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Joined: October 27, 2009  (email not validated)
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You are right that "text" gets used in past-tense sentences, as your question examples illustrate. However, what people were arguing about before was whether "text" could be the past-tense form in simple declarative sentences: "I texted you last night" vs. "I text (texed) you last night". Frankly, it surprised me that anyone would have thought to use the latter form, because of the following:

The reason I asked for other examples was because irregular word forms (such as build-built) are irregular because they are very old words that have survived through centuries of sound changes. Words that enter the language through borrowing or "verbizing", however, always conform to the language's inflectional system -- what are referred to as its "productive" morphemes. In English, "-ed" as a past tense suffix is productive, and no other past tense form is, to my knowledge. So "built" does not conform to the pattern, but it is a very old word, so we need not consider it. If a new word, such as "text" as a verb, enters English and takes on a past tense suffix other than "-ed", that would be truly remarkable. If you ever find such a word, post it here! But as I said before, I would be amazed if you ever do.

By the way, be careful about using the word "correct" in linguistic discussions. Many people contend (and I agree with them) that there is no sensible definition of correctness in language, only statements about how a language is used. So in the above, I have not described "text" (past tense) as wrong, but simply counter to the way that we know English to work in all other cases.

JLS January 28, 2010, 6:21pm

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Phil, that's a hilarious link. I can sympathize. I'm working on a project right now studying a dialect of Ojibwe, a language spoken by the indigenous people of the upper US midwest and southern Ontario, Canada. While they don't mutate the sounds at beginnings of words as dramatically as Welsh, it is impossible to use a verb (and sometimes nouns!) without attaching multiple prefixes to it. So until you know all of the tense, aspect, and person markers for the language, looking up words is hopeless. "Ngiizegzid" is filed under Z.

JLS January 28, 2010, 5:57pm

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Regarding "verbizing" nouns, anyone who opposes that is surely unaware of the extensive history of such activity in the history of English. :) Contentious examples include access (1962), impact (1935), and enthuse (1827). But many verbs were created this way centuries ago: link (1300s), love (very old), and others. The process can go in reverse, too: sink (1400s) was originally a verb, as was drink (very old).

As for the pronunciation of "texted": it certainly is a lot of consonant sounds, but in no situation would I ever devoice the "-ed" suffix. Trying it out just now in rapid speech, I do tend to elide the final "t" sound in "text" to produce something like "tex-ed" (two syllables). But for me it is unequivocally two syllables and the "-ed" suffix is clear as day. In slow speech I enunciate all of the consonants: "texted".

JLS January 28, 2010, 5:49pm

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The string "did you text" is not an example of "text" in the past tense. Here, "did" is an auxiliary verb, which necessarily takes a verbal complement in base form. The base form is sometimes called the infinitive. The tense of the whole question, "Did you text me last night?" is certainly past, but the word "text" is tenseless in your example.

For new words in English, transforming a verb to past tense really is simply a matter of adding "-ed" to the end. While the rules of a language do change over time, there is no evidence whatsoever that the rules for past tense formation are changing in English. I would welcome any examples of other new words which have taken past tense forms not ending in "-ed", but I sincerely doubt they exist.


JLS January 28, 2010, 4:59pm

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I'm a bit puzzled by some of the debate on this thread. First of all, the spelling of a word and its pronunciation are not independent. If indeed we were to settle on 'text' as the past tense form of 'text', it would not be spelled "texted"; it would be spelled "text". So that's irrelevant. What does matter is the rule for forming past tense verb forms in English, which was stated well by porsche back on October 5th. Irregular word forms (such as geese, built, mice, brought, cast, and many others) are very old words that have persisted through centuries of changes in English -- and they were all regular at one time.

However, the regular patterns of forming plurals, past tense, and other word forms are very well-established and part of the linguistic knowledge of every native speaker. Whenever a new word is introduced (as in the new verb "text", from the noun "text"), it follows these regular patterns, without exception. The past tense of 'text' would be 'texted' and there's absolutely no way around that because there is no optionality in the rules or wiggle room for what sounds right.

I won't call 'text' as a past tense form incorrect, in case usage of it eventually predominates, but I do see those who prefer it in two possible categories:

1) You are choosing to use "text" in the past tense because you think it sounds nicer and see precedent in verbs like cast, cut, and wed.
In this case, I say that you are probably fighting a losing battle against the extremely powerful rules of English, and that anyone who hasn't made the same aesthetic choice will probably misunderstand you.

2) You are choosing to use "text" in the past tense because it's the only way you've ever done it and it's the natural way to form the past tense for you.
In this case, I find you to be a very interesting case study, because your choice is highly unexpected for a word entering the language. As others have pointed out -xt is an unusual end to an English verb (or any English word, for that matter), and the relation of that to your unexpected grammatical choice could be interesting.


JLS October 27, 2009, 1:21pm

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