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This morning I rode my bike to work. When I got there, I bragged to my coworkers about how far I had ridden. Once they got outside and saw that I was riding on a unicycle, they wanted to hop on for a ride!

Isn’t it wild how, when reading that sentence above, you can fully understand all of the words, tenses, and actions with little thought? This is an exciting and wonderful part of the English language, but unfortunately, many non-native speakers can struggle with the usage of these mechanics.

This blog post is for you!  Whether you are learning parts of speech to become a more persuasive writer or speaker, understanding the differences between ride, rode, and ridden, can be a challenging feat.

But! With understanding comes the opportunity to use the words correctly. When we know how to use words precisely, we’re able to communicate more clearly with others.

Let’s dive in!

A Crash Course on Verbs

Before we can dig into ride, rode, and ridden, we must first review what a verb is. At it’s most basic form, a verb is a word that describes an action.

Verbs are most commonly used when describing doing something (whether cleaning the house or riding a Segway). Without verbs, you wouldn’t be able to describe doing anything (from thinking, to dancing, even reading this blog post!).

Verbs are broken up into various past tenses: Simple past, past continuous, past perfect, and past perfect continuous.

These past tenses are the way that verbs are adjusted to make sense within a sentence. To learn more about these past tenses, check out our guide here!

Infinitive vs. Past Simple vs. Past Participle

To understand the difference between ride, rode, and ridden, we must first define their verb tenses. These verb tenses indicate the point in time that the action of riding has occurred.

Infinitive Verbs

At it’s most basic form, an infinitive verb is an action word with “to” in front of it.

When you use infinitive verbs, the “to” is a part of the verb (whether it is spoken or not). It doesn’t always act as the preposition.

One thing about infinitive verbs is that you cannot conjugate infinitive verbs. This means that you cannot add the endings –ing, –ed, or even –s at the end of the word.

Based on our words, ride is our infinitive verb. If you converted the word to riding or rides, it would no longer be infinitive.

Past Simple Verbs

The simple past tense is used to talk about a completed action in a time before now. The timing doesn’t matter, and it can be immediately before now or in the distant past.

You always use the past simple when you say something happened, and it is always associated with past time expressions.

Past Participle Verbs

A past participle is a word that is formed from a verb to create a past tense.

When working with regular verbs, you can convert any into a past participle by adding -ed to the end of the word. However, sometimes irregular verbs will add -en, -t, -d-, and -n to change the word to the past participle.

To determine if a word is in the past participle form, you can add “had” to the beginning of the word to determine the flow.

Ride, Rode, and Ridden

Now that we have done a rapid review of verbs and verb tenses, it’s time to talk about the words ride, rode, and ridden.

Since we already know that ride, rode, and ridden are all the same word to express riding something (like a bike, roller coaster, or plane), if you assumed that we’re just adjusted tense, you’re right!

Each of these words is an indicator of a tense chance in the form. This means that you are giving the tools to talk about riding in a race car in the present, past, and more!


Ride is considered the “first form” of the word. Think about it like a pure diamond. Ride is the most basic form of the word and the root of any changes that happen from moving forward.

You use ride when you are talking about something in the present tense.

“I like to ride my bike with my friends,” indicates that you enjoy doing this currently. While you might not be actively riding your bike that second, it is something you enjoy during this season of your life.


Rode is in the simple past form. This means that when you use the word rode, you are talking about riding something in the immediate or distant past.

“I once rode a wave, so big people were shocked to find out I had never surfed!”.

In this example, it’s not clear if you went surfing last week or in 1975. The simple past gives you the freedom to talk about events in the past.

Rode is in the simple past form. Ridden is the past participle.
When you use the word rode, you are talking about riding something in the immediate or distant past. You use this form when you want to discuss something in the past (or something you have never done).



Ridden is the past participle. You use this form when you want to discuss something in the past (or something you have never done).

Remember, past participle form converts an irregular verb using -n. Additionally, it requires the helper “have” to be used correctly.

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There are millions of examples of these three verbs at work, but here is a short list to show you how they operate in sentences correctly.

I like to ride my bike whenever I get the chance.

Yesterday I rode my bike into a car.

I have never ridden an elephant.

You rode a horse.

 I have ridden a horse.

I had ridden a horse

The emotions took me for a ride

I have ridden on the London Eye

I like to ride in the passenger seat in cars because I can watch the world pass by.

Take your new knowledge for a ride!

Every time I wrap up one of these blog posts, I can’t help but remind myself that the English language is a complex beast!

Usage rules in other languages often feel more clear and understandable, and that can be such a challenge for non-native speakers (and students who are trying to grasp the rules for the first time!).

There is a tremendous benefit to understanding the differences between ride, rode, and ridden. When you can correctly use them in writing, you can inform your reader of the space and time in which an event occurred.

This blog post is filled with tips and tricks to help you determine the correct form of riding for your needs. Please consult this is as a guide to help you determine which form is correct.

Still, have questions? Have trouble grasping concepts like this? ArgoPrep has created resources to help you understand how the English language works more clearly.

ArgoPrep has created workbooks that walk you through the steps and rules for the English language while providing you with practice problems to test your skills. Whether you are trying to become a more persuasive writer or earn higher scores on assessments, ArgoPrep’s resources will help you reach your goals!

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