'Bit' or 'Bitten': What's the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on January 7, 2023

What’s the past tense of ‘bite’? Is it ‘bit’ or ‘bitten’? And what’s the difference between the two words? We’ll go over all of them in this article, plus you’ll learn how to use both words in a sentence correctly.

The quick answer is that ‘bit’ is the past tense of ‘bite.’ ‘Bitten’ is the past participle of ‘bite.’

How to Use ‘Bit’ vs. ‘Bitten’ Correctly

Use ‘bit’ when you’re trying to get the past tense of ‘bite.’

You can use ‘bit’ and ‘bitten’ to form the past participle of ‘bite.’ However, ‘bitten’ is a lot more common in contemporary English.

Sometimes, you’ll see ‘bit’ as a past participle in some phrases.

For example:

  • She bit her tongue because she knew no matter what she said, it wouldn’t make a difference.
  • He bit his lip in trepidation, unsure of what was about to happen.

‘Bit’ or ‘Bitten’ – What’s the Difference?

As we revealed earlier, the difference between ‘bit’ and ‘bitten’ is that ‘bit’ is the past tense of ‘bite.’

‘Bitten’ is the most common past participle of ‘bite.’ However, you can also use ‘bite’ as a past participle, as we saw in the last section.

Let’s quickly define both words so we can get a better idea of how to use them both in a sentence.

Understanding Past Tense and Past Participle

The past tense of a word is a tense expressing an action that has happened or a state that previously existed.

The past participle of a word usually ends in 'ed' in English. It's a different kind of past tense of the word. It's often used as an adjective.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Bit’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘bit’ is: “the biting or cutting edge or part of a tool,” “a replaceable part of a compound tool that actually performs the function (such as drilling or boring) for which the whole tool is designed,” “the jaws of tongs or pincers,” “something bitten or held with teeth,” “the rimmed mouth end on the stem of a pipe or cigar holder,” “something that curbs or restrains,” and “the part of a key that enters the lock and acts on the bolt and tumblers.”

It also means: “to put part of a bridle in the mouth (of a horse): to put a bit in the mouth of (a horse),” “to control as if with a bit,” and “to form a bit on (a key).”

Synonyms of the word include:


  • Atom
  • Fleck
  • Granule
  • Crumb
  • Molecule
  • Dribble
  • Grain
  • Nugget
  • Scrap
  • Particle
  • Snippet
  • Morsel
  • Patch

Definition and Meaning of ‘Bitten’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘bitten’ is: “past participle of bite” and “to be objectionable or unsatisfactory,” as in sucked.

How to Use ‘Bit’ in a Sentence

Let’s take a look at how to use ‘bit’ in a sentence.

  • Most Millennials probably remember the viral ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ video where a young boy gets bit by his baby brother.
  • I got bit by a bug while I was butt naked in the shower.
  • I don’t think I’ve been bit by a mosquito all summer, thankfully. I hate mosquito bites!
  • I wouldn’t lie about being bit by a spider. Look at my arm!
  • My son bit my finger a few times when he was teething.
  • I cannot fathom how you got bit by a bedbug. We don’t even have them!

How to Use ‘Bitten’ in a Sentence

Now, let’s see some examples of how to use ‘bitten’ in a sentence.

  • Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, which is how he became Spiderman.
  • My principal was bitten by a raccoon, and he’ll be out for the next two weeks.
  • I can’t imagine being bitten by a squirrel.
  • No one told me there was a possibility of getting bitten by a snake.
  • I’m terrified of being bitten by a dog. I stay away from them as much as possible.
  • Have you ever heard of anyone getting bitten by a cat?

Concluding Thoughts on ‘Bit’ and ‘Bitten’

Now that you know what both words mean and how to use them correctly, you can confidently use them in your own writing.

Come back to refresh your memory if you ever get stuck on meaning or usage. We’ve also got a ton of other content dedicated to breaking down confusing words and phrases in the English language, making it easier to learn how to use them in your everyday writing.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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