‘Run' vs. 'Ran': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on May 21, 2023

Are you wondering the difference between 'run' vs.' ran?' If so, you are in the right place!

In this guide, I will explain the definitions, meanings, and correct usage of these words to help you learn when to use them and why.

Are you on a tight schedule? Do you need a quick answer?

If so, here it is.

  • 'Run' is the present tense form of 'run.'
  • 'Ran' is the past tense form of 'run.'

If you are still trying to decide which to use, sticking around until the end of this lesson is a good idea.

What's the Difference Between 'Run' and 'Ran?'

We know that these two terms are variations of the same word. So, what is the difference?

'Run' is a present-tense verb or action word, while the second word is a past-tense verb. One thing that confuses many English learners or novice writers is that you add -ed to the end of most words to create the past-tense form.

In this scenario, you change the spelling of 'run' to indicate that the action occurred in the past.

Some other examples of similar words include:

  • Has/have
  • Do/did
  • Does/did
  • Choose/Chose
  • Write/wrote
  • Was/were
  • Drive/drove

When to Use 'Run' vs. 'Ran'

You now know that these words are two forms of the same verb.

So, how do you know which to use? 

  • Use 'run' when you are writing in the present tense.

For example, someone might say:

We run through the park until we reach the end of the trail. Then we stop at the duck pond to eat our sandwiches before returning.

  • Use 'ran' when using the past-tense form of 'run.'

For example, I might say:

I ran all the way to my friend's house yesterday. Normally, I would have waited until my mom could drive me, but I got spooked and didn't want to sit at home alone. 

Definition of 'Run': What Does 'Run' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'run' means:

  • Move more briskly than a walk

It can also mean:

  • Escape or flee
  • To complete a play in football
  • To carry the football down the field
  • To associate with someone
  • Occurring during a specific period
  • To move freely without holding back
  • To rehearse or perform something quickly
  • To drip discharge or mucous
  • To go through something quickly
  • A similar and related occurrence
  • To be bigger or smaller than normal
  • To make something move quickly
  • To follow a course by schedule
  • To go through steps
  • To accomplish tasks
  • To cause something to hit something else
  • To create a continuous stitch when sewing
  • To cause something to unravel
  • To look over or briefly review something
  • To cause something to flow
  • The activity of running
  • To operate a machine
  • An aggressive and persistent action
  • The path something travels or appears

Phrases Containing 'Run'

  • Run the play
  • Run at full speed
  • Run for your life
  • Runaway
  • Run through
  • Run faster
  • Walk or run
  • Run a program
  • Run machinery
  • Do not run
  • Run it
  • Run down
  • Run from responsibilities
  • Run for office
  • Run a scam
  • Run errands
  • Run the gamut
  • Run with the cool kids

 Definition of 'Ran': What Does Ran Mean?

When you look up the second word in the same dictionary, it states that 'ran' is the past-tense form of the former, and it directs you to the definition of 'run.'

So, these two words have the same meaning, 'ran' indicates that the action has already taken place, while the former shows that someone is running or will 'run' in the future.

Phrases Containing 'Ran'

  • Ran for president
  • Ran the race
  • Ran faster
  • Ran farther
  • Ran a sale
  • Ran a promotion
  • Ran away
  • Ran for office
  • Ran through it
  • Ate and ran
  • Ran the gamut
  • Ran amok

Synonyms of 'Run' and 'Ran'

Synonyms are words you can use in place of another word. When you are writing, using a variety of words that mean the same thing helps to keep make your content less repetitive and more reader-friendly.

However, some words are closer matches than others, and some may be a synonym for one form of a word but not make sense with others.

  • Chase
  • Jog
  • Speed walk
  • Trot
  • Tread
  • Race
  • Rush
  • Hurry
  • Implement
  • Sprang
  • Sprung
  • Blew
  • Blaze
  • Hasten
  • Whisked
  • Brisk
  • Compete
  • Scuttle
  • Shuffle
  • Scurry

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Run' vs. 'Ran'

Hopefully, you are comfortable with the difference between these terms. Now, it is time to learn how to pronounce them.

So, here is a simple pronunciation guide: 

  • Pronounce 'run' according to the phonetic spelling:


  • 'Ran' is pronounced correctly with the phonetic spelling:


Example Sentences: 'Run' and 'Ran'

Here are a few examples of 'run' vs. 'ran' used in sentences. Read them to learn the many ways to use 'run' and 'ran.'


  • With remote access and automation, you can run the program 24 hours a day from anywhere worldwide.
  • When you run at night, you should wear reflective clothing.
  • Our run times are slower than we expected. That means our sales projections are going to be high.
  • You should never run a red light. It is not worth risking your life and the lives of other drivers to get to your destination a minute or two quicker.
  • Do not run the machine without adding lubricant and coolant. Otherwise, you will damage it, and that equipment costs an arm and a leg.
  • Will you run the Runway Marathon with me at the airport in January?
  • You cannot run around with those people anymore. They are constantly getting in trouble.


  • We ran for what seemed like miles before we got to the park.
  • Thank you so much! You ran the entire department while the rest of your team was at the company retreat. Good job!
  • On Friday, I ran into my ex-boyfriend. It was nice to see him, but awkward, too.
  • You ran around all day. You must be exhausted!
  • She ran faster than any other runner at the track meet on Saturday.
  • They ran a huge sale last year. I bought a couch, a countertop mixer, and a set of gourmet cookware.
  • Every time we ran, I reminded her that slow and steady wins the race.

Final Advice on the Difference Between 'Run' vs. 'Ran'

Thanks for sticking around! You should be an expert on using 'run' vs. 'ran,' but here is a quick recap: 

  • 'Run' is a present-tense verb that means to move quickly or at a pace faster than a brisk walk. 
  • 'Ran' is the past-tense verb form of 'run.'

If you ever get mixed up about these terms in the future, you can always come back to review this guide. You can also visit any time to verify the meanings of commonly misused words in the confusing words section.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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