Given vs. Gave? Difference Explained (Helpful Examples)

We need to know what the past tense of “give” is because it’s an irregular verb. It doesn’t follow the same rules you might expect, so this article will cover the two key past tense forms you’ll want to focus on.

Given or Gave: Which Is Correct?

“Gave” is the simple past tense of the present tense verb “to give.” We use it to talk about something that’s already happened. “Given” is the past participle of the same verb, and it requires an auxiliary verb like “have” before it is correct to use.

Given or Gave: Which Is Correct?

You can see the key differences here:

  • I gave you that money for something useful!
  • You have given me a lot to think about.

And remember to learn these forms:

VerbGive
PastGave
Past ParticipleGiven
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When Is “Gave” Correct?

“Gave” is correct when talking about someone “giving” something in the past. The action has already happened, and there is nothing more that can be done about it. We don’t need any further language constructs than “gave” because it’s the simple past tense.

The rules for “gave” being correct are easy to follow. We call it the “simple” past tense for a reason.

You must always keep the form of “gave” the same. Unlike the present tense form (which can change like “I give” or “she gives”), we keep the simple past tense the same regardless of pronoun.

  • I gave
  • He gave
  • They gave
  • She gave

Example Sentences Using “Gave”

  1. You gave me life, and I’ll be eternally grateful for that.
  2. Look what my father gave me for Christmas!
  3. I gave you everything that you see before you, and I can take it away too!
  4. You gave me so much! I can’t possibly take it all.
  5. What I gave you is irrelevant. It’s what you do with it that counts.
  6. She gave me nothing but heartache and pain!

“Gave” refers to someone or something “giving” in the past. The action has already finished, and there is nothing more that anyone can do to change the outcome. The simple past tense mostly works to reminisce about previous events or actions.

When Is “Given” Correct?

We’ve established that “given” requires an auxiliary verb in a previous section, but we haven’t explained much more about that yet.

“Given” alone is never correct. We cannot use a past participle without help from an auxiliary verb (which are also called helping verbs). With a verb like “have,” we can create the present perfect tense, which is one of the three perfect tenses that “given” works for.

Without the auxiliary verb, you’ll never find a use for “given.”

“Given” will always keep the same spelling, just like how the simple past tense never changes spelling either.

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

The past participle form of “given” is always the same. Only “have” as the auxiliary in the sentence changes tense based on the perfect tense we use.

The only thing you need to remember is that “had” is the past perfect (since “had” is the past tense of “have”), and “will” is added beforehand in the future perfect to show that something “will” happen at a later time.

Example sentences using “Given”

You might want to slow down while reading this section to help you understand it a little better. We’ll split it into three sections covering each perfect tense, but make sure you pay close attention to how each one works!

Past Perfect

  1. I had given up hope that he’d ever come back until I saw his car pull up.
  2. She had given me a lot to think about, but I decided to ignore most of it and went home.

“Had given” refers to someone “giving” us something in the past. We use the past perfect tense to show the order of how things happened previously. Usually, the “giving” occurs before another specified event in the past perfect tense.

Present Perfect

  1. You have given me so much, and I can’t take anymore!
  2. They have given us all we can take, but I still don’t think it’s enough.

“Have given” refers to someone “giving” something in the past. The action of “giving” also continues or finishes in the present, which is what the present perfect tense represents.

Future Perfect

  1. You will have given us all the time we need if you just get out of our hair for the time being!
  2. I will have given you everything you want by the end of the week, I promise!

“Will have given” shows us that a future event or situation is likely to happen. We typically use the future perfect tense when there’s some form of guarantee that something will happen to somebody, though it is usually based on our present choices.

How “Given” can also be used as an adjective

“Given” isn’t just the past participle of “to give.” Interestingly, it’s also an adjective, and it comes with two descriptive meanings.

“Given” means that a time or address is specifically stated or specified when used as an adjective. It can also mean that someone is inclined to feel a certain way (i.e., “given to anger”).

Example sentences using “Given” as an adjective

  1. I thought we were meeting at the given time?
  2. He wasn’t the type usually given to anger, but he couldn’t stop himself this time.
  3. The given address in the letter should be our meeting place.

“Have Gave” Vs. “Have Given”

“Have gave” is never correct because we cannot use an auxiliary verb with the simple past tense. There are no language rules that allow us to put two verbs together in this manner. We should only ever use the present perfect tense “have given” in this way.

Remember the following:

  • Correct: I have given you everything you’ve come to love.
  • Incorrect: You have gave me no time to think about what I want to do next!

Final Thoughts

“Gave” is only correct as the simple past tense, while “given” is only correct as the past participle. Both verb forms work as the past tense of “to give,” but we need to understand when auxiliary verbs are used (with “given” to create the perfect tense) and when they’re not.

You may also like: Forgave or Forgiven? Difference Explained (Helpful Examples)