There’s an interesting post at the Log today in which Geoff Pullum surprised me by writing:

At some time in the middle 1970s, Deirdre Wilson and I noticed that we had never seen the past participle of the verb stride anywhere. In fact we didn’t even know what it was. When you stride off, what is it that you’ve done? How would it be described? Have you strided? Have you strode? Have you stroded? Have you stridden? Have you strodden? We realized that we hadn’t a clue. None of them sounded familiar or even mildly acceptable to us as native speakers.

As I said in the thread:

I am American and spontaneously produced stridden (which I’m pretty sure I’ve actually used in speech); so did my wife, though since she had a British-born father her testimony may be tainted. At any rate, it is clearly a ridiculous overstatement to say it does not exist or is never used. The OED says, quite properly, “The pa. pple. rarely occurs.”

A number of other people also said stridden seemed natural to them. One commenter said “This reminds me of the fact that in Russian, there are a couple of nouns which lack a genitive plural form (but have all the usual forms, including a genitive singular). The word for ‘poker’ (the thing you find by a fireplace) is one of them.” To this I responded:

You’re thinking of кочерга [kochergá] ‘poker,’ which has a perfectly good genitive plural, кочерёг [kocheryóg]. But it’s not often used and isn’t intuitively obvious, so Russians can have a hard time coming up with it, as in a famous Zoshchenko story from 1939, “The Poker,” in which a factory director is trying to order five pokers (the numbers five and above requiring the genitive plural for the following noun) and in dictating his letter says “I urgently request the shipping of five… What the hell? I don’t remember how to write it: five koche… Three kochergi is clear. Four kochergi, no problem. But five.. what? Five…” The secretary tries to help by running through the declension: “Who, what? kocherga. Of whom, of what? kochergi. To whom, to what? kocherge…” But when he gets to the plural, the secretary says it’s swirling around in his head and he can’t remember it. Finally a clever member of the staff rewords it so it reads “We have six stoves and need a separate poker for each of them rather than the one we have now, so we need an additional five.” A very funny story.

Another commenter really riled me by writing “One time I heard someone say, ‘I used to could do that.’ It’s wrong in at least two different ways when you analyze it, but she did manage to get a ‘plain’ form out of ‘can’. Despite it’s incorrectness…” I tried to remain civil:

No, no, no, no. It is not “incorrect” or “wrong” just because it’s not part of your dialect. It is a perfectly good construction common in southern dialects; since I have Ozark forebears I am familiar with it and sometimes use it myself. English is a house of many mansions; let’s try not to pare it down to a puny one-room hut, eh?


  1. “He strode into the room.” That’s easy. “He, having stridden into the room, picked up a poker…” sounds right to me too, probably because of “ridden”. But does this sound right:-”Having stridden many miles, he felt thirsty”?
    Ah hae ma doots. But if you make it a little archaic:-
    “Having stridden many a mile, he felt thirsty”
    it sounds better, don’t you think?

  2. He strides.
    She strode.
    We have stridden.
    I am strident.

  3. The cricket is stridulent.

  4. J. Del Col says:

    Fats Waller played stride piano. Could he have been said to have stridden the keyboard?

  5. Robert Hale says:

    I read Geoff Pullum’s post and thought about it. The form that sounds most natural to me is “I have strode” and if pushed that’s the one I’d probably use. On the other hand I don’t think I’ve ever had cause to use it in my life.
    For the record I’m in the UK West Midlands, though I don’t know if there’s likely to be any specific regional variation.

  6. Michael Farris says:

    For some reason I think I like strode best, stridden second. SAE speaker.

  7. Johan Anglemark says:

    I’m a proficient ESL speaker and although I realised I had never seen the forms, stride/strode/stridden immediately came to my mind.

  8. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    I’d avoid it, but if pushed I’d say have strode. I wouldn’t use stridden in a million years, it looks like a typo.

  9. What we have here is a difference of opinion.

  10. Heck, the online dictionaries have both, but give strode first place. I’ve not used stridden, and probably won’t.
    The question of past participles is timely because last week I was entertaining a silly thought about sit and sat, and how many other ‘it’ words have the past tense ‘at’. Could fat be the past tense of fit? And tat of tit?
    I’ll leave out the other definitive one.

  11. I’ve heard that joke about кочерга, except they ended up making two orders: one for three and one for two.

  12. My thoughts on reading the opening:
    ‘Strode’ right? No… ‘I have strode’ sounds funny. So it must be ‘stridden’… ‘I have stridden into the room’? No I haven’t. Have i ‘strided’? ‘strod’? ‘strid’? I guess i don’t have a word for this.
    Stress on I. i don’t doubt that others have one of these words. Well I kinda doubt anyone has ‘strod’.
    The ‘poker’ story reminds me of David Sedaris’ hilarious piece Go Carolina. Averse to ‘s’ because of his lisp, when he was younger he found workarounds for plurals and possessives:
    “it was easier to say nothing than to announce that the left-hand and the right-hand glove of Janet had fallen on the floor.”

  13. I suspect that the first phase of the replacement of a strong form by a weak one is often a simple reluctance to produce the form at all. But “stride” may be in a holding pattern because it’s an upscale word, only much used by people of a literary turn, who tend to be afraid of making mistakes. So rather than replace the missing form, they just keep doing without.

  14. Sheesh! I’m one of the great unwashed and under-educated that are the true font of all that is good and holy and Right according to a certain Tina Fey impersonator, and yet, this has had me all tied up. I’ve finally decided on stridden because of the more common ridden. If it’s ride, rode, ridden, then stride, strode, stridden will do me. That said, the tortuous circumlocutory avoidance option is still my first instinct.

  15. ‘Stridden’ also sounds best to me, but I’m one of those who have strengthened ‘sneaked’ to ‘snuck’, so perhaps I’m tainted. There is much to be said for “tortuous circumlocutory avoidance” in many circumstances, but one should stride boldly forward in this case, and having once stridden, never apologize!

  16. Okay. Who has striven and who has strove to avoid the past participle of stride?

  17. If the politicians wave the flag, does that mean that down through history they wove the flag, and more importantly have they wivven the flag for the last time?

  18. A.J.P. Crown says:

    holding pattern…upscale word…literary turn
    Yeah? Besides silly, what word describes John Cleese walking?
    To have strode along in the holding pattern behind John Cleese was certainly an upscale experience for us people what are of a literary turn.

  19. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    And if you need more examples check out the first sentence here. Further down, in the Comments, John Emerson asks the question, “Hey, where’s the dirt on Kotsko and Holbo?” Probably he was invoking. But since John Emerson and James Woods both make appearances here, doesn’t that automatically make “have strode” the more handy, practical and streamlined usage? I think so.

  20. On a related matter, do Americans tend to say “The ship sunk” rather than “The ship sank”? I fear they may.

  21. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    They don’t let ships sink in Amerika.

  22. Sank and sunk are both acceptable past tense forms; I have no idea which is more common. If you’re that insistent on historically accurate formations, I trust you use shotten as the past participle of shoot.

  23. Being an ESL speaker, I´d have used “stridden”, too (on account of ride /ridden). If you had asked me what “wivven” means, though, I´d have guessed that it might be Old English for the plural of wife.

  24. zythophile says:

    I don’t think you can say “use ‘stridden’, on account of ride /ridden” – they’re irregular verbs because they don’t follow rules, dammit. On the basis that “seethe” becomes “sodden”, I think you’re as entitled to say that “stride” becomes “strudden” as anything …

  25. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    There is no past participle wivven. It’s I wife, I was wiffing, I have wifed.

  26. Wow, these comments are riffen with quirky astrides.

  27. If it’s

    I wave the flag, I waved the flag, I have waved the flag


    I wife, I wifed, I have wived

    then why can’t it be

    I stride, I strided, I have strided?

  28. Sank and sunk are both acceptable past tense forms; I have no idea which is more common.
    Sank and drank are more standard past tense forms in Australia than sunk and drunk, though these are also heard. Sometimes sank and drank conversely occur as participles. On the street, at least.
    The -ing verbs are interesting. Most go -ing, -ung, -ung rather than -ing, -ang, -ung, but several have -ang for the past tense archaically and dialectally, according to SOED. Cases include sting, swing, and wring. Spring is uncertain. It has holden on to the form sprang in Britain and Australia, but appears to have lost it in the Land of the Free.
    I hope this has holpen.
    (How that our linkuage is weft of strange strands, in straunge strondes!)

  29. Heck, the online dictionaries have both, but give strode first place.

    (Assuming that this wasn’t just a very subtle joke–) It’s hard to say without knowing what dictionaries you’re looking at, but I’d imagine they give strode before stridden because they give the preterite before the past participle, not because they count strode an equally acceptable option for the latter.

  30. I was equally surprised at Geoff Pullum’s comment. Although I don’t remember ever having had occasion to use the word, I’m pretty sure “stridden” would have come quite automatically, and if I had heard anything else from another speaker it would have sounded ood.

  31. “Sounded ood”: I like that!

  32. Strode, strood, strooden.

  33. grin, grind, ground, grounded

  34. zythophile says:

    “I have wived”
    Ah, yes – I have indeed. And occasionally I have husbanded.

  35. David Marjanović says:

    I’d say “stridden”, too, first, because of ride — rode — ridden; second, because of German (schreiten — schritt — geschritten — yes, the /t/ is missing, maybe you folks inserted it into the /sr/ cluster like the Czechs have done); and third, because the word is rather archaic/poetic in the first place, and strong formations tend to sound more archaic than weak ones, even if they aren’t.

    “seethe” becomes “sodden”

    Man. :-o We have this exact same irregularity in German: sieden — gesotten. Note the exact 1 : 1 sound correspondences.
    (To my embarrassment, I can’t think of the past tense. Has to be sott, but I bet I’ve never encountered it. The past participle has become restricted to literature, while the present tense is used as a technical term for “to boil”, so it took me a long time to figure out that they actually belong together in the first place, and the past tense as a whole is a purely written form for me anyway, except for “be” and “want”.)
    While I am at it: schießen — schoss — geschossen (note the utter, complete, and total lack of a vowel correspondence in the present tense, though perhaps Schütze “shooter, marksman, Sagittarius” helps bridge that gap); helfen — half — geholfen.

  36. John Emerson says:

    There’s at least one strong English verb which is identical in conjugation and meaning to the German. Can’t remember which.

  37. John Emerson says:

    There’s at least one strong English verb which is identical in conjugation and meaning to the German. Can’t remember which.

  38. stride, stridex, stridden
    If I had to choose, the most instinctive choice would be none of the above. The next most instinctive choice would be stridden, but something about it bothers me. Maybe the Stridex zit creme.

  39. Кочерёг??? I have never heard of that! although I frequently use them. But yes, the Institute of Russian Language seems to agree quite resolutely. “Anyway, we should move to steam heating ASAP,” as Zoshenko concludes.

  40. That’s why I think it’s a good comparison to “stridden”: it sounds weird to a lot of native speakers.

  41. marie-lucie says:

    About the avoidance of Кочерёг:
    There is a similar problem in French (at least in France): how to say neuf oeufs “nine eggs”. The plural oeufs is pronounced as if the f did not exist, and the word neuf is usually pronounced with final [f] except in front of a vowel in the frozen contexts neuf ans “nine years” which sounds like neuvans. The problem is that pronouncing the [f] in neuf oeufs as [v] sounds weird to most people, but it also does with the [f]. Also, neuvoeufs sounds almost like the word neveu “nephew”. One solution is to add a plural-sounding [z] to the number word, but neufz oeufs sounds illiterate.
    I read an account by an English-speaking linguist who tried to elicit the pronunciation from a French egg vendor: Je voudrais des oeufs, s’il vous plaît – j’en voudrais neuf (I would like some eggs please, nine of them). The vendor counted the eggs into a bag: Voilà monsieur, neuf beaux oeufs! (Here you are sir, nine beautiful eggs!). The word beaux (pronounced [boz] before the vowel) prevents the awkwardness, and the [z] of the plural is more satisfying before a plural noun than the unusual [f] in that position. The sound [z] is also heard in the majority of contexts when counting eggs: deux oeufs (2), trois oeufs (3), six oeufs (6), dix oeufs (10) and douze oeufs (12), and of course in des oeufs “(some) eggs”).

  42. zythophile says:

    “seethe” becomes “sodden” – We have this exact same irregularity in German: sieden — gesotten. The past participle has become restricted to literature, while the present tense is used as a technical term for “to boil”, so it took me a long time to figure out that they actually belong together in the first place
    “Sodden” lost its primary meaning of “boiled” in English a long time ago, and now means merely “soaked thoroughly”, and it was only coming across a late 16th century writer talking about brewers becoming rich from selling “sodden water”, which sounds very odd to modern ears, that made me turn to a dictionary and discover the connection with “seethe”. I doubt many native English speakers today even realise “seethe” means “boil”, since it’s almost always used metaphorically now, as in “seething with anger”. Not coincidentally, I’m sure, madida in Latin also meant both “soaked” and “boiled” – obviously a lot of conceptual cross-over there …

  43. Another version of the poker story (in Russian here) has an agency with an “ordinary vulgar furnace” and receiving back the following note (automatically translated by Google), “Already there spring. Потом будет лето. Then will the summer. До зимы далеко. Before the winter off. Об отоплении думать пока что не приходится. On heating thinking has not yet been accounted for. Весной хорошо думать о грамотности, хотя бы в связи с весенними испытаниями в средней школе. Spring is well to think about literacy, at least in connection with spring testing in high school. Что же касается данного слова, то слово действительно каверзное, доступное Академии наук и машинистке с тридцатилетним стажем. With regard to this word, the word really tricky, affordable Academy of Sciences and the typist with three decades of experience. В общем, надо поскорей переходить на паровое отопление. In general, you should quickly move to steam.”

  44. marie-lucie says:

    I too had never been aware of a connection between seethe (a word found in the Bible) and sodden, so it is great to learn of the link.
    zythophile: Latin madida ?? where does this word comes from? if it means soaked, boiled (the common meaning must refer to submersion in water) it should be a participle, but this word does not look like one. Can you tell us more?

  45. Everyone is approaching this question from the standpoint of construction, but isn’t that a sort of prescriptionist attitude? I mean, think about it. Why do we have language in the first place? To use it.
    And how is the word stride used? I think of it as maybe what the Jolly Green Giant does, but definitely in a Gothic romance where the governess meets the bad boy/heir to the mansion for the first time and notices his manly manliness. He strides into the room. He strides across the heath. He strides to the stable and his horse strides too. And when he is enraged (but only about his frail old mother or social injustice) he strides out of the room. Stride is a larger than life cartoon word–it expresses strength and directness. So how are you going to take a word like that and use it as a past participle. I mean, that’s only slightly less convoluted and effeminate than passive voice, the ultimate weasel construction.
    And then there’s the sound of the word. “Stride” has a nice open expansive sound, like taking a big step. Same with “strode”. If you put it in any sentence, it will be the word that takes over. But stridden? It has that unfortunate double “d” sound thing doing on. “di-di”…kind of like baby talk… goo-goo, da-da, poo-poo…and if you put it together with have or has, you have the additional tongue twisting feat of pronouncing a str- after a z or v sound. Not a Gothic hero sound at all. And how would it look in a comic book frame? Silly.

  46. “I mean, that’s only slightly less convoluted and effeminate than passive voice, the ultimate weasel construction. ”
    Isn’t THAT a prescriptivist sort of attitude, using a pejorative, and highly subjective, word like “weasel” to describe the passive voice? I get why one shouldn’t overuse it, but your contempt for it is an attitude that is de rigeur among prescriptivists and is also an attitude I’ve never been able to understand.

  47. A.J.P. Crown says:

    I don’t know Nijma. The Jolly Green Giant isn’t exactly John Wayne.

  48. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Marie-Lucie, how do you yourself say neuf oeufs?
    Can it be done with a glottal stop: neu’ oeufs?

  49. using a pejorative, and highly subjective, word like “weasel” to describe the passive voice
    Which construction is more accepted by Americans:
    Your taxes were raised.
    Congressman Ima Spender raised your taxes.
    You better believe the second construction is the one Americans want to hear. To be sure, there are some valid uses for passive voice, but some non-native speakers think putting everything and anything into passive voice is a matter of prestige.
    And if you’re trying to create a narrative of a dashing bold hero, you don’t use a lot of complex sentence structure, or something that has to be parsed carefully, not when he’s about to gallop off a rescue little Nell from the railroad tracks. You want to use language that sounds bold and direct.

  50. I find the above deeply offensive.
    We weasels use the word “human” to describe passive voice.

  51. Jolly Green Giant says:

    Having stridden into the room, I picked up a poker.

  52. John Wayne says:

    I strode into the room. I picked up a poker.

  53. zythophile says:

    Latin madida ?? where does this word comes from?
    Marie-Lucie, it’s the adjective mădidus, a, um, and the particular passage I was thinking of is from Pliny, Hist Nat 14.29.149: “est et Occidentis populis sua ebrietas fruge madida, pluribus modis per Gallias Hispaniasque nominibus aliis, sed ratione eadem.” – “There is a particular intoxication too among western peoples, with madida grains, [made] in many ways among Gauls and Hispanians, with various names, but the same technique.” This is a famous quote among beer historians, and madida is always translated as “soaked” (as in, for example, Max Nelson, The Barbarian’s Beverage, p 54), but Lewis and Short say the word can also mean “boiled soft, sodden”. Without boring you with the details, technically we can’t be sure if Pliny was describing soaking the grains – part of the malting process – or boiling (strictly, infusing with very hot water) the (malted) grain, and it would be interesting (well, interesting for beer historians) to know which he meant …

  54. marie-lucie says:

    AJP: Marie-Lucie, how do you yourself say neuf oeufs?
    With reluctance! I would say neuf oeufs but feeling that I should really say neuv oeufs if it didn’t also sound so strange.
    Can it be done with a glottal stop: neu’ oeufs?
    NO, that doesn’t sound French at all.
    The only thing that sounds natural is neuf[z] oeufs but as I said before, that is not standard, since there is no plural suffix in the word neuf. There are other cases though in which popular speech adds a plural suffix to a number word, as in quatre[z] officiers “four officers” (in an old folk song) or in the expression se regarder entre quat’[z] yeux ‘to (get closer to each other and) stare at each other fixedly’ literally “to look at each other among four eyes” (implying a standoff, not adoring gazes). Since the plural word yeux “eyes” (quite different from its singular oeil) is normally found immediately after a preceding article or other word indicating the plural, eg les yeux where the s is pronounced [z], there is also the familiar, almost slangy verb zyeuter “to look at”.
    zythophile: thank you for the explanation. I had not thought about the possibility that the word was an adjective rather than a participle. I wonder if the root mad- in Latin madid- is related to mal- in English malt? A change between [l] and [d] is not impossible (witness Latin lingua related to English tongue, where the initial [t] comes from a [d]). I will try to look it up, unless someone else finds the answer first.

  55. A.J.P. Crown says:

    There’s to eye, in English.
    We say among four eyes in Norwegian too, but to mean ‘between ourselves’.

  56. marie-lucie says:

    There’s to eye, in English.
    I did not understand this sentence at first but you must mean “to eye”, as a verb (there is a reason for putting some words between quotes, or in italics).
    Yes, it is the same idea, but the French word is not derived from the singular oeil but the plural yeux, and there are two irregularities from the point of view of Standard French word formation, but both fully justified by the pronunciation and use of the noun in context: the prefixation of a z which comes from a plural suffix which does not actually belong to the noun but from a previous word, and the addition of a verbal suffix starting with t where one might expect another z since yeux is plural (and therefore potentially ending in the sound z if followed by a vowel): a more regular form would be yeuser, but that form does not exists, only zyeuter (which is not Standard, unlike “to eye” in English – you would probably not find it in a newpaper article, for instance).

  57. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Yes, I don’t like to use quotes unless I feel the sense would become confused without them, which it obviously did in this case.
    Zyeuter‘s the kind of surprising word that would be fun to use if my French were better. Still it’s delightful to know. I’ll work it into a conversation one way or another.

  58. Marie-Lucie – I wonder if the root mad- in Latin madid- is related to mal- in English malt?
    We’re well outside my knowledge comfort zone here (trans. “I haven’t got a clue”), but there’s a conceptual linkage, at least, that of softening – things that are boiled are generally softened, the OED says of “malt” that it’s “probably … related to Old High German malz soft”, and the Celtic word for malt, braich (in Old Irish mraich), which is the source of the French brasser, to brew, is linked by Pokorny, at any rate, to Indo-European words with meanings including soft, rotten, flaccid and the like, such as Latin marcidus.

  59. marie-lucie says:

    Zythophile, thank you. It seems that initial m is linked to those sorts of meanings (and the sensations associated with them) in many languages, witness for example the aversion of some English speakers to “moist”. A close relationship between the l, d and r of the words under consideration seems quite possible.

  60. …a conceptual linkage, at least, that of softening – things that are boiled are generally softened, the OED says of “malt” that it’s “probably … related to Old High German malz soft”…
    Yes. A morbid mass of words, including those associated with Greek μαλακία (“softness”). This is itself a thoroughly unwholesome word in the modern language, in which it can mean “masturbation” – culturally construed as self-pollution, self-abuse, unmanly “softness” (not, I think, “unwomanly”; but I am ready to be corrected).
    Direct English relatives include osteomalacia (“softening of bones due to the gradual disappearance of earthy salts; also called malacosteon“), and a whole rotting heap of others.

  61. The confusion over the genitive plural of кочерга arises from the fact that it is one of those words where the ‘р’ lost its palatalization in the 18th century (as with перьвый > первый – Falconet’s 1782 Bronze Horseman carries the inscription ‘Петру перьвому’). The word must originally have been кочерьга to produce the кочерёг. A quick scan of google books confirms this with lots of examples of кочерьга from the 18th and early 19th centuries.

  62. An essential point that I hadn’t seen mentioned before—many thanks!

  63. David Marjanović says:

    I only just noticed German streiten, which normally means “to quarrel”, but also “to fight in a war” in poetic language. It goes stritt, gestritten.

    Old High German malz soft

    Interesting. Modern German Malz exclusively means “malt”.

    A close relationship between the l, d and r of the words under consideration seems quite possible.

    Not by means of regular sound shifts, though.

    перьвый [...] кочерьга

    *lightbulb moment*

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