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What’s the Past Tense of Ride or Rode? Ridden?

To ride is the present tense. Rode is the simple past, and ridden is the past participle.

Complete the sentence with the correct tense of "ride".
Complete the sentence with the proper tense of “ride”.

What does “ride” mean?

The verb and action, to ride (simple present tense), refers to the action of, “to sit on and control a bicycle, motorcycle, etc.”, as stated by the online Oxford Learner’s Dictionary. Also, “to sit on an animal, especially a horse, and control it as it moves: ”He was riding on a large black horse.

The word ridden also functions as an adjective. In this sense, ridden is understood as, ”full of something unpleasant or bad: It is a superstition-ridden community.

Which is correct: rode or ridden?

simpleI rideI rodeI will ride
continuousI am ridingI was ridingI will be riding
perfectI have riddenI had riddenI will have ridden
perfect continuousI have been ridingI had been ridingI will have been riding
12 verb tenses of ‘ride‘.

Those familiar with Germanic languages may see the ablaut, which is in the verb ride and its past verb forms, rode and ridden. The ablaut, (which sounds like a-blowt out loud), describes the change a verb undergoes in pronunciation or spelling in any of its verb forms.

Typically, this involves exchanging or the removal of vowels. Most of the English language is German, and so, the verb forms in Modern English have retained some of their original grammatical aspects, as is the case with the following verb forms.

The ablaut pattern is in the, “systematic vowel alteration in the root of a word to indicate shades of meaning or tense”. The word ablaut in its original German is literally “off-sound”: bite, bit, bitten, and write, wrote, written each illustrates the same pattern as ride/rode/ridden.

base verbpast tensepast participle
Irregular verbs (two past tense conjugations).

When to use rode vs. ridden

past tense: I learnt to ride as a child.

past perfect:  She had never ridden a horse before.

The past participle form of a verb joins the auxiliary had (in the past tense) to construct the past perfect tense.

The simple past tense will not use auxiliary verbs, and so this makes it easy to differentiate between simple and perfect or progressive tenses in grammar. To learn all about the tenses and how they work, check out this guide on the 12 verb tenses in English.

“Ride” / “rode” / “ridden”, used in sentences

Examples: “ride“, in the past tense
He was riding on a large black horse.

She rides the subway home from school

At the end of the film they ride off into the sunset.

I learned to ride as a child.

We were riding along a dusty trail.
Examples: rode/riddenin the past tense
They rode along narrow country lanes.

He rode fifty miles on horseback.

I walked back while the others rode in the car.

I bragged to my coworkers about how far I had ridden my bike to work this morning.

He’s ridden six winners so far this year.

Idioms/phrases with ride

Just along for the rideto be there for the experience
If wishes were horses, beggars would ridewishing for something is pointless
to ride roughshod over something or someoneto treat others inconsiderably, or without regard for their well-being
to ride the crest ofto enjoy great success or support because of a particular situation or event
to ride on one’s coattails to benefit from the success of others
to ride out the storm/weather the storm to endure a difficult situation
to get a free rideto not have to pay for something
that and a nickel will get you a ride on the subwayto say that the amount of money is useless or extremely small
to thumb a ridemeaning hitchhike
to ride hell-bent for leatherto go as fast as possible, typically on a horse

Origin of the verb ride

From etymology online on ride (v.):

Middle English riden, from Old English ridan “sit or be carried on” (as on horseback), “move forward; rock; float, sail” from Proto-Germanic *ridan.

Read more on verbs

Types of verbs & verb tenseswhat’s the past tense of …?
forms of ‘to be’… seek?
auxiliary verbs… teach?
present tense… catch?
future tense… buy?
past tense… read?
perfect tense… ring?
transitive vs. intransitive… drive?
irregular verbs… lead?
modals… win?


  1. Wikipedia. 2023. “Indo-European ablaut.” Wikimedia Foundation. Last modified January 10, 2023.
  2. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of ride.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 16 January, 2023.
  3. “Ride.” McGraw-Hill’s Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions. 2006. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 16 Jan. 2023

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