As a native English speaker, I have always struggled with this type of sentence:

I have eaten pancakes and I have (drunk/drank/drunken) coffee

"I have eaten pancakes" sounds perfectly natural to me. However, none of "I have (drunk/drank/drunken) coffee" sound correct at all to me, although I suspect the correct answer is 'drunk'. Which is actually correct, and is there any reason why, as an (American) English-speaker, none of them sound natural to me?

  • 1
    Minor note: drunken's not actually a verb. It's an adjective :) Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 19:06
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    This sort of question is answerable from any good dictionary, which will give you the 'principle parts' of a verb--perfect HAVE always takes the past participle. Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 19:22

2 Answers 2


The correct choice is I have drunk. I think it is confusing because the past simple of to drink is very similar to the perfect tense of to drink. That is, drank (past simple) resembles drunk very closely.

The same is not true for to eat. The past simple is ate, and the perfect, (have) eaten. It's harder to mix these two up.

But there might be one more reason for your confusion. In grammar, there's a phenomenon known as attraction. In Greek or Latin, verbs that are indicative might be attracted into the subjunctive mood, if there's a neighboring verb in the subjunctive.

Similarly, in your sentence, I think you are unconsciously being attracted to the -en suffix by the word eaten! Perhaps this is what made you hesitate and consider drunken as a possibility.

  • 2
    I think the 'attraction' principle probably explains my confusion! Thanks!
    – C_Z_
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 20:47
  • @C_Z_ I'm glad!
    – ktm5124
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 21:54
  • 1
    Could the down voter please explain their down vote?
    – ktm5124
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 21:54
  • ...Certainly. I don't think the reason you give in your second and third sentences is necessarily correct, and you add no evidence to support your claim. 1006a, for instance, in a comment above, says that his children struggle with using 'drunk', but not with 'rung', 'swum' etc, and believes that it's to do with the connotations of 'drunk' specifically. As @Dan Bron has said, ' [A]nswers which just offer one man's opinion ['I think ...' and 'There might be ...'] and no data to back it up (e.g. nGrams or expert opinions or whatever) should be offered as comments, rather than answers proper. ' Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 22:32
  • 2
    Ooh, what happened to ktm5124 comments? At least leave one, the dialogue was not heated. So very very unfair, so very very one sided, so very very Trumpesque.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 14:36

In a number of English dialects, the past participle, drunken, is not unusual and has been in use for at least two hundred years. From The English Dialect Dictionary, printed in 1900

1. Present tense:
(1) Dhrink, (2) Dreyngk, (3) Drunk, (4) Drynk
2. Preterite:
(1) Drak, (2) Drenk, (3) Drenked, (4) Drinked, (5) Dronk, (6) druck, (7) drunk.
3. Pp. :
(1) Dhrunken, (2) Drank, (3) Drinked, (4) Dronken, (5) Drucken, (6) Druckin, (7) Druken, (8) Drukken, (9) Drunk, (10) Drunken.

[…] e.Yks. Ah've drunken it, Wray Nestleton (1870) 303. 34. w.Yks. I'm dhry, I've drunken all my tea up F.P.T. s.Chs 1

e.Yks.= East Riding of Yorkshire—A Glossary of Words used in Holderness in the East Riding of Yorkshire. 1877
w.Yks = West Riding of Yorkshire—A Glossary of the Dialect of Almondbury and Huddersfield. 1883
s.Chs 1= Cheshire—The Folk-Speech of South Cheshire. 1887

From a prescriptive grammar called A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles, Volume 6, first printed in 1954, come the following recommendations and historical notes [emphasis in bold, mine]

drunken. According to Fowler MEU the PE rule is that in adjunctal position only drunken is possible, whether expressing a permanent quality ‘given to drink’ or a temporary state ‘intoxicated’, while in the predicative a distinction is made between drunken ‘given to drink’ and drunk ‘intoxicated’: he was drunken and dissolute | he was drunk yesterday. Quotations: [...] McKenna M 283 a drunken man should never be so drunk as to not to know that he was drunk.—This rule was not was not strictly observed in former times: She has drunken = ‘intoxicated’ in the predicative: Ven 984 who is but drunken | Ant V. 2.219 Antony shall be brought drunken forth; […] In pure verbal function the en-form is archaic: Hewlett F 46 Sir, have you well-eaten and drunken? | Masefield C 312 She had drunken some drug to make her eyes bright. Thackeray […] N 20 Wherefore should the butler brew strong ale to be drunken three years hence. [1855]

The authors also note other -en forms, rarely used in the ‘verbal function’; shrunken, stricken, cloven, carven, (en)graven, paven, proven, riven, shaven, clothen, writhen, wreathen, cursen, waxen, washen,

From a 2016 novel, by an American author

I don't think the chief gave him back the booze because he seemed normal after that and I didn't smell it on him. He probably just figured that he'd drunken it all anyway.
Masters, Mates and Mishaps

From a 2015 biography of James Dean

"The thing is, the journey doesn't stop. And, as the days go on, it gets better and it gets better and it gets better. Jim, James, you brought me here. But what's keeping me around is you guys ... You've shown me around. I've eaten hamburgers. I've drunken buckets of Coke."
Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die - James Dean's Final Hours: ... (2015)

On the Internet; 29 DEC 2015, The Daily Mirror reporting on the death of Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, frontman of the heavy metal band, Motorhead.

He was arrested at the Canadian border for drug possession, yet his appetite for drugs and alcohol remained a constant throughout most of his career. He famously claimed he had drunken a bottle of Jack Daniel’s every day since turning 30, and he was also a proponent of amphetamines.


It was later rescheduled, but on his 100th birthday, on December 18, 2005, surrounded by friends and family, Vaughan had champagne. It was the first time he had drunken alcohol in his life—as a youth he had promised his mother he wouldn’t drink until he was 100. Several days later he died. source

An extract written by the 20th century Scottish author Neil Gunn

I dare say he's drunken every penny they've ever had.
An she's been there a the time? Hector was polite, but insistent. He wanted to know, but he didna want to press.
Fa else wid hae her? The driver waved an they stepped back

The Anarchy of Light: Neil Gunn: A Celebration (1991)

A poem by the 19th century Scottish author, John Knox

The Lovely Lady

[…] For this, Lovely Lady! I may not complain,
Nor dim your fair image by breathings of pains,
A sigh may escape to the winds of the waste
But on you I think as of one of the blessed:
For eyes beaming sweetness and bland beauty bright,
Should waken no musings unless of delight—
I've drunken delight from your form passing by
Majestic, but mild, as the dawn on the sky.

The Twa Hares, and Other Pieces (1846) Dundee, Scotland.

In a 2014 translation of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tale, the unconventional and dialectal version was preferred:

I've drunken and eaten for you,” the little man said, “and now I'll give you the ship. I'm giving you all this because you were so kind and took pity on me.”

The Simpleton from The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (first printed in 1812)

Last but not least, Morning Songs in the Night, Canada (1896)

I've sailed the dancing waters,
I've trod the golden strand,
I've spoke the sons and daughters
Of that enchanted land ;
I've drunken of her fountains,
The sweetest and the best ;
I've rambled o'er her mountains,
I've revelled in her rest

  • These are hardly recommendations for idiomatic modern usage. And there is no support for 'In a number of English dialects, the past participle, drunken, is not unusual [today].' Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 23:27
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    @EdwinAshworth I think I have provided support that in some dialects the PP is drunken, there are citations from as recently as 2015, they also cover the British, American and Canadian dialects. I thought it worthwhile mentioning. It is probable that the OP has heard this PP in speech, from local residents, is it not? I know that I've heard it in speech when I was a child. Then there are other irregular verbs that take the en suffix: bitten, driven, eaten and fallen
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 23:43
  • 4
    I grew up in an area that preserves the archaic adjectival form boughten as in a store-boughten item being the opposite of a home-made one, but still leaving bought for the past participle used as a verb: I’ve never bought something. There are a lot of variants out there.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 0:32
  • No; you have provided evidence that certain dialects used this PP in the 19th Century, and that it has been used for a certain style effect and by a single person in the 20th. I live 10 minutes away from Yorkshire and have never heard 'I have drunken' in conversation on fairly frequent visits there. Fowler's 'In pure verbal function the en-form is archaic' gainsays 'In a number of English dialects, the past participle drunken is not unusual'. Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 10:33

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