The past tense of irregular verbs can be tricky to master. With help from this article, we’ll explain the past tense of “fall” and how you can use it both in the simple tense (fell) and the perfect tense (fallen).
Fallen or Fell: Which Is Correct?
“Fallen” is correct when writing in the perfect tense. We do this by including an auxiliary verb like “have” before it to talk about an action that has taken place and continues to happen. “Fell” is correct when writing in the simple past tense and requires no extra grammar.
It’s easy to tell them apart when you see them in practice:
- I fell over yesterday and hurt my knee.
- We have fallen for each other, but there’s no way we can speak about it.
“Fell” is the simple past tense. It follows its namesake in that it’s “simple” to use, and no extra verbs or modifiers are needed. It’s simply the past tense of “fall.”
“Fallen” is the past participle of “fall,” and we need an auxiliary verb to make it work. In this case, we use “have fallen,” which is the present perfect tense to describe an action that happened in the past and continues in the present.
When Is “Fell” Correct?
“Fell” is correct in the simple past tense. We use it in this way to describe an action of someone or something falling in the past. There is nothing left to do in the present to change the outcome.
The simple past tense is the easiest tense to learn in English. Unfortunately, not every tense can be like that, but we’ll get to that in a short while.
Example Sentences Using “Fell”
- I fell a few moments ago, but I’m okay.
- The plate fell and shattered all over the floor!
- He fell down the stairs!
- We fell head over heels for each other after our first date.
- You fell in the mud, like an idiot!
- She fell on top of me, and I couldn’t move.
The simple past tense only writes “fell” to talk about an action. We use it to talk about someone or something falling in the past.
When Is “Fallen” Correct?
“Fallen” is much more complicated, so you’ll want to pay attention here!
“Fallen” is the past participle of “fall,” and it requires an auxiliary verb to turn it into one of the three possible perfect tenses. We can write in the past, present, or future perfect tense depending on the scenario and the outcome of the context.
To help you understand the auxiliary verbs we need, you can look at this:
- Past perfect: Had fallen
- Present perfect: Have fallen
- Future perfect: Will have fallen
The past perfect is the least common to use, but you may still need to know it. It talks about something that happened in the past and finished in the past but might still have an impact in the present.
The present perfect is the most common of the three tenses, and we use it to talk about something that started happening in the past and either continues or finishes in the present.
The future perfect is also uncommon, but not as much as the past perfect. We use it for hypothetical scenarios where something we might do in the present might affect an outcome in the future.
Example sentences using “Fallen”
We’ll break these examples into sections between each perfect tense to help you understand them.
- I had fallen down a few stairs, but I managed to make it out okay.
- We had fallen on top of each other, which led to this injury in my ankle.
“Had fallen” is the past perfect tense. We use it when talking about someone or something falling in the past but having some kind of effect on the present.
- I have fallen for you again, but I don’t know how I let my guard down.
- We have fallen into each other! Quick! Move out the way.
“Have fallen” is the present perfect tense. We use it to talk about someone or something falling in the past (even just a split second ago), and continuing to happen or finishing in the present.
- I will have fallen over another time if I’m not careful where I step right now.
- She will have fallen again if I know my mother!
“Will have fallen” is the future perfect tense. We use it to talk about a potential outcome in the future based on an “if” clause that we’ve set up in the present.
How “Fallen” can also be used as an adjective
While “fallen” is the past participle of “fall,” you might also use it in rare cases as an adjective to describe something.
“Fallen” means that someone has sinned or died in battle when used as an adjective.
The context where “fallen” is required isn’t a common one, but we can still use it as an adjective nonetheless.
Example sentences using “Fallen” as an adjective
- He is a fallen hero, and we’ll never forget what he did for us.
- The devil is a fallen angel, and we must not look to him for guidance!
- She’s a fallen woman with seriously troubling traumas in her past.
“Have Fallen” Vs. “Have Fell”
If you’ve paid close attention to this article, this section should make perfect sense to you already!
“Have fallen” is the only correct option of the two because we need the auxiliary verb “have” with the past participle “fallen.” “Have fell” is never correct because no extra words or helping phrases are required with “fell,” which is the simple past tense.
“Fell” is the simple past tense and perhaps the easiest tense form to use. However, “fallen” requires a little more thinking, as it’s the past participle. So long as you remember to include your auxiliary verbs along with “fallen,” you’ll have an easy time getting it right in practice.
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