by a British mother who was constantly reminding me of how Americans “don’t know their grammar”. I received so many lessons/corrections on proper use of verb tenses that the Amerigocentric (love!) words still make me cringe a bit.

      The beauty of a used language, however, is its evolution. So despite the way some uses make me cringe, it is also fascinating to see the changes that have occurred over time and their acceptability. Neither Chaucer nor my mum may agree.

      Reply
    • TurningLeaves -  July 4, 2015 - 9:55 am

      Honoured sir,

      I sincerely agree and applaud your good humour. As someone who is not at all English or British, I find myself staggeringly facetious when it comes to ‘proper English’ as well, so I sympathise.

      Lividly on your side,
      Turning Leaves

      Reply

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