Most of us can use verbs in the present tense – the tense that lets a listener or a reader know it’s about the NOW, not the future or the past. For some reason, though, there are a few verbs that routinely get misused when moving into the past tense.

So, quiz time. What are your choices in the sentences below?

  1. Sheila said she (seen / saw) that movie last year.
  2. The box I (threw / throwed / through) into the pond (sunk / sank / sinks) like a rock.
  3. Our town has (became / become) famous lately!
  4. Frank has (gone / went) to the store already.
  5. Earlier, I (laid / lay / lied) down for a nap.
  6. John said he (was / been) at the store by 2:00.
  7. The ship (had sank / had sunk) too quickly for them to help.
  8. Sheila said she (had seen / had saw) that movie last year.
  9. Earlier, I (lay / laid / layed) the book on the table.

Here are the answers, which are in bold.

  1. Sheila said she (seen / saw) that movie last year.
  2. The box I (threw / throwed / through) into the pond (sunk / sank / sinks) like a rock.
  3. Our town has (became / become) famous lately!
  4. Frank has (gone / went) to the store already.
  5. Earlier, I (laid / lay / lied) down for a nap.
  6. John said he (was / been) at the store by 2:00.
  7. The ship (had sank / had sunk) too quickly for them to help.
  8. Sheila said she (had seen / had saw) that movie last year.
  9. Earlier, I (lay / laid / layed) the book on the table.

The toughest ones are lie and lay; if you’re not comfortable using them correctly, consider finding a synonym. Or check this page on my website.


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