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What’s the Past Tense of Build? Build or Built?

To build is in the present tense. Built is both the past tense and the past participle of build.

Build/building/built in text conversation. By Gflex (on Canva).
Build/building/built in text conversation. By Gflex (on Canva).

What’s the past tense of “build”?

Examples of "built" in sentences (past tense).

Build, builded, or built? What’s the correct past tense of the verb, to build? In this post you’ll find both the short answer and the long answer.

Verb forms of build

Let’s define the subject topic first. To build is defined in the dictionary as, “to make by putting together materials, parts, etc.; to construct; erect: build a snowman.”

simpleI buildI builtI will build
continuousI am buildingI was buildingI will be building
perfectI have builtI had builtI will have built
perfect continuousI have been buildingI had been buildingI will have been building
12 tenses of ‘build‘.

1. To build is the present tense: The organization helps build houses for poor families.

2. Builds is third-person present singular: He builds houses for a living.

3. Building is the present participle: We are building new townhomes in the neighbourhood.

4. Built is the simple past: The boy built a sandcastle.

5. Will build is in the future tense: We will build a massive skyscraper in the core of the city.

6. Built is the past participle: The hospital had been built during the town’s upswing in the 1930s.

‍Other irregular verbs with two forms

base verbpast tensepast participle
leanleant/leaned leant/leaned
dealdealt dealt

Simple past vs. past participle of build

Since the past verb forms of build are both built, how can we tell whether the participle form of the verb is being used rather than the simple past tense? There’s a foolproof way to spot the difference; compare these examples first:

The boy built a sandcastle. (past tense)

She had built a successful business before retiring. (past perfect tense)

Both sentences are in the past tense and naturally describe actions or events that started and ended at some point in the past. Nevertheless, there are slight differences between the two tenses and the way they depict past actions in relation to time.

The second sentence (in the past perfect tense) says something that happened before something else that also occurred in the past. We learn that she had built a successful business before retiring, and so the past perfect clarifies the sequence in which past actions or events took place. To write in the past perfect tense, we pair the auxiliary verb had with the past participle form of the verb (e.g., had been, had seen, had eaten).

Examples of build (present tense) in sentences

1. The children went to the beach to build a tall sand castle several feet high.

2. If you build it they will come. (Field of Dreams)

3. Students were asked to build a tower with blocks, but they had to assemble it within two minutes.

4. The organization helps build houses for poor families.

5. A construction company was hired to build the couple’s home after receiving the blueprint.

Examples of built past tense in sentences

1. The boy built a sandcastle.

2. They arrived at the strange palace built in the middle of the last century by another English eccentric. (Robert Wilson, The Company of Strangers).

3. They built the hospital during the town’s upswing in the 1930s.

4. The architect built a stunning design for the building.

5. The town built a new community center for the residents.

Examples of the past participle built (in application)

1. The house was built in 1920.

2. I have built a sandcastle on the beach.

3. She had built a successful business before retiring.

4. They will have built the new bridge by next year.

5. The pyramids were built by ancient Egyptians.

Synonyms of build

  • construct
  • erect
  • create
  • develop
  • form
  • establish
  • fashion
  • make
  • raise
  • shape

Origin of the verb build

From etymology online on build (v.):

Middle English bilden, from late Old English byldan “construct a house,” verb form of bold “house,” from Proto-Germanic *buthla-.

Learn more about verbs!


  1. Merriam-Webster, definition of build.
  2. Etymology online, origin of build.

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