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What is the Past Tense of Catch

“Catch” is a verb that is seemingly only used in very few situations, but in fact is a lot more useful than many learners imagine. Besides being used to refer to the act of using one’s hands to receive and secure an object flying through the air, or apprehending a criminal or other perpetrator, it can also be used in a more abstract sense.

For example, phrases like “catch my drift” and “catch a cold” both refer to understanding or acquiring something, but not a physical object.

Both the past tense and past participle of “catch” is “caught”.

What is the past tense of “catch”?

Catch (verb):

(1) To intercept and then hold onto something in the air, especially after it was propelled or dropped initially

(2) To apprehend, hear or capture; to acquire

  • Infinitive                      to catch
  • Simple Past                 caught
  • Past Participle             caught

Conjugation Table of “catch”

 PronounInfinitiveSimple PastPresent PerfectPresent Continuous
Icatchcaughthave caughtam catching
You (sing.)catchcaughthave caughtare catching
He/She/Itcatchescaughthas caughtis catching
Wecatchcaughthave caughtare catching
You (pl.)catchcaughthave caughtare catching
Theycatchcaughthave caughtare catching

Example Sentences of “catch”

(1) To intercept and then hold onto something in the air, especially after it was propelled or dropped initially

  • Catching the ball is an essential part of games such as baseball and cricket
  • I caught the server’s eye and he came right over to take our order
  • He dropped the plate, but then quickly managed to catch it again

(2) To apprehend or capture; to acquire

  • It’s important that you say nothing of this to anyone else, do you catch my drift?
  • After their meeting with the sick manager, they all unfortunately caught colds
  • The police caught the fugitive attempting to flee across the border

Focus: Past Tense of Catch

When one starts to appreciate just how versatile the word “catch” can be, it becomes both useful and important that they learn it in all its forms. To help learners master the past tense of catch, we’ve prepared the following examples using the forms below:

  • Simple past
  • Present perfect
  • Past continuous
  • Past perfect

Simple Past of Catch

  • He caught the flu and was bed-ridden for two weeks
  • I caught the ball, even though it seemed impossible at first
  • They caught the sun during their day at the beach, and were looking a bit red in the face

Present Perfect of Catch

  • She has caught the train to Leeds already, so she won’t be late after all
  • I’m pleased to report that we have caught the killer, and he is now in custody
  • I have caught pneumonia, and so I will have to remain in hospital a bit longer

Past Continuous of Catch

  • I was catching the bus to work when I realized I had left my phone at home
  • He was catching up with his friends all morning in the cafe

Past Perfect of Catch

  • I really thought you had caught the ball, but it seems that it just slipped through your hands
  • We had caught the 11 o’clock train heading to New York and we were feeling good

How to Use “Caught” in a Sentence

Understanding how to use “caught” in a sentence is crucial as it is the past tense and past participle of “catch.” Here are some examples:

  1. She caught the bouquet at her friend’s wedding.
  2. The police caught the thief red-handed.
  3. I caught a glimpse of the sunset before it disappeared.

In negative sentences:

  1. He caught no fish during his trip.
  2. I caught none of what the professor said in the lecture.

Understanding the Verb “Catch”

Derived from Old Northern French “cachier,” “catch” usually means to capture, hunt or intercept something or someone. It can also refer to understanding or perceiving.

Phrasal Verbs with “Catch”

The verb “catch” forms the base for various phrasal verbs:

  • Catch up: To reach someone ahead by speeding up or to update one another.
    • I’ll catch up with you at the next stop.
    • Let’s catch up over coffee.
  • Catch on: To understand or to become popular.
    • The new trend quickly caught on among teenagers.
    • It took him a moment to catch on to the joke.
  • Catch out: To discover or expose someone, especially in a lie or mistake.
    • The test caught out many students who didn’t prepare.
    • I was caught out in the rain without an umbrella.

Common Mistakes

These are typical pitfalls associated with “catch”:

  • Incorrect: I catched the ball.
  • Correct: I caught the ball.
  • Incorrect: She hasn’t catched the flu, has she?
  • Correct: She hasn’t caught the flu, has she?


Mastering the verb “catch” and its past tense “caught” is pivotal for English learners. This common yet versatile verb has a range of meanings and uses that go beyond the physical act of catching something. As we’ve explored in this article, with the right understanding and plenty of practice, you can catch on to the varied applications of this verb with ease. So keep practicing, and soon enough, you’ll be catching the intricacies of the English language with confidence!

More resources below!

Now that you’ve wrapped your head around the past tense of ‘catch’, why not cast your net wider?

Our website is a treasure trove of resources to help you navigate the seas of English verb tenses. Browse through our detailed guides on past tense usage in the links and table below and reel in more language learning insights.

We’d love to catch your thoughts on this article! Share your experiences and tips in the comments below.

Your wisdom could be the catch of the day for another reader. And remember, sharing knowledge is a great catch in the realm of learning—so pass on this article to your fellow English language learners. Let’s sail on this language learning journey together!

We also have a full list of irregular verbs from A – Z on the site which you can access from the link here.

You can check other past tense words and our past tense resources by clicking on the links in the table below and in the resource list below that.

Table 2: Table of Links for irregular Past Tense Verbs

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We also have articles and worksheets which we will link examples of below, and if you need more you can try the search box.

I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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