The past tense of “write” comes with a few variations. It’s an irregular verb form, so you need to know how both the simple past tense and the past participle work before you can use it correctly. This article will explore both options for you.
Wrote or Written: Which Is Correct?
“Wrote” is correct when we use it to talk about “writing” in the past. It’s the simple past tense of the verb “to write.” “Written” is never correct on its own because it’s the past participle of “to write.” We must include a helping verb like “have” to correct it.
These examples will help to elaborate on the key differences between the two phrases. Pay close attention to how the verb forms are used.
- I wrote a letter to the principal to explain my absence.
- We have written to you to ask you to fix the issues in the system.
You might want to refer to the following verb forms to help you remember the differences:
When Is “Wrote” Correct?
“Wrote” is correct when talking about something that was “written” in the past. We use it alongside a pronoun to show who did the “writing” in the event.
No matter what pronoun we use, “wrote” stays the same.
- I wrote
- You wrote
- We wrote
- She wrote
Sometimes, present tense verbs might change forms based on a pronoun (i.e., “I write” and “she writes”). This is not the case with the simple past tense, as will be made clear in the next section.
Example Sentences Using “Wrote”
“Wrote” is definitely the easier of the two forms, and you can see that from the following examples:
- I wrote to you about this already.
- We wrote you a letter, but you clearly didn’t care to read it.
- She wrote to you every day while you were sick.
- You wrote a letter about your welfare, and I tried to do my best to help you.
- We wrote again and again but got no response.
- They wrote to me to apologize, but I threw it in the fire.
“Wrote” simply refers to someone “writing” in the past tense. There is no other meaning than that, and there is no way to impact the “writing” at present.
When Is “Written” Correct?
“Written” comes with a little more care. It’s the past participle verb form, which isn’t something that we can use correctly on its own.
“Written” is correct with an auxiliary verb like “have.” We need to turn the structure into auxiliary verb + past participle, which creates one of three possible perfect tenses (past, present, and future). Each perfect tense creates a different context in a sentence.
To help you understand more about the perfect tenses, you can refer to the following forms:
- Past perfect: Had written
- Present perfect: Have written
- Future perfect: Will have written
As is made clear, the verb form of “written” never changes regardless of the tense. However, “have” is manipulated to make sure we know which verb form we’re talking about.
The past tense of “have” is “had,” which is why that’s the choice we go for in the past perfect tense.
The present tense makes sense since “have” is already a present tense verb.
Finally, the future perfect tense requires “will” alongside “have” to talk about an event that has yet to take place (though has some form of guarantee that it will happen in the future).
Example sentences using “Written”
We’ll split “written” into three sections to match each of the perfect tenses. It’s better than just throwing random examples at you since you’ll be able to break them down into their individual sections.
- I had written this letter before anyone else arrived, and I was lucky enough to be able to hide it.
- We had written to you before about this, but you clearly didn’t get the message.
“Had written” works when someone “wrote” something in the past before another event took place. It might also mean that the past “writing” event still has some kind of impact on a person or people in the present.
- You have written to me again about this, but I still don’t know what you want me to do.
- She has written her final letter and will be packing her things away now.
“Have written” works when someone began to “write” in the past but is continuing to do so in the present. It might even mean that the person has only just started “writing,” but the present perfect tense still applies here.
- You will have written to me again by the end of the day if you know what’s good for you.
- She will have written the email later unless you can do something to stop her.
“Will have written” is the future perfect tense. We use it to show that something is going to be “written” in the future. However, our actions in the present play an integral role in whether or not that “writing” takes place.
“Have Wrote” Vs. “Have Written”
We’ve now shown you that “have written” is correct. However, is there any chance that “have wrote” might also work?
“Have wrote” is never correct. “Have” is an auxiliary verb and “wrote” is a simple past tense verb. Combining the two in a sentence would mean that we have to double up on our verb choices, which is never correct when writing in the simple past tense.
To help you understand what we mean, we’ll include some examples of both:
- Correct: I have written this letter in the hope that you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
- Incorrect: You have wrote to me again about this, but there is still nothing that I can do.
“Wrote” is the simple past tense, and we know that no other verb forms or auxiliaries are needed to make this correct. However, “written” requires a helping verb like “have” before it turns into the present perfect tense because it doesn’t make any sense alone.
You may also like: Wore or Worn: Which Is Correct? (Helpful Examples)
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.