Shined vs. shone

  • The verb shine has two main definitions: (1) to emit light, and (2) to cause to gleam by polishing. In its first sense, shine traditionally becomes shone in the past tense and as a past participle. In its second sense, shine is traditionally inflected shined. So, for example, we might say, “The sun shone brightly while I shined my shoes.” 


    In 21st-century writing, however, the distinction is increasingly fuzzy, and shined is often used where shone would be the traditional inflection. Shone rarely appears in place of shined, though.




    A 13-year-old boy needed hospital treatment after a laser pen was shone in his eyes in Eastwood. [BBC News]

    A return trip to the store shone the light on what I needed: Leeks. [Denver Post]


    Shearer doesn’t look like he belongs ensconced in dark-green leather and spit-shined oak. [Washington Post]

    They shined the marble. [National Post]


    1. Thanks for shining a light on the subject.  You’ve shone the way for me and now my grammar can be polished and shined for all to see.

    2. This doesn’t quite address the question for me about somewhat metaphoric usage.  If I want to say that someone’s high quality, thoughtful work really wowed people — would I say that it shined or shone? Either one seems to be okay…

    3. Barbwire says

      Thank you. I keep reading “shined” in books when it should be “shone”. I’m glad to hear that shone is still correct, because “shined” in that context is just wrong!

    4. Grammarist says

      Thank you. That’s certainly something to add in a future revision of this post.

    5. “And her love of God also shone through, in a beautiful way.” brought me here.

    6. “When our culture shined as a constalation.” Yeah, looks like Blizzard got it wrong.

    7. LaDonna Cole says

      So in trying to understand this addition, “shined” must occur to an object. “Shone” is only an act of the subject, with no object. The sun shone, while I shined my shoes. Is that right?

    8. Should be “her natural beauty shone through her minimal make-up”.

    9. John Morrow says

      For what it’s worth, the transitive/intransitive distinction is what I was taught in grammar school. That rule has served me well through prep school, college, and life!

      Nonetheless: ” …her natural beauty shined through…” does sound better to my ear. Perhaps we cannot know the author’s intent for sure. Maybe her natural beauty enlightened or illuminated [both verbs transitive] all nature around her. Let’s leave some room for poetic ambiguity.

      • Rex Schneider says

        No. As soon as you have a preposition, “on”, it is no longer a transitive verb. “The sun shone on the most peerless piece of earth” is still intransitive.

    10. I wouldn’t worry to much about irregular verbs like this because language changes in organic ways. Quite naturally, a huge demographic of English users are doing away with irregularities like ‘shone’ for ‘shined’ in usage (1).

      • John Morrow says

        I’m too old to go with the current flow….
        And the intricacies of past grammar are often mind games for entertainment now….

    11. Dark Penguin says

      “Shine” can also mean to aim or direct a light toward something. In this sense, “shined” seems most natural or correct to me for a past tense.

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