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What’s The Past Tense of Bite? Bit or Bitten?

Bite is present tense, bit is the simple past, and 'bitten' is the past participle verb form.

Complete the sentence with the correct tense of 'bite'.

Get a bite of this grammar lesson on proper verb forms!



What’s the past tense of “bite”? ‍

The verb and action of biting (present participle) describes when we use our teeth to cut into or through stuff, usually food . . . like when you bite into a sandwich (present tense). Continue reading for the key takeaways on the irregular verb (though highly regular action), to bite.



Verb forms of “bite”

  • Bite is an irregular verb (i.e., it’s present past future tenses don’t end in -ed).


  • Bit is the simple past tense of bite.


  • Bitten is the past participle form of bite, used in perfect/continuous tense constructions.


presentpastfuture
simpleI biteI bitI will bite
continuousI am bitingI was bitingI will be biting
perfectI have bittenI had bittenI will have bitten
perfect continuousI have been bitingI had been bitingI will have been biting
12 verb tenses of ‘bite

1. To bite is the present tense: Do you want a bite of my sandwich?

2. Bites is third-person present singular: The dog bites the toy.

3. Biting is the present participle form: He is biting his nails anxiously.

4. Will bite is future tense: Be careful, that dog will bite you.

5. Bit is past tense: A spider bit me yesterday.

6. Bitten is the past participle form: The mosquitos have bitten me several times.



‍Irregular verbs similar to “bite”

See the following chart of verbs with different forms in the present, past and as a past participle, (like bite/bit/bitten).


base verbpast tensepast participle
speakspokespoken
writewrotewritten
bitebitbitten
eatateeaten
hidehidhidden
rideroderidden
Irregular verbs (two past tense conjugations).



When to use “bit” or “bitten”

Simple past tense: She bit the cookie in half.

Past perfect tense: She had been badly bitten by the dog.

The past participle form of a verb, (e.g., bitten) conjoins with auxiliary verbs had + been to form perfect/progressive tenses. When other verbs, such as had and been, are in the same sentence as the main verb, then the sentence is in a perfect or progressive tense, and not the simple past.

The past perfect tense is constructed by had [auxiliary] + bitten [past participle]. The simple past tense doesn’t use a helper verb (or auxiliary), so this makes differentiating between them straightforward.

Sentences with “bite” (present tense)

A wild animal may bite if it is frightened.

Some people bite their nails when they feel nervous.

Mosquito bites can itch for days, and finding relief from the bite is half the battle.

Does your dog bite?

He was curious about how it would taste, so he took a small bite.

Sentence examples with “bit” (past tense)

Both sisters bit their nails as children.

She bit the cookie in half.

The hamster bit the child.

He bit the apple.

He bit into his sandwich.

Sentence examples with “bitten” (past participle)

She was badly bitten by the dog.

Has your dog ever bitten you?

The patient had been bitten by a poisonous snake.

He had bitten the cigarette in two.

Tom was bitten by a dog when he was thirteen.

Idioms/phrases with bite

phrasemeaning
to bite one’s tongue or hold one’s tongue To refrain from saying something or speaking one’s mind in a situation for fear of offending someone.
your bark is bigger than your bite Said when someone tries to appear threatening though is not.
to grab a bite Literal; to get something to eat.
don’t let the bed bugs bite! Meaning sleep well or goodnight,
to bite your nose to spite your face To seek revenge on another in a way that is ultimately more harmful towards oneself.
don’t bite off more than you can chew To take on more responsibility than you can handle.
don’t bite the hand that feeds you Don’t treat poorly those that take care of you/those on whom you depend.
how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.The way to accomplish a difficult task is by tackling one thing at a time.
Idioms with “bite”

Origin of the verb bite

From etymology online on bite (v.):

Old English bitan “to pierce or cut with the teeth” (class I strong verb; past tense bat, past participle biten), from Proto-Germanic *beitanan.

Worksheet‍: tenses of bite

Test your knowledge on the conjugations of ‘bite’:

1. Present Simple Tense: Dogs _______ when they are hungry.

a) bites

b) bite

c) biting

2. Present Continuous Tense: Right now, the mosquito _______ me!

a) bites

b) bite

c) is biting

3. Past Simple Tense: The snake _______ him last summer.

a) bites

b) bit

c) biting

4. Past Continuous Tense: While he was sleeping, a spider _______ him.

a) bites

b) was biting

c) bite

5. Present Perfect Tense: She _______ by a mosquito several times today.

a) has bitten

b) bit

c) bites

6. Future Simple Tense: Tomorrow, the ants ________ the picnic food.

a) bites

b) will bite

c) biting

7. Future Continuous Tense: By this time tomorrow, the sharks _______ near the reef.

a) bites

b) will bite

c) will be biting

8. Present Perfect Continuous Tense: He _______ his nails for hours.

a) bites

b) has been biting

c) biting

Answers

  1. b) bite
  2. c) is biting
  3. b) bit
  4. b) was biting
  5. a) has bitten
  6. b) will bite
  7. c) will be biting
  8. b) has been biting

Other commonly confused verb tenses

Learn more about verbs

Sources

1. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of bite.” Online Etymology Dictionary, https://www.etymonline.com/word/bite. Accessed 16 January, 2023.

2. Wikipedia. 2023. “Indo-European ablaut.” Wikimedia Foundation. Last modified January 10, 2023. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_ablaut.‍

3. “Bite (one’s) nose off to spite (one’s) face.” Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. 2015. Farlex, Inc 16 Jan. 2023 ‍


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