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I remember about a month ago I was speaking to a friend and I said a Present Perfect sentence like "I have [VERB]". I forget the verb but I remember it was an everyday verb, not something exotic. But to my shock and horror, I have used not the participle form of the verb, but the past one, and it sounded more correct than using the past participle. (This was a verb whose participle form was different than its past form.)

Could this be? Can you think of any verb for which this may be true?

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In every language, there is a tendency towards regularization, that is, irregular forms tend to become regular over time. In particular, this has been happening to the English language for the last 13 centuries. Here are some examples of Old English irregular verbs that became regular in Modern English1:

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Although we can't possibly know what verb you used in that utterance, I would guess you used some irregular verb that is in the process of regularizing. So, using the verb form ending in -ed sounds more natural to you. It seems that this is happening to prove, for instance. According to the Wikipedia, "In BrE, the past participle proved is strongly preferred to proven."

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    Two more verbs that are showing the regularisation Otavio mentions are show and shine. So it is not uncommon to see/hear: He has showed (shown) .. or She has shined (shone) .. . – Shoe Oct 2 '11 at 4:24
  • It's perhaps worth adding that when a new verb enters the language, it's formed regularly. – Barrie England Oct 2 '11 at 11:45
  • @BarrieEngland That's a very important fact! – Otavio Macedo Oct 2 '11 at 12:00
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There are some verbs where the former past participle is out of use except as an adjective. This may have been one of these verbs in transition. For example, lots of people say "I have beat" but I think nearly everybody says "a beaten egg" or "a beaten man". Similarly for "I have mowed the lawn" but "a mown lawn".

  • Another common one, at least in UK English: "I've lit the match/splint", but "A lighted match/splint". Also, the pp of "string" is usually "strung", but note "stringed instruments". – Neil Coffey Oct 2 '11 at 18:10

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