The Past Tense of Strive: 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 strive”, 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 is another word for strive?

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 strive can be defined as, “to devote serious effort or energy to”, or “to struggle in opposition, contend”.  In total, there are only two definitions of the word strive that are commonly accepted, and one conveys a sense of working hard while the other conveys a sense of working against or fighting against something.  

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 create the past tense of strive, you actually have to change the spelling.  So instead of adding a suffix, you actually change the word from its original form “strive” to its past tense, “strove”.  However, strived is also acceptable in some contexts, especially in the Queen’s English, which is primarily spoken in Great Britain.  

Is it striven or strived?

Both striven and strived are considered acceptable forms of the word.  However, striven is the past participle, which is used to convey an action that has been completed in the past, e.g. “he has striven against his own nature several times in this decision making process”.  

Is strived a word?

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, yes, strived is in fact a word.  It is a commonly accepted form of the past tense in England, and is even used in some contexts in America.  Just know your audience before using it, and if you are writing in an academic sense, just ask your teacher or professor first.  

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 strive was first used in the early thirteenth century to mean “quarrel or contend”, and it came from the Old French word “estriver”, which means “to quarrel, dispute, resist, or struggle”.

Unlike many nouns which have their roots in ancient Latin or Greek, many verbs with irregular forms actually come from western European languages such as Old English, Proto-Germanic, and Norse.    

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 in conversation:

  • “He strives constantly to improve at his job.”
  • “She strove for hours against the mindset that she was incapable, and ended up changing everyone’s mind.”
  • “The team has striven for weeks to complete the job at hand.”

Synonyms for Strive

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 strive”:

  • To struggle is the same thing as to strive
  • To aim for something is to strive towards a specific goal
  • To endeavor is to struggle towards an attainable piece of information or a finish line