As many readers probably know already, I teach English in Spain. I have not always strictly been an English teacher in my life, however. When I lived in the USA, my homeland, I was a Spanish professor and for many years taught Spanish language and literature and did a lot of boring administrative paperwork in my tiny cupboard-like office, attended a ton of meetings that droned on and on, and decided the fate of many a graduating senior. Although I was primarily a Spanish professor, throughout my career from graduate school to college professor, I taught English classes along with translation courses.
You’d think by now I’d be the ultimate authority about everything related to the English language. You’d think correctly, more than likely. I feel like I am! However, English is ever-changing and tricky because it has so many rules that are broken while at the same time is transformed, daily, by its speakers. Sometimes the rules are broken more often than they’re followed. For the longest time the verb “knit” and the phrasal verb “cast on” have plagued my mind. Do you have to add “-ed” to them to form the simple past and the past participle, or are they strictly irregular and always maintain their base form? Is it right or wrong to say, “Yesterday I knitted something?” If we say, “I casted on a sock last weekend” are we messing it up? Perhaps we can only say, “Today I’ve knit a while” and “I’ve cast on an afghan.” Given that I’ve seen and heard both forms equally as frequently, I just lazily concluded that both ways are acceptable and left it at that. Recently, however, there’s been a bug in my ear.
Notice how the verbs “crochet” and “chain” don’t suffer from this quandary. I crocheted. I chained. You have crocheted. She has chained. Crocheters rejoice!
I finally got off my behind and looked it all up. My knitting friends who blog might be grateful for this post or maybe they have already done the work. Or, perhaps they don’t give a rat’s behind. This is trivia, after all!
The verb “knit” has two simple past and past participle forms, regular and irregular. It’s up to you if you want to use “knit” as a simple past form or “knitted.” Equally, you can use either form as a participle. You can say, “My friend Susie Q. has knitted a beautiful sweater” just as often as you can say, “Grandma knit a huge shawl last year.”
“Cast on” is a little bit more complicated, but still, you can follow the same pattern as for the verb “knit” just as long as you keep it on your blog or in casual conversation. The simple past and past participle forms of “casted” are actually old, but dating back as recently as the 18th century, according to this explanation on Grammarist. However, according to the same publication, editors still prefer the irregular form “cast” for both simple past and past participle. So, if you’re going to submit something you wrote to a publisher, be prepared. However, if you’re writing an article for a newspaper or a popular magazine, you will probably be obliged to add that “-ed” to it, because journalism has embraced the archaic form. In everyday conversation, use what comes natural to you, or use both ways. It doesn’t matter. Adding “-ed” to the verb “cast” seems to be experiencing a Renaissance, so sally forth yea speakers and say it how thou doth please!
Do you feel relieved that you can pretty much do as you please with the verb “knit” and the phrasal verb “cast on?” I do. I was getting worried, mostly because I spend most of my day correcting people’s speech and writing. The job got to me a little.