Friday, March 28, 2008

"I Should Have Went to Practice"

Question: What's happening with verb tenses?

Answer: They're butchering the past participle.

It seems to have started several years ago--at least that's when I first noticed it. Criticized by his coach Larry Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers for not attending practice, Georgetown-"educated" Allen Iverson said in a press conference, "I should have went to practice."

Not long after that, I heard a commentator on a football telecast say, "He should have ran faster."

Could another "lie/lay" confusion be developing here? Especially in sports broadcasts, I am noticing a disturbing increase in pairing "have" with past tenses like "went" instead of with past participles like "gone." Go. Went. Gone. Present tense, "go." Past tense, "went." Past participle, "has, have, had gone." Of course, I'm not talking to my readers. They're much too educated to make such a mistake. Still, we're not all that sure about "drink" "drank," and "has, have, had drunk."

I guess we don't drill on verb tenses the way we used to in my English classes as a student, which may be good. Maybe I spent too much time on grammar drills and not enough time on actual writing. I suppose what was important was using "went" by itself and putting the "has," "have" and "had" with the past participle. The monotonous repetition of the tenses was not really necessary for most people. Still, if my readers hear some young persons say, "I should have ran...," don't stop and correct them. Or start drilling them on the tenses. Just slip "I should have run...." into the conversation. They'll eventually discover the correct tense.

All the best. RayS.

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