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What Is the Past Tense of “Dive”?

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Is it “dived” or “dove”? We’ll go over the past tense and past participle of the verb “to dive,” and other compound verbs like “skydive” and “nosedive.”

What's dive in past tense? Dived or Dove?
Which word do you most commonly hear: “dived” or “dove”?
Quick Summary on Dived and Dove
  • Dived and dove are both correct past tense forms of the word dive. Dove is more common in North America, while dived is more prevalent among British English speakers.
    • She dived into the icy cold water.
      She dove into the icy cold water.
  • However, dived is the only acceptable past participle of dive.
    • He had dived into the lake a few days ago.
  • The past tense of compound verbs like skydive and nosedive is always “–dived.”
    • I skydived on my birthday.
      Stocks have nosedived.

So, is it dived or dove?

Technically, both are acceptable past tense forms of the word dive.

Below, we’ll go over when to use which, and how the confusion arose in the first place.

Do you know what is the past tense of dive?
Do you know what the verb “(to) dive”means?

First Thing’s First: What Does “Dive” Mean?

To dive is a verb that means “to jump headfirst into water.”

She likes to dive into the pool from the highest platform.

This verb is also used when referring to birds or aircraft, and it means “to go steeply down through the air.”

We witnessed the eagle dive for its meal.

To dive can also describe anything that descends sharply, steeply, or suddenly.

We can expect the prices to dive any day now.

Lastly, the phrasal verb dive in/into is used figuratively to mean “to start or join something with great enthusiasm.

Calle Ocho is a great place to dive into Miami’s culture.

Now, let’s go over the past tense and past participle of dive.

Is It “Dived” or “Dove”?

Dived is the original past tense of dive. But in the 1800s, a new past tense of dive dove into the English language (see what we did there?).

But why the sudden appearance?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, dove came to be because English language speakers believed that the past tense of dive should sound similar to the past tense of the irregular verb drive (drove). And so, a new word, plus lots of confusion, was born.

When To Use “Dove”

Although both words are acceptable past tense forms of the word dive, dove has become more prevalent in American and Canadian English.

She dove into her studies.
Phillip dove into the ocean from a cliff.
My daughter dove into the kiddie pool like an Olympian.

Keep in mind that dove (the verb) has a homograph—dove /dʌv/ (the noun). The “do–” in the verb dove /doʊv/ sounds like the “do–” in donut.

When To Use “Dived”

Dived is the most prevalent past tense form of dive among British English speakers.

She dived into her studies.
Phillip dived into the ocean from a cliff.
My daughter dived into the kiddie pool like an Olympian.

Dived is also the preferred past participle of dive. However, dove is sometimes used as the past participle as well, but it’s much less common.

The whales had dived underwater before I could take a picture of them.
Scott has dived for pearls several times before.

He had dove into the water.

He had doven into the water.

There are some compound verbs that include the word dive in it, like skydive and nosedive. When using these verbs in the past tense, always use –dived.

The team skydived yesterday.
Costs of living have nosedived recently.

Dive Into Error-Free Writing

In short:

  • Both dived and dove are acceptable past tense forms of the word dive.
  • In American English and Canadian English, the most common conjugation is dive/dove/dived.
  • In British English, the preferred conjugation is dive/dived/dived.

It’s probably a good idea to choose the word that your audience is most familiar with. What’s important is that you stay consistent throughout your writing.

If you want to dive into error-free writing, LanguageTool can help by ensuring proper usage and spelling of many other commonly confused words. This advanced spelling and grammar checker can also check for various other errors in more than twenty languages.

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