Spoke Or Spoken? What’s The Difference?

In writing, you’ll often see people describing what they said. You’ll see the words “spoke” and “spoken” used to describe dialogue and past encounters. However, why use spoke and spoken? What’s the difference between spoke and spoken?

Spoke is the past tense of speak, meaning you can describe someone speaking by saying spoke. Spoken is the past participle form of speak, and you can also use this to describe someone who spoke. However, spoken needs a “have” verb in order to be used properly while spoke does not.

The rest of this article will cover what spoke means, and what spoken means.

What Spoke Means

Spoke is the past tense of speak and is most commonly seen in stories. You’ll see it used to describe past dialogue. For example, “Bill spoke”. If you are describing someone speaking in past tense, you can use spoke.

An alternative to spoke is said. Said is the past tense of say, and it can be used in the same way as spoke. For example, look at the “Bill spoke” sentence again. Replace “spoke” with “said” and you’ll get “Bill said”. Both of these are grammatically correct.

Spoke is the simple past tense form of speak and is used often in novels. Verbally, spoke is not used often. The sentence flows better if you use synonyms like “said”. Therefore you will not see “spoke” or “spoken” in verbal English as much as you would in writing. In writing, it’s common because it improves an author’s word choice.

Spoke is a very versatile word since it can be used with any pronoun. Here are a few examples of sentences with the word “spoke” in them:

“Unable to resist the silence anymore, I spoke.”

“It was half past midnight when he spoke.”

“She spoke about her father’s dying wish.”

“During the speech, they spoke about the future of our country.”

What Spoken Means

Spoken is similar to spoke because it is also the past tense of speak. However, it is the past perfect of speak. Past perfect tense, also called pluperfect, refers to a verb tense that is used to speak about actions that were completed in the past.

Here is simple past tense: “I spoke.”

Here is past perfect tense: “I have spoken.”

You can also use had. Both have and had will create the past perfect tense. However, keep in mind that you cannot use spoke with have or had before it. “I have spoke” makes no sense, and it should be “I have spoken”.

Like spoke, you will not see spoken very often in verbal English. Most commonly, you’ll see spoken in older novels. It’s also used in modern novels, but it’s more common in the older ones.

Here are a few examples of sentences with the word “spoken” in them:

“I have spoken.”

“Although he knew the answer, he hadn’t spoken it.”

“There were no more words she could have spoken.”

“Their last words to each other had been spoken with rage.”