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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.

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

‍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
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.

“Bite” / “bit” / “bitten”, used in sentences

Examples: bite, used in sentences
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.
Examples: bit/bitten, used in sentences
Both sisters had bitten their nails as children.

The hamster bit the child.

She was badly bitten by the dog.

The patient had been bitten by a poisonous snake.

Has your dog ever bitten you?

Practice questions: tenses of ‘bite’

Complete the sentence with the correct verb form.Options:
1. She ___ by a mosquito several times today.

a. bites
b. bit
c. was bitten
d. biting
2. The snake ___ him last summer.

a. bites
b. bit
c. was bitten
d. biting
3. He ___ his nails for hours.

a. bites
b. bit
c. was bitten
d. biting
4. Dogs ___ when they are hungry.

a. bites
b. bit
c. was bitten
d. biting
5. A mosquito ___ me!

a. bites
b. bit
c. was bitten
d. biting
6. He __ a small piece of the pie before throwing it out.

a. bites
b. bit
c. was bitten
d. biting
Select the correct tense the sentence is written in:
7. He bit into his sandwich.

a. simple present
b. present perfect
c. simple past
d. past perfect
8. Has your dog ever bitten you?

a. simple present
b. present perfect
c. simple past
d. past perfect
9. Tom had been bitten by a dog when he was thirteen.

a. simple present
b. present perfect
c. simple past
d. past perfect continuous
10. She’s biting her nails again.

a. simple present
b. present continuous
c. simple past
d. past perfect


  1. b
  2. c
  3. c
  4. b
  5. a
  6. b
  7. d
  8. a
  9. b
  10. d

Idioms/phrases with bite

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.

Other commonly confused verb tenses

Learn more about verbs

Types of verbs & verb tenseswhat’s the past tense of …?
forms of ‘to be’seek?
auxiliary verbsteach?
present tensecatch?
future tensebuy?
past tenseread?
perfect tensering?
transitive vs. intransitivedrive?
irregular verbslead?


1. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of bite.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 16 January, 2023.

2. Wikipedia. 2023. “Indo-European ablaut.” Wikimedia Foundation. Last modified January 10, 2023.‍

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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