1. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Sneaked versus snuck

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jannert, Feb 7, 2014.

    Ha ha! Just got an email notificaton from writing guru, Brian A Klems, who is connected to Writer's Digest, on the topic of sneaked versus snuck. Apparently snuck is now acceptable as the past tense of sneak in the Webster's newest dictionary. It's certainly used without a tremor in casual speech these days. (Less so here in the UK than in the USA.)

    Any feelings on this from the forum? According to Mr Klems, it's best to continue to use sneaked in terms of pleasing agents and publishers, but it looks like snuck has sneaked in the back door, and will probably become acceptable to all but the most hidebound practitioners of English very soon.

    Fun, eh? :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2014
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  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I dunno, I'm still confused hearing 'pleaded' over and over when my brain swears 'pled' was always the right word.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I dunno. I'd use "sneaked" in narration, but "snuck" in dialogue if the character talks like that. Frankly, I think both of them sound a little too informal for the kind of writing I usually do, so I'd find a way to reword the sentence so as to avoid either one.
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Aha. Stole. That's the word you'd pick, I bet. :)
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Not classy enough. I'd specify mink stole! :p
     
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  6. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I use 'snuck' on a regular basis but tend to think of it as very informal. I would certainly question context if I was going to use it in a written piece. I do like the sound of it better than 'sneaked.' Strikes me as sounding more furtive.
     
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  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Snuck is a horrible-sounding word. Sounds like Stuck, but without the satisfying T. Snuck sounds like something's blocked your nose. Eeugh.

    Sneaked all the way :p
     
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  8. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Take this with a grain of salt, but my preference is use the regular form of a verb when you have that option unless it sounds really, really weird. You might not hear if it's weird with your own mind's ear, but that's what betareaders are for. So I'd favor sneaked instead of snuck, pleaded instead of pled, dreamed instead of dreamt, dived instead of dove, etc. But that's just me. Also keep in mind your audience: some U.K. verbs allow for irregular forms while those same U.S. verbs don't, and, I think, vice versa. So if you're writing for a specific market, you might not have an option. Check a dictionary even if you think you know.

    However, whatever you do, stay consistent. I wouldn't use sneaked in narration and snuck in dialog unless there's some sort of characterization you want to put forth, like minstrel said. But I'd tread carefully even there. Consistency is one of the chief hallmarks of good writing, probably right below clarity.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    From americanbar.org:

    My personal preference is for pled, which I use quite on the regular in my line of work. ;)

    As for sneaked v. snuck, there is a current trend (we are living through it as we speak) to take weak verbs which appear in structure similar to strong verbs and, in fact, make of them strong verbs. It is a pervasive trend, thus the kind that has a tendency to actually stick. Whether one embraces the trend or not is all about prescriptive v. descriptive grammarianism. Another example of such a change through which we are living is the divorced or dangling preposition. Like it or not, the prescriptive camp lost that one, though they may still wave the tattered flag with fierce loyalty. I like the sound of snuck. It appeals.

    Who'da'thunkit? ;)
     
  10. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I had to laugh at this. I don't know whether it's got to do with my accent, or what, but I rather like the way 'snuck' sounds. The slurring of the 's' onto the 'n' satisfies me in the same way that the 't' sound in 'stuck' appeals to you. ;)

    Glad it's not just me.
     
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  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think I read this in Vex hex Smack Smooch by Constance Hale, or Word Hero. I picked up a few books at the library last week and the tips are starting to merge.

    Personally I like snuck it sounds quick & spunky - I snuck into the kitchen and snatched a few cookies.
    I sneaked into the kitchen and snatched a few cookies. Just sounds off.

    It's like hanged and hung. So dang formal. And nobody says boy, that bull is well hanged. lol
     
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  12. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    Why use either one of them? there's endless other words to use. Slunk, tip-toed, glided (if you character is remarkably balanced) and slipped (as in "slipped past") work for me usually.
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    So ...will we all be wearing snuckers on our feet?
     
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  14. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Ha! That sounds like something for Lewis Carroll to pun - if they only had sneakers in Victorian England.

    Alice pulled on her snuckers to sneak past the Jabberwock.
     
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  15. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    @peachalulu

    You got me thinking about the different uses for 'hung' and 'hanged' and I had a browse.

    tonyfro had this to say on Pain in the English.com:

    "Given that hanging has become a fairly infrequent means to a fairly infrequent end, you might think that this is an unimportant distinction. But, because of a colloquial use of hung that we blush bright yellowish green to mention here, you can end up embarrassing yourself if you use hung as an adjective to describe a male historical figure executed by hanging. History records that John Billington was hanged at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1630; whether Mr. Billington was hung, history does not record."

    I had to laugh. ;) Well put.
     
  16. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    "Snuck" is past tense, so it doesn't apply to your future-tense sentence. You could say, "Yesterday we wore snuckers on our feet." For the future case, you'd have to say, "Tomorrow we'll wear willsneakers on our feet."

    Clear now? :D
     
  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Completely! ;) I'd've lent you my wouldhavesnuckers, but they were dirty and one of the laces was snapped.
     
  18. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I won't be happy until it is ok for me to say, "My pirogue tumped over."
     
  19. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You just did say it. Did the Pirogue Police arrest you? Did a platoon of Usage Warriors lay siege to your home? If not, then it's okay. Either that, or the Pirogue Police and the Usage Warriors have had their budgets cut right to the bone. In any case, you're in the clear. :p
     
  20. David K. Thomasson
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    Either will do. I would think about the diction level that suits the situation. If the scene were written from the POV of, say, a teenager, I'd probably write, "Benjy snuck out of his bedroom window and met his friends out by the pond." But if the POV were that of an English professor, I'd more likely write, "Campbell usually sneaked a reference to Shakespeare or Tolstoy when he wanted to impress his guests at a cocktail party."
     
  21. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? If you want to use snuck then use it, if you want to use sneaked then use that. If you use one and it doesn't sound write, change it.

    For me I can't put it into words but I feel they both have a place depending on the perspective.

    'I snuck on board and grabbed the chest' versus 'I sneaked on board and grabbed the chest'. And to the people trying to sway others to use different words, I'm well aware that there are other words to use, but this thread was opened to discuss snuck vs sneaked.
     
  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    The squirrel scrubs up good.
     
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