Let's consider the sentence containing the phrase "is written":

How this word is written?

Does this phrase mean

  1. Single action: a concrete situation, how the word was written once by someone?

  2. Habitual action: the spelling of the word, i.e. how that word is usually written?


By itself, your example sentence:

  • 🚫 How this word is written?

is not standard English.

If this is a question, it should use inversion:

  • ✔️ How is this word written?

If this is a phrase, it depends on the context:

The two police officers looked at a word written on the sidewalk (graffiti).

  • ✔️ Alice: I don't know how this word is written here.

  • Barb: It looks like crayon.


The teacher pointed to the blackboard, which says "times".

  • ✔️ Carol: How this word is written depends on its usage. If it refers to a newspaper, it should be capitalized, like "The Times". If it refers to arithmetic, it should be lower-case, like "five times three".
  • So past participle "written" can mean any option: either single action or habitual? – embedc Aug 21 '19 at 13:42
  • Yes, and I think that is true generally: I have failed (once). I have failed (many times in my life). I have voted (once); I have voted (many times in my life). – whiskeychief Aug 22 '19 at 9:45
  • Thank you very much! By the way, your comment is important, you could add it the answer) – embedc Aug 22 '19 at 14:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.