In a college application essay, I am trying to write the sentence along the lines of:

I have always strived to achieve my goals.

Should I say strived or striven?

According to this article at grammarist.com, striven is correct but strived is gaining popularity. Which is better in a formal essay?

  • 6
    No one can decide this for you. It is a matter of opinion only, and what image you are trying to present of yourself.
    – tchrist
    Oct 17, 2015 at 16:24
  • 4
    @tchrist What are the two images given off by the two words, or is it purely a matter of personal preference?
    – Arcturus
    Oct 17, 2015 at 16:26
  • 1
    These Google Ngrams support my perceptions. Oct 17, 2015 at 17:48
  • 3
    'I have strived' sounds right to me. It's what I would write or speak. 'have striven' has the stilted fell of middle English,
    – user3847
    Oct 21, 2015 at 0:35
  • 2
    Whichever you use, 50% of the readers think you are wrong. 50% of readers are not sure. Of the 50% who are sure, half are wrong themselves. "I have always worked hard to achieve my goals".
    – gnasher729
    Nov 3, 2015 at 2:40

3 Answers 3


'I have always striven to reach my goals', is correct in my opinion. I have heard 'strived' used and think that is part of the trend to regularize all the verb endings in English, forgetting the origins of the language. That would make it much easier for non-English speakers to learn. 'have striven' is pluperfect tense, whereas 'strove' is past tense.


I'm almost 60 years old, read a lot and am well-educated. Until today, 1/21/16, I had never heard the usage 'I have striven.' I always said, read and heard 'I have strived, OR I strove.' I heard it in a radio ad today. I'm amazed to learn striven has primary usage, and for a much longer period of time (see chart on These Google Ngrams).


The actual forms are to strive, strive(s), striving, strove, & striven.
When strived is used instead of an authentic form of the word, it sometimes replaces the simple past strove and other times it replaces the past participle striven.
If you are going to do this to irregular verbs like strive, then you will be saying "I have been bited by the dog", "The writed warning was issued", and "I knowed it all".

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