• Were you awaken at 1 am yesterday?

Is this grammatically correct? Can you tell me meaning of awake properly? How is it used as Adj., and as verb by giving some examples?

  • I awoke at 11 am today.

Is this correct? Actually, What is the difference between wake and awake? I have searched a lot on Google but all in vain. I am not getting their difference.

3 Answers 3


Awake has two meanings:

  • As an adjective it describes a person or animal's state. It may only be used as a predicate adjective, in the predicate of a clause, not as an attributive adjective before a noun:

    ok John is awake and at work.
    ∗  Awake John is at work.

  • As a verb it is intransitive—it takes no object—and means “to become awake (adj)”. It is an irregular verb, with the past form awoke; two different past/past participles are in use, awoken and awaked:

    I awake at four o'clock most mornings.
    I awoke at six o’clock this morning.
    I have awoken/awakened early only twice this month.

Awaken is a transitive verb requiring a direct object. It means “cause [someone or something] to become awake”. It is a regular verb: both the past and past participle forms are awakened:

My wife awakens me if I oversleep.
My wife awakened me at seven o’clock.
He was awakened by a loud crash.

The verb wake, woke, woken/wakened is also used in both transitive and intransitive senses.

I woke at four o’clock.
My wife woke me at four o’clock.
I was wakened at four o’clock.

In pre-20th-century texts wake may also have another meaning: to “stay awake”.

These verb uses are fairly complicated; but it is simplified by the fact that none of them are used much in colloquial English today (which is one reason why the past and participle forms are so variable). Instead, the phrasal verb wake up (past woke, past participle woken) is used in both transitive and intransitive senses:

I wake up at four most mornings.
My wife woke me up at seven o’clock.
He was woken up by a loud crash.

You will need to recognize the different forms and meanings in your reading; but for your own work you can use wake up in any context or register.

∗  marks an utterance as ungrammatical

  • Damn cool answer!! Take my bow!! Can I say this thing: Mom, Can you please wake me at 6:00 am tomorrow? Is it correct to say?
    – hellodear
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 18:31
  • @hellodear2 It is correct; but as I said, it's uncommon in colloquial speech, where we'd be more likely to say wake me up at 6 am. Your Mom probably won't mind, though! Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 20:12
  • I would assume it means something like,"I am bowing to you in acknowledgement of your superior answer. Please accept this gesture from me."
    – Jim
    Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 1:48
  • @Jim: Now I feel stupid - it's '!!', two screamers, not 'l!'. Thank you for rescuing me from looking like an idiot forever. Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 2:18
  • 1
    @joiedevivre You are of course right; I confused myself. Awaked is the contemporary alternative weak past of awake; awæcnede has not been current since OE. On the other hand, transitive awake (strong or weak) seems to have been in steady decline since about 1900, though it's enjoying a resurgence in the last couple of decades (an artifact, I suspect, of the sudden expansion in print of colloquial forms). Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 1:11

Your first sentence is incorrect because awaken should be in the past tense if you are speaking of the day before. So it should read:

Were you awakened at 1am yesterday?

Idiomatically speaking I would say it is more common (at least in the US) to say

Were you woken up at 1am yesterday?

This blog is actually a really great reference if you read through it all: http://whosyoureditor.blogspot.com/2011/01/awake-vs-awaken-vs-wake-vs-waken.html

  • Can I say this: Were you awake at 1am yesterday?
    – hellodear
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 17:30
  • Yes, that makes perfect sense. Awake is the state of not being asleep. Where as awaken is the act of rising from sleep. Does that help clarify the difference? Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 17:52
  • Can you tell me difference between wake, awake, awaken?
    – hellodear
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 17:52
  • I think the blog actually does a better job than I will of explaining but here's my try: wake is a verb, it is to emerge or to cause to emerge from the state of sleep; awaken is also a verb and means to cause to stop sleeping; awake can be both a verb or an adjective, as a verb it means to stop sleeping as an adjective it means not asleep. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 17:54
  • Looking at your other comments if you want to know if someone has not been asleep at all. I would say, 'Were you awake at 1am yesterday?' because that means that the person was not asleep. If you used awakened or woken up that implies the person was asleep and something caused them to stop sleeping. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 17:59

As rhealitycheck says, "awaken" in this case should be in the past tense, "awakened".

Or perhaps you intended to use an adjective. "Were you awake at 1 am yesterday?"

In any case, "awaken" is a somewhat archaic word. In modern English we generally say "wake up". For example, "Did you wake up at 1 am yesterday?" or "Did someone wake you up at 1 am yesterday?" or "Were you woken up at 1 am yesterday?"

  • Actually I want to ask someone if she hasn't slept at 1am yesterday. So, how should I ask her? - Were you awaken at 1 am yesterday? OR Were you awake at 1 am yesterday?
    – hellodear
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 17:32
  • 1
    Awaken is a verb. Awake can be a verb or an adjective. If you are asking about someone's condition, you need to use the adjective, so awake is the correct word. (You would say "were you awake at 1 am yesterday?")
    – Hellion
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 17:41

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