As you know, I've been trying to write fiction seriously since 1/03. One side effect of this is that I usually have a Dictionary.com window open, and frequently check words I'm unsure about as I write.
I was an English major (and have a B.A. in it) once upon a time, and had thought myself tolerably literate and familiar with English grammar (though my spelling sucks, and my commas are usually out of control), but Dictionary.com has frequently surprised me with things I didn't know, and didn't know I didn't know.
Example: tonight I had written 'Separatist strongholds deep in the northern forests had proved difficult to crack'. Wait. Should that be 'had proven difficult to crack'? 'Proved' is past tense, but isn't 'proven' past perfect? Or is it... I couldn't decide which 'sounded right'. So I checked Dictionary.com, and sure enough, there's a 'usage note':
Usage Note: Prove has two past participles: proved and proven. Proved is the older form. Proven is a variant. The Middle English spellings of prove included preven, a form that died out in England but survived in Scotland, and the past participle proven, a form that probably rose by analogy with verbs like weave, woven and cleave, cloven. Proven was originally used in Scottish legal contexts, such as The jury ruled that the charges were not proven. In the 20th century, proven has made inroads into the territory once dominated by proved, so that now the two forms compete on equal footing as participles. However, when used as an adjective before a noun, proven is now the more common word: a proven talent.
Well, damn. I've run into this a couple of times before, English verbs with two competing forms, both of which are accepted and grammatical. And I never would have figured it out if I hadn't checked.
|Right radical is 'head', left is 'river' (川), acting phonetically to mean 'comply'. This character originally indicating a person bowing their head in compliance, which apparently gave rise to meanings of 'order' and 'sequence'. Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Compliant heads in sequence like flowing river.'|