The past tense of irregular verbs is challenging to understand. This article will look into the past tense of “sing” and find out how to use both of its forms correctly before confusing them.
Sang or Sung: Which Is Correct?
“Sang” is the simple past tense of “sing.” We use it when talking about someone “singing” in the past and having no further impact on us in the present. “Sung” is the past participle, which needs an auxiliary verb like “have” before it makes any sense in a sentence.
We’ll show you some examples of how they both work here:
- I sang in the choir because I liked it!
- I have sung one too many times, and now my voice is croaky.
To make sure you don’t forget the key differences, you can refer to the following:
When Is “Sang” Correct?
“Sang” is the simpler of the two forms to use, so we’ll start with explaining it.
“Sang” is correct as long as we have a pronoun in the sentence. There are no other requirements when using the simple past tense, and it talks about “singing” in the past and nothing more than that.
We can choose any number of pronouns to work alongside “sang.” For example:
- I sang
- He sang
- They sang
- You sang
All of these choices are good, including any more you might think of. “Sang” never changes form and stays the same spelling no matter what pronoun we use.
Example Sentences Using “Sang”
Since the simple past tense doesn’t need much more explaining than that, we’ll go over some examples now.
- I sang because I liked it!
- He sang to me the other day, and I think I fell in love.
- The band sang throughout the night, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
- We sang together because we knew that our voices worked well.
- She sang your praises, and I trust her word.
- You sang a lot more when you were happier, and now you hardly ever sing!
“Sang” works to talk about “singing” events or actions in the past. There is nothing we can do in the present to change those actions as they’ve already happened. We mostly use it to think back to events.
When Is “Sung” Correct?
“Sung” is naturally the more difficult of the two to understand. The past participle isn’t “simple,” after all.
“Sung” is correct when we include an auxiliary verb with it. Our options are “had sung,” “have sung,” and “will have sung.” All of these set up the perfect tenses (past, present, and future, respectively).
It would help you to understand what the perfect tenses do. While they somewhat deal with past events, there are large impacts that they can have on both our present and our future and depends on the tense that we use.
The perfect tenses look like this:
- Past perfect: Had sung
- Present perfect: Have sung
- Future perfect: Will have sung
The past perfect isn’t very common, so we’ll start with that. We use the auxiliary verb “had” to talk about something that’s already happened in the past but has some kind of impact on us in the present.
The present perfect is the most common of the three, using “have” as the auxiliary. It means that someone started “singing” in the past and continues to do so in the present (or has only just finished doing so).
The future perfect is somewhere between the two. We use it to talk about “singing” in the future, but it’s often a hypothetical scenario that may only happen based on our actions and choices in the present.
Example sentences using “Sung”
Some examples will definitely help you when trying to figure out the past participle. However, we’ll split it into three sections so you can understand how each of the three perfect tenses works.
- I had sung a lot in that band, but they still kicked me out.
- We had sung together before, but he apparently didn’t like my voice.
“Had sung” is the past perfect tense. We use it when talking about “singing” in the past and the impact it has had on us in the present. The event of “singing” has already happened, and we know that it did, but there is some kind of lasting effect in the present.
- I have sung a lot to try and get his attention, but it never seems to work.
- They have sung to their hearts’ content, and they’ll keep singing as long as people listen.
“Have sung” is the present perfect tense. We use it to talk about “singing” in the past (even if the action only started a few seconds ago). It means that the “singing” is continuing or finishing in the present.
- I will have sung for the band one hundred times when we perform on the weekend.
- You will have sung your last words if you don’t keep your mouth shut, mister.
“Will have sung” is the future perfect tense. We use it when talking about a future action of “singing.” However, our actions or decisions in the present have a large impact on whether or not that “singing” event will come true.
“Have Sang” Vs. “Have Sung”
“Have sung” is correct because the past participle “sung” needs the auxiliary verb “have.” This is what is known as the present perfect tense. “Have sang” is incorrect because “sang” is the simple past tense, which needs no auxiliary verbs to make it work.
You can look at the following for clarification:
- Correct: We have sung our hearts out, but they did not hear us.
- Incorrect: You sang a lot over the holiday!
“Sang” is the simple past tense, and “sung” is the past participle. We can use both in the past tense for the verb “sing,” but they come with their own rules. Remember, you need to include auxiliary verbs like “have” or “had” when using the past participle.
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