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Past Tense of Build

“Build” is a verb that at first glance a learner might think isn’t so important, but then quickly discovers that it’s actually among the most useful to know.

The various definitions of ‘build’ as a verb are those referring to the act of construction, be it something concrete or something more abstract — e.g., to build a new hospital (concrete) vs. to build trust with someone (abstract).

The past tense of build is “built” and its past participle is also “built.”

past tense of build

What is the past tense of “build”?

Build (verb):

(1) Construct something by putting various parts of materials together

(2) To make something stronger, or perhaps more intense

  • Infinitive                       to build
  • Simple Past                 built
  • Past Participle             built

Conjugation Table of “build”

 PronounInfinitiveSimple PastPresent PerfectPresent Continuous
Ibuildbuilthave builtam building
You (sing.)buildbuilthave builtare building
He/She/Itbuildsbuilthas builtis building
Webuildbuilthave builtare building
You (pl.)buildbuilthave builtare building
Theybuildbuilthave builtare building

Example Sentences of “build”

(1) Construct something by putting various parts of materials together

  • The government promised to build 40 new hospitals after coming to power
  • That new school was built so quickly!
  • These men are part of a team that is building the new skyscraper downtown

(2) To make something stronger, or perhaps more intense

  • It’s critical that teachers work on building trust with their students over time
  • They built their relationship on poor foundations, and that’s why it failed
  • Over the years, the library built up an impressive collection of original Shakespeare works
past tense of build

Focus: Past Tense of Build

The above sentences show the many ways that we can use ‘build’ to talk about both concrete and abstract concepts. However, we now want to focus on how to use the various past-tense forms of the word. To that end, we have prepared some examples below that demonstrate the following ways to use ‘build’ in the past tense.

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

Simple Past of “build”

  • He built the house with his own tools, and a little help from his neighbors
  • Over the years, she and I have built quite a meaningful friendship
  • Dreams built on foundations on sand will never come true

Present Perfect of “build”

  • She has built up a tower of playing cards so high that it almost touches the ceiling
  • You have built a magnificent company here, which is a real credit to the community
  • Through my work, I think I have built up an immunity to that disease

Past Continuous of “build”

  • We were building houses for the poor in El Salvador when the earthquake struck
  • The kids were building things with Lego all morning

Past Perfect of “build”

  • The workers here had already built the entire project by the time the team in San Francisco got permission to build
  • You had built so many amazing working relationships with key people in this state, so how could your business fail like this?

Understanding the Verb “Build”

Derived from the Old English “byldan,” meaning “to construct,” the verb “build” has long been associated with creating structures or assembling things.

Phrasal Verbs with “Build”

“Build” too has its phrasal partners:

  • Build up: To increase or accumulate.
    • The company built up its reputation over many years.
  • Build on: To use as a basis for further development.
    • She built on her previous experience to start her own business.

Nuances in Usage

  • “Build vs. Construct”: While synonyms, “construct” is more formal and often used in official contexts.
  • They built a snowman. vs. They constructed a bridge.

Common Mistakes

Some common misconceptions to avoid:

Incorrect: They builds a massive fortress.

Correct: They built a massive fortress.

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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