I was wondering whether there are any verbs whose past tense could be used as a continuous verb like "head." Is "head" the only verb whose past tense can be used as a present continuous verb?

I am headed to the store.

I am heading to the store.

The two above mean the same.

I was headed to the store.

I was heading to the store.

The two above mean the same.

I had been headed to the store for 2 hours, when the car broke.

I had been heading to the store for 2 hours, when the car broke.

The two above mean the same.


The past continuous of "to head" is "was heading."

If you say, "He headed to the store," that doesn't by itself imply a continuous act. He obviously is no longer heading to the store. Even when you say it, it doesn't even mean that process continued until he got to the store. He may not have gotten to the store. It merely means that in a single completed action, he pointed himself in the direction of the store. It is no more continuous than saying, "He ran to the store." You may envision him running to the store, but that doesn't make it past continuous.


Your update with example sentences only employs the simple past tense in the second example. You're using the present tense "am" with a past participle in the first and the pluperfect "had been" in the third.

Tense aside, how are these different than other similar configurations using other verbs?

  • I am sat on a chair.

  • He was knelt by the altar.

  • They had been stood at attention.

They aren't different.

As for the difference between the first and second sentences in each example, whereas they can often be used to describe the same situation, there is nuance that can arise due to the active voice and the passive voice. For example:

I am headed to the store.

The above may be the passive voice. It may indicate that your present circumstance isn't of your own doing. With this, you are not committing to the fact that you headed yourself to the store. Someone else may have set you on that course.

I am heading to the store.

This is the active voice. It connotes your involvement in the act of heading. Maybe you had been headed to the store by someone else, but you yourself are continuing to head to the store now. You are an active player in your heading.

  • sorry, I don't think that I asked by question properly. I added some example sentences to show what I mean. – brienneoftarth Jan 15 '16 at 14:12

Edit: (after original question was edited)

I think this can be done with a few stative verbs, as opposed to action verbs. The state can be in the past tense after "to be". But I can't find many examples.



It is pointing at the sign.

It is pointed at the sign.


The child was sitting at the table.

The child was sat at the table. (could imply someone put him there)

Previous Answer (before edit):

The past tense of head is "headed", and the continuous tenses uses the present participle "heading".

See the conjugations of head here.

However, if you're looking for English words that are the same in various forms you can look at wikipedia's List of English irregular verbs.

Examples that can be both present & past:

beat, bet, bid, bust, cast, clad, cost, cut, fit, forbid, hit, hoist, hurt, ...


"Headed" in "I am headed" is not a verb in the past tense, but Participle II, meaning "turned with my head in a certain direction". So the difference between "I'm headed" and "I'm heading" is not only in the tenses (the Present Indefinite and Present Continuous) but also in the voice: "I'm headed", Passive voice, "I'm heading", Active. We see the same kind of difference in the pairs "I'm finished/done with it" and "I have finished/done it".

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