Recently, many people have been using the phrase ‘I’m shook’ to mean that they are startled, mostly due to some sudden realization.

This made me wonder whether this expression is grammatically correct. I could not find much relevant information about ‘shook’ being used in this way despite searching on Google.

I do know that ‘shook’ is the past tense of ‘shake’.

Also, are both ‘I’m shook’ and ‘I’m shaken’ grammatically correct? What are their differences?

Edit: I’m starting to think that both of those are incorrect because ‘I am’ is in present tense but neither ‘shook’ or ‘shaken’ are in present tense. Is the only grammatically correct way in this case ‘I’m shaking’?

  • 1
    Whether it's technically grammatically correct may be another issue, but Elvis Presley was all shook up sixty years ago. I'm guessing it sounds natural enough to most native ears by now.
    – J.R.
    Dec 19, 2017 at 15:26
  • It's an American English idiom, marked as uneducated. Often expressed as: I'm shook up. Shook is not startled as much as emotionally surprised or shaken by something. In "educated speech", one would say; I'm shaken up by the story of the children's deaths. For example.
    – Lambie
    Dec 19, 2017 at 17:59
  • Why wouldn’t you just say “I am shocked, instead of I am shook”
    – Sammy
    Nov 2, 2018 at 15:33

1 Answer 1


This issue is complicated by the fact that there are multiple definitions for the word "shake":

  • (of a structure or area of land) tremble or vibrate. "The ground shakes."
  • move (an object) up and down or from side to side with rapid, forceful, jerky movements. "I shake the bottle."
  • upset the composure of; shock or astonish. "Seeing the children like that shakes me."

Let's first clarify that the colloquial "I'm shook" is using the third definition. Now, let's look at "shook" vs. "shaken":

Seeing my parents upset shook me.

I'm left shaken by this experience.

In the second example, "shaken" is used as an adjective, as past participle forms of verbs sometimes can be: "My eyes are swollen." In both "swell" and "shake", the past tense ("swelled" and "shook") cannot be used as adjectives ("my swelled eyes" and "I'm shook"), whereas the past participle forms can ("my eyes are swollen" and "I'm shaken").

The reasoning for this distinction (past tense vs. past participle) is that past tense has a fixed time point, whereas past participle does not. As a result, the past participle form describes actions that could have happened at any time, and so can also be used as an adjective -- as things that are red could have become red at any time, things that are swollen could have become swollen at any time.

Yesterday, my eyes swelled up. They are now swollen.

Yesterday, the experience shook me. I am now shaken.

Source: https://www.ecenglish.com/learnenglish/lessons/simple-past-or-past-participle

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