'Slinked' or 'slunk'? 'Swam' or 'swum'? Getting the answers is easier than you think


Award-winning Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown tweeted recently about a former politician who “slinked off and went home.”

A follower was not pleased: “I love you Julie, and your work,” a reader named Bill replied. But I can’t let ‘slinked’ go. ‘Slunk,’ please.”

Brown was contrite: “It’s not a word I use very often. Hopefully the Twitter word police will forgive me.”

Somewhat coincidentally, I saw these Tweets not long after starting to write a column on past tense verbs. The example I had in mind was “swum.” After all, when’s the last time you heard the word “swum”? When’s the last time you used it?

But the slinked/slunk debate illustrates the same problem as does swam/swum: People don’t know where to turn for help choosing past tense forms (though that doesn’t stop some of them from telling others which to choose).

Good news: You never have to guess. The answer's as close by as the nearest dictionary. I explain how to find it in this recent column.

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