Your Vote Has Been Cast, Not Casted

English is not a consistent language. Weird rules and odd exceptions abound. The relevant one to remember a week before the election? The past tense of 'cast' is 'cast', not 'casted'.

Voting picture from Shutterstock

The majority of English verbs form their past tense by adding '-ed', including many words with a very similar spelling to 'cast' (think 'boast' and 'boasted' or 'blasted' and 'blasted'). Cast is an exception. The sentence "I cast my vote" can be interpreted as meaning "I am performing the act of voting right now" or "I have already performed the act of voting". But you can't write "I casted my vote". It's simply wrong.

If you want to be absolutely clear, use a form such as 'I have cast my vote'. If you want to be relaxed and casual, say 'I voted' and be done with it.

'Cast' is a complex word; the Macquarie Dictionary lists 62 different meanings for it. You don't necessarily need to learn all of those, but you do need to know that 'casted' isn't right.

The same general principle applies to other verbs which have '-cast' as a suffix, such as 'broadcast' and 'forecast', though you will encounter the -ed versions of these sometimes and the Macquarie allows them. I would not be surprised if in 50 years the exception has disappeared, but it hasn't disappeared yet so you need to be aware of it, especially in formal and professional contexts.

Lifehacker's Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


Comments

    Several different 'casts' that I know off the top of my head:
    -when you cast an actor for a movie or play
    -cast a fishing a line or net
    -cast metal from a mould, I guess when you get a cast for a broken limb, that's a similar meaning (plaster cast)
    -cast your vote (as in the above article)

    So for all of the above, cast is still the past tense of cast?

    " The sentence “I cast my vote” can be interpreted as meaning “I am performing the act of voting right now”... "

    Pretty sure it can't and that the correct way to express that meaning is to say "I am casting my vote".

      No, you're forgetting present continuous. It's entirely OK to say "I cast my vote and then leave the building."

      I agree that using "I am casting my vote" is potentially less ambiguous, but you can also use that for future tense: "I am casting my vote tomorrow" rather than "I am casting my vote right now." In all these cases, the surrounding context becomes important.

        time to brush up it would seem

      "I cast my vote" is in the present simple. Quite valid and correct. Angus is right. "I am casting my vote tomorrow" is an abbreviated version of "I am going to cast my vote tomorrow" but is not grammatically speaking correct.

      Last edited 03/09/13 7:11 pm

    Only a Bogan would use the word "Casted" in that context...!

    Last edited 03/09/13 9:01 am

      In the UK, 'casted' appears in the media (on purpose or by error, I don't know):
      http://www.sthelensreporter.co.uk/news/local/low-turnout-for-police-vote-1-5158275
      http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/faith-belief-videos/1736/-sadness-over-vote-against-women-bishops.html

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