Drank vs. drunk?

Drank is the past tense form of drink, while drunk is the past participle. “Have drunk” is grammatically correct. “Have drank” is not.

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What is the difference between drank and drunk?

The verb drink is one of the most confusing irregular verbs to learn in the English language (especially for younger kids). Like all irregular verbs, the word drink does not adhere to typical conjugation patterns. 

Instead of writing “dranked” (with the typical -ed ending), we use “drank” as the past tense form. So where does that put “drunk”? 

Modern English grammar uses drunk as the past participle form of drink. However, there was a time when drunk was appropriate for the past tense, and drank was the past participle form. 

Even native speakers find themselves confused because they associate the adjective “drunk” with intoxication (or drinking too much alcohol in the past tense). 

In any case, both drank and drunk describe drinking in the past. The difference is that we use “drunk” for the past, present, or future perfect tenses, and we only use “drank” for the simple past tense. 

How to tell the difference between drank and drunk?

An easy way to check if you’re using drank and drunk correctly is to look for the auxiliary verb “have.” Since we use the past participle drunk for the past, present, and future perfect tenses, the verb “drunk” needs to follow:

  • Had” for the past perfect tense (I had drunk).
  • Have” for the present perfect tense (I have drunk).
  • Will have” for the future perfect tense (I will have drunk).

If there’s no form of “have” before the verb drunk, it’s grammatically incorrect. Likewise, there should not be an auxiliary verb in front of “drank” because we only use this term for the simple past tense: 

  • I drank a soda.
  • She drank water.
  • We drank a lot of coffee. 

Of course, people still say or write sentences with “have drank,” and most English speakers don’t have an issue with it. However, if you’re writing for a formal setting, it’s best to stick with standard English rules. 

What does drink mean?

The word drink is an irregular verb and noun. The verb drink means to swallow, absorb, or consume something (typically a liquid). For example, 

  • “She drinks a lot of soda.” (swallow)
  • “The plant drank from the Earth.” (absorb)
  • “The students drank in every word.” (to take in/consume)

The verb drink can also mean ‘to toast,’ ‘to consume alcoholic beverages,’ or ‘to become intoxicated.’ For example, 

  • I can drink to that!” (toast)
  • We were out drinking last night.” (consuming alcohol) 
  • He drank too much last night.” (intoxication)

While using the verb drink, we can use the following verb forms

  • Drink/drinks (present tense): “I drink water” or “She drinks water.” 
  • Drinking (present participle): “I am drinking water.”
  • Drunk (past participle): “I have drunk water.”
  • Drank (past tense): “I drank water.” 

Synonyms

  1. Absorb, gulp, guzzle, sip, slug down, slurp, soak up, swallow, swig, take up, toss down. 
  2. Booze, guzzle, liquor up.

Drink as a noun

As a noun, the “drink” is any liquid swallowed or absorbed. For instance, if someone said, “I need a drink of water,” the “drink” is literally a sip or single serving of said liquid. Likewise, the question “Would you like a drink?” implies several beverage options, whether it’s water, juice, soda, or milk (but most of the time, it’s alcohol).

Synonyms

  1. Alcohol, beverage, booze, brew, cocktail, drinkable, elixir, hooch, juice, nectar, libation, liquor, potable, potion, pop, quencher, sauce, soda, soft drink, spirits, water.
  2. Gulp, nip, pour, shot, sip, slug, swallow, swig, swill. 

What does drunk mean?

As an adjective, the word drunk (also drunken) describes someone as intoxicated or “under the influence,” as they say. For example, 

  • “Go home, Bob, you are drunk!”
  • “I’m drunk in love.” 
  • “He’s a drunken fool.”
  • “Earnest Hemingway did not coin ‘write drunk, edit sober.’”

Synonyms

Blasted, blitzed, boozy, canned, drunken, gassed, hammered, impaired, inebriated, intoxicated, lit, loaded, oiled, plastered, sloshed, smashed, soused, tanked, tipsy, wasted, wet, wiped out. 

Drunk as a noun

The noun drunk references a drinking spree or someone prone to consuming too much alcohol. For example, 

  • “The lockdown turned into a three-month drunk.”
  • “Mary married a drunk.” 
  • She comes from a long line of drunks.

Synonyms

  1. Bender, binge, spree. 
  2. Alcoholic, alkie, boozehound, drinker, drunkard, lush, souse, tosspot, wino. 

How to use the verb drink in a sentence?

The most difficult part of using the verb drink involves using the correct verb form. But when it comes to drank vs. drunk, there are only three tenses to memorize. Let’s take a look:

When to use drunk?

The verb drunk belongs to the perfect tense, which means it needs to follow the auxiliary verb “have.” 

Present perfect:He is said to have drunk ten beers in one sitting.”

Past perfect:Nearly all students had drunk alcohol by their sophomore year.”  

Future perfect:By the time they return, they will have drunk all their beer.” 

When to use drink?

We use “drink” for the infinitive form ‘to drink’ or within the present and future tense. When writing for the future tense, the verb drink follows “will.” 

Infinitive: “Sad movies make me want to drink.” 

Present tense:Should we drink now or wait until later?

Future tense:Our friends will drink if we offer them wine.” 

When to use drank?

The verb “drank” is exclusive to the simple past tense. For example, 

  • “How am I supposed to eat cookies if you drank all my milk?”
  • “I can’t believe I drank so much water.” 

When to use drinking?

Drinking” is the present participle of the verb drink, so we use it for all continuous and perfect continuous tenses. 

When writing for the present or past continuous tense, “drinking” follows the auxiliary verb “be.” For the future continuous tense, make sure “drinking” follows “will” + “be.”  

Present continuous:I don’t know about you, but I am drinking tonight.” 

Past continuous: “She was drinking tea last night.”

Future continuous: “They will be drinking later tonight.”

For the present and past perfect continuous tense, “drinking” follows two auxiliary verbs: “have” + “be.” Once we step into the future perfect continuous, there are three auxiliary verbs: “will” + “have” + “been.” 

Present perfect continuous: I have been drinking, so I’m calling a cab.

Past perfect continuous:We took her keys because she had been drinking.”

Future perfect continuous: “They will have been drinking by then.”

Addition reading

Do you enjoy learning about English grammar? If so, check out The Word Counter’s weekly lessons on topics, such as: 

Test Yourself!

Check yourTest how well you understand the difference between drank and drunk with the following multiple-choice questions. 

1. True or false?: The phrase “have drunk” is nonstandard.
a. True
b. False

2. English never uses drank or drunk as an ___________.
a. Irregular verb
b. Adjective
c. Noun
d. Adverb

3. ___________ is the past participle of drink. 
a. Drank
b. Drunk
c. Drinked
d. Drinks

4. ___________ is the past tense of drink.
a. Drank
b. Drunk
c. Drinked
d. Drinks

5. The use of “drank” as a verb requires ___________. 
a. A conditional statement
b. An auxiliary verb
c. Prepositions
d. None of the above

6. English uses the word drunk for the ___________.
a. Present perfect tense
b. Future perfect tense
c. Past perfect tense
d. All of the above

Choose the correct words for the following example sentences:

7. “How much did you _________ last night?”
a. Drunk
b. Drank
c. Drink
d. Drunked

8. “There’s no way I’m _________ warm sherbet.” 
a. Drinking
b. Drank
c. Drunk
d. Drink

9. “Since I don’t _________, I _________ water all night.” 
a. Drank, drink
b. Drink, drunk
c. Drink, drank
d. Drunk, drank

Answers

  1. A
  2. D
  3. B
  4. A
  5. D
  6. D
  7. C
  8. A
  9. C

Sources

  1. Auxiliary verbs.” Excelsior Online Writing Lab (OWL), Excelsior College, 2021.
  2. Drink.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th ed., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2021. 
  3. Drink.” Lexico, Oxford University Press, 2021.
  4. Drink.” Reverso Conjugation, Reverso-Softissimo, 2021.
  5. Drunk.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., 2021.
  6. Irregular Verbs: Overview and List.” Purdue Online Writing Lab, Purdue University, 2021.