Bit vs. bitten

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Bit is the past tense of the verb bite. Bitten is usually the past participle. For example, perhaps you bit your tongue this morning. If this is not the first time you’ve had a bitten tongue, then you have bitten your tongue before.

Still, even though bitten is conventional in such uses, bit is sometimes used as the past participle—for example:

Yet another NSW Government infrastructure project has bit the dust. [Sydney Morning Herald]

A Frankton woman went through a harrowing car wreck … and came out with only a little pain and a bit lip. [Herald Bulletin]

But such instances are rare. In edited writing, bit is usually the past tense, as in these sentences:

After the game, Burrows seemed unsure as to whether or not he bit Bergeron. [Wall Street Journal]

When lecturers wrongly spelt “Lucien” in their notes, she bit her tongue. [Telegraph]

And bitten is usually the the past participle, as in these examples:

Having decided to shut up shop in the US, the company could at the same time have bitten the bullet. []

There’s been bitten fingers and biting commentary. [Toronto Star]

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