Understanding how and when to use the past tense for an irregular verb like “meet” can be tricky, especially if you’re unsure how the word works. To understand how to use it properly, you’ll need to know the proper meaning. For instance, what’s the difference between “meet” or “met”?
The difference between “meet” and “met” is that “meet” is an irregular verb that means to come together formally to discuss something. “Met” is simply the past tense or past participle form of the verb. The form the verb takes will depend on when the meeting occurred and whether it is an ongoing event.
Continue reading to learn more about how “meet” and “met” differ, how we use them in a sentence, and the factors that determine which version of the verb is correct in a given situation. We’ll break it down into easy-to-digest sections to help answer your questions.
Met or Meet Grammar
The verb “meet” typically functions as a transitive verb, and the same holds true for “met.” A transitive verb requires an object, and we follow it by using another word (or multiple words) in the sentence, such as: “I met my professor at her office to talk about my grade” (source). Here, the object of the past tense verb “met” is “professor.”
The verb “met” is in the past tense since the event occurred at some unspecified point in the past, but you will note that its past tense form is irregular.
Regular verbs typically add an -ed ending to reflect past tense versus present tense. But irregular verbs like “meet” do not add an -ed. Instead of adding anything to it, we actually take a letter away from it, making it shorter.
For another example of a verb with an irregular past tense form, check out “Past Tense of Run: Understanding Regular and Irregular Verb Tenses.”
Present, Future, and Past Tense Forms
You will almost always use the verb “meet” in the future and present tenses. For example, you use “meet” when referring to an event that is going to happen immediately or in the future.
Two sample phrases are “Meet me at the store” and “We will meet later this week.” In both cases, you use the word “meet” because it is either happening in the present or will happen in the future.
However, you can also use “meet” in the infinitive form after a past tense verb to refer to an event that happened in the past, as in “When did you meet?”
Generally, when referring to the past, you use the past tense or past participle form “met.” To carry the example above, the answer to the question, “When did you meet” might be something like “We met in Paris three years ago.” This is a past event that already happened, so the verb changes to reflect that.
“Met” is also the past participle form of “meet,” and a past participle follows an auxiliary verb (source). So, for example, when you say “We have met” or “She has met them,” you are using the past participle.
However, the rules determining how and why the verb changes are not entirely cut and dry. To offset this, we will go into greater detail to help you understand the proper usage of the verb “meet” and the multiple other forms it may take.
Meet vs. Met Pronunciation
United States English pronounces “meet” with a long “e” sound as /mēt/ (rhymes with feet) or /mit/ using IPA (source). American English speakers pronounce “met” with a short “e” sound as /ˈmet/ (rhymes with let) or /mɛt/ using IPA.
How Do You Use Meet or Met?
There are several instances in which it is appropriate to choose either term. In some cases, the distinction may be clear, but there isn’t a black-and-white answer for others. Understanding how they function will help you make your decision more easily.
We should meet at school on Friday so I can show you around!
Met (past tense verb):
We met the neighbors yesterday.
Met (past participle verb):
The family had already met their new neighbor.
Meeting (present participle verb):
We are meeting with the principal today.
We did not schedule a meeting today because we have a company coming into town.
As you can see, there are multiple forms of the verb “meet,” and it can even function as a noun. However, for the purposes of this article, we will focus on the verb tenses of the word and how they differ depending on the context of the sentence.
Simple Present, Simple Past, and Progressive Tense
Part of using any verb correctly is knowing what the sentence’s subject is doing and when they are doing it. English has 12 major verb tenses, but we will focus on the present simple, simple past, and progressive tense here.
Present Simple Tense “Meet”
You will typically use the present simple tense to describe something happening now or something repeating itself. You will also use it for uncompleted actions and temporary states of being. In other words, this verb form would work best when describing what people do during their day-to-day lives.
- We meet for lunch every Tuesday.
As we see in the example, it is happening now, will happen shortly thereafter, or will continue to happen every Tuesday, so we use the word “meet.”
Simple Past Tense “Met”
When speaking about an event that has already happened, you use the simple past tense of the verb “meet” — in this case, “met.” So, as an example, you could say something like, “We met for lunch last Wednesday, and we will meet again today.”
This shows that an action occurred in the past and is finished. If an action instead occurred in the past and we wish to communicate that it continued for some time, we would consider it past progressive tense (source).
Present Participle “Meeting” and the Progressive Tense
“Meeting” is the present participle form of “meet,” although it can function as a noun at times. When using the verb, the progressive or continuous tense describes ongoing actions.
Like the past participle form, the present participle often takes an auxiliary or helping verb as well: “We are meeting tomorrow.” Thus, the be-verb “are” aids or helps the main verb “meet.” Similarly, for the past tense, you would say, “We were meeting every Tuesday.” In this case, the auxiliary verb is the past tense verb “were.”
- We are meeting at noon.
In this example, we see that the meeting will occur in the future as of 12 p.m. and continue until some unspecified point.
Once the meeting has ended, the verb form changes:
- We met at noon yesterday.
Simple present and continuous present tense are the most common forms of the verb “meet.”
However, we also have the future progressive tense:
- We will be meeting tomorrow.
In this case, we have two auxiliary verbs, including the modal auxiliary “will,” which indicates a prediction for the future.
Did We Meet or Did We Met?
When talking about the initial encounter with someone, you could say something like, “Did we meet once before?” However, there is no circumstance where you could say, “Did we met?”
Instead, you would pose the question this way: “Have we met? If you are recalling the event, then you might make the statement, “We met on the train.”
The phrase “Did we met” is incorrect because the verb “did” is already in the past tense, which requires us to use the infinitive form or natural form of the verb “meet” after for the sentence to be correct.
It sounds confusing, but, essentially, you cannot use two past tense verbs in the same sentence when posing the question. Rarely, you might see two past tense verbs in a single clause in one of the past perfect tenses.
As you can see, even factoring in tense, the situation and the context of the sentence matter, too. This makes “meet” one of the more difficult words to use in a sentence correctly.
The Perfect Tenses
In contrast to the simple and continuous tenses, the verb “meet” gets a bit more tricky when switching to the perfect tenses.
To put it simply, use the perfect tense when referring to an action completed or perfected at the time of speaking or at a specified time (source).
To form the perfect tenses, we normally combine the auxiliary verb “has,” “have,” or “had” with the past participle.
We use the past participle “met” in the present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect, except when they are also in the progressive tense where we use the present participle.
- We have met several times this month.
The present perfect tense is perhaps the most tricky. In use, it refers to an action that took place at an unspecified time in the past or one that is continuing from the past into the present.
- We had already met several years ago.
In this sense, the action of meeting happened in the past, while the person is talking about it in the present. This emphasis on the present while referring to the past is characteristic of the perfect tense.
- They will have met by tomorrow.
The future perfect tense implies an action that will be completed by a set time in the future.
Conditional situations can also complicate the use of “meet” vs. “met.” By conditional, we mean a situation where the outcome of the potential meeting is not certain. These events can happen in the past, present, or future.
For example, when you say something might have happened, you say, “We would have met yesterday.”
The auxiliary verb “have” indicates the need for the past participle, so we use “met.” The modal auxiliary “would” indicates possibility, so, combined, we use “would have met” to indicate an action that might have happened in the past.
In contrast, using the modal auxiliary “will” implies a greater degree of certainty that something will happen in the future:
- We will meet for lunch today.
“Would” indicates a plan or intention for something that may or may not happen:
- We would have met tomorrow, but our flight got canceled.
Again, notice that using the auxiliary verb “have” requires us to use the past participle “met.” In this instance, the cancellation of their flight negated their plans to meet the next day.
Using the Noun Forms of “Meet”
It is also important to remember that “meet” can sometimes be a noun. Some of the most common usages are terms like “track meet,” “swim meet,” “meet and greet,” or “meeting.” In each of these cases, the term “meet” is not referring to an action so much as a thing.
As a noun, we can describe a “meet” or “meeting” using an adjective to denote a specific type of meeting. In this case, “meeting” is a verb functioning as a noun (gerund), and the adjective is modifying the noun. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
- I am looking forward to our next staff meeting.
By adding the adjective “staff,” we clarify what type of meeting is taking place.
Complex irregular verbs like “meet” can be the most challenging to use, so, hopefully, we’ve helped to clarify some of the issues regarding the use of the past tense and past participle form “met.”
We also identified the role of auxiliary verbs with the past and present participles. Lastly, we covered the role of “meet” and “meeting” as nouns.
The key thing to remember is that the verb “meet” is irregular, so it does not simply accept -ed. You’ll want to pay attention to auxiliary verbs, adjectives, and objects, but once you know the particular situation, your decision of “meet” vs. “met” becomes much easier.