Saturday, February 25, 2006

Shred or Shredded?

Here’s another grammatical conundrum for the WORDS ON THE LINE archives. A client, Ms. Terri Kalkiewicz, First Vice President of Investors Savings Bank in Short Hills, New Jersey, recently wrote:

Hi Phil,

Could you settle a dispute for me? Which sentence is correct?

The documents must be shred.


The documents must be shredded.

Thanks for your help!

In my reply, I deferred to some dictionaries, which say that either shred or shredded as the past participle of shred is acceptable. However, most of us—including Ms. Kalkiewicz—prefer shredded because as a regular verb, shred forms its standard past tense by adding ed. After all, would you eat Shred Wheat? Of course not! So if you prefer Shredded Wheat, then prefer shredded documents.

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