‘Sweeped' or 'Swept': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on February 9, 2023

'Sweeped' or 'Swept': what is the difference? Are they two variants of the same word, or do they have different meanings? Let's find out.

The quick answer is that 'sweeped' is a grammatically incorrect conjugation, and 'swept' is the only correct way to say it.

What's the Difference Between 'Sweeped' or 'Swept'?

The reason for the confusion between these two words is that 'sweep' is an irregular verb. That's right, 'swept' is the past indefinite tense of the verb 'to sweep.'

If it followed the usual conventions, the correct word would indeed be 'sweeped.' That's because usually - with regular verbs - to conjugate a verb in the past tense, you add -ed to the root verb. Like, for example:

But 'sweep' is an irregular verb, like many others in the English language. That's why the correct conjugation is 'swept.'

Definition of 'Swept'

As I mentioned earlier, 'swept' is the past indefinite tense of the verb 'to sweep.' But what does 'sweep' mean?

The most common definition of the word is to use a broom to clean the floor of dust and debris. For example:

Can you remove your shoes? I just swept the floor.

The second meaning is to move at a fast pace.

This new trend is sweeping through the world.

And the third meaning is to "win an overwhelming victory." For example, to sweep a game is to win easily or to win all parts of the competition.

The team absolutely swept the tryouts, to the delight of the fans.

Top tip! There's also a popular idiom that uses the verb 'sweep'; it goes "sweep me off my feet,' and it means to cause someone to fall madly in love with you very quickly.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Swept'

The word's pronunciation is relatively straightforward, as the word 'swept' is pronounced as it looks. It rhymes with 'accept.'

The International Phonetics Alphabet spells it like this:

/ swɛpt /

When to Use 'Swept'

Now let's take a look at some examples of the word 'swept' used in a sentence.

I swept the floor, which is far from my favorite pastime, but someone has to do it.

Their party swept the elections, shocking the nation.

The sudden realization of her absence and the grief associated with it swept through the room.

Have you swept up the leaves on the front porch yet?

She swept her hair up into a ponytail and headed out the door.

Concluding Thoughts on Using 'Sweeped' or 'Swept'

I hope this article has helped you understand the reasons why 'swept' is the correct word to use and that you feel confident you can use it correctly moving forward. To summarize:

  • 'Sweeped' is grammatically incorrect
  • 'Swept' is the correct conjugation
  • 'Swept' is the past tense of the verb 'to sweep'

If you'd like to learn about more confusing words, head to our blog.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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