I need advice on the best use of the verb show.

When do you use showed? I find myself substituting has shown, even when I meant to use the preterit in my sentence.

I prefer "she has shown" over "she has showed"; are there differences in phrasal verbs, such as "show up" or "show out"?

Do you ever use "shew" and its family?

  • Regarding the word Shew, could this be the root of Shoo; i.e. you shoo someone away by shewing them the door?
    – JohnLBevan
    Mar 18, 2016 at 17:49
  • I shy away from "showed" too. My hunch is it's a hypercorrection of the desire to avoid sounding silly by incorrectly using an irregular verb as if it were regular like children often do, as in "I eated Cheerios". Since "show" is somewhat irregular, the regular "showed" sounds a little wrong. But it's not. It's fine.
    – munificent
    Oct 20, 2017 at 21:48

4 Answers 4


Do you ever use "shew" and its family ?


When do you use "showed" ?

When you need the simple past tense.

Last week I showed you how to cook apple pie.


Show vs shew from the Google NGram viewer

enter image description here

  • 1
    But just because it's out of fashion doesn't make it wrong; it may even be a recommendation is some cases. To wit: "an historical", "a history". That is, honoring the uncertain status (vowel or consonant) of the aspirant "h" in an initial position. True that "shew" was last common (according to your ngram) in 1820, but then so was the delicate distinctions of the usage of "shall" and "will", most of which have also been lost.
    – dmms
    Jun 20, 2020 at 18:44
  • An ‘ospital and an ‘istoric event is dialect based
    – mplungjan
    Jun 20, 2020 at 18:47

The rules of phrasal verbs apply the same for "show" as any other verb. To use "show up" using past perfect, you'd say "she has shown up" just like if you were saying "she has shown" but with "up" added afterwards.

You don't use "she has showed". If you mean to imply that the event happened earlier than another event in the same sentence, you'd use "she had shown" rather than "she has showed." An example of this would be "She had shown us her collection of stamps when we asked." You might hear "she has showed" but it is incorrect English.


The conjugation of the verb 'Show' is : "show -- showed -- showed / shown". [The oId & archaic spelling of 'show' is *'shew'. Its conjugation is : "shew / shewed / shewed or shewn".] The past participle "showed" is very rare. It may be used in mediocre A.E. active construction; but it should NOT be used as per standard B.E.

Active voice : I showed my camera to my friend.

Passive voice : My camera was shown (NOT, was showed) to my friend by me.

The phrasal verb "show up" means 'to arrive' : He showed up, apologising for being late'.

But the phrasal verb "show out" means 'to present oneself especially in a public and performative manner' : 'The actress always showed out with a charming and extravagant outfits.'

  • 1
    "Shew" is indeed archaic. But it is not an imperfect (simple past) tense form of "show". Rather, "shew" is the base form, with inflections "shewed" and "shewn". (And I note Wiktionary's claim that "shew" is an East Anglian dialect form of "showed". I hadn't come across that usage before.)
    – Rosie F
    Oct 7, 2021 at 16:43
  • @Rosie F , you are absolutely right. Oct 7, 2021 at 17:06

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