Posted by: episystechpubs | March 11, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Wake Up

Good morning, crew. I hope you all woke up on the right side of the bed this morning. I was awake before the sun rose. In fact, I was awakened by my very impatient, very persistent, slightly spoiled English bull terrier who wanted to go out in the dark and sniff around for squirrels.

And as we all wake up this morning, I thought it was a good day to fulfil a request from Linden B. to clear up the muddled tenses of the word wake.

Let’s start with definitions and examples:

  • awake (intransitive): to come out of the state of sleep; to cease to sleep
    transitive: to arouse (someone) from sleep.

Example: I was awake before the sun rose.

  • awaken (intransitive): to arise or spring into existence
    transitive: to rouse from sleep

Example: I was awakened by my very impatient, very persistent, slightly spoiled English bull terrier who wanted to go out in the dark and sniff around for squirrels.

  • wake (intransitive): to be or remain awake; to keep oneself, or be kept, awake
    transitive: to rouse from sleep or unconsciousness

Example: I hope Rover doesn’t wake me again early tomorrow morning.

  • wake up (verb phrase): to cease sleeping; to become awake

Example: As we all wake up this morning, I thought it was a good day to fulfil a request to clear up the muddled tenses of the word wake.

Since these are verbs, they have tenses (as you may have noticed in my example for awaken, when I used the past tense awakened. And there is a lot of interchangeability, which is what causes the confusion.

The Daily Writing Tips website says this:

Confusion about the past tense forms stems from the fact that the words evolved from two Old English verbs, one of which was “strong” and one of which was “weak.” Certain OE “strong” verbs developed past tense forms that end in -en in modern English. OE “weak” verbs developed past tense forms that end in -ed in modern English. In the case of awake and wake, we may choose to use either the strong or the weak endings:

awake / awoke / (have) awoken
awake / awaked / (have) awaked

wake / woke / (have) woken
wake / waked / (have) waked

In the case of awaken and waken, the weak ending is standard.

awaken / awakened / (have) awakened

waken / wakened / (have) wakened

Although these words mean more or less the same thing, I think they’ve all remained in the language because they express different slivers of meaning about waking and wakefulness.

Wake, wake up, and waken are possibly the most commonly used words for the literal act of rousing a sleeper.

Here is your takeaway, gang: since there is so much interchangeability with these verbs, you’ll probably be OK using whichever sounds right to you. And if you’re ever in doubt, Rover and I hope that you’ll check the dictionary.

Mr. Rover

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

Pronouns she/her/hers

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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Responses

  1. That’s a cute pupper you have there!


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