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What is the Past Tense of Teach?

The verb teach has two forms altogether: to teach (present tense), and taught (past tense and past participle form of the verb, teach).


Past tense of teach [e.g., taught] in conversation.
Past tense of teach [e.g., taught] in conversation.

Were you ever teached the correct past tense form of teach? If you were indeed teached, you might want to continue reading this article.

The past tense of “teach”

From vowing to bring an umbrella next time, to pouring out spoilt milk—we are all taught little lessons each day.

Teaching is not exclusive to a classroom setting—and neither is learning; so, for anyone that has not been taught the correct conjugations of the verb teach, this article fills in the gaps.

  • The past tense and past participle of teach is taught (not to be confused with taut or tot).

  • Teached is incorrect, and is not a word in English.

Sentences with “teach” present tenseSentences with “taught” past tense
I am not qualified to teach this subject.He taught for several years before becoming a writer.
Teach vs. taught

Forms of teach

The dictionary defines teach as “to cause to know something” or “to cause to know how.” Similarly, though phrased differently, “to instruct or train someone or give someone knowledge of something: I taught for a few years before becoming a lawyer. In other words, when we learn, whether from another person or a situation we encounter, we were taught.

simpleI teachI taughtI will teach
continuousI am teachingI was teachingI will be teaching
perfectI have taughtI had taughtI will have taught
perfect continuousI have been teachingI had been teachingI will have been teaching
12 verb tenses of ‘teach’.

tensesentence examples with forms of “teach”
present tenseHe was determined to teach himself.
past tenseHis own mother taught him to read, and his stepmother urged him to study.
past perfect She had briefly taught at an elementary school before she opened her bakery.
future tenseShe will teach herself the course material over summer break.
tenses of “teach” in sentences.

Is teach a regular or irregular verb?

The verb teach‍ is irregular in English since neither of its past tenses forms end in –ed. Regular verbs, like walk, talk, laugh; and cry, all end in –ed in their past tense forms: walked, talked, laughed; and cried.  These are regular verbs in English.

Furthermore, since teach has two forms (not one or three), it belongs to the irregular category of verbs with two forms. As far as verb patterns go, teach is similar in form to verbs like buy/bought, seek/sought, and fight/fought. To audibly hear the vowel patterns, it’s helpful to read these words aloud in their various forms. Anyway, see the chart of other verbs like teach/taught, with two verb forms (in the present and past):

presentpastpast participle
seek soughtsought

Past tense and past participle of teach

‍Both the simple past and past participle forms of teach are “taught“. Compare the following sentences:

Past tense: Greg taught me how to swim.

Past participle: I was taught not to interrupt others.

Past participle: She had briefly taught at an elementary school before opening her bakery.

The second and third sentences use taught as a past participle, while the first sentence uses its simple past tense form. When identifying whether it’s the past participle or simple past tense form in use, look for the presence of an auxiliary verb (or, a “helper verb”). The presence of a helper/auxiliary verb, such as have/has/had, is a key marker that the verb form is indeed a participle, and not the past tense.

In the examples above, the auxiliary verbs are was and had, forming the simple past tense in a passive voice and the past perfect tense, respectively. Remember, a participle is not a tense in and of itself—so it follows an auxiliary verb so the tense (points in time) are able to be determined. To help you remember the difference between a participle and a tense, repeat the following: a participle must participate with a partner!

Examples of teach (present tense) in sentences

We’ll teach you to do it the right way.

He was determined to teach himself.

The local guides are going to teach us how to use the blowpipe.

She was looking for a photo editor to help her teach a class on photo restoration

The tutor was no more eager to teach than the pupil to learn.‍

Sentence examples with “taught”

All I know is what mom and dad taught me.

She’s been taught to avoid strangers.

You’re the one who taught me not to pull all my eggs in one basket.

Anatomy was taught here in the 14th century.

Idioms with “teach”

phrases with “teach”meaning
to teach an old dog new tricks It’s hard getting someone settled in their ways to change their habits/behaviours.
failure teaches success Experience is the greatest and hardest teacher.
to teach one the tricks of the trade Meaning to introduce someone to the inner-workings of an industry.
to teach a man to fish If you teach someone to do something they’ll be able to do it on their own.
those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. An insulting idiom meaning that those who are unable teach.
don’t try to teach Grandma how to suck eggs! Don’t assume that because someone is old that they do not know or understand how things are.
Expressions with “teach”.

Origin of the verb/word, teach

‍From etymology online on teach (v.):

Old English tæcan, “to show, point out, declare, demonstrate,” also “to give instruction, train, assign, direct; warn; persuade,” from Proto-Germanic *taikijan “to show” (source also of Old High German zihan), from PIE root *deik- “to show, point out.” Related to Old English tacen, tacn “sign, mark”. ‍

Read about other confusing verbs!


  1. “Teach.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2023.
  2. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of teach.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 16 January, 2023.‍
  3. “Teach.” 2023. Farlex, Inc. 16 Jan. 2023

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