English verbs that are the same in the present tense and in the past tense

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more.

Most of the commonly used English verbs are irregular. If the past tense and the past participle differ from the present tense, it is usually not hard to remember themfew non-native speakers would say “taked” instead of “took” and “taken”. However, there is a certain class of verbs that commonly cause problems: verbs whose past tense is the same as the present tense.

Take, for instance, the verb “cut”. The past tense of “cut” is also “cut”, so you could say both

I cut vegetables every day in the kitchen.
I cut some paper yesterday.

Usually, you must guess the meaning from the context, but if the verb is in the third person singular, you can tell by looking at its ending: “he cut” can only mean the past tense because the present tense would be “he cuts”. For this reason, the entries in the following list are of the form: to do – he does – he did – he has done.

List of the verbs

  • to bet – he bets – he bet – he has bet
  • to broadcast – he broadcasts – he broadcast – he has broadcast
    Note: most dictionaries list also “broadcasted” as a possible form, but this form is not commonly used in practice.
  • to burst – he bursts – he burst – he has burst
  • to cut – he cuts – he cut – he has cut
  • to cost – it costs – it cost – it has cost
  • to cast – he casts – he cast – he has cast
  • to fit – it fits – it fit/ted – it has fit/ted
    In the US, the past tense and past participle are usually “fit”, whereas in the UK they are usually “fitted”. However, as adjectives, “fit” means healthy or appropriate, and fitted means designed to fit both in the US and in the UK.
  • to forecast – he forecasts – he forecast – he has forecast
  • to hit – he hits – he hit – he has hit
  • to hurt – it hurts – it hurt – it has hurt
  • to let – he lets – he let – he has let
  • to miscast – he miscasts – he miscast – he has miscast
    Note: “to miscast” means “to choose an unsuitable actor for a role”.
  • to offset – it offsets – it offset – it has offset
    Note: “to offset” means “to compensate” in relation to costs.
  • to put – he puts – he put – he has put
  • to quit – he quits – he quit – he has quit
  • to recast – he recasts – he recast – he has recast
  • to reset – he resets – he reset – he has reset
  • to retrofit – he retrofits – he retrofit/ted – he has retrofit/ted
    Note: “to retrofit” means “to equip something with a part it didn’t originally have”. The same note as for “fit/ted” applies also here.
  • to set – he sets – he set – he has set
  • to shed – it sheds – it shed – it has shed
  • to shut – he shuts – he shut – he has shut
  • to slit – he slits – he slit – he has slit
  • to spit – he spits – he spit/spat – he has spit/spat
    Note: the form “spit” is popular in the US; in the UK the past tense is “spat”.
  • to sublet – he sublets – he sublet – he has sublet
  • to spread – he spreads – he spread – he has spread
  • to typecast – he typecasts – he typecast – he has typecast
    Note: usually used in the passive. For an actor “to be typecast” means “to be always given the same type of character to play”.
  • to typeset – he typesets – he typeset – he has typeset
  • to undercut – he undercuts – he undercut – he has undercut
    Note: “to undercut” means “to sell goods below your competitor’s prices”.
  • to upset – it upsets – it upset – it has upset
  • to wed – he weds – he wed/ded – he has wed/ded
    Note: “to wed” is an old-fashioned term for “to marry”. Both “wed” and “wedded” are in use.
  • to wet – he wets – he wet/ted – he has wet/ted
    Note: both “wet” and “wetted” are in use.

In addition to the verbs above, you should remember the verbs

  • to beat – he beats [beets] – he beat [beet] – he has beaten
  • to read – he reads [reeds] – he read [red] – he has read [red]

The past tense of “beat” is also “beat”. The form “has beat” (instead of beaten) exists but is considered colloquial. The past tense and past participle of “read” are also spelled “read” but pronounced the same as “red”.

This article was based on my guide to the most common mistakes in English, which explains many similar topics. Why don’t you check it out?