According to Wiktionary, the past participle of "flaw" is flawed, and flawn is not mentioned as being a valid alternative. However, the past participle of "draw" is drawn. I know that Modern English is irregular with regard to many forms and conjugations (for better or worse), but at first glance it is logical that the past participle form should be flawn, and not flawed. In short, what is the correct conjugation of the past participle for the verb flaw?


3 Answers 3


Well, to start with, flaw is not really a verb; it's a noun, and nouns don't have past participles.

Like practically any noun, however, it can be "Verbed" (as Calvin calls it; linguists call it Zero-Derivation, or Conversion), resulting in a causative verb to flaw, meaning 'cause to have a flaw'. It's not very common, though -- I mean, how likely do these sentences sound?

  • Don't flaw that cantata!
  • I will flaw every stone I find.
  • She really enjoyed flawing those.

However, common or not, all Zero-Derived verbs are regular, and that means that the principal parts of flaw are

flaw, flawed, flawed.

Draw and fly, however, are verbs, and are irregular, to boot. Their principal parts are

draw, drew, drawn


fly, flew, flown

There are vowel shifts here, which is one mark of irregularity; the past participle inflection is another. The -n suffix for past participle goes back to Germanic. In Modern German, the past participles of "strong" (i.e, irregular) verbs always end in -en, while the past participles of "weak" (regular) verbs always end in -t. In English, regular verbs have collapsed both the Past and the Past Participle inflections to -ed, while irregular verbs vary all over the lot.

  • Why did you capitalize the term "verbed"? Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 16:43
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    Because I capitalized the other terms. Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 16:43
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    Does one of them have an irregular conjugation? "All the books here have now been catalogen."
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 18:25
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    They are primarily nouns, and secondarily derived verbs. And the derived verbs are all regular. They're not all causatives, of course; oil is provisional, and brake is applicative, for instance. There are a lot of semantic categories that derived verbs can fall into. Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 20:55
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    It it looks like a verb, if it inflects like a verb and if it functions as a verb, then it is a verb. Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 12:24

The only past participle of flaw in the whole of the OED is flawed.

  • Is the OED solely authoritative when it comes to Modern English? Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 16:07
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    It is not. You have to use your own judgement in interpreting what you find there, and weigh it against what other sources tell you. That said, there is no reference work on English words and their history that is more compehensive. Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 16:11
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    I've searched several corpora (BNC, COCA etc.) and not a single one has "flawn" as a verb.
    – Alex B.
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 20:39

There's no more to it than what you've stated. The past participle form of flaw is in fact flawed, and never flawn. It's not uncommon for English verbs to have differing conjugations.

  • I didn't necessarily answer my own question. Maybe a dictionary exists that does list a variant form for the past participle. Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 16:07
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    Even if one did, it would be obscure and obsolete. Since you're asking for the "correct conjugation", you shouldn't worry about obscure variants.
    – Daniel
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 16:09
  • Never say never. Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 16:41

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