Speeded vs. Sped

I came across an error that launched a study of “speeded” vs. “sped.”

Bad Example:

The pump cannot be speed up any further because it is at its maximum setting.

The present tense “speed” does not work here; you need a past participle because it is a passive voice = form of the verb “to be” + past participle.

Q:  So what is the past participle of “speed”?

A:  That depends.

It depends on whether the word “up” follows. If it does, use speeded; if it doesn’t, use sped.

Examples:

Even though my turn signal was on, that car speeded up so I couldn’t change lanes.

That car sped by me so fast, it must have been going 90 mph.

Speed/Sped has a few cousins that follow the same rule for making the past simple and past participle:

Bleed/Bled

Breed/Bred

Feed/Fed

Plead/Pled (although “pleaded” is acceptable and is actually used more often)

So, back to our original example: since the verb phrase contains the word “up,” we will use “speeded.”

Corrected Example:

The pump cannot be speeded up any further because it is at its maximum setting.

————————————–

Profound Quote of the Day:

“We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.”

– R. D. Laing, Scottish psychologist, 1927-1989

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