Shrank or Shrunk? Difference Explained (Helpful Examples)

The past tense of “shrink” comes with two verb forms. We need to understand both of those forms before we stand a chance of being correct in our writing. This article will help you understand everything you need to about “shrink” and its forms.

Shrank or Shrunk: Which Is Correct?

“Shrank” and “shrunk” are both correct verb forms of the present tense “to shrink.” We can use both, but “shrank” is the simple past tense, and “shrunk” is the past participle. Each form changes the sentence’s overall meaning, with the past participle being much more difficult.

Shrank or Shrunk: Which Is Correct?

You can refer to these examples to help you understand:

  • I shrank all of your clothes, and I’m really sorry!
  • You have shrunk all the things that mattered to me.

The following forms will be covered more throughout this article:

Past ParticipleShrunk
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When Is “Shrank” Correct?

“Shrank” is only used in the simple past tense. Luckily, the word “simple” actually means that it is “simple” to understand.

“Shrank” works when talking about “shrinking” in the past. We use the past tense of “shrink” in this manner to talk about a past event that has already happened, and there is no way we can change it in the present.

We must always keep the form of “shrank” the same, no matter what pronoun we use it with. We only mention this because the present tense verb form does not work in the same way (i.e., “I shrink” but “she shrinks”).

  • You shrank
  • She shrank
  • We shrank
  • It shrank

Example Sentences Using “Shrank”

Now, let’s go over some examples of “shrank:”

  1. I shrank my entire wardrobe in the wash!
  2. You shrank all of my clothes!
  3. I shrank down to the size of an ant in my dream.
  4. We shrank this down for our experiment.
  5. This shrank down for absolutely no reason!
  6. I was so careful, and I still shrank his clothes.

“Shrank” works to show that someone “shrank” something in the past. There is nothing more they can do to impact the action because it’s already occurred. It’s often used to think back to that past event.

When Is “Shrunk” Correct?

“Shrunk” is the past participle, so it’s a little more complicated than everything we mentioned above.

“Shrunk” is not correct on its own. Instead, it requires an auxiliary (or helping) verb to turn it into one of three perfect tenses. We can use the past, present, or future tense based on the form of the auxiliary verb we choose. Each tense changes the meaning of the sentence.

These forms are important to understand before moving on:

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

We should never change the form of “shrunk.” It always stays the same because it’s a past tense form, and there’s never a reason to change its form.

Instead, you might have noticed that “have” changes form. The same rules apply no matter what auxiliary verb we choose to use.

In the past perfect tense, “have” becomes “had.” This is the past tense of the verb “to have,” which is why we use it in this way.

The present perfect tense stays the same since we already use “have” as the present tense form.

The future perfect tense includes “will” with “have” to show that something is likely to happen at some point in the future.

Example sentences using “Shrunk”

“Shrunk” is the past participle of the verb “to shrink.” Therefore, it comes with some extra rules that change its tense based on how we use it. We thought it was only fair to split this part into sections to help you understand it better.

Past Perfect

  1. I had shrunk my clothes once before, and I wasn’t going to let it happen again.
  2. You had shrunk it all in the wash before anyone even noticed!

“Had shrunk” works when talking about the order things took place in the past. Usually, the action of “shrinking” happened before something else, and we use the past perfect tense to show how that order was affected.

Present Perfect

  1. I have shrunk them both down to be slightly more suitable for you to wear.
  2. We have shrunk them together so that they look better when we try to sell them.

“Have shrunk” works when talking about “shrinking” something in the past. Usually, that action continues in the present, or it might have just finished a few seconds ago. This is how we can use the present perfect tense.

Future Perfect

  1. We will have shrunk all of our clothes again if we’re not careful with how we load this wash.
  2. You will have shrunk them down again if you keep up with this ridiculous experiment.

“Will have shrunk” works when showing that something is likely to “shrink” in the future. While it isn’t definite yet, there is almost a guarantee that this “shrinking” will take place based on our actions in the present.

“Have Shrank” Vs. “Have Shrunk”

“Have shrunk” is the present perfect tense. We’ve already made it quite clear that it’s correct, and it’s a suitable verb form to use whenever you talk about someone “shrinking” something in the past and continuing the action in the present.

We might also be curious as to whether “shrank” works in the same respect. Can we use the simple past tense with an auxiliary verb to talk about how something continues to “shrink?”

“Have shrank” is grammatically incorrect. We cannot use the simple past tense with an auxiliary verb in the same way we can use a past participle. It holds no meaning, and the two verb forms cannot be put together.

We’ll reiterate that point by putting these two examples forward to help you:

  • Correct: I have shrunk my clothes in the wash again!
  • Incorrect: You have shrank down to a size that is invisible to the human eye!

Final Thoughts

“Shrunk” is the past participle, while “shrank” is the simple past tense. There are no cases where the two forms can be switched. We must always remember to use an auxiliary verb with “shrunk” and stick to “shrank” as the simple past tense (with no extra rules).

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