On Nov. 3, I wrote about skinned, skanned and skunned.
And about a week later, I heard from perhaps the most definitive source on this sort of grammar and usage trickery: One of my high-school English teachers, Sheila Webb of Dover. Mrs. Webb, by the way, is awesome. And hearing from my former teachers is one of the coolest parts of my job. So when I got this letter, of course I had a huge smile on my face.
Mrs. Webb writes, “I just had to tell you about a funny school memory of mine after I read the ‘skinned, skanned, skunned’ tidbit. When I was a tenth grader (Dover, of course), I was standing in front of my English class giving a speech that included ‘snuck.’ After I finished, my dear (I loved her) English teacher (who later became my colleague) asked me to tell her the principal parts of ‘to sneak.’ No problem for me: I said, ‘Sneak, snake, snuck,” and she nearly fell from her chair as she laughed so hard that she cried. That was the day that I learned the principal parts of ‘to sneak’ (never to be forgotten).”
She included those, “for others who may not know.” For “to sneak,” it’s sneaking – sneaked – (have) sneaked. And “to skin” is skinning – skinned – (have) skinned.
And Mrs. Webb continues, “However, she did cut me a break as she told me I was showing intelligence (naturally) by using analogy. If it’s sing, sang, sung — why not bring, brang, brung!?! Oh, this totally unexplainable but fascinating English language that we love to butcher! Again, thanks for a fun memory.”
Mrs. Webb, thanks for writing, and for sharing that awesome story, which makes my own English-class exploits seem less bad!