'Shined' or 'Shone'?

Some people use shined and shone for different kinds of sentences.

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

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 Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.

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