The Past Tense of Meet: Here’s What It Is and How to Use It

Learning languages can be a really exciting way to learn about a different culture, its country, and its people.  However, language can also pose several challenges due to the fact that languages often do not follow their own rules.  Anyone who has ever studied a second or even third language can attest to the fact that grammatical rules can be the most difficult part to learn.  From complicated verb tenses to noun declensions that cover both singular, plural, gender, and case, to the lists of pronouns that older languages like Latin supply…in short, grammar is difficult.

English is widely considered to be one of the most difficult languages to learn just based on the fact that it tends to struggle with following most of its own rules.  Part of the reason for this is that English borrows (or just completely steals) most of its grammar from other languages.  English is an etymological mashup of several different languages which causes several common grammar mistakes.

In this article, let’s explore the verb “to meet”, learn its proper use, how to use its past tense, look for its synonyms, and learn its etymology and context.

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What tense is meet?

To first understand a word, its history, and how to use it properly, it is important to first define what it actually means.  According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word meet can be defined as, “to come into the presence of”, “to come into contact with”, or “to encounter”.  A secondary definition is “to conform to, especially with exactitude and precision”, e.g. meet the requirements.  In total, there are twenty definitions of the word “to meet” in the dictionary in both transitive and intransitive forms.  The intransitive definition is usually, “to come face-to-face with”.  

Part of what makes English such a difficult language to master is that no matter where you look, there are rules, and then there are exceptions to those rules.  For example, the common rule for making the past tense in English is to add “-d” or “-ed” to a verb to give it the past tense.  For example, the verb cook becomes cooked, and the verb bake becomes baked.  In both situations, you either add the “-ed” or the “-d” suffix and the word is past tense.

To properly create the past tense of meet , you actually don’t add a suffix.  Instead, you have to change the spelling from meet to met.  This is due to the word’s etymology and the fact that its past tense does not actually comply with the standard English rule is due to the fact that it did not come from Latin or Greek.    

Is it meet or met?

When asking whether or not something is a real word, what you are really asking is whether or not people use it often enough for it to be considered correct.  The reason for this distinction is that language is directed by culture, not the other way around.  The words people use in common conversation eventually become correct even if they are not considered correct by a dictionary.  For example, the word selfie was added to several dictionaries a few years ago due to its prevalence in context and in culture.

The dictionary cannot be the definitive authority on all of language, so learn your audience and how they communicate, and you will be just fine.

In this context, both meet and met are correct forms of the word.  However, met is just the past tense.  So, which one you use comes down to whether or not you want to convey an action in the present or one that has already happened.  

The History and Origin of the Word

One of the best ways to understand a word is to learn where it came from.  A word’s etymology can reveal a lot about the changes a word has gone through to get to where it is today in modern English.  According to, the word meet actually comes from the Middle English word “meten”, which in turn was derived from the Old English word “metan” and the Proto-Germanic word “motjanan”, which all conveyed a sense of encountering someone or something.  

While many nouns in English actually come from Latin or Greek, most verbs with irregular forms do actually originate from more modern European languages from the early medieval time periods.  

Examples of the Word in Context

Another great way to learn how to use a word is to explore the word being used correctly.  Either reading the word in its proper context or hearing someone else use it in conversation.  Here are some common examples of the word “to meet” in context:

  • “We are going to the humane society this weekend to meet the puppies and maybe get a new one.”
  • “Have you met the new CEO yet?  He seems incredibly personable.”
  • “The deadline must be met for payment to be received on time.”

Synonyms for Meet

Finally, to really solidify a word into your vocabulary, it is useful to explore words with similar or same definitions.  The more words you know that can fit into a specific context, the easier it will be to remember which ones to use.  Here are some synonyms for the verb “to meet”

  • To encounter is a synonym for meet that implies a chance meeting
  • To connect with someone means to meet with them at a specific time and place
  • To see someone is to meet them from a distance with visual contact

In Summary

By reaching the end of this article, you should be prepared to use the word meet (and its past tense) in any context, written or spoken.  If you need further clarification in any sort of academic environment, just reach out to your teacher or professor.  Good luck!