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  • drug/dragged

    Drug is often used as the past tense of drag, as in the following example:

    Example: I drug myself out of bed this morning.

    The past tense of drag is actually dragged, not drug. This error is particularly common in speech. Even Bill Clinton once made this blunder on national television, returning to bad habits he developed as a youth growing up in Arkansas.

    Remember that the word drug should never be associated with any kind of pulling action. It should only be used when referring to some type of medicinal substance.

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    Posted by Rachel V. in Grammar

    2 Responses to “drug/dragged”

    Thank you for taking the time to add your thoughts to the discussion. I can't respond to every comment, but I read and appreciate them all.

    1. AnWulf says:

      If you use dragged instead of drug you’re just a weakling … you’ve changed a strong verb to a weak verb.

      Use drug and be proud!

      Interesting enough, Oxford English Dictionary says that the verb to drag was not known before the 15th century. Now I don’t know how that can be since it obviously (to me) comes from the OE verb dragan.

      The OED lists a separate verb to drug (meaning to drag). If nothing else, then the use of “drug” as the past tense of drag represents a fusion of two separate words that also has produced pairs like go-went (the original past tense of go changed to “went” which was the past tense of “to wend” and be-was. However, I think it was simply a split in pronunciation and thus a vowel change due to a lack of standards since English had superseded by Norman French and Latin.

      The verb to drug (meaning to drag) shows up in literature to c1250 in “Lofsong Lefdi”.

      I can’t tell when people started using dragged instead of drug (drog) for the past tense … But obviously it was still common enough when people settled in the US. Regardless coming out of OE, it was a strong verb and, IMO, should still be one in Modern English.

      OED also states: drug also occurs as a past tense and past participle form of drag v. in nonstandard and regional use (especially U.S. regional (southern and Midland)).

      Germanic ablaut formation, OE dragan is a cognate to German tragen, past tense: trug.

      OE dragan

      dragan Strong sv/t6, to drag, draw
      3rd pres drægð;*** past drog/on***; ptp gedragen
      sv/i6 to draw oneself, to draw, go protract

      Verb
      Present Tense
      ic/I dræge
      þu/thou drægest
      he/hit/heo he/it/she drægeþ
      we/ge/hie we/ye/they drægaþ

      Preterite Tense
      ic i dróg
      þu/thou dróge
      he/hit/heo he/it/she dróg
      we/ge/hie we/ye/they drógon

      • Rachel V. says:

        Thank you for commenting and providing a history of drug and dragged. I chose to include drug as an error because it is considered “nonstandard,” as you quoted the OED as classifying it. Drug could be considered acceptable for informal writing and conversation, but dragged is probably the better choice in educated settings.