Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sneak, Snack, Snuck

Yes, the dictionaries of today
and the style manuals say
that the past tense of
"sneak" is "snuck."

And who cares?  No one but the pedantic old fossils among us (self included) who attempted to teach the youngsters of the previous generation to eschew this vulgarism.

Sneak, we averred, is a regular verb, and, therefore, conjugated

  • We sneak under the tent.
  • We sneaked in to see the elephants.
  • We had sneaked in last year, but this time we got caught.

Now, we are compelled to listen to the news reader on CBS say

  • The raiders snuck in under cover of darkness.
and so on.  

Snack?  Yes, please; I don't mind if I do.

I insist to this day that "dove" is a bird of the Columbidae tribe and has nothing to do with swimming.

And in the interest of total honesty, no matter the grating on my ear, both "snuck" and "dove" are acceptable forms, creating new irregular verbs from regular ones, especially in North America.  "Dove" in fact is more likely to be used than is "dived." Less likely to be encountered in other English-speaking areas of the world.  Perhaps I am not so hide-bound, after all.  But I still contend that if in doubt, go with the traditional.  And in my case, there is no doubt: I stick by the older forms.


Jim Grey said...

I must admit to being guilty of using snuck and dove more often than not, especially in conversation. I know better -- I was a professional writer and editor for half of my career -- yet I still fall for this trap.

Vee said...

I grit my teeth when I hear these now acceptable past tenses and, In my head, I can hear Mom correcting. They should have her around. Everything would soon be set straight in the world of grammar.

vanilla said...

Jim, when we visit, and you should use one of these forms, my ear will twitch, but I won't call you on it!

Vee, so that's where I got it. ;-)

Secondary Roads said...

I understand. For my part, I prefer "hanged" to "hung" for what happened to the honoree at a neck-stretching party.

Grace said...

And yet, snuck and dove sound right on my ear, much smoother - I guess I will continue to save my teeth gnashing for homophone errors and texting abbreviations...

vanilla said...

Chuck, I was unaware that "hung" was acceptable in this context. I thought it was what the tinsel was on the Christmas tree.

Grace, okay. But some of us just have to grind our teeth over every little thing. LOL

Sharkbytes said...

Snuck doesn't bother me but there is one they say on the news all the time that does. Can't remember what it is. Guess that says it doesn't bother me THAT much.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, we all have our foibles, our crosses to bear. It'll sneak up on you when you least expect it.