Here’s the truth about “woken up,” “waken up” and “woke up:” they are all interchangeable past tense forms of “to wake.” The past participle of “to wake up” is “woken up,” but so is “waken up,” you will simply add an –ed. The simple past tense is “woke up.”
The difference is in dialect depending on where you are in the world, particularly the United States. Some people believe that “woken up” sounds like improper English when compared to “waken up.” But, it’s really more about personal preference.
Simple Past: “Woke Up”
The simple past of “to wake up” is “woke up.” It suggests that this is an immediate action performed in the past. Alternatively, it is a device to discuss a situation where one arose from sleep in relation to time.
I just woke up and you’re blaring music like it’s a Saturday night!
Yesterday, the construction crew started early so she woke up anyway.
You woke up in the hospital after the car accident.
We woke up when we realized we weren’t in Chicago.
Past Participles: “Woken Up”; Waken Up
In regards to past participles, this is where the difference between “woken up” and “waken up” gets confusing. These will often accompany the conjugation of “to have.” A past participle indicates an action that happened in the past and is complete. However, in the case of “waken up,” you will add –ed to “waken.”
I had woken up to the sound of heavy metal blaring in my ears.
Yesterday, the construction crew started early so she had wakened up.
You have woken up in the hospital after the car accident.
We had wakened up when we realized we weren’t in Chicago.
“Waken[ed] Up” and “Woken Up”
Depending on where you are in the United States, you’ll hear both “waken[ed] up” and “woken up” to refer to the past tense form of rising from slumber. In the northern section of the country, people prefer verbs that change their form (woken). But, in the south, they opt for adding the –ed (wakened).
“Woke up,” “waken up” and “woken up” are all past tense forms of the verb, “to wake.” All of them are acceptable. “Woke up” indicates an immediate or recent past action whereas “woken up” and “waken up” indicate an action that was completed long ago.
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