Garner's Usage Tip of the Day: sink / sank / sunk.

sink / sank / sunk. So inflected. Occasionally the past participle ousts the simple-past form from its rightful place — e.g.: o "When the Montreal Expos announced that they had selected outfielder Errick L. Williams in the annual Rule 5 draft, it caused barely a ripple of interest. Until it sunk [read ‘sank’] in exactly who Errick L. Williams was." Larry Stone, "Montreal Picks, Plans to Trade Heisman-Toting Ricky Williams," Seattle Times, 15 Dec. 1998, at E4. o "Elsewhere in Times Square, investors stand to lose the $30 million they sunk [read ‘sank’] into the magic-themed restaurant of David Copperfield, which may never open." Paul Tharp, "'Baywatch' Bistros Bet on Bucking Trend," N.Y. Post, 30 Dec. 1998, at 23. o "He sunk [read ‘sank’] 15 of 23 shots (65 percent)." Marvin Pave, "Barzey Doing Bang-Up Job Off the Bentley Bench," Boston Globe, 10 Jan. 1999, at 12. o "A 28-year-old man attending last year’s Oktoberfest, Munich’s celebration of beer-drinking and frivolity, was dancing on a table top when a woman he had never met came up behind him and sunk [read ‘sank’] her teeth into his leg." Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Ein Bier, Bitte, but Watch Out for Biters," N.Y. Times, 17 Aug. 1999, at F9. Language-Change Index — "sunk" misused for simple-past "sank": Stage 2. ——————– Quotation of the Day: "What Is Good English? A simple enough question, but it’s not easy to answer. We can all produce our own list of qualities. Mine would include the following: clear, simple, plain and unambiguous. Those are the essentials. It should be free of jargon, although there will be exceptions. It should be easy to read and listen to rather than a chore." John Humphrys, Lost for Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language 9 (2004).
Scroll to Top