Why is there no present tense of unassigned? We have assign and assigned, so why is unassign not a proper word when we have unassigned?

2 Answers 2


There is no present tense form for the word unassigned because it is an adjective and not a verb. So we use the word unassigned to describe a noun. We would not use it as an action.

  • 1
    We can use unassign as a verb if we wish. It's rare, but it can be used. I will uncheck the box and unassign the slot ... But, your answer is otherwise correct the sense the OP is asking about is an adjective.
    – David M
    Oct 24, 2019 at 15:19
  • @Heather, you are correct in usage, and David M is correct that I was looking for a verb. Thanks for your help.
    – Al__H
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:30
  • @DavidM You also can't use assign as an adjective either. Saying the project was / is assign is ungrammatical. The entire question is based on a false premise—and this answer is also making a faulty assumption. Oct 26, 2019 at 17:24
  • @JasonBassford I'm not disagreeing with you. Perhaps you can answer the question for the OP. I think that your statement is actually quite instructive. The question is based on a false assumption, therefore that's the answer.
    – David M
    Oct 26, 2019 at 18:01
  • 1
    @DavidM I have expanded my comment into an actual answer … Oct 27, 2019 at 16:41

The premise of this question is based on a couple of false assumptions.

As a verb

The present tense of the verb unassigned is unassign. It's not as common, but it's perfectly reasonable to apply the un- prefix to some verbs in order to form their opposite.

From "Assign and unassign" at Pearson:

Assign and unassign

You can unassign an assignment and later re-assign it if you want. After the assignment has been unassigned, the green check mark is removed from the Assigned column in the Homework/Test Manager, and the assignment is no longer posted for your students to see; however, results for any work done in the assignment are preserved.

You can also change the assignment status of multiple assignments at one time.

To unassign an assignment:

  1. Go to the Homework/Test Manager.
  2. Select Unassign from the Actions dropdown list for an assignment.
  3. Click OK in the pop-up window when prompted to confirm. The green checkmark is removed from the Assign column for that assignment.

You can later re-assign the assignment by selecting Assign from the Actions dropdown list.

As an adjective

The present tense of verbs are not normally used adjectivally in the first place. This applies to any verb, whether it's used in the affirmative or the negative.

The following are examples of -ed verbs used adjectivally. Consider each as a complete sentence rather than just a sentence fragment:

✔ She is liked.
✔ She is disliked.
✘ She is like.
✘ She is dislike.

✔ He is supported.
✔ He is unsupported.
✘ He is support.
✘ He is unsupport.

✔ The homework is assigned.
✔ The homework is unassigned.
✘ The homework is assign.
✘ The homework is unassign.

It's not that there is no negative version of the present-tense adjectival use of assign, but that there is normally no present-tense adjectival use of any verb, assign or otherwise.

In short, unassign is a proper word. It's just that it's not appropriate in some contexts—in the same way that assign is not appropriate in some contexts.

  • Thanks! This is a good answer.
    – David M
    Oct 27, 2019 at 17:08

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