I just finished my English language exam, and it had the following sentence:

Beads of sweat sprang from his skin

Should it really be sprang? I always thought it was sprung, but I guess they are both valid?

Or is it like effect and affect, and they are used in different places?

  • 2
    If it's like effect and affect, then the meanings are completely different and not at all interchangeable. – Robusto May 5 '15 at 15:32
  • Sprang is the usual choice for the past tense, but as AHDEL and RHK Webster's state, sprung is an acceptable alternative. I think Collins tries to say the same thing. There are some authorities who think that AHDEL and RHK Webster's are wrong here. – Edwin Ashworth May 5 '15 at 16:10
  • There is a tendency for strong verbs with the ring, rang, rung 1-2-3 pattern to follow the wring, wrung, wrung 1-2-2 pattern, often dialectally. The prime example is the Disney movie title Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, where shrank is the more traditional past tense form. – John Lawler May 5 '15 at 16:59
  • @JohnLawler That's why it sounded odd to me? Because people often use the sprung when they shouldn't? – Tim May 5 '15 at 17:44
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    @Tim: If I were editing a document that was intended for general consumption, a written piece which was not a personal diary and not a work of fiction, I'd correct sprung to sprang as nonstandard, just as I'd correct "He rung the bell" to "He rang the bell". – TRomano May 5 '15 at 18:34

Sprang is the past tense:

Beads of sweat sprang from his skin.

Sprung is the past participle:

Beads of sweat have sprung from his skin.

Some dictionaries list sprung as an acceptable past form as well, but others list only sprang. Reverso Conjugator gives lists of the commonly accepted conjugations of [to] spring, if you're interested.

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  • 1
    So the usage is correct :) – Tim May 5 '15 at 15:33

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