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What’s the Past Tense of Write? Wrote or Written?

Wrote is the simple past tense of write; written is the past participle verb form.

The verb, to write, in text message conversation. Made by Gflex on Canva.
The verb, to write, in text message conversation. By Gflex on Canva.



What’s the past tense of “write”?

To write in proper English, one must be familiar with the language’s verb conjugations, both regular and irregular.


The verb and action of writing (present participle), describes “making letters or numbers on a surface, especially using a pen or a pencil”, as stated by the online Oxford Learner’s Dictionary. Its verb forms are the following:


  • To write is the present tense form of the verb.


  • Wrote is the simple past tense,


  • Had/have written is the past participle verb form (used with auxiliaries).


tenseexamples: forms of “write”, in sentences
present tenseI write in my journal every evening.
simple pastShakespeare wrote many famous plays.
present perfectThe author has written several books.

 

Forms of the verb write

presentpastfuture
simpleI writeI wroteI will write
continuousI am writingI was writingI will be writing
perfectI have writtenI had writtenI will have written
perfect continuousI have been writingI had been writingI will have been writing
12 verb tenses of ‘write’



‍Other verbs with two past conjugations

base verbpast tensepast participle
speakspokespoken
writewrotewritten
bitebitbitten
eatateeaten
hidehidhidden
rideroderidden
Irregular verbs (two past tense conjugations).



When to use “wrote” vs. “written”

Past tense:  She wrote him several poems.

Past perfectThe role had been written specifically for Rita Hayworth.

The participle form of a verb, (which is a form of a verb, not a proper tense) and shown in the second sentence, uses the auxiliary verb, had. This indicates that the participle form of the verb is in use, and not the simple past. The simple past doesn’t use a helper verb since the simple past is a whole tense and verb, and so wrote can standalone in sentences, whereas participles do not.

 

Examples write in the present tense

1. He hopes to write a book about his experiences one day.

2. Which opera did Verdi write first?

3. Write your name at the top of the paper.

4. Please write in pen on both sides of the paper.

5. She had to write a report on the project.

Examples wrote in the past tense

1. She wrote an article for the respected journal Science.

2. The teacher wrote the answers on the board.

3. The children wrote stories about their pets.

4. He wrote scripts for stage, screen and radio.

5. She wrote him several poems.

Written (past participle) examples:

1. Who was ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ written by?

2. She has written extensively on the subject.

3. Her novel was written under the pseudonym Currer Bell.

4. The play was originally written for British television.

5. The role was written specifically for Rita Hayworth.

Synonyms of write

  • scrawl
  • address
  • compose
  • draft
  • print
  • record
  • document



Idioms and phrases with write

  • Nothing to write home about (for something to be unremarkable or not noteworthy so as to have nothing to say about it)
  • To write one’s own ticket
  • Written on water (opposite of written on stone; as in, impermanent or ephemeral.)
  • To write a bum check (as in fake or bad check/cheque)

The history of write

From etymology online on write (v.):

Old English writan “to score, outline, draw the figure of,” later “to set down in writing” from Proto-Germanic *writan “tear, scratch” .

Worksheet‍: tenses of “write”

Here’s a quick quiz to test your knowledge of the tenses of the verb “write.”

1. Present Simple Tense: He _______ a letter every day.

a) writes

b) write

c) is writing

2. Present Continuous Tense: Right now, she _______ a novel.

a) writing

b) write

c) is writing

3. Past Simple Tense: Yesterday, they _______ a poem.

a) writing

b) writes

c) wrote

4. Past Continuous Tense: At 3 PM yesterday, he _______ a research paper.

a) writes

b) was writing

c) write

5. Present Perfect Tense: She _______ three chapters today.

a) has written

b) write

c) is writing

6. Future Simple Tense: Tomorrow, they _______ their essays.

a) will write

b) writes

c) are writing

7. Future Continuous Tense: By 6 PM tomorrow, he _______ for two hours.

a) writes

b) will write

c) will be writing

8. Present Perfect Continuous Tense: They _______ since morning.

a) write

b) have been writing

c) writes

Answers

  1. a) writes
  2. c) is writing
  3. c) wrote
  4. b) was writing
  5. a) has written
  6. a) will write
  7. c) will be writing
  8. b) have been writing

Other commonly confused verb tenses

Learn more about verbs

What are regular and irregular verbs?

Transitive and intransitive verbs?

What are verbs?

Sources  

  1. Etymology online, origin of write.
  2. Definition of write.
  3. Wikipedia. 2023. “Indo-European ablaut.” Wikimedia Foundation. Last modified January 10, 2023. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_ablaut.

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