Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Grammar Lesson 4

Remember back in elementary school when you learned the present-past-past participle of words? I don’t remember what grade it was in-but I liked it. I enjoyed putting the right tense of word in the right column on the page-made me feel organized. Well-I might have gotten a good grade on the worksheets-but when it comes too speaking it’s a different story.

In Appalachia we do all sorts of crazy things with the present-past-past participle tense of words. Who knows how many we change in our speech-but today I’m going to concentrate on 4 words.

  1. Come: instead of the correct come, came, come- usage in Appalachia is often come, come, come. “Yesterday I come by to see you but they said you were already gone.”
  2. Eat: instead of the correct eat, ate, eaten- it is often eat, eat, eat. “For Martha’s birthday last month, we eat the best supper-fried taters, soup beans, cornbread and fresh kill lettuce from the garden.”
  3. Give: instead of the correct give, gave, given- it is often give, give, give. “I just give you 10 dollars at the beginning of the week and you’ve already spent it?”
  4. Run: instead of the correct run, ran, run- it is often run, run, run. “Yesterday I run over to Walmarts-I guess that’s where I was when you come by.”

I’m guilty of all the examples above. I’ve found-when I’m writing I’m more likely to use the correct tense-but when I’m talking forget about it-I’m never going to get it right. How about you-are you guilty of using the wrong tense?



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  • Reply
    October 28, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    Ever heard this ? ” I come down to his own house and he won’t there ?

    • Reply
      October 28, 2021 at 4:08 pm

      Lathan-I have 🙂

  • Reply
    March 3, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Definitely! But like you, when I write I use correct tense. But I’m always correcting Boo when he says the improper tense. I know, I know, shame on me. Do as I say, not as I do. LOL

  • Reply
    February 26, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Yes, I’m guilty. I try to write properly, but if I don’t, my older sister always lets me know.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I definitely hear these all of the time but I never speak like that. Lots of the family do though!
    Anyhow, I might adapt your one sentence also:
    Yesterday I come by to see you but they said you WAS already gone.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    February 23, 2011 at 6:44 am

    I tend to talk this way too. I never was any good in enlish in high school; now that I’m taking Business English, 30 yrs after I was suppose to learn all this stuff, I’m having trouble again. My teacher says that the english language came from several different languages-you have the ‘true’ english, latin, etc., and I’m sitting there thinking ‘yeah and then you have the ‘mountain’ people who have a language all their own.
    Patty H.

  • Reply
    Greta Koehl
    February 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Those tenses didn’t make it down to my cousins and me, but all of our parents used 1, 3, and 4.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    ‘Round here, in the Ozarks, we talk (or at least used to talk) using many of the same words. Some of the older people I know still say ‘et’ for ate but most of the old-timey pronunciations have died away…and I sort of miss them. My grandma was a teacher, though, and my folks were well-read and I was taught to speak properly. I distinctly remember Grandma teaching me to say ‘wash’ instead of ‘warsh’.

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    February 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Tipper, I have been in training by my wife for 44 years now. However she has not broken me yet from saying eat for ate , come for came , or run for ran. It would seem that she would have given up by now. Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    February 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Used your examples while growing up. After enlisting got out of the habit and then picked it up again when I was DJing for a country music station. Now it depends on who I’m talking with.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    This one makes me LAUGH! So true! I’m like you – if I write it, it’s written correctly. If I’m talkin’ to anyone back home, I totally use past tense for those words. LOL!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    change the last part of number 3 to you already done spent it and you get A+ on this post. love it and have heard all of it, most of the time i use the tense correctly, but I usta didn’t

  • Reply
    February 22, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Personally I like the way we talk
    and enjoy folks being themselves.
    And I got tickled when reading
    Lonnie’s comment: I think I know
    what the constipated owl thing is,
    but the externally-imposed
    conventions…well I always had
    trouble with them ‘dangling’
    participles…Enjoyed all the
    comments, what fun! …Ken

  • Reply
    February 22, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Hi Tipper! Love this post. I remember those lessons…passed it on to the modern day kids (1990s) but like most when I’m around family I recon I can talk with the best of em’.
    If you get a chance…pop over that read my latest adventure with 3 men a a wild boar.
    Take car.

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    February 22, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Even after a degree in English and thirty years in education, I still talk that way when I am comfortable with people. I was trying to think of a way to say “I don’t really care”, but it would be hard to beat Don with his constipated owl and externally-imposed conventions! Whew! I’d hate to make that boy mad!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 22, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Go Don!!! I make no apologies for my heritage. It made me who I am and that is as it should be. I know who I am and I’m proud of it!
    I know all of the above word usages, Tipper. Like you I liked learning the tenses in school, those charts we had to do had a nice order to them. But it had little to do with life!
    You know the old joke…a guy went fishing and fell in the water…his friend said “how’d you come to fall in” the fisherman replied “I didn’t come to fall in, I come to fish”.
    Everyone knows that when you have company you are supposed to inquire “g’et?” That is the very cornerstone to Southern Hospitality!!!

  • Reply
    Nancy @ A Rural Journal
    February 22, 2011 at 8:07 am

    I don’t think I use improper tense in either my speaking or writing. My mom was a stickler for proper use of the English language and I guess it stuck for the most part. 🙂

  • Reply
    February 22, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Caught me ; )

  • Reply
    February 22, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Well, I enjoyed the grammer lessons too, even diagramming sentences, so I tend to use the correct tense when I speak or write. I’m in the minority in my area though, and I have to agree with Mr. Casada; it just SOUNDS like home!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2011 at 7:56 am

    I notice the Shaker hymn was grammatically correct…

  • Reply
    barbara gantt
    February 22, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Guilty for speaking, I do think that when I am writing that I tend to use the right words. My Granny said et too. Barbara

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    February 22, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Yes, yes, and yes…LOL

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    February 22, 2011 at 6:45 am

    I reckon I generally use the “right” tense when speaking and writing, though my grammatical structure sure ain’t perfect. But to be honest, I don’t give a constipated owl hoot about externally-imposed conventions.
    Let me retract that – I do care. I DESPISE stuffy, condescending rules which, intentional or not, can strangle a culture.
    When I hear verb tenses like those in your examples, Tipper, it brings a warm, comfortable feeling – as if I’ve come down where I ought to be per the old Shaker hymn:
    ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free.
    ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.
    And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
    ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
    So please, please, please – say them words the way they was passed on to you when God set you down in the place just right.
    And to H E double L with anyone who says otherwise.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    February 22, 2011 at 6:07 am

    I’m like you: I use proper grammer when I write but not when I talk. I recall my grandma saying “et” for the past tense of eat, instead of “ate”.

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