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What’s the Past Tense of Breed? Breeded or Bred?

The verb, breed, has two forms: breed and bred. That's it; the past tense and participle forms are both bred.

Breed/bred used in text conversation.

Is breeded or bred the correct past tense?

How should you denote the past tense of the verb breed? Breeded or bred? If you’re looking for the short answer, it’s bred… or is it breeded? For the longer (and better, more comprehensive) answer, read the the full post.


simpleI breedI bredwill breed
continuousI am breedingI was breedingI will be breeding
perfectI have bredI had bredI will have bred
perfect continuousI have been breedingI had been breedingI will have been breeding
Tenses of ‘breed’

What does ‘breed’ mean?

To clarify any confusion, the word breed can be both a verb and a noun, but not at the same time. As a noun, the word breed is understood as “a breed of a pet animal or farm animal is a particular type of it. For example, terriers are a breed of dog” (defined by Collins Dictionary).

As a verb, breed is understood as, ‘if you breed animals or plants, you keep them for the purpose of producing more animals or plants with particular qualities, in a controlled way: He lived alone, breeding horses and dogs.‘ (defined by Collins Dictionary, breed).

To breed is in the present tense: He used to breed dogs for the police.

Bred is the simple past: Dogs are bred all over the world.

Bred is also the past participle: These dogs were bred to fight.

Is breed a regular or irregular verb?

Is breed a regular or irregular verb? What’s the difference between regular and irregular verbs? It’s a simple rule: verbs that end in –ed in their past verb forms are regular; anything other ending is irregular. The thing is, you may have noticed that the verb breed does, in fact, end in –ed in both its past tense verb forms, as both are bred. Wouldn’t that make the verb breed a regular verb rather than irregular?

Not quite. Breed remains firmly within the category of irregular verbs. Notice how breed modifies from the present to its past verb forms: breed/bred vs. the way regular verbs like walk/walked, and talk/talked modify in their verb forms. Can you spot the difference?

base verbpast tensepast participle
breedbred bred
Irregular verbs with one past tense.

Regular verbs add or attach the –ed to the base form of the verb to show tense or aspect. Breed, on the other hand, removes an internal (e) vowel, and does not add anything else to its base form (breed), which leaves it as bred.

This changes the entire spelling and pronunciation of the past forms of breed, which rhymes with speed. Bred, which rhymes with bread and spread, doesn’t add the –ed, but just removes an –e. For English speakers, this adjustment is weird. it’s also why breed is an irregular verb that is frequently mistaken and confused.

Breeded or bred?

Past tense: I was born and bred in the highlands.

Past participle: These dogs had been bred to fight.

What’s the difference between the past tense and the past participle form of a verb? Generally speaking, we can identify the form of the verb by looking if there are auxiliary verbs, and by learning verb conjugations (it’s not as hard as it sounds). Auxiliary/helper verbs are “a verb used in forming the tenses, moods, and voices of other verbs.” The main auxiliary verbs are:

  • be, been, was, are.
  • do, does, did, done.
  • And have, has, had.

The past participle (paired with the auxiliary, had)  is what creates both the passive voice (and perfect aspect). It’s beneficial to learn about the distinction between the active and passive voice if you’re unfamiliar; however, as a brief, high-level overview: the passive voice has the action/verb in the sentence be received by the subject rather than performed or done by the subject. The subject is passive not active, is another way to think of it.)

Examples of the verb breed in context

1. During the breeding season the birds come ashore. (present participle)

2. He used to breed dogs for the police.

3. Frogs will usually breed in any convenient pond.

4. He lived alone, breeding horses and dogs. (present participle)

5. The area now attracts over 60 species of breeding birds. (present participle)

Examples of the word bred in context

1. I’m a countryman born and bred.

2. The birds bred successfully in the dense forests.

3. I was born and bred in the highlands.

4. The bear bred two cubs.

5. This breed is known to bred plentifully.

Examples of the word bred in context

1. She was raised and bred to be a fighting dog.

2. Some mice were normal, and some had been bred not to produce serotonin.

3. These were animals that were bred with fine yet muscular lines.

4. These dogs are bred to fight.

5. The trainer had bred her well, though she still failed to pass the exam.

Idioms with the word breed/bred

  • love breeds love (love begets love, kindness begets kindness)
  • old enough to bleed, old enough to breed (once a girl starts menstruating she is ‘old enough’ to bear children)
  • like breeds like (habits and traits are inherited).
  • familiarity breeds contempt (knowing someone too well, or overexposure can cause hostility)
  • breed like rabbits (have tons of children/offpsring)
  • born and bred (raised in a certain place/or to do a certain thing)

Origin of the verb breed

From etymology online on breed (v.):

Old English bredan “bring (young) to birth, procreate,” also “cherish, keep warm,” from West Germanic *brodjan.


Read more on verb forms

Learn more about verbs!


  1. Definition of breed from the Collins English Dictionary. Accessed on January 17, 2023.
  2. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of breed.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 17 January, 2023.
  3. “Breed.” McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. 2002. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 17 Jan. 2023

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