What’s the Past Tense of Run? Exploring English Verb Conjugation

  • The past tense of “run” is “ran.”
  • Run” also serves as the past participle of the verb.
  • Proper usage of “run” includes understanding its present, past, and past participle forms.

Determining the correct past tense of “run” requires exploring not just its simple past form but also its past participle. It is also useful to look at examples in sentences to grasp how “ran” as a past tense and “run” as a past participle are used in context. By looking at this verb in various sentence structures and tenses, individuals can better understand and master its usage.

What’s the Past Tense of Run?

The English language contains many irregular verbs that don’t follow standard conjugation patterns. “Run” is one of these irregular verbs.

Simple Past Tense:
For the verb “run,” the simple past tense is not formed by adding the usual “-ed” ending. Instead, the word changes form entirely.

Past Participle:
The past participle for “run” is the same as the base form. When used in perfect tenses, it requires an auxiliary verb.

Here are tables outlining the conjugation of the verb “run” in the simple past and past participle forms, as well as examples of their use in sentences:

Simple Pastran
Past Participlerun

Examples in Sentences:

TenseExample Sentence
Simple PastShe ran to the store yesterday.
Past ParticipleThey had run out of options.

In the context of English grammar, it is essential to know the past tense forms:

  • The simple past tense “ran” is used to describe an action completed in the past.
  • The past participle “run” is utilized in perfect aspect tenses, like the present perfect or past perfect.

When conjugating “run” in different tenses, various forms are used:

  • Present Tense: “They run every morning.”
  • Past Continuous Tense: “He was running when it started to rain.”
  • Present Perfect Tense: “She has run three miles today.”
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Understanding the Difference Between Past Participle and Past Tense of ‘Run’

Past Tense:
The simple past tense of the verb “run” is “ran.” This form is used to describe an action that was completed at a definite point in the past.

  • Example: She ran the marathon yesterday.

Past Participle:
The past participle of “run” remains “run.” It is used in perfect tenses and the passive voice, generally requiring an auxiliary verb like “has” or “had.”

  • Example: He has run three miles every morning.

Below are tables illustrating the conjugation differences and their common uses:

Conjugation of ‘Run’:

Basic FormPast TensePast Participle

Common Uses:

Use CaseExample Sentence
Simple PastYesterday, they ran to the store.
Present Perfect TenseHe has run five miles today.
Past Perfect TenseThey had already run out of time.
  • Remember: “ran” is only for the simple past, while “run” as the past participle pairs with auxiliary verbs.

Examples of Present Tense ‘Run’ in Sentences.

The present tense of the verb ‘run’ is used to describe an action that is currently happening or a general truth. Here are some examples that illustrate its use:

Simple Present Tense:

  • He runs every morning.
  • The dog runs alongside the bike.

Present Continuous Tense:

  • She is running a marathon right now.
  • They are running to catch the bus.

To showcase a more structured use of ‘run’ in the present tense, consider the following tables which illustrate its use in both simple present and present continuous forms:

Simple Present Tense of ‘Run’:

II run at the park on weekends.
YouYou run faster than I do.
He/She/ItHe runs to stay fit.
WeWe often run in the evenings.
TheyThey run a small café by the river.

Present Continuous Tense of ‘Run’:

II am running a quick errand.
YouYou are running late for the meeting.
He/She/ItIt is running smoothly now.
WeWe are running out of patience.
TheyThey are running through their rehearsals.

The present tense form of ‘run’ extends beyond singular events, highlighting habitual actions or ongoing situational dynamics in the subjects’ lives. Bullet points below further present examples highlighting its use as an ongoing activity or habitual action:

  • Routine Actions:
    • She runs her own business.
    • They run a blog about healthy living.
  • Recurring Activities:
    • He runs five miles every day.
    • The children run to the playground each afternoon.
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Examples of Past Tense ‘Ran’ in Sentences

The past tense of “run” is “ran,” which is used to describe an action that was completed at a specific time in the past. Below are examples demonstrating the use of “ran” in sentences.

Simple Past Tense:

  • She ran to the store before it closed.

Past Continuous Tense:

  • He was running late because he ran into heavy traffic.

The above sentences showcase the word “ran” fulfilling different roles in past tense narratives. Next, let’s explore this usage further within two clear tables that provide context and structure.

Table 1: Simple Past Usage

SubjectBase FormPast TenseExample Sentence
IrunranI ran three miles yesterday.
YourunranYou ran the fastest in the race.
He/SherunranShe ran to answer the door.

Table 2: Past Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous Usage

SubjectPast PerfectPast Perfect ContinuousExample Sentence
Ihad runhad been runningI had run out of time before the deadline.
Theyhad runhad been runningThey had been running for an hour when it started to rain.

In these tables, “ran” functions as the simple past tense, whereas “had run” and “had been running” serve as examples of the past perfect and past perfect continuous tenses.

  • Interrupted Action:
    He ran three miles every morning until he injured his foot.

Examples of Past Participle ‘Run’ in Sentences

For the irregular verb “run,” the past participle is the same as the base form: “run”. Here are several examples demonstrating the use of the past participle “run” in various sentences:

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Sentence StructureExample Sentence
Present PerfectShe has run a marathon every year since 2010.
Past PerfectBefore the meeting started, they had already run the necessary checks.
Future PerfectBy this time next week, the engineers will have run all the system diagnostics.
Passive VoiceThis organization has been run by a board of trustees since its inception.

In present perfect tense sentences, the past participle “run” is used with the auxiliary verb “has” or “have” to express an action that took place at an unspecified time in the past. This can include actions that began in the past and continue to the present.

  • She has run three miles already today.

The past perfect tense is used to talk about an action that was completed before another action in the past. It often sets up a sequence of events.

  • They had run out of options before the solution presented itself.

Future perfect tense sentences use “will have” plus the past participle “run” to describe an action that will be completed before a certain point in the future.

  • He will have run the full distance by the time we arrive.

Finally, passive voice constructions might use “been run” to indicate the past participle of “run” when describing an ongoing state or action being done by someone or something other than the subject of the sentence.

  • The software update has been run on all the computers.

Phrases Utilizing ‘Run/Ran’

The past tense form is “ran.” Here are various phrases where “run” and “ran” are correctly used, emphasizing their grammatical context.

Present Tense:

  • She runs every morning.
  • They run a successful business.

Past Tense:

  • He ran to catch the bus.
  • They ran a campaign last year.

Below are tables illustrating the usage of “run” and “ran” in different phrases:

InfinitivePhrases with ‘Run’
to runShe wants to run a marathon.
 They have to run errands today.
PastPhrases with ‘Ran’
ranHe ran out of time on the exam.
 She ran her first 5K yesterday.

In constructing sentences, it’s beneficial to learn these variations:

  • Running Late: This phrase indicates a delay, where “running” is a present participle used for the present continuous tense.
  • Ran Out Of: Generally utilized to express exhaustion of resources or time in the past.

When constructing sentences, here are some bullet points to remember:

  • Run is used for present tense and future tense with helping verbs.
  • Ran is exclusively used for the simple past tense.
  • The context determines the correct form, either run or ran.

Origin of the Verb ‘Run’

The verb ‘run’ has a deep-rooted etymology that takes us back to the Old English period. Tracing its lineage, ‘run’ is derived from the Old English ‘rinnan’ (to run or flow) and ‘iernan’ (to run, to turn up). This etymology points to a time when the English language was still in its formative stages, with words subject to varied spelling and pronunciation. Over time, these words merged and evolved into the modern-day verb ‘run’, which we use extensively across various contexts.

  • Old English Origins:
    • Rinnan (to run, flow)
    • Iernan (to run)

The Evolution of ‘Run’:

9thRinnan, Iernan

As observed in the above table, the transition from Old English to Contemporary English involved significant changes in spelling and usage. The initial forms ‘rinnan’ and ‘iernan’ displayed a common feature in Old English where letters could switch places.

Modern Usage:

  • Different Tenses:
    • Ran (Simple Past)
    • Run (Past Participle)


  1. Definition of run from the Collins English Dictionary.
  2. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of run.” Online Etymology Dictionary, https://www.etymonline.com/word/run.
  3. Run.” TheFreeDictionary.com. Farlex, Inc. https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/run

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