Strived, striven, strove

Strived and strove both work as the past tense of strive. Both forms are many centuries old, and both appear regularly throughout the English-speaking world, so you’re safe using the one that sounds best to you.

The past participle is more complicated. Striven is the traditional form, but strived has gained ground and is now more common. So, for example, I have striven five years is the traditional construction, but I have strived five years is acceptable to modern English speakers. Constructions like I have strove five years are still rare, though.


Past tense

Ceredigion council said the coastal town always strived to create an enjoyable and relaxing evening for residents as well as visitors. [BBC]

So there was a lot going on, yet, throughout, Springsteen strove to get as close as he could to the audience. [Telegraph]

Duma had always set the bar high, and strove to improve on a daily basis. [Independent Online]

She pleads for the audience to remember her good qualities, how hard she strived, and not how hard she suffered. [LA Times Show Tracker blog]

Disco as a fad was peaking, and Ms. Summer strove to outlast it. [New York Times]

Mr Addison said that the “quite low” balance was the reason the fund had strived for conservative investments. [The Australian]

Past participle

China’s leaders have striven to project an aura of stability and unity amid global political upheaval. [New York Times]

The need to pay VAT on outsourced services has proved a major obstacle as social housing providers have strived to be more efficient. [Guardian]

[S]upply has risen sharply as companies have strived to produce more to meet demand. [Globe and Mail]

[T]he EU oligarchs have striven officiously, by every means at their disposal, to keep its life support system turned on. [Scotsman]

8 thoughts on “Strived, striven, strove”

  1. There is one example of ‘strove’ as the past participle form in As I Lay Dying.

    Because it is not us that can judge our sins or know what is sin in the Lord’s eyes. She has had a hard life, but so does every woman. But you’d think from the way she talked that she knew more about sin and salvation than the Lord God Himself, than them who have strove and labored with the sin in this human world.

    Lincoln has also used it.

    And then, there will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they have helped mankind on to this great consummation; while, I fear, there will be some white ones, unable to forget that, with malignant heart, and deceitful speech, they have strove to hinder it.

  2. Not to split hairs here, but shouldn’t the above read “and neither is right NOR wrong”? Or is neither… nor one of those modern English things that doesn’t so much matter any more?

    • That clause looks like a “neither”/”nor” construction, but it isn’t. “Neither” here is a pronoun–short for “not either one”–and is the subject of the clause, whereas “or” is a conjunction linking “right” and “wrong.” In “neither”/”nor” constructions, “neither” and “nor” are correlative conjunctions, meaning they link words or phrases that are syntactically parallel. It would be correct to write, for instance, “it is neither right nor wrong” because “neither” and “nor” here introduce the two parallel adjectives.

      The “neither” in the above sentence, again, is a pronoun short for “not either one,” so “neither is right or wrong” is the same as saying “not either one is right or wrong.” Of course, we wouldn’t write, “not either one is write nor wrong.”

      It’s funny, because this isn’t the first time a commenter has called our attention to a clause like this. Perhaps it’s risky to use “neither” as a pronoun in proximity to the conjunction “or,” even when the two are not correlative conjunctions.

      In our view, the “neither”/”nor” is not one of those English things that doesn’t matter anymore, because it’s more a grammar thing than a usage thing, and grammar things are more intractable.

      • @ That Girl. Great question, I searched to find out about “striven” and learned about “neither/nor” use that I wondered about, too.

        @Grammaist writer. How respectfully explanatory of you to go over that confusion in detail in this way. I write this as a sincere complement to you as a moderator, and in general, so I hope I don’t sound condescending.

        Thank you for setting a great example on the internet of a growth mindset toward better understanding through effort in communicating clearly. That was a very professional and helpfully well-put reply.


  3. So if I put the word always between have and striven, “I have always striven”, does it still work or would it then change to strived?

    (lol, the comment box does not recognize strived as a word) :)

    • I think, “I have always striven” is correct. I’m not 100% though. I think strived or strove is accepted in spoken English as well as in writing.


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