Proofing a manuscript, I found this in the middle of a chase scene:

Spotting an opening, I dived into it and was horrified to find it was a dead end.

Is “dived” a valid past tense of the verb “dive”? I've always used “dove”, but I'm not certain what the use is in UK English.

Cambridge shows “dived” as a valid past tense of “dive”, but which is more common? Do “dove” and “dived” have different shades of meaning, or are they used differently in different contexts?

  • 1
    Dove, although frequently heard, was considered incorrect and marked wrong by teachers in the Northeastern USA circa 1960. It is now more generally used here, but still sounds wrong to me.
    – user115107
    Mar 27, 2015 at 1:21

1 Answer 1


Wiktionary indicates that dived is the standard British English past tense of dive:

The past tense dove is found chiefly in North American English, where it is used alongside the regular (and earlier) dived, with regional variations; in British English dived is the standard past tense, dove existing only in some dialects. As a past participle, dove is relatively rare. (Compare Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary; The American Heritage Dictionary; The Cambridge Guide to English Usage)

  • 2
    Dove is certainly rare as a verb in British English. I had a mathematics teacher who used it as an affectation, so much so that he sometimes even used it as the present tense; he also wrote shew rather than show, for much the same reason.
    – Henry
    Mar 11, 2011 at 21:37
  • It needs a broad accent, preferable fairly Northern, to carry it off. A bit like sware, clome, crew, and other strong pasts which are vanishing relics of ME. May 23, 2011 at 19:20
  • ODO (oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/dive?q=dived) also refers to dove as specifically a US term.
    – TrevorD
    May 22, 2013 at 12:30
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    @Henry I have a tendency to use the past participle diven as an affectation, just to drive home the point. Aug 11, 2015 at 20:37

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