Sitting grumbling in the chimney corner over the weekend, I discovered this opening sentence in an article published in The Sun:
The Beatles may have sang that all you need is love, but when it comes to disobedient and dangerous mutts, Cesar Millan firmly yet calmly disagrees.
Is no one taught to conjugate English verbs any longer? You know: infinitive, to sing; present tense, sing; past tense, sang; past participle, sung; present participle, singing, past and present participles used with auxiliary verbs such as is, has and have. Any of this sound familiar?
In standard English, the dialect in which Sun articles are presumably written, the irregular verb sing is still inflected as sang in the past tense and sung in the past participle. Ring, rang, rung, but not bring, brang, brung. Some things just have to be learned.
There are verbs in which some leeway is permitted — Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, in an entry more permissive than is to my taste, says that “sank and sunk are used for the past tense of sink. Sank is used more often, but sunk is neither rare nor dialectical as a past tense, though it is usually a past participle.”
That’s as it may be, but Garner’s Modern American Usage and the Sun stylebook say to use sunk only as a past participle.
Sun house style also objects to snuck as a past tense of sneak. Merriam-Webster goes into the history of the word at some length, from its early appearances as “representing the comical speech of a bumpkin” to its current status as “a standard, widely used variant that is about as common as the older sneaked.”
We allow snuck in quoted speech, so it’s up to you, the reader, to decide whether a bumpkin is talking.