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What’s the Past Tense of Weep? Weeped or Wept?

Hopefully you haven't wept over not knowing the past tense of weep. Here's a hint, it's in the previous sentence: wept and had wept are the past tense and past participle of weep.

What’s the past tense of “weep”?

To weep is something people do when they are sad. You might weep, for example, because you don’t know your proper English verb conjugations. Hopefully you haven’t wept over not knowing the past tense of weep. There’s no need—we’ve got your back. Let’s get into the lesson on the proper verb forms of the oh so sad verb and infinitive, to weep.

Forms of the verb “weep”

simpleI weepI weptI will weep
continuousI am weepingI was weepingI will be weeping
perfectI have weptI had weptI will have wept
perfect continuousI have been weepingI had been weepingI will have been weeping
12 verb tenses of ‘weep‘.

In the dictionary, the action ‘to weep‘ is defined “‍to express deep sorrow for usually by shedding tears: weeping the sins and errors of his youth—Edward Gibbon”. To weep can also mean to drip, as in, “water was weeping through the basement wall”. Most often weep is used to mean cry or grieve, while shedding tears.  

To weep is in the present tense: They weep during emotional moments at the theatre.

Wept is the simple past: She sat down and wept.

Wept is also the past participle:  He had  wept at the news of her death all morning, and now his eyes burned.

Past tense and past participle of “weep”

The verb weep is irregular since it doesn’t end in –ed in the past tense. Regular verbs in English use an -ed to show the past time, like walk, talk, laugh; and cry, all end in –ed in their past tense forms: walked, talked, laughed; and cried.  ‍

Verbs like weep, sweep, leap, are all irregular and belong to the category of verbs with two forms. To audibly hear the vowel patterns, say it out loud: weep/wept, sweep/swept, and leap/leapt. Since both the simple past and past participle forms of weep are wept, it can be tricky to know when to use the past tense vs. the past participle form. Let’s review the difference between them:

Past tense: I wept uncontrollably when I received the heartbreaking news.

Past participle: The children, exhausted from crying, had wept themselves to sleep.

The simplest way to tell whether a sentence is in the past tense or is a past participle, look for any auxiliary verbs (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 simple past tense.

Auxiliary verbs paired with the past form of a verb what creates other aspects of tense, like the past perfect tense and the passive voice in English. Participles not being complete tenses on their own require 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 the verb “weep” in the present tense

I weep every time I watch a sad movie.

She weeps whenever she hears a touching song.

The children weep when they don’t get what they want.

We weep at the sight of injustice in the world.

They weep during emotional moments at the theatre.

Examples of “wept” (simple past tense)

I wept uncontrollably when I received the heartbreaking news.

She wept tears of joy when she saw her long-lost friend.

The children wept when they realized they had lost their favorite toy.

We wept together as we said our final goodbyes.

They wept with relief when they found out their loved one was safe.

Sentence examples with “wept” as a past participle

I have wept many times over the pain of losing a loved one.

She had wept for hours after the breakup.

The children, exhausted from crying, had wept themselves to sleep.

We had wept all night long, overwhelmed by grief.

They have wept tears of happiness upon receiving the good news.

Other words for weep

  • cry
  • sob
  • wail
  • bawl
  • lament
  • shed tears
  • snivel
  • whimper
  • moan
  • break down

Phrases with “weep”

read ’em and weepan expression commonly used during card games where one person loses
weep bucketsto cry intensely for a while
laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alonepeople will participate in your happiness but not in your sadness
to weep over (something or someone) to cry over someone
enough to make the angels weepsaid when something terrible or grievous occurs
to weep one’s heart outto cry profusely over something
to weep for joysaid hyperbolically of one who is deemed so cold and indifferent as to be unable to cry tears

Origin of the verb/word, weep

‍From etymology online on weep (v.):

Old English wepan “shed tears, cry; bewail, mourn over; complain” (class VII strong verb; past tense weop, past participle wopen), from Proto-Germanic wopjan* (source also of Old Norse op, Old High German wuof “shout, shouting, crying,” Old Saxon wopian, Gothic wopjan “to shout, cry out, weep”), from PIE wab-* “to cry, scream”


  1. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of weep.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 12 July, 2023.
  2. “Weep.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2023.

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