Forgave or Forgiven? Difference Explained (Helpful Examples)

The past tense of “forgive” comes with the challenges that any irregular verb forms present us. Luckily, we can work out how the two main past tense forms work, and this article will explain what you can do to make sure you use them correctly in your own writing.

Forgave or Forgiven: Which Is Correct?

“Forgave” is the simple past tense of the verb “to forgive.” We use it to talk about “forgiving” someone at some point in our past. “Forgiven” is the past participle, which needs an auxiliary verb to create the perfect tense (i.e., “have forgiven”).

Forgave or Forgiven: Which Is Correct?

Both forms are correct in the past tense. We can see the differences in the following examples:

  • I forgave you for what you did. Don’t make me regret it.
  • You have forgiven him for no reason!

You might also benefit from learning more about the appropriate forms:

Past ParticipleForgiven
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When Is “Forgave” Correct?

“Forgave” is by far the easiest form to use, so let’s get our heads around it!

“Forgave” is correct when using the simple past tense. We do this when talking about actions that took place in the past with no further impact on the present.

“Forgave” will always remain the same, no matter what pronoun we choose to use. It’s the simple past tense, which allows us to keep the spelling uniform regardless of other word choices:

  • I forgave
  • He forgave
  • We forgave
  • They forgave

Example Sentences Using “Forgave”

The simple past tense is definitely the easiest of the two verb tenses we will share in this article. These examples will show you how it looks:

  1. I forgave you for the ridiculous things you did to me.
  2. She forgave both of us, even though we didn’t deserve it.
  3. You forgave me, but I don’t understand why.
  4. They finally forgave us for doing those things, but I’m not sure it will last.
  5. He actually forgave me for it! What a fool!
  6. We forgave them, and we’ll do it again if they want us to.

“Forgave” is the simple past tense. We use this form to talk about “forgiving” someone in the past. It’s a way of thinking back to an action we took without any impact on the outcome of the event in the future.

When Is “Forgiven” Correct?

“Forgiven” is a little bit more of a brain teaser. We need to know a lot more when it comes to getting the past participle correct.

On its own, “forgiven” has no meaning. However, when we combine it with an auxiliary verb like “have,” we turn it into one of three perfect tenses, which are acceptable tenses in English.

The three perfect tenses are the past, present, and future. Each one interacts with the sentence in a different way to change the meaning. However, none of the tenses change the form of “forgiven.”

  • Past perfect: Had forgiven
  • Present perfect: Have forgiven
  • Future perfect: Will have forgiven

Instead, only “have” changes form based on the tense we use.

We write “had” in the past tense to refer to the past perfect. “Have” stays in the present tense when using the present perfect tense form. And to establish the future perfect tense, we include “will have” to show that something will likely be happening in the future.

Example sentences using “Forgiven”

Since “forgiven” comes with a few extra rules, it wouldn’t be fair to present these to you in a simple manner. Instead, we’ll separate this part into three sections to make sure you know what each perfect tense looks like and what it does to the meaning.

Past Perfect

  1. You had forgiven it all before, so why are you back to hating me?
  2. I thought we had forgiven each other for our issues!

“Had forgiven” works when talking about something that happened in the past before another event took place. We use the past perfect tense to show the chronological order of how certain things happened.

Present Perfect

  1. I have forgiven you for those insults, but do not test me again.
  2. She has forgiven us for forgetting her birthday, but she’s not too happy!

“Have forgiven” works when talking about someone “forgiving” in the past and continuing to do so or finishing the action at present. The present perfect tense affects the present by showing us something in the past.

Future Perfect

  1. If you keep up with this behavior, I will have forgiven you for the things you’ve done by the end of the week.
  2. You will have forgiven all of my misdeeds if you only knew why I did them!

“Will have forgiven” refers to an event that’s likely to happen in the future. We use the future perfect tense to talk about things that are guaranteed to happen to us based on our actions or decisions we take in the present.

“Have Forgave” Vs. “Have Forgiven”

Throughout this article, we’ve already shown you that “have forgiven” is an acceptable format. We use it when writing in the present perfect tense, which allows us to talk about something that started happening before and continues to happen now.

But can we use “have forgave” in the same way? Does the simple past tense allow us to use auxiliary verbs in any case?

“Have forgave” is never correct. We cannot combine the simple past tense with an auxiliary verb because we can’t place two verbs next to each other in this manner. There are no cases where “have forgave” will ever make sense in your written sentences.

To help establish the differences with correctness, you can refer to the following:

  • Correct: I have forgiven him for the terrible things that he did.
  • Incorrect: You have forgave her so soon, but I do not understand why.

Final Thoughts

Both “forgave” and “forgiven” are correct past tense forms of the verb “to forgive.” However, we need to make sure we remember the difference between the simple past tense (forgave) and the past participle (forgiven) and how auxiliary verbs work in the perfect tense.

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