Dived or Dove: What’s the Difference?

In the English language, some verbs are regular and some are irregular. Regular verbs can be conjugated into past tense by adding -ed to the end. Irregular verbs change in other unpredictable ways.

But how can you tell if a verb is regular or irregular? There isn’t a consistent set of rules. The verb dive is a great illustration. Both dived and dove are used to conjugate dive into the past tense.

Historically speaking, dived has been considered the appropriate conjugation, but dove has grown in popularity and become more popular in American English. In British English, dived is still favored. Read on if you can’t decide whether you should use dived or dove in your writing.

What is the Difference Between Dived and Dove?

In this article, I will compare dived vs. dove and use each in a sentence. I’ll also give you a helpful memory trick to remember which word is correct.

When to Use Dived

past tense of diveWhat does dive mean? Dive, in the most literal sense of its verb form, means to plunge oneself headfirst into a body of water. In practice, though, many things can be said to dive, like stock prices, airplanes, TV ratings, and innumerable others.

The following sentences are all appropriate uses of dived:

  • I dived into the water with Delaney.
  • The company’s stock price dived below $10 per share.
  • The driver lost control and the truck dived over the cliff.
  • My spirits dived when Philip told me he did not love me.
  • Netflix was one of the decliners to pull down the S&P 500. It dived 13.1% to $85.84 after the video-streaming service reported adding fewer subscribers last quarter than it expected. –L.A. Times

When to Use Dove

dived versus dove tenseWhat does dove mean? Dived was long considered the preferable past tense form of dive. Dove, however, has become quite popular in recent years and has actually surpassed dived in American English.

According to Garner’s Modern English Usage, the phrase she dove appears 1.2 times for every instance of she dived. In other words, dove is here to stay, and its widespread use has caused it to be accepted into standard American English.

Despite its popularity in American English, dove still isn’t the preferred or most common form in British English. Dived is still favored in British English, and would probably be the preferable choice in formal writing, but dove is not incorrect.

Dove can be used like dived, as in the sentences below:

  • I waited for half an hour, and then dove into the ocean.
  • Seeing that the crowd was quiet, the spokeswoman dove into her presentation.
  • The show’s ratings dove after the popular character was killed.
  • After the boat carrying Myara and her family and friends overturned, Suarez dove in. They all returned to thank him. –Daily News

Trick to Remember the Difference

past participle of dive doveIn the past, dived was preferred in both American and British English. Dove has become accepted in American English, but still trails dived in Britain.

To be safe, you should always use dived in academic or professional writing, even though dove is no longer considered an error.

You can remember to use dived by repeating the phrase,

  • I used dived and I survived.

Summary: Dove vs. Dived

Is it dived or dove? Dived and dove are alternate conjugations of the past tense of the verb dive. Dived has traditionally been considered correct, but dove has become widely accepted in American English. Dived is still preferred in British English.

Dived and dove can be used in a wide variety of contexts, even outside the literal sense of the verb.

To avoid errors, always use dived in academic or professional writing. You can repeat the memorable phrase “I used dived and I survived” if you’re having trouble remembering whether to use dove or dived.

In summary,

  • Dived is the traditionally preferred past tense of dive.
  • Dove is completely accepted in American English.
  • Dove still trails dived in acceptance in British English.
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