Understanding Past Tense of 'Cling'

Mastering the English Grammar: Unraveling the Past Tense of Cling for Language Learners

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Derek Cupp

By Derek Cupp

Mastering grammar can be a challenging feat, especially with irregular verbs like “cling”. You’re likely here because you’ve come across this word and its unusual past tense form. Let’s unravel this mystery together.

The past tense of ‘cling’ isn’t your typical ‘-ed’ ending verb. It’s one of those oddballs in English grammar that likes to keep us on our toes. Rather than becoming ‘clinged’, it transforms into ‘clung’. Yes, clung – a curveball thrown into the mix just when you thought you had a handle on past tenses.

In the following sections, I’ll guide you through understanding why ‘cling’ becomes ‘clung’, and how to correctly use it in sentences. By the end of this article, not only will you have mastered the past tense of this tricky verb, but your overall grasp on English grammar will also significantly improve.

Unraveling ‘Cling’: A Journey Through English Grammar

It’s fascinating how the English language works, isn’t it? Today, I’ll take you on a journey through one such intriguing aspect – the past tense of the verb “cling”. Now, you might ask why we’re focusing on this particular word. Well, it’s because “cling” is one of those irregular verbs that doesn’t follow standard conjugation rules.

“Cling” comes from Old English ‘clingan’, which means to adhere or stick. In present tense, we use it to describe sticking or holding tightly onto something. But when we talk about something that happened in the past, things get interesting.

Many people naturally want to say “clinged” when using this word in past tense. It sounds correct and aligns with many other regular verbs like “jumped” or “walked”. However, here’s a fun fact: The correct past tense form of cling is actually ‘clung’.

Yes! You read that right. It may seem strange at first glance but let me assure you—it’s not an anomaly in our language. Actually, there are several other words following similar patterns—think about sing-sang-sung or swim-swam-swum.

To make this clear and easy to understand, let’s illustrate with some examples:

Present Tense Past Tense
I cling to my old habits I clung to my old habits
She clings onto her mother She clung onto her mother

As you can see above, each sentence maintains its meaning even as we switch tenses between cling and clung.


  • Cling becomes Clung in simple past tense
  • Don’t be fooled into saying “clinged”

So next time if your mind wants to go for ‘clinged’, steer it towards ‘clung’. Trust me; these little nuances are what make mastering English grammar so rewarding!

Mastering Past Tense: Why ‘Cling’ Is Tricky

I’ve noticed an interesting predicament among English learners and even native speakers. The past tense of the verb “cling” often stumps them. Why is that? It’s because “cling”, like many other irregular verbs, doesn’t follow the typical “-ed” ending rule in its past tense form.

You see, when we transform regular verbs to their past versions, we simply add “-ed”. For example, “talk” becomes “talked”, and “jump” transforms into “jumped”. Easy as pie! But then come along words like “cling”.

“Cling”, meaning to hold on tightly to something or someone, throws a spanner in the works with its irregular form. You might logically think it would be “clinged”, but alas! English isn’t always logical. Its correct past tense form is actually “clung”. Yes, you read right – it’s spelled C-L-U-N-G!

So why does cling become clung? Well, one theory suggests it’s due to its Old English roots where certain vowel shifts occurred between tenses. In this case, the ‘i’ in cling shifted to a ‘u’ — giving us clung.

Don’t worry if you’re feeling bamboozled; you’re not alone! Here are some examples of how ‘cling’ morphs into ‘clung’ in sentences:

Present Tense Past Tense
I cling to my beliefs I clung to my beliefs
She clings onto hope She clung onto hope

Mastery over these linguistic quirks can feel daunting at first but remember – practice makes perfect! So don’t shy away from using tricky words like ‘cling’. Embrace them and before you know it, they’ll have clung onto your everyday vocabulary.

Final Tips on Embracing the Challenges of English Grammar

In mastering English grammar, it’s crucial to remember that patience is key. The language is rife with complexities and exceptions that can feel daunting at first glance. But don’t let that discourage you. With consistent practice, these challenges become less intimidating.

Never underestimate the power of reading when it comes to improving your understanding of English grammar. It’s through exposure to written text – particularly in books, articles, and blogs – where you’ll encounter different tenses and sentence structures in context. This will boost your comprehension and provide a natural feel for how grammar works.

Let’s not forget about the role of practice too. Regularly testing yourself with exercises, quizzes or even writing brief essays can solidify your grasp on challenging concepts like the past tense of “cling”. Here is where making mistakes isn’t something to fear but rather an opportunity for learning and growth.

  • Read extensively
  • Practice regularly
  • Learn from your mistakes

Another handy tip is to make use of available resources online. There are countless websites offering free lessons and exercises tailored to different levels of proficiency.

Lastly, always remind yourself why you’ve embarked on this journey to master English grammar. Is it for academic purposes? Professional advancement? Or simply out of interest? Your motivation can act as a powerful driving force when things get tough.

English grammar might seem like a mountainous challenge now but remember: every expert was once a beginner who didn’t give up! So embrace the process, learn at your own pace and soon enough, you’ll find yourself navigating through complex sentences with ease.

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