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What’s the Past Tense of Deal? Deal vs. Dealt

To deal (simple present tense), dealt (simple past) have/has/had dealt (past participle).

Check it out: deal/dealt, in text!
Check it out: deal/dealt, in text!

What’s the past tense of “deal”?


Did you deal the deck of cards, or were the cards dealt by you? Or is that the same sentence spun differently? The question: what’s the past tense of the present tense verb deal?

To start with the definition, deal is a verb with a few meanings; one of which is as understood as, “if you make a deal, do a deal, or cut a deal, you complete an agreement or an arrangement with someone, especially in business”. Also, “if you deal playing cards, you give them out to the players in a game of cards.” (Collins Dictionary, deal).

Forms of the verb deal

simpleI dealI dealtI will deal
continuousI am dealingI was dealingI will be dealing
perfectI have dealtI had dealtI will have dealt
perfect continuousI have been dealingI had been dealingI will have been dealing
Tenses of ‘deal‘.

1. To deal is the present tense: I deal with difficult customers on a regular basis.

2. Deals is third-person present singular: He deals with high-pressure situations calmly and efficiently.

3. Dealing is the present participle: I am dealing with a difficult client at the moment.

4. Will deal is the future tense: I will deal with the problem head-on and find a solution.

5. Dealt is the simple past: I dealt with a lot of stress at work today.

6. Dealt is the past participle form: I have dealt with many challenging clients throughout my career.

Here’s a chart with verb forms similar to deal/dealt, insofar as they also have two verb conjugations in total (and are irregular verbs that do not end in –ed in their past verb forms):

base verbpast tensepast participle
leanleant/leaned leant/leaned
dealdealt dealt

Forms of the verb, to deal

Compare these sentences:

  • Past tense: She dealt us three sandwiches apiece.
  • Past participle: The situation had already been dealt with.

We know the participle is a participle, and not the simple past tense, because it joins the auxiliary verb, had, to form the past perfect tense. In the sentence, ‘It’s already been dealt with’, it’s = it + has. The auxiliary verb, had, pairs with the past participle form of a verb to create i. The past perfect aspect, and ii. the passive voice (which includes a sentence object.) If any of the above is complicated, it’s because of the arcane and esoteric phraseology that exists in English grammar. In other words, it’s helpful to learn the terms and spend a bit of time on the terminology.  

Examples of deal used in the present tense

1. Whose turn is it to deal?

2. Start by dealing out ten cards to each player.

3. Their lives became a good deal more comfortable.

4. That’s the way it is, so deal with it!

5. Who’s going to deal with this mess?

Examples of dealt in the past tense

1. He dealt me two aces.

2. She dealt out three sandwiches apiece

3. Her sudden death dealt a blow to the whole country.

4. Dalton dealt out five cards to each player.

5. The croupier dealt each player a card, face down.

Examples of the past participle, dealt, in sentences

1. It’s already been dealt with.

2. Yet some people have dealt with the restrictions with impressive creativity.

3. But the wildly contagious variant has dealt them a setback. (The Guardian (2022))

4. I’ve dealt with things alright since the pandemic.

5. So deal with this ridiculous regulations that should have been dealt with ages ago. (The Guardian (2020))

Synonyms of deal

  • arrangement
  • agreement
  • contract
  • transaction
  • pact
  • negotiation

Origin of the verb deal

From etymology online on deal (v.):

Old English dǣlan, from dǣl a part; compare Old High German teil a part, Old Norse deild a share.

Learn more about verb conjugations!

Learn more about verbs


  1. Etymology online, origin of deal.

‍2. Definition of deal, Collin’s Dictionary.

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