Tuesday, February 2, 2010


We all know that "swam" is the past tense of "swim." What about "swum?" It sounds peculiar and you rarely hear or see it used; however, "swum" is a word. It's the past participle of "swim." You use it when writing in certain tenses.

A trick to help you remember when to use "swum" is that past participles always come after a helping verb such as "have" or "had."

I have swum. (present perfect tense)
I had swum. (past perfect tense)
I will have swum. (future perfect tense)

Personally, I would re-word the sentence rather than use "swum." What about you? Does swum work for you?


Source: Grammar Girl Podcast

There are other such words that (in my opinion) just don't sound right. When they come up, I'll do a similar post on them.


Because today's post is a mini lesson, I decided to include the following words of wisdom. I thought Steve's Three Rules of Life merited sharing with everyone.

Steve Jobs' Three Rules of Life ...

1. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.

2. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.

3. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition - they somehow already know what you truly want to become.



  1. Thanks for sharing Steve's great words of wisdom.

    I don't really like swum either. To me it sounds more like modern slang you might hear a teenager make up to try to cool. HMMMM... how can we use it in that context?

  2. "Gimme swum of that there possum pie, willya?"

    You just have to know how to use it.

  3. The more you say "swum," the worse it sounds! Given that I write a lot about cats, I have a feeling I won't have much use for the word - in any tense!

  4. I KNOW this, but you know, every time I USE it (or drunk, the participle of drink, not the adjective) somebody corrects me! There are passles of people out there who don't know this stuff!

  5. It DOES just sound wrong, unless you use it like Alan did in his fine literary example.

    I think I'll swim away from 'swum'. Swiftly.

  6. I've sometimes said "swum", but I also say "ain't" sometimes. It feels wrong, so when I write I try to stick with "swam".

  7. Alan - great use of the word swum. It is not a word I care for. I also strongly dislike "dived" and it is all the rage in the books these days. ARGH!

  8. I so agree about swum. What were they thinking? Steve Jobs does good rules. Maybe he could fix the swum problem for good.

  9. Yeah, I'm not a fan of swum. It just sounds kind of strange. I probably say swum but I wouldn't write it.

  10. I know swum is a word, but it does sound silly, doesn't it? No idea why.


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