Dragged vs. drug

In all main varieties of English, dragged is the standard past tense and past participle of the verb drag. Drug is a dialectal variant that appears in many areas of the U.S. Though drug is common in these areas and cannot be considered wrong, it might be seen as out of place in more formal writing, where the traditional dragged is always the safer choice.


These writers don’t mind breaking the rules:

 As the trailer was drug along the tracks, it damaged a chain link fence. [Post-Searchlight]

The delegates cast their ballots and time drug on and on. [Colorado Statesman]

Wakulla County deputies say at least two suspects tied a cable from their truck to the ATM, drug it out of the store and more than a mile away into Leon County. [WCTV.tv]

But most American writers (as well as English speakers from outside the U.S.) use the standard dragged:

Leftist feminist groups are aghast that Social Security has been dragged into the debt-ceiling discussion. [National Review Online]

Guilt from leaving work early tugged on me like the air conditioner dragged on the car engine. [CNN]

Negotiations, which have dragged on for months, are being supervised by a federal mediator. [Los Angeles Times]

38 thoughts on “Dragged vs. drug”

  1. I am English and as such cannot abide the use of drug as the past tense of drag. The use of the word drug in this context suggests to me that the writers lacks elegance in their work

        • I’m in college (attempting to get my engineering degree) and was never once told the difference. Just because your 4th Grade English teacher felt like specifying the difference, doesn’t mean that your intellect surpasses my own. This is one of many cases in which regional differences in language as well as a lack of knowledge distribution cause people to use the wrong word instead of the correct term; it says nothing about their individual intellects.

          • Lack of self-education maybe an issue if you want to get anything more than a basic pass on your degree. Good luck.

        • I don’t think it can be used to measure intellect though. Maybe it’s a result g being raised in an environment where people don’t always speak grammatically correct. If everyone around you used the word drug since you were a child, It may actually feel natural for you to use it. Regardless of what you learned in 4th grade.

  2. If I may add a bit of information here I would like to add a bit of knowledge to these comments. First, the use of drug instead of dragged is completely acceptable in local or regional writing. Fiction with regional voice (similar to a newly revitalized Local Color) using rationalistic terms is often viewed not as inferior, but interesting because the author has chosen to use said words in order to add a sense of realism to his characters.

    Authors like Daniel Woodrell have done this before, and the effects have been beyond amazing. It feels as if the reader has simply stepped into the section of the country they are writing about. It’s a tactic that Samuel Clemens had used when he wrote some of his more famous works. It’s a tactic that is still in use today. To simply disregard it is to disregard a very powerful tool in an author’s tool kit.

    It is true that the word should never be used in academic writing, but to use it in fiction writing only helps credibility to the story, if the story calls for a region or location which would it.

    • Sure, writers use incorrect language to portray regional dialects. I does not make the use of a word correct English, any mores dan ghetto slang, isit blud? Yer get me?

      • I totally agree with you. If I pick up a book and it has grammatical or spelling errors, to the recycle bin it goes. The dumbing down of America is alive and well but isn’t it great that we can “conversate” about “edumacation?” By the way isn’t it “yer git me?” :)

  3. It’s amazing how many of you commenting seem to have missed the part about, “cannot be considered wrong”. It is an acceptable word. Perhaps a bit informal, as the article says, but it is not slang either. It is actually a very old usage and was quite common in parts of England before the language was standardized.

  4. People who write this way show how judgmental they are of others. Especially since the word “drug “” or “trug” was the original correct word – – used in old English and even Middle English. Nearly all grammaists accept “drug” as an alternative, especially in conversational use.

  5. It is a dialect choice, you ignorant grammar jockies. Just because it sounds strange to you does not make it any less valid. Learn how to see the world beyond your own narrow BS. You don’t sound smart.

  6. the problem with thinking that “drug” (or “drugged”) is not an incorrect
    way of saying the past tense of “drag”, just because of supposed “local
    dialect” and use, is that it forgets the fact that “drug” was originally
    a MISTAKE, and a stupid one too, by probably some guy in Brooklyn, for
    the past tense of “drag”, and that others started staying it too
    (incorrectly), and it caught on (with a few people), but STEMMED from a
    definitely wrong way of saying it. Whereas “dragged” was NEVER
    incorrect, and was always originally the correct and proper way of
    saying the past tense of “drag”. “Drugged” (or “drug”) was bad from
    its start, and was never originally an alternate way of saying the past
    tense of “drag”. It was just some dopey mistake by some goofball with
    bad grammar, decades ago, and then later said by others. Doesn’t make
    it right though just because many people wrongly use that word for
    that. It originated from a mistake. It has a bad and corrupt
    beginning. But “dragged” has been correct COMPLETELY, from start to
    finish. “Drug” SOUNDS STUPID, and it makes the person seem UNEDUCATED
    AND MORONIC whenever he says it as the paste tense for “drag”. Sorry,
    but it’s just that way. And also it’s very chalk-board
    nail-scratching-ish, whenever someone idiotically says “drug him to the
    house” (or something like that) when it should be “dragged him to the
    house”. It was “dragged” originally. And correctly. And “drug”
    was just a bad mistake originally…and that never really changed, no
    matter what excuses people desperately come up with to try to justify
    the error, as being somehow “not an error”. It’s incorrect,
    originally and currently, and should never be rewarded with “it’s not
    wrong to use” simply because many biscuit-heads have wrongly used it
    since. Regards……..

  7. “Dialect = A particular form of a language that is peculiar to a specific region or social group.” Only those in the group of the “uneducated” use “drug” as the past tense of drag.

    Grammarist needs to stop explaining the incorrect use of a word as “dialectal variant” because this lets the stupid argue that they are correct in using incorrect words.

  8. I love The Walking Dead graphic novels, but their use of “drug” (repeatedly) rubbed me the wrong way. Not enough to make me stop reading it, though – can’t wait for the next one to come out!


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