Sought or Seeked: Which One is the Right Past Tense of Seek? 

In the English language, forms of verbs are very confusing, even for native speakers. Seek is also a complicated verb, which means to search out something by making an effort. The only past tense of seek is sought. 

Many people think that seeked is the verb of seek which can be used in the past tense. But the reality is that there is no word seeked in the English dictionary. It is the incorrect past tense. Actually, it looks like the logical form seek. “Sought” is the only single past tense of “seek” in the English dictionary.

What is the past tense of seek?

Seek has only one past tense and that is sought. Let’s suppose you are a student and you are trying to solve a math problem but you feel you need the help of your teacher. Then the conversation between you and your teacher would be like this:

Student: “I have been stuck in this step of the problem and I need some help.”

Teacher: “I am glad to see that you sought help. Come here, I will help you.”

In this conversion, sought indicates that you cannot solve the problem and you are requesting help from your teacher to solve it.

Some similar Past Verbs 

There are many verbs in English that are converted into the past tense by adding “ed” at the end of the verb. For example, “force”(“forced”), “Clean” (“cleaned”), and “help” ((“helped”),etc. So that is why people think the past tense of seek is seeked but it is not correct.

In the case of seek it can be converted into the past tense by adding “ught” at the end it becomes sought. Here are some more examples of such verbs that are converted into the past tense by adding ught.

  • buy → bought
  • fight → fought
  • bring → brought
  • catch → caught
  • think → thought

But unfortunately, there is no rule in English through which we can change the verb into the past tense. The above logic of adding ed or ught at the end of the verb to change it into the past tense works  only for a few verbs. The best way to use the correct verbs in your tense is to memorize them.

Ratio of the use of sought or seeked  

You can also see the graph of Google Books Ngram Viewer. The use of sought as the past tense of seek has been throughout the history of the English language. And the use seeked is very minor.

Example of the past tense of seek

She sought advice from her mentor before making the final decision.

  1. The ancient explorers sought the fabled city of gold for years.
  2. He sought a way to resolve the conflict without causing more issues.
  3. They sought shelter from the storm in a nearby cave.
  4. The detective sought clues at the crime scene.
  5. She sought forgiveness for her past mistakes.
  6. The villagers sought help from neighboring towns during the drought.
  7. The company sought investors to fund their new project.
  8. The artist sought inspiration in the beauty of nature.
  9. The scientist sought a breakthrough in renewable energy technology.
  10. The refugees sought asylum in a country free from war.
  11. The students sought knowledge and wisdom from their studies.
  12. The activists sought justice for those who had been wronged.
  13. The travelers sought the path less taken, hoping for unique experiences.
  14. The author sought the perfect ending for her novel.

Also read: 29 Quotes to Inspire You to Study Hard and Succeed in Your Exams