Word Confusion: Shone vs Shined vs Shown

Revised as of 11 October 2017

The primary confusion arises between shone and shown, so I’ll focus there, and I can’t begin to whine on about the number of times I’ve read shown when the author was talking about shone, and the reverse. It’s quite the dim moment.

For a quick tip, take the last letter off each word. The shon- doesn’t do much for me. Doesn’t make me think of anything but why someone didn’t finish writing the word.

Show, on the other hand, makes perfect sense. Show me the money, show me the way to go home, all phrases that request a display, to make something visible or perceivable, to present a proof of some type.

Now, you may need to shine a light to make something visible, but it’s simply not shown.

Instead take it as having a light shone on the problem, and it being shown as truth…*eye roll for that bit of pontificating!*

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Shone Shined Shown
Credit to: Grammarist; Apple Dictionary.com

Flashlight

“Surefire U2” by Joema and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The flashlight shone a light on the problem.


woman polishing wood

“A Woman in Mpumalanga Polishing a Wood Carving of an Elephant” by Steve Evans from Citizen of the World (Africa Safari 006Uploaded by russavia) is under the CC-BY-2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

She shined up a wood carving.


Cartoon icon of an angry sun

“Angry Sun” is in the public domain and courtesy of WPClipart, via Wikimedia Commons

Even as this sun shone in the sky, he’s shown his angry face.

Part of Grammar:
Past tense or past participle of shine


Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: shines
Present participle: shining

Past tense or past participle of shine


Verb, transitive

Third person present verb: shines
Present participle: shining

Past participle of show


Verb, intransitive & transitive

Present participle: showing

The word “shine” has two basic meanings:


Verb, intransitive:
To emit or give out a bright light

Verb, transitive:
To gleam by polishing


Now for the finer details:
Verb, intransitive:
Be, allow, or cause to be visible

  • Put on display in an exhibition or competition
  • Present (a movie or television program) on a screen for public viewing
    • [Of a movie] Be presented in this way
  • [Informal] Arrive or turn up for an appointment or at a gathering
  • Finish third or in the first three in a race
  • [Informal; of a woman] Be visibly pregnant

Display or allow to be perceived (a quality, emotion, or characteristic)

  • [Of an emotion] Be noticeable

Verb, transitive:
Be, allow, or cause to be visible

  • Offer, exhibit, or produce (something) for scrutiny or inspection
  • Put on display in an exhibition or competition
  • Present (a movie or television program) on a screen for public viewing
  • Indicate a particular time, measurement, etc.
  • Represent or depict in art
  • Show oneself] Allow oneself to be seen
  • Appear in public

Display or allow to be perceived (a quality, emotion, or characteristic)

  • Accord or treat someone with (a quality)

Demonstrate or prove

  • [Show oneself] Prove or demonstrate oneself to be
  • Cause to understand or be capable of doing something by explanation or demonstration
  • Conduct or lead
Verb, intransitive:
[Of the sun or another source of light] Give out a bright light

  • Glow or be bright with reflected light, reflect light
  • [Of a person’s eyes] Be bright with the expression of a particular emotion

[Figurative] Be brilliant or excellent at something

[Figurative of a quality of skill] Be clearly evident

Verb, transitive:
[Of the sun or another source of light] Give out a bright light

  • Direct (a flashlight or other light) somewhere in order to see something in the dark
Verb, transitive:
Make an object made of leather, metal, or wood bright by rubbing it, polishing
Examples:
Verb, intransitive:
The sun shone through the window.

His eyes shone in the light of the fire.

His eyes shone with excitement.

She shone at comedy.

Verb, transitive:
An usher shone his flashlight into the boys’ faces.

Verb, transitive:
Shoes get shined.

Oh, man, he really shined you on.

Verb, intransitive:
Wrinkles had shown on her face.

The muscles of her jaws had shown white through the skin.

Other artists who had shown there included Robert Motherwell.

That was the movie that had shown at the 1998 Venice Film Festival

Her date hasn’t shown.

Shirley’s pregnancy had finally shown when she was four months pregnant.

His relief had shown too obviously.

Verb, transitive:
An alarm salesperson has shown an ID card at the door.

He has shown you all his woodwork creations.

He hasn’t shown his work in years.

a postcard had shown the Wicklow Mountains

He was amazed that she had the gall to have shown herself.

Frank had shown his frustration.

His sangfroid had shown signs of cracking.

he had urged his soldiers to fight them, and they had shown no mercy.

[With two objects] He has shown women some respect.

Experts say this had shown the benefit of regular inspections.

The figures have shown that the underlying rate of inflation continues to fall.

She has shown herself to be a harsh critic.

He has shown himself to be an old-fashioned Baptist separatist.

He has shown the boy how to operate the machine.

He has shown them in.

She was shown up as a fake.

She was shown the way home.

Derivatives:
Adjective: unshined Adjective: unshown, well-shown
Noun: show
Verb: shewed, shewn, shewing, showed, showing
Phrasal Verb
shone through shown off

shown out

shown someone off

shown someone around

shown someone up

shown something forth

shown something off

shown something up

shown through

shown up

History of the Word:
Old English scīnan is of Germanic origin and is related to the Dutch schijnen and German scheinen. Old English scēawian meaning look at or inspect is from a West Germanic base meaning look is related to Dutch schouwen and German schauen.

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Pinterest Photo Credits

Boots, Boots, To Go Up and Down in Africa: the Salvage and Repair of Army Boots, Somerset, England, 1943, is by a Ministry of Information Photo Division photographer and is in the public domain courtesy of the Imperial War Museums, via Wikimedia Commons.

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