It seems as if many people are confused about wake and awake. Are they they same? If not, which one is correct? When do I use wake and when do I use awake?
Relax. No matter what you do, you will probably be correct. There is really no difference between the two words. They are a bit confusing, though: (1) They can be used as either transitive or intransitive verbs, (2) Some variations are more commonly used as adjectives, (3) There is some variation in past-tense formation, (4) Some forms may be preferred in passive voice rather than active, and (5) Some forms may be used in a more figurative sense, perhaps in literature.
So while wake and awake aren’t really difficult, it gives me a chance to explain the meanings of several words that are important in the discussion:
1. Transitive verb: A transitive verb has a direct object. A direct object is the noun or pronoun that receives the action of the verb. Examples:
- I woke the baby. I awoke the baby is also correct but not as common.
- He woke me up. He awoke me is also correct, but not as common.
When used transitively, woke often is followed by up.
2. Intransitive verb: An intransitive verb has no direct object. Examples:
- I wake up at 8 a.m. I awake at 8 a.m. is also fine.
- He wakes at midnight to go to work. He awakes at midnight to go to work is also correct.
3. An adjective describes a noun, pronoun, or other adjective. Awake is most often use as an adjective. Examples:
- I am awake now. (describes I)
- I like teaching the awake students! (describes students)
4. Active voice: In a sentence where the verb is in active voice, the subject performs the action of the verb. Examples:
- He woke up early this morning.
- I woke her up to get to work on time.
5. Passive voice: In a sentences where the verb is in passive voice, the subject is acted upon and doesn’t do anything. Examples:
- I was awakened by the dog’s barking.
- He was woken up by his roommate.
Generally, awakened is used in the passive voice. However, I have awakened my brother (active voice) is correct, but not as common.
6. Literary: Having to do with literature. Awake and its various tense forms (awakened, awoke, awakening, etc.) is more likely to be used in creative writing, or literature. Wake, woke, woken, etc., is more likely to be used in conversation and ordinary writing. Examples:
- I was awakened by the music of the rain. (literary)
- The rain woke me up. (conversational)
7. Literal: Not to be confused with literary, literal means “based on the actual meaning of the words used.” Examples:
- I woke up late today.
- I am awake after all that noise you were making.
8. Figurative: Not in its original, or literal, sense. Awake and its various tense forms (awakened, awoke, awakening, etc.) is more likely to be used figuratively. Examples:
- He was awakened to the realities of life at an early age.
- Awaken, birds, and sing to me a song of joy!
To sum it up, you can use pretty much whichever word you like, but in general, you will probably use wake more often than awake, except to use awake as an adjective (for example, I am awake now. )
Here is how you conjugate the words:
Present: Wake: I wake up. I wake up my brother.
Past: Woke: (or waked , but not common) I woke up. I woke up my brother.
Past Participle: Have woken (or have waked, but not common). I have woken up. I have woken up my brother. I have been woken up.
Present: Awake. I am awake.
Past: Awoke (or awaked, but not common). I awoke from my nap.
Past Participle: Has awoken (or has awaked, but not common). Sleeping Beauty has awoken.
Awaken – Can’t forget this one.
Present: I awaken the princess. The princess awakens.
Past: I awakened the princess. The princess awakened.
Past Participle: I have awakened the princess. The princess has awakened.
However, unless you are writing a fairy tale, you can just use wake!
The Origin of Wake (in case you cared)
Origin of Awake
More examples of how you might use these words:
- She fell asleep immediately but awoke an hour later.
- She fell asleep immediately but woke up an hour later.
- I woke her just past midnight.
- I awoke her just past midnight.
- I awoke several times during the night.
- I woke up several times during the night.
- I was awakened several times during the night.
- I was awake several times during the night.
- The baby awoke from his nap.
- The baby woke up from his nap.
- The baby was awakened from his nap by the doorbell.
- The alarm awoke me early.
- The alarm woke me early.
- They were awoken by a loud bang.
- They were woken by a loud band.