The past tense can be complicated to figure out, and this article will explore the past tense of “bite.” We can use it in a few ways, and it will help us to understand how to use it before we start getting the wrong tense at the wrong time.
Bit or Bitten: Which Is Correct?
You should use “bit” as the simple past tense when you want to say that something has happened in the past. You should use “bitten” in the perfect tense form, where something started happening in the past but is still actionable or impactable in some way presently.
To help you understand what we mean about these verb tenses, look at the following:
- I bit off more than I could chew.
- I have bitten down on the last piece of candy.
In the simple past tense (example 1), we simply write the verb as “bit.” This means that we have used “to bite” in the past tense, saying that we’ve done it already and there’s nothing more we can do about it.
Example 2 demonstrates the present perfect tense, and we need “have” as an auxiliary verb before “Bitten” is used. “Bitten” is the past participle of “bite,” which means that we’ve started biting something in the past, and we’re continuing to do so in the present.
When Is “Bit” Correct?
“Bit” is the simplest of the two verb forms to use. The simple past tense is always relatively easy compared to learning any of the extra perfect tenses.
“Bit” is correct in the past tense. When we have already bitten into something and stopped doing so, we use this form because it shows that something has happened and finished happening in our past.
Once we use the simple past tense, there is no way in the present to change anything that’s happened. We simply talk about something that’s been and gone, and we move on to whatever comes next.
Example Sentences Using “Bit”
To help you understand how the simple past tense looks with “bite,” we can include some examples. It’s not the most common verb to use, so you won’t see it often, but these examples will shed some light on it:
- He bit me! Did you see that?
- Your dog bit me again; I can’t believe you didn’t see it!
- I bit into it, but I could barely stand the taste!
- She bit me! It really hurt, too!
- I bit her to get her back for what she said about me.
- A mosquito bit me last night, but I can’t find the mark; I just feel numb.
- How many animals bit you at the farm then?
- You bit off a little more of that than I think you wanted to!
- They bit each other’s heads off in a rage!
- I bit everything on the table so no one else would go near it.
The simple past tense is very easy to use. It just means that we have completed the action of biting in the past.
When Is “Bitten” Correct?
The perfect tense is much more complicated than the simple past tense. It comes with three potential forms, each one offering a different way for us to use the noun.
“Bitten” is correct in the past, present, and future perfect tenses. We can use it to talk about something that started happening in the past but is still somewhat changeable in the present, based on the tense we use.
No matter what perfect tense we use, we will always have to include an auxiliary verb when we write it. The auxiliary verb we use with “bitten” is mostly “have.” You can see it as follows:
- Past perfect:Had bitten
- Present perfect:Have bitten
- Future perfect:Will have bitten
The future perfect tense needs two auxiliary verbs (will and have). We use two to show that something will start happening in the future, and we’re able to affect it now in the present too.
Example sentences using “Bitten”
Some examples might make it more clear for you. To help you understand exactly what we mean, we’ll split it into three sections with past, present, and future perfect tenses.
- The dog had bitten me one too many times, so I needed to do something about it.
- He had bitten off more than he could chew yet again, and I think that was the last straw for him.
- She had bitten into the cake before anyone else, and she regretted it immediately.
“Had bitten” is the past perfect tense, and it means that something has started and finished happening in the past. The effect of that thing is still felt in the present though, which is why it’s the perfect tense.
- I have bitten into this, and I must say that I’m not best pleased with it.
- The dogs have bitten me again and again, and I don’t know how to stop it from happening.
- We have bitten off more than we can cope with, and we could really use your help.
- They have bitten into your cake, and I can tell that they love it!
“Have bitten” is the present perfect, and it means that something has happened in the past and is affecting something in the present.
- I will have bitten into the cake by the time we get there.
- The dog will have bitten even more people by tomorrow if we’re not careful.
- We will have bitten off more than we can chew if we don’t play our cards right.
- She would have bitten the other child multiple times if we didn’t stop her.
“Will have bitten” is the future perfect tense, and it means that something can hypothetically happen in the future if we don’t put a stop to it in the present.
“Have Bit” Vs. “Have Bitten”
“Have bitten” is the only correct form of the two as it’s the present perfect tense. We include “have” as an auxiliary verb here. “Have bit” is incorrect as “bit” is the simple past tense and needs no extra verbs to accompany it to be correct.
“Bit” is the simple past tense and follows grammar rules accordingly. “Bitten” is more complicated and follows perfect tense rules based on the past, present, or future. We use auxiliary verbs to help us with this verb, but both are past tense forms of “to bite.”
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Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.