Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Shined" and "Shone"

Levels of Distractibility: Who cares? = *. Some people will be distracted from your meaning: = **. Many people will be distracted from your meaning: = ***.

Question: Is there a difference between "shined" and "shone"?

Answer: "Shine," "shined," "shone": Use "shined" with a direct object: "He shined the flashlight on the house." "Flashlight" is the direct object of "shined." Shined what? "Flashlight."

Without the direct object, use "shone": "The sun shone only once this week." Thanks to the NYT Manual of Style and Usage.

Rating of distractibility: (***). I didn't know the distinction! But the "sun shined" would not sound right. Nor would, "He shone the flashlight." On the basis of sound alone, I think many people would be distracted. I learned something writing this blog. RayS.


DarcKnyt said...

Thank you for this. It's an ugly one, and no one seems to agree. It's nice to have the input of a style manual online to reference.

I didn't know the distinction either. The object itself shone, but if it cast light somewhere else it shined.

I think I got it. Don't I?

Aoede said...

-necropost to clarify for Future Generations-

Almost. The object itself shone, but the object was shined.

MarkS said...

Sportswriters in particular seem to prefer having no irregular verbs, and will uniformaly write, "The Lakers shined last night as they beat the Clippers..."

It seemed to me that shined was for doing it to something (your direct object rule), like she shined her shoes. But not in modern newspapers.

Anonymous said...

I know this is old... but I decided to post anyway. Shouldn't it be "The sun has shone only once this week." since you used "this"? You could always do "The sun shone only once last week." and change the time frame of the week.

Just wondering...

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous--
It would have to be "the sun has shined [not shone] only once this week."

That's because your example uses the present perfect rather than the past tense. The present perfect (has shined") calls for the participle form of the verb, which is "shined."

If you are using simple past, you can definitely say "The sun shone only once this week."

Anonymous said...

Shined is not a word in this context at all..... Shone is the proper English for the act of shining, be it reflective or emitted. Shined is only correct in describing the act of polishing something so that it becomes shiny, and even then is questionable as a true word in proper English.

Georgia said...

The verb shine has two main definitions: (1) to emit light (intransitive), and (2) to cause to gleam by polishing (transitive). As an intransitive verb (definition 1), shine makes shone in its past-tense, perfect-tense, and past-participle forms. As a transitive verb (definition 2), it makes shined.

Your use of the word "shined" is wholly incorrect. The word relates completely and only to something that has been polished, as in, "The lieutenant shined up his combat boots before battle."

Peyton Stafford said...

I don't want to criticize you for trying to make sense out of this, and for attempting to take sports writers' usage into account, but I agree that shined is mostly applicable to boots and shoes. People shine shoes. Stars and shoes shine. Shined shoes have shone. No fancy grammar here, just common usage.

Sports are great, but whether an athlete is engaged in dog-fighting, promiscuity or just playing the game, neither professional athletes nor the journalists who extol them are concerned with using English or any other language skilfully, any more than they are concerned with whether athletes make suitable role models for children. They want to win games and to make headlines. Those are their priorities.

It's up to writers like you to keep English a language capable of subtle meanings. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I hate to jump on board four years late, but I thought you might be interested that this difference between shined and shone can be explained by the (not always consistent) English pattern of causative verbs.
An irregular verb often becomes regular when it is used in a causative sense.
So... the sun shone, and I shined my flashlight.
Compare with "hang". Proper usage would be "The stockings hung from the fireplace." and "I hanged the stockings on the fireplace.".
This is something very old, and it still exists in German, also. Hang = Hängen
"Die Wäsche hing auf der Leine" (The clothes hung on the line) and
"Ich hängte die Wäsche auf die Leine." (I hanged the clothes on the line)
Lastly, I must point out that no one uses the causative form of "hang" properly in English except for the case of hanging people. Therefore, I don't expect anyone to use the proper forms of other verbs (shine, fit, awaken(?)). I hope someone finds that useful, at least!
-Jim, avid explorer of languages

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