My pants shrunk in the wash

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Dimme, Dec 20, 2007.

  1. Dimme Senior Member

    Hello there. Can I say "My pants shrunk in the wash"? That is to say, my pants became shorter in length?
  2. mjscott Senior Member

    No, it is shrank. Many fabrics and garments are even preshrunk so that you know they won't shrink anymore when you wash them!
    In grammar we learned present, past, and past participles. With the verb to shrink, it's

    shrink shrank shrunk
  3. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    That's very idiomatic. It should be "shrank" rather than "shrunk," technically. Some would not consider it incorrect.
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    My pants have shrunk.
    My pants shrank.
  5. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    You have had good help with the verb, so I'll just comment on the definition. If your pants shrank in the wash, they not only became shorter in length. Other dimensions, such as the waistband, would have shrunk as well.
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    With apologies, back to the verb (though cuchu is abolutely right about the meaning).

    I have the feeling that the past tense is moving from the 'standard' shrank to the in-the-past-dialectal shrunk.

    To be honest, I don't know which I would use in the context given. "I shrank from him", said the maiden threatened by the monster. Clearly right:tick:

    "My clothes shrank":confused:

    Luckily, being a Brit, I don't have to confront the problem: I don't say "My pants shrank/shrunk in the wash" but "My trousers have shrunk in the wash".

    I blame Walt Disney, and "Honey I Shrunk the Kids".
  7. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I whole-heartedly concur with you here, Loob. To the extent that it's become a bit of an obsession of mine: spotting instances of these 'simplified' strong verbs (sing/sung/sung being the most common). I'm glad someone else has noticed the trend.

    To answer the original question: shrank is the 'proper' form (but be prepared to hear a lot of native speakers saying shrunk)
  8. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Same on the far side of the puddle. Whatever the grammar books, dictionaries, and schoolteachers may say, shrunk is widely used, and will eventually come to be accepted as standard.
  9. mplsray Senior Member

    That it has increased in use in American English in recent years can be seen in its treatment in Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate, 11th ed. In the first (dating to the mid-sixties) the past tense is shown as "shrank ... also shrunk" while in the second (the latest edition of the Collegiate) it is shown as " shrank ... or shrunk." A variant set off by the word also is, according to the convention used in Merriam-Webster's Dictionaries, rarer than if the same variant had been set off by the word or.

    The Collegiate's editors also show shrunk as a past tense to be standard, as they do snuck as a past tense of sneak. In the case of snuck, however, they discuss the matter in a usage note while no such usage note is given concerning shrunk. This indicates to me that past tense shrunk has been considered standard for a longer time than has snuck.
  10. LQZ

    LQZ Senior Member

    Dear all,

    Can I say like this?

    Everyone is reluctant to see his salary shrunk.
  11. bluegiraffe

    bluegiraffe Senior Member

    Nottingham, England
    English - England
    No, you would use the present tense of the verb:

    Everyone is reluctant to see his/her/their salary shrink.
  12. LQZ

    LQZ Senior Member

    :DOk, got it. thanks. bluegiraffe.

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