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Had Find or Had Found: Which is Correct?

Certain words are more likely to trip us up when speaking, especially when we have to switch tenses. “Had find” is one of those errors that we can make when we intend to use “had found.”

“Had found” is the correct past perfect form of the phrase, which uses the auxiliary verb “had” and the past participle. “Had find” is incorrect because “find” is the present tense form of the verb, and if we use “had” in a sentence, the past participle should follow it. Without the auxiliary verb “had,” both “find” and “found” can be correct.

Read on to learn more about the correct verb tense usage of “find” and “found” and how to use them in different situations.

“Had Found” and the Past Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense in English helps when we want to talk about an activity completed at a definite time in the past or that began in the past and continued to the present. The present perfect is “I have found.”

However, when discussing a past activity that happened before the present time and was completed in the past, you would use the past perfect tense “I had found.” Therefore, we can begin our discussion by examining the different types of past tense.

The Past Tense

In English, the past tense communicates about the past, hypotheses (when we imagine something), and politeness (source).

There are four past tense forms in English:

Past simple: I found

Past continuous: I was finding

Past perfect: I had found

Past perfect continuous: I had been finding

As should be quite evident from the previous examples, “had find” is not grammatically accurate in any of the past tense forms. Instead, we use the forms you saw in the examples to talk about the past.

Example sentences:

  • I had found the answer to my question.
  • I had been finding bugs in the yard.
  • I found my necklace yesterday.
  • I was finding it hard to study at home.

We can also use them to refer to the present or future in possibilities and also in conditional sentences that use “if.”

Example sentences:

  • It might be dangerous. Suppose they find the dragons.
  • He could find a new job if he found the newspaper.
  • If you’re finding life hard, get help.

For possibilities, wishes, and conditions in the past, we use the past perfect only, and that involves the usage of “had found.”

Example sentences:

  • Horowitz had found his muse.
  • The police had found nothing.
  • She had found a dress.

“Had found” indicates that something was discovered or found in the past, and while the situation may continue into the present, the action of “finding” happened only in the past.

If you would like to know more about the correct usage of “had” versus “has,” have a look at “Has Been or Had Been: How to Use the Perfect Tense” to clear up all the questions you have.

When Is “Find” Correct?

Since “had” is past tense, we need a past tense verb or past participle to make it grammatically accurate. But that does not mean that “find” is always incorrect in a past tense sentence.

Generally, we only use “find” in the present tense and the future tense. 

Present TenseFuture Tense
I can’t find my phone after last night!If I’m careless, I won’t be able to find my phone tomorrow.
He was getting really desperate to find a girlfriend.I’m anxious about being able to find a girlfriend.
I’m trying to find out what went wrong.Tomorrow, I’m going to be finding out what went wrong.

However, there are certain situations where the word “find” will appear in the past tense and be grammatically accurate. When this happens, “find” cannot be the main/base verb of the sentence.

Example sentences:

  • I was struggling to find my mother.
  • She woke up to find the door open.
  • He called her to find out what had happened.

In all three of the above sentences, the main/base verbs are in the past tense but followed by the infinitive verb “to find,” which is in the present tense.

“Find” as an Infinitive Verb

“Find” is acceptable as an infinitive verb because it doesn’t function as a verb in the sentence (source). Instead, infinitives take the place of nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. As a result, infinitives do not need changing to past or future, or continuous tense.

Most often, “to find” functions as the direct or indirect object of the sentence — as in, they tell us what the object of the action is. Let us examine the previous sentences again.

  • I was struggling to find my mother.

The verb in the previous sentence is “was struggling.” This sentence is in the past continuous tense, as we can see from the “was” and the -ing at the end of the root word “struggle.” 

“[T]o find my mother” is the infinitive verb and indirect object of the sentence. This is because the subject is not directly doing something to their mother but is struggling to locate her.

  • She woke up to find the door open.

In this sentence, “woke” is the past tense main/base verb, and “to find the door” is the sentence’s infinitive verb and indirect object. Note that the subject did not do anything to the door but discovered some new information about it.

  • He called her to find out what had happened.

In this sentence, “called” is the simple past tense form of “call.” Meanwhile, “to find” tells us that the subject is looking for more information, so they called the object, which was “her.”

Therefore, “find” is only acceptable in a past tense sentence when it works as an infinitive verb. It cannot be the main verb of the sentence unless we change it to “found.”

“Where I Find” or “Where I Found”?

The word “find” refers to the act of locating something. You can find an object or a thing. You can even find a person. You might be able to find something you’ve misplaced or something you’re looking for. Usually, you find something by your own acts.

  • We use “find” + [something] and “find” + [someone]. 

Remember, “find” is an irregular verb, so in the present, we say “find,” in the past, we say “found,” and using the past participle, we say “have found” (source).

Example sentences:

  • If you find a good Thai restaurant near the school, let me know.
  • I found my purse. It fell behind my car seat.
  • Mary hasn’t found her dogs yet. I hope she does soon.

The difference between “find” and “found” as verbs is that “find” means to encounter or discover by accident or to happen upon something, while “found” signifies to establish or set something up (source).

Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

Verb Examples:

To come across or find by chance; to come across.

  • We find this idea in Plato.
  • Did you find your glasses?

To come across or uncover something that is being searched for; to locate.

  • I found my mother waiting for me at the bus stop. 
  • I cannot find my gloves!

To decide that, to discover that, to form the opinion that.

  • I find your whistling distracting.
  • That tropical zone is now found livable.

To discover something via research or experimentation that leads to a certain object or goal.

  • Scientists found water to be a composite substance.

To gain, as the object of desire or effort.

  • We found the money to send our daughter to university.

To attain to; to arrive at; to acquire.

  • It looks like she found herself a new car!
  • After a long flight, I now find myself in Paris.

To begin construction; to establish a business or organization.

  • Her father was unfair to remove her control over the corporation she founded.

Noun Examples

The difference between “find” and “found” as nouns is that “find” is anything someone discovered (typically valuable), such as artifacts on an archeological site or a person with talent, whereas “found” refers to food, lodging, and board.

Example sentences:

  • They worked for $40 and found.
  • It was an amazing find!

Is “Found” Correct?

Image by Eren Li via Pexels

“Found” is the acceptable phrase to indicate the past tense of “find.” Therefore, it is only correct when referring to something that happened in the past. However, there are some instances where “founded” can also be the proper form.

To understand the difference between “found” and “founded,” we have to explore the etymology of the words. The word “find” comes from the ancient English word “finden” (source).

“Found” is also an independent verb — not just the past tense of “find” — which means to begin or establish something, such as a building, institution, corporation, or colony. It can also refer to something that is inspired by an idea or a feeling. 

English derives this term from the ancient French “fonder” and the Latin “fundus,” both of which means bottom or base.

When using the past tense of “find,” “found” is the correct form. However, when using the word “found,” which has a different meaning, the past tense is “founded.”

Example sentences:

  • This organization was founded in 1996 with the goal of teaching the disadvantaged.
  • The project’s guidelines are founded in response to the needs of all stakeholders.
  • The hospital’s founding ceremony went ahead without a hitch.
  • Government authorities provided the foundation for this structure.
  • She is the founder of two large businesses.

“Had Found Out” Meaning

When finding a noun only, “find” and “found” can stand on their own.

Example sentences:

  • I can’t believe I found my dog after a year!
  • Finding this house has been really difficult.
  • They found the route to the beach and started driving.

However, “find out” is a phrasal verb we use to show the subject has discovered some piece of information. This can happen through research or someone else revealing information. In that case, “find out” or “found out” are the correct forms.

“Had found out” is the past perfect tense form indicating the discovery of something. We always follow this phrase with the sentence’s direct object, indicating the nature of the discovery. The direct object can be a person, an object, or a situation.

Example sentences:

  • I had found out that he was cheating on me.
  • Christine had found out that she was adopted.
  • They had found out the real reason for her illness.

It indicates the order of events. For example, in the sentences above, “had found out” shows the discovery of information that has happened or started before the discovery. This contrasts with the past perfect tense, which indicates that the past perfect form occurred first.

Synonyms for “Found Out”

There are quite a few words and phrases available as a synonym to “found out.” Their usage is dependent on what exactly is being discovered and the register of the sentence itself. This article was written for 

SynonymExample Sentence
AscertainedI ascertained that he had not completed the work by the look on his face.
DiscoveredThey discovered that there was no one at home when there was no answer at the door.
LearnedShelley learned about her promotion before her boss had spoken to her.
RealizedI realized that there was no helping it; I would have to cook.
HeardI heard about the drama through the office gossip.

From the example sentences, you can see that the meaning of the synonyms can be pretty nuanced. The main thing to keep in mind is that the sentence should refer to some kind of information or knowledge that has been learned.

Final Thoughts

“Had found” is always the correct form of the phrase — we cannot replace it with “had find” in any scenario. When using it in the past tense, “found” is generally the correct term, although “to find” can function as an infinitive verb.

“Find” is the correct form to use in the present and future tense sentences. Since you have completed the reading of this article, I hope that you found it helpful. See what I did there?