Difference Between Send and Sent

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: October 06, 2022

       

Difference Between Send and Sent Difference Between Send and Sent

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Introduction

Did you know there's a difference between send and sent? It's true, there are two very different meanings! While it may seem like the same word is being used twice in the same sentence, rest assured that's not the case! There are two distinct definitions of send and sent. Find out what they mean in this week's installment of What's The Difference?

As verbs, both send and sent work. The distinction is mainly one of placement: Send is a transitive verb, meaning it takes an object, such as a package or email; sent is an intransitive verb, meaning it doesn't take an object. For example, you can say I'll send you a message or I'll send you something. You can also say I'll send you a message or I'll send you something. However, in standard English usage, most people would use send with an object (as in our first example) and use sent without one (as in our second).

Sent has other meanings—for example, it can be used to refer to things that are communicated via senses other than sight—but these are rarer than its use as an intransitive verb. Another point worth noting is that many writers believe there's no need for a hyphen when using sent as an intransitive verb. Some style guides do recommend using a hyphen when using sent as an adjective (e.g., He was very much looking forward to his birthday party, which he had been eagerly sent for months), but even here some authorities feel there's no need for one.

In any case, if you're unsure about whether to use a hyphen with your particular word combination, consult your preferred style guide. (For more on usage and style, see Nouns.) What's important is that you understand what kind of verb each term refers to—transitive or intransitive—and choose accordingly. If you have trouble remembering whether a given verb is transitive or intransitive, try asking yourself if it makes sense with an object. If so, it's probably transitive; otherwise, it should be an intransitive verb.

Send/sent or sending/sent (never sent or sent) is a verb that means to dispatch someone or something. But how do you know which form of send is correct in a given sentence? There’s a simple explanation: If you can replace send with go, then use sent.

For example, you could say I sent my son to school, but I didn't go myself. If you can replace it with another type of verb, use send.

For example, You should send your resumé by email. Don't forget to include your cover letter! What's more, if you have an infinitive phrase after send, use sent.

For example, You should always try to keep your language clear and concise when writing a business letter—you don't want to confuse your reader!

On top of all that, some people think there’s also a regional distinction between using send vs sent. In North America, for instance, many people would be likely to write He sent his mother flowers on Mother's Day. In Britain, though, most people would be likely to write He sent his mother flowers on Mother's Day. What do you think? Does that sound right? Is there any truth to it? The only way to find out is to test yourself! Write a sentence that includes both send and sent. Which one sounds better? Is there a regional difference here? You might also like: The Difference Between Its, It’s, & Their or It Is & It Is

Send vs Sent

It’s more common than you might think to find words that sound similar but have different meanings. It can be difficult to discern these subtle differences in spelling and meaning because they're homophones — words that are pronounced similarly but differ in meaning or origin. Homophones may also be spelled similarly but have different meanings. A classic example is decimated, which means to destroy (when used as a verb) or to reduce by 10% (when used as a noun). We'll look at some more examples below, before explaining how English speakers distinguish them from one another. But first... we need to address an important question: Why does it matter? Aren't these distinctions just academic quibbles of little practical use? The answer is no!

Your ability to identify these distinctions has real-world implications for you as a speaker of English. Your ability to properly pronounce each word will make your speech clearer and more intelligible. For example, if you said the crime rate was skyrocketing instead of the crime rate was soaring, listeners would likely understand what you meant, but your speech would still lack clarity because skyrocketing sounds nothing like soaring. Understanding why there's a distinction between words like decimating vs decrease vs dwindle helps us understand why it matters when we choose our words carefully! So let's get started!

First, here are three ways to remember how to tell apart words that sound alike but have different meanings:

  1. Use context clues. If you know what a word means in its sentence or paragraph, then you should be able to figure out whether it's being used as a verb or noun based on its usage with other verbs and adjectives. For example, The weatherman forecasted sunny skies tells us that forecasted is being used as a verb; The weatherman forecast 10 inches of rain tells us that forecasted is being used as a noun; I'm forecasting major sales next quarter tells us that forecasting is being used as a gerund (i.e., present participle) since it ends with -ing.)
  2. Think about how it's spelled. Some letters don't appear in both a verb and noun form, so knowing their spellings give you a clue about which form to expect. For example, d appears only in verbs (such as add or subtract), while s appears only in nouns (such as bus or park).
  3. Think about where it comes from. Many words have roots that give away their parts of speech — even if those roots aren't part of their current spelling! For example, the divide is derived from divider (to split), so we'd expect it to be used as a verb rather than a noun—and indeed, it is!

Difference Between Send and Sent in Tabular Form

Table: Send vs Sent
Parameter of Comparison
Send
Sent
Define
Send is a verb that means to dispatch someone
The verb sent is a transitive verb, which means it needs an object.
Tense
Present
Past
Sentence Construction
Applied before the start of the culmination of an action.
Applied after the start or finish of an activity
Progressive forms  
Present
Past

What is "send"?

Send is a verb. It’s used to describe taking an action about something, such as information or a physical object, that has been provided to you: Let me see if I can send you my slides. You can use my mailing address to send me your résumé. If you want to send it back, just put it in an envelope and mail it to me. What is sent: Sent is a past participle of send.

It’s used about sending something (such as information or a physical object) from one place to another: She wrote her resume last night and then she sent it out today. The package was lost in transit; we have no idea where it was sent. If we don't hear from them by tomorrow morning, we'll have no choice but to send more supplies over there. Note that sent is not usually used as a stand-alone word—you will never find yourself saying I'm going to go send now. Instead, you would say I'm going to go send my friend some flowers or I'm going to go send a letter.

Sentence fragments using sent are also incorrect. You should always write complete sentences using either send or sent, never both together in one sentence. For example, it would be incorrect to write I like to send flowers when I'm happy because there is no subject for like—it should be written as either I like to send flowers when I'm happy or When I'm happy, I like to send flowers. To learn more about these two words, check out our usage notes below.

If you're having trouble deciding whether to use send or sent, ask yourself what happened after the action described by send. Did someone take an action? Did they receive something? Did they do both? Then think about which one makes sense in each situation. If you're still unsure which word to choose, try reading your sentence aloud and listening for which sounds better. Sentences containing sent sound much smoother than those containing send alone.

What is "sent"?

The verb sent is a transitive verb, which means it needs an object. You can tell that sent needs an object because its sentence structure starts with a preposition (to) followed by a pronoun. Sent is used to show that something or someone was physically transported from one place to another. Sent comes from Latin, from miter, meaning to put or to place. Here are some examples of sentences with the word sent.

The mailman will be here in just a few minutes. I hope he brings my package! I'm going to call him now and see if he can bring it sooner. He said he'd have it delivered today! I'm so excited! It's been a long time since I've seen my sister in person. She moved away last year, but we talk on Skype all the time. When she visits next month, we're going to go out for dinner together and catch up on everything that has happened since she left town. She'll be flying into town tomorrow at 8:00 AM so we'll meet at 9:00 AM for breakfast before heading out for our big day together. We'll probably spend most of our time shopping, eating good food, and catching up on each other's lives. We haven't seen each other in almost a year!

We'll also spend some time hanging out around town – maybe taking in a movie or two. My parents will come along too so they can spend some time with their granddaughter - they miss her terribly when she isn't visiting them every week. They live across town from us so they don't get to see her as often as they would like. We usually take turns having her over during weekends and holidays, but sometimes we all get together for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.

The Main Difference Between "send" and "sent" in Points

  • Send is a transitive verb. That means it requires an object—in other words, something is being sent somewhere. For example, I want to send you to a land far away (from me).
  • For you to get there, I must send you there. As such, sentences that contain verbs in transitivity use to + verb with to placed before its direct object (in other words, its receiver).
  • Sent also refers to sending something somewhere but has slightly different connotations than send. The word sent as a verb most commonly refers to messages/letters/email being delivered through physical mail services like USPS.
  • It can also refer to things being sent via email or text message, but only when referring to digital communication mediums. It's important to note that although these two words are pronounced similarly and have very similar meanings, they are not interchangeable.
  • If you're unsure which one to use in your sentence, try replacing each of them with send or sent. If either one works without changing the meaning or context of your sentence, then go ahead and pick it!
  • But if neither one works well in your sentence then choose whichever sounds better; don't worry about whether or not they mean the same thing. They might not, but you'll still be able to convey your intended meaning.
  • There are lots of situations where these two words overlap in meaning, so always check a dictionary if you're ever confused.
  • If you think that send and sent both work fine in your sentence, then just pick whatever sounds best to you! Remember, people will understand what you mean even if you make a mistake on occasion.

Conclusion

When should you use each of these words, and what makes them different? Well, as it turns out, there are a few subtle differences. The word send is more commonly used in written communication while sent is used in spoken communication. The word send implies more urgency (as it requires an action to be completed immediately) than simply saying that something was just mailed out or delivered. Also, because there’s no true distinction between send and sent, you can make your writing more interesting by varying which word you choose to use in a sentence. So if you want to know how to differentiate between send and sent, remember: one describes the delivery of physical items; one describes the transmission of information via email or text message. You could also think about how quickly something needs to get from point A to point B—the faster, the better!


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"Difference Between Send and Sent." Diffzy.com, 2022. Fri. 09 Dec. 2022. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-send-and-sent-374>.



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