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  1. CH878

    CH878 Active Member

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    Spit or Spat?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by CH878, Aug 21, 2011.

    A question for any Americans here.

    I was reading an American novel a while ago and for the past tense of the verb 'to spit' the author used 'I spit'. My question is, is this the normal way for Americans to speak? (one of my characters is an American and will use the word) In British English we'd say 'I spat' for past tense.
     
  2. Clumsywordsmith

    Clumsywordsmith Active Member

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    Yes, we generally say "Spit" as oppose to "Spat".
     
  3. CH878

    CH878 Active Member

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    Thanks!
     
  4. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'americans' actually use either one, not just [or even 'generally'] the 'i' version... it depends on what part of the country one is from and the level of education attained, among other things...
     
  5. VM80

    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Never knew that. You learn something new every day.
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I'm American and I use 'spat."
     
  7. BFGuru

    BFGuru Active Member

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    We were instructed to use "spat", "swam" and "sang" in grade school. "Dug" as well.

    Some things I read really throw me off. It seems especially prevalent in children's books I read to my kids. "She swimmed in the lake" seems to be common and "He digged for buried treasure" to name a few examples. It totally throws me, and causes anxiety for some reason. Haha.
     
  8. Quezacotl

    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    It really depends on the level of education. I rarely hear people talk like that and if they do, they usually understand how stupid they sound.

    I'd assume that its a mistake.
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm American, and I would use "spit" in speech, but "spat" in writing or in someone else's speech wouldn't throw me off even a little bit. It's probably all about where one learned to speak as a child; I would judge spat as more correct, but I still wouldn't remember to use it.

    Swimmed and digged, on the other hand, are just horrifying. I find myself wondering if this children's book was created by a publisher with an utterly inflexible grade-age vocabulary list. I suppose I prefer that to the idea of a fundamentally illiterate publisher.

    ChickenFreak
     
  10. BFGuru

    BFGuru Active Member

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    what is "grade-age vocabulary list"? How will our kids learn proper English if we first don't model it? I am the mom that will correct the author's sentence structure if necessary though. :D
     
  11. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know if they still commit this travesty, but when I was in school we read Edgar Allan Poe stories where the vocabulary was "corrected" to use only the vocabulary that students of our age were declared, by some guiding body, to know. Down to calling the classic story "The Stolen Letter."

    In my teacher's defense, she was properly horrified, but that's what they had enough copies of in the book room.

    ChickenFreak
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I remember the Junie B. Jones book series for kids being criticized for improper grammar and word usage. The narrator is a kindergarten girl, and she narrates in the way many kindergarten kids might talk, maybe using the occasional "runned" instead of "ran" (don't hold me to that specific example - I'm not sure it is used. I'm just illustrating the point). Other aspects of sentence structure are also sometimes improper. but again seem to emulate a child's speech fairly well.

    I didn't have a problem with it, as a parent. My daughter devoured the books, and her use of the English language wasn't scarred or anything. Far better that she was reading as much as she was, and it even brought us opportunities to laugh about how Junie B. Jones "talked," and to discuss the mistakes she made.
     
  13. Blackgamen

    Blackgamen Member

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    I spit and spat all over everything.
    I don't think it will matter if you use either one.
     
  14. SeverinR

    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    No no no! Lets not use that example. I have swum nightmares! (just noticed its still on first page-see swum)

    Yesterday I spat on your grave, today I spit in your face. --Seems correct to me.
     
  15. AmyHolt

    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    mamma is right it. It's region and education that tends to determine which is used. 'Spat' is correct English but I guess I hang out with the educated hicks because even with masters degrees we use 'spit'.
     
  16. CULLEN DORN

    CULLEN DORN Member

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    Spit is the verb often used by us although spat is and should be the correct usage.
     
  17. dolly

    dolly New Member

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    Not exactly on topic, but close enough -I have an American aquaintance who uses 'sweat' as a past tense. When she heard that I, as a born and bred Englishwoman, used 'sweated', she was amazed.
     
  18. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    either 'he had sweat it out' or 'he had sweated it out' makes sense to me and i'm not english...
     

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