Last night, Joe dreamt of Mary. Or would it be better to say that he dreamed of her? More important: How can you know for sure?

Past participles confuse a lot of people. Take it from someone whose Boston-area in-laws opt for forms like "I should have ate" and "I could have went." When we need a verb form to go after "have," we reach for the one that sounds best. And what sounds best is whatever we're most accustomed to hearing.

Most of the time, that works out great. In any aspect of language, the most natural-sounding, most popular form is correct about 99% of the time. But the other 1% of the time, things can get ugly.

Even more important than getting past participles "right" is knowing how to make good choices. Here's a quick overview of past participles and how to look them up.

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