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'Shined' or 'Shone'?

By
Mignon Fogarty,
shined or shone

 

Mary Jean asked about the past tense of the verb shine: Is it shined or shone?

The frustrating answer is that it can be either shined or shone, but some sources recommend using shined when the verb has an object and shone when the verb doesn’t have an object.

Here are examples with objects:

Aardvark shined the light in Squiggly's eyes. (The light is the object of the verb shined. It is the thing being shined by Aardvark.)

Aardvark shined his shoes. (This time, shined means “polished,” but the verb still has an object: his shoes.)

Here’s an example without an object:

The moon shone brightly. (The moon is just shining; the verb shone has no object.)

The verb shine has two acceptable past-tense forms. The best choice is usually shone when the verb is "alone."

The rhyme It's shone when alone will help you remember to use shone when the verb is alone (i.e., when the verb has no object). Of course, that memory trick is most helpful in the United States, where the verb is pronounced “shown.” It’s less helpful in the UK, where the verb is often pronounced “shon.” Thanks to The Word Hawk for reminding me of the difference.

This distinction between shined and shone isn’t a hard-and-fast rule; it’s more like a suggestion, but if you aren’t sure which verb to use, it’s a good suggestion to take.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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