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June 2007    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 22, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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You Say "Dove," I Say "Dived"

from the June, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

When you talk about yesterday’s underwater adventure, which word do you employ to connote the past tense of “dive”? Is one more correct than the other? This trivia addict with the soul of a copy editor had to know.

Every dictionary consulted stated that either word is acceptable, as did every website published by a selfanointed grammar expert (and you might be surprised how many English professors spend their spare time this way). However, they agree that “dived” is the more traditional form.

Some sources noted that in America, “dove” is most prevalent in the Northeast, while “dived” is more popular in the West and South. A couple reported that the British—who, of course, are always right on matters of culture and class—use “dived” exclusively. The one authoritative answer came from the Associated Press Stylebook, the bible for hard-news journalism: only “dived” is acceptable, period.

While Undercurrent prefers to use “dived,” we use both verbs, as do other dive publications (born out by a glance at their pages as well as editors’ responses to queries).

“I usually edit it based on the context and how it sounds,” wrote Ethan Gordon of Fathoms magazine in one typical response. “‘Dove’ if it’s the writers voice, and ‘dived’ if it’s a more formal piece.”

If the issue ever comes up during a surface interval, you can now be the most grammatically correct diver on the boat.

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