When to use DRANK vs. DRUNK

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When should you use the word drank and when should you use the word drunk? A lot of English learners confuse these, and today I’m going to make it clear.

Before we get into when to use these, let’s make sure we distinguish the pronunciation, because these are pronounced differently.

How to pronounce DRANK and DRUNK

DRANK has an “ank” sound just like in the words bank, thank, and ankle.

Let’s practice – repeat after me:





DRUNK has the “unk” sound like in chunk, skunk, and trunk.

Let’s try it:





Now try to make the difference:





OK, I hope that little bit of practice helped you pronounce them correctly!

Difference between DRANK and DRUNK

These are both forms of the verb drink. When should we use each one?

Drink is the present tense, drank is the simple past, and drunk is the past participle.

So we could say:

  • I always drink coffee in the morning. (that’s the present tense, used for something we do frequently or regularly)
  • Yesterday I drank some tea. (that’s the simple past tense, used for an action at a specific time in the past – yesterday)
  • I’ve never drunk whiskey. (this is the present perfect tense – have + the past participle drunk – referring to something I’ve done, or in this case never done, at an unspecified time in the past)

When used as a verb, I drink, yesterday I drank, I’ve never drunk, these can be used for any beverage: water, soda, coffee, juice, beer, vodka, and so on.

Drunk = Intoxicated with alcohol

Now the word drunk also has another use which is actually much more common – and this is as an adjective describing when someone has had too much alcohol, and their behavior is affected by the alcohol.

When we use drunk to mean “intoxicated with alcohol,” we use it with a form of the verb “to be,” so we can say:

  • He‘s drunk.
  • My cousins were drunk last night.

We can also use it with the verb “get” to describe the process of drinking alcohol to the point of being intoxicated. For example:

  • Those college students are always getting drunk on the weekends.
  • Bob likes to get drunk before going to the nightclub.

So saying someone “is/was” drunk describes their status of being intoxicated, and saying someone is getting drunk describes the process of drinking a lot of alcohol in order to reach the point of intoxication.

Another common expression is to talk about drunk driving – driving a vehicle with too much alcohol in your body, so it harms your ability and judgment. Someone who does this is called a drunk driver. Drunk driving is a crime and it’s extremely dangerous.

OK? So now you know to use drank when talking about drinking anything in the past. Try to put it into practice – what was the last thing you drank? I drank some orange juice this morning.

And the word drunk CAN be used as the past participle of drink, but its more common use is to describe someone who is intoxicated with too much alcohol. What do you think – do you enjoy getting drunk, or do you dislike it? Try to write a sentence or two putting this word into practice as well.

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600+ Confusing English Words Explained

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