Should I use use 'swum' or 'swam' in sentences such as

He swum across the river.


He swam across the river.

Which is correct? What's the difference?


The following is an example of the past participle used in the present perfect, it is grammatically correct and is more common in the British English idiolect than in American English.

  1. He's swum across the river

In normal speech, the auxiliary have is commonly contracted, so the he has becomes he's. However, in fast speech, it's easy to mistake the “he's swum” for “he swum” because the 's sound merges seamlessly with the first letter in swum, so we end up with a single /s/ sound. In fact, some British newspapers omit the auxiliary when reporting direct speech. If this is a typographical error or because the British or Australian native speaker is blissfully unaware of making any grammatical errors that is open to debate.

She [Gemma Collins] said: "He's good. I'm so proud of him, he called me at 5.30 this morning. They've swum the channel. I can't tell you what happened because the show is out next week.

"He swum last night at 10 o'clock for an hour and he swum again this morning. He's been doing it for 12 weeks, he's done amazing.

"Actually, I am very proud of him."

Meanwhile in Australia

Even with his rise over the past 12 months, McLoughlin heads into the 400m swimming well under the radar, lost amid the Sun controversies and the notion that the ultra-classy Horton must surely perform better than he did five weeks ago, where he swum a time that would leave him well off the pace.

still in Aussieland

Karp rounded off the four day meet at the Hobart Aquatic Centre with a bronze medal in the 200m mixed medley, where he swum the backstroke leg on behalf of his swimming club, Melbourne H20. […]
“Our team actually won the most distance swum and the most funds raised.

Back to standard English grammar…

  1. He swam across the river

This is the simple past form of the irregular verb swim. Sentences 1 and 2 are both grammatically correct but without proper context it is not possible to choose one form over the other.

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