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, not to mention all the new words.
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 our word of the day, “to troubleshoot,” learn its proper use, how to use its past tense, look for its synonyms, and learn its etymology and context.
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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 definition of troubleshoot is “to operate or serve as a troubleshooter.” A troubleshooter, on the other hand, is “a skilled worker employed to locate trouble and make repairs in machinery and technical equipment.”
In all, there are only a couple definitions of the compound word present tense “troubleshoot,” and they all have to do with the act of trying to find a solution to a mechanical or software related issue, usually in machinery or computer hardware and software.
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. However, the past tense form of “the infinitive to troubleshoot” is irregular because it is an irregular verb.
To create the proper simple past tense of troubleshoot, you actually have to change the spelling from “troubleshoot” to “troubleshot,” as in “the issue was troubleshot for hours with no solution.”
If you wanted to use the past participle, you’d say “troubleshot” or “troubleshooted,” as well. The present participle (or gerund) is troubleshooting. For the past continuous, you’d say, “I was troubleshooting.” The past perfect is “troubleshoot.”
Is Troubleshooted 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 a language, so learn your audience and how they communicate, and you will be just fine.
In this particular context, both “troubleshot” and “troubleshooted” can be considered correct forms of the past tense, so just know your audience before you write or speak to them. If you are writing in an academic context, ask your teacher or your professor if you are unsure.
Can We Use Past Tense After “Did Not”?
Combining verb tenses with qualifying statements is complicated. In this case, you would not say, “I did not troubleshot the issue,” you would say, “I did not troubleshoot the issue.” The reason for this is that the qualifying statement already implies the timeframe in which the action took place, removing the need for any specific verb tense.
What Does Troubleshoot Mean?
As mentioned above, to troubleshoot something is to identify its issues and to attempt to solve them. The word is usually reserved for technological contexts, such as Information Technology or machinery.
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 EtymOnline.com, the word troubleshoot is an entirely English creation. The word was a combination of the words trouble and shooter and was originally used to describe someone who did repairs on a telegraph or telephone line.
Unlike many words in English that come from languages such as Latin or Greek, this word is entirely native to the modern English language.
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 simple present tense troubleshoot (and its past tense) in common context:
“The wifi has been out for hours. Has anyone troubleshot it yet?”
“Have you learned to troubleshoot this software?”
Synonyms for Troubleshoot
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 troubleshoot”:
Damage control is a word that has similar connotations, e.g., he needs to run damage control
Fix is a much more generic term that is used to describe when someone has to solve a problem
Kevin Miller is a growth marketer with an extensive background in Search Engine Optimization, paid acquisition and email marketing. He is also an online editor and writer based out of Los Angeles, CA. He studied at Georgetown University, worked at Google and became infatuated with English Grammar and for years has been diving into the language, demystifying the do's and don'ts for all who share the same passion! He can be found online here.