Wake and Awake; Waken and Awaken


Wake and awake; waken and awaken are perhaps the most vexing words that confuse most writers and speakers. All these four have almost similar meaning, though some are used in the way others cannot be. Now let’s start with each of them:


Wake = Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep; stop sleeping; (Present: wake, wakes, woke, Past participle: waked (or woken). Waked is more common in US English while UK English prefers woken.

Father got woken at 4 am by the sudden lightning strokes of thunderstorms.

I woke up on Monday morning at 8 am and was half an hour late for office.

Jack was woken by some frightened screams that echoed some houses away.

Martha was still asleep so I decided to watch the television until she woke up.

I woke up Nancy who was sleeping at the time and left for office.

I was afraid that Mrs Joseph’s snoring would wake the children.

Notice that wake shows the expressions like waking and sleeping or every waking moment. Also, wake comes together with up to form a complement verb. Others don’t. However, pairing with up is not always necessary and it all depends on context:

She waked (or woke) up.


Awake = Stop sleeping; wake from sleep; (Present: awake, awakes, Past: awoke/awaked, Past participle: awoken/awaked); both forms of the past tense – awoke and awaked as well as both participial forms – awoken and awaked are acceptable. However, awoke is more common than awaked. Awake and awoken are also rather literary words. In informal UK English, the adjective awake is more common than waking.

Awake is used in two ways. When it is used as an adjective, it describes a person or animal’s state. It can only be used as a predicate adjective, in the predicate of a clause, not as an attributive adjective before a noun:

 Martha is awake and is getting ready to go to work.

When it is used as a verb, it is used as intransitive taking no object and means ‘to become awake (adj)’:

I awake at 5 o’ clock in the morning in summers.

Oh my gosh! You awoke at 12 o’clock this morning.

How often have you awoken/awakened early in these days?


Waken = To (cause to) wake from sleep; (Present: waken, wakens, Past: wakened; Past participle: wakened); waken is a regular verb and you can use it like any other common verb. It is both transitive and intransitive:

She stayed up late and had not wakened until 10 am.

The loud noise in the street wakened me.

The ticket collector shook him but he didn’t waken.

The news wakened the captain to his crew’s treachery. (to cause to be aware; alert or enlighten)

In literary style, we can use waken instead of wake up.


Awaken = To stop sleeping or to make someone stop sleeping; (Present: awaken, awakens

Past: awakened, Past participle: awakened). Awaken is also a regular verb; it is the verb that sounds perfectly natural in almost all situations:

All men at the regiment were unwilling to get out of bed when they were awakened.

The child had just been awakened from a deep slumber.

The train had just pulled into the station and he was abruptly awakened from sleep in the waiting room.

Mr. Wilson was awakened from his sleep by a loud knock at the door.

A lot of people in the US believe the 9/11 attacks have finally awakened America to the effects of terrorism.

The princess was awakened with a kiss.

Some grammar experts insist that waken is used only as a transitive verb (the lightening wakened him) while awaken is used only as an intransitive verb (he awakened with the sound of water flowing from the tap).


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