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Would you use the word "swum" these days? I mean, grammatically, it is the past participle of the verb "to swim", but it seems to me that no one uses it anymore. If it's the case, how would You describe the fact that You have already performed an act of swimming today? With "swum" it would be like this: "I've already swum today"

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People do use "swum"; just not everybody. (I use it, for example, in normal everyday speech). – Kosmonaut Dec 1 '10 at 14:53
I have swum today. I swam today. I have been swimming today. – user62199 Jan 13 '14 at 15:29
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I would see that word for swim race or competition:

I have already swum (the 500m swim race) today

as opposed to the more common

I have already been swimming today


I have already gone swimming today

(you generally "go swimming", not just "swim")

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...as opposed to the simple past, e.g.: "last week, I swam in a race". – Steve Melnikoff Dec 1 '10 at 10:06
Also "I've swum twenty lengths today" is perfectly normal. – Colin Fine Dec 1 '10 at 12:17

A quick, unscientific survey of Google and Google NGram suggests:

  • swum is still widely considered as being the correct past participle of swim.
  • I've swam is more common than I've swum in casual usage.
  • In formal usage and printed material, I've swum is still much more common.

Are there any trained linguistics willing to weigh in on the matter?

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The difference, not directly pointed out thus far, is that swam stands on its own. Swum needs a helping verb such as have. It is a difference in the KIND of past tense. Popularity is not, in the short run, a measure of correctness. Over time, language, being a fluid thing may change its rules

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My English degree can speak for itself. When using the past tense of "to swim" one would say I swam in his pool the other day. Or, I recently swum in a lake. Written, swum. Spoken, swam. Either works but one sounds better.

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Offering sources or other evidence would be better than claiming authority based on an English degree. – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '13 at 2:56
I don't know where you got your degree from, but I would ask for my money back if I were you. – Pitarou Oct 29 '13 at 6:41

protected by tchrist May 25 '14 at 18:04

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