The past tense of the verb “swim” can be either “swam” or “swum”. While both forms are generally accepted as correct, “swam” is more common in American English, while “swum” is more common in British English. However, there are subtle differences in usage that are worth noting.

In general, “swam” is used when the emphasis is on the act of swimming itself, while “swum” is used when the emphasis is on the result of swimming. For example, you would say “I swam across the lake” to describe the act of swimming, while you would say “I have swum across the lake” to describe the fact that you have completed the swim.

Additionally, “swum” can be used as an adjective to describe something that has been affected by swimming. For example, you might say “My swimsuit is all swum up” to describe a swimsuit that has been worn while swimming.

When to Use “Swam”

Use “swam” when:

  • The emphasis is on the act of swimming.
  • You are describing an ongoing or incomplete action.
  • You are using a past tense verb that has an -ed ending.

Examples:

  • I swam across the lake yesterday.
  • The children were swimming in the pool.
  • We had swum for hours before we reached the shore.

When to Use “Swum”

Use “swum” when:

  • The emphasis is on the result of swimming.
  • You are describing a completed action.
  • You are using a past participle.

Examples:

  • I have swum across the lake many times.
  • The children have swum in the pool all day.
  • The boat was swum across the river.

Can “Swum” Ever Be Used as a Present Tense Verb?

In rare cases, “swum” can be used as a present tense verb to describe an action that is happening right now. However, this usage is very informal and is generally not considered to be standard English.

Example:

  • The fish is swimming in the water.
  • Conclusion

    Overall, “swam” and “swum” are both acceptable past tense forms of the verb “swim”. The choice of which form to use depends on the context and the emphasis that you want to convey.

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