Stank vs Stunk

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What’s the difference between them?



past tense of stink - have a strong unpleasant smell.


1. The garbage that was left out in the sun for days really stank up the entire neighborhood.

2. After the skunk sprayed near the campsite, the air stank of its foul odor for hours.

3. The old, moldy cheese in the refrigerator stank so badly that it had to be thrown away.



past participle of stink - have a strong unpleasant smell.


1. The odor from the spoiled food had already stunk up the kitchen by the time they discovered it.

2. The abandoned fish market had stunk for days, leaving an unpleasant impression on passersby.

3. The skunk had stunk so much that they had to leave the area until the smell dissipated.

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference




1. Reeked

2. Ponged

3. Smelled foul

4. Had a bad odor

1. Fragrance

2. Pleasant Smell

3. Aroma

4. Freshness

5. Sweet Scent


1. Reeked

2. Stank

3. Ponged

4. Smelled foul

5. Had a bad odor

1. Smelled Sweet

2. Had a Pleasant Aroma

3. Was Fragrant

4. Exuded a Nectar

5. Was Deliciously Scented

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "Stank", "Stunk".

1. Remember that 'stank' is the past tense of the verb 'stink', and 'stunk' is the past participle.

2. If you are unsure which form to use, always double-check to make sure you have the correct spelling.

3. To reinforce correct usage, practice writing sentences using both 'stank' and 'stunk'.

Check the full list of commonly confused words in English

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Frequently asked questions

In what situations should the first word 'stank' be used?

Stank is used as the past tense of stink, when talking about a smell that has already been experienced. For example, if someone was describing a garbage dump that they had visited and they said 'It stank', this would mean that they had smelt the bad smell before.

When is the appropriate context for using the second word 'stunk'?

Stunk is used as the past participle of stink, and is often used when talking about an action that has already happened. For example, if someone were to say 'it had stunk', this would mean that the bad smell had already happened in the past.

Do the two words share the same pronunciation?

No, stank is pronounced /stenk/, while stunk is pronounced /stʌŋk/.

What are some common mistakes people make when using these words?

One of the most common mistakes people make when using these words is confusing the past tense with the past participle. Stank is the past tense of stink, and stunk is the past participle, so it is important to make sure that the correct one is used depending on the context. Another mistake people make is mispronouncing the words.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1. The garbage can _____ so badly that I had to take it out immediately.

2. I cant believe the milk _____ like that! I just bought it last week.

3. She opened the fridge and realized that the leftover fish had really _____.

4. The old shoes in the closet have _____ since they got wet during the rainstorm.

5. By the time we discovered the rotten fruit, it already _____ for days.

6. The socks _____ because he wore them for a week straight without washing.

Answer: Stank

Explanation: Stank is the past tense of the verb stink, which is used when referring to a specific moment or period in the past. In this sentence, the act of the garbage can smelling badly occurred at a specific, identifiable time in the past (when the speaker decided to take it out), making stank the appropriate choice.

Answer: Stunk

Explanation: Stunk is the past participle form of stink and is often used in perfect tense constructions. Here, the sentence doesnt specify when the milk started smelling bad, and it implies an action that has relevance to the present moment (the speakers current disbelief). This usage aligns with the characteristics of the perfect tense, making stunk the correct choice.

Answer: Stunk

Explanation: In this sentence, stunk is used as the past participle in a passive construction. The focus is on the result of the action (the leftover fish having a bad smell) rather than when the action occurred. The sentence doesnt specify when the fish started to smell but emphasizes its state at the moment of discovery, hence the use of stunk.

Answer: Stunk

Explanation: Stunk is again used here as the past participle in a perfect tense construction. The sentence indicates an action (the shoes smelling bad) that started in the past (when they got wet) and continued to the present. This ongoing relevance of the action to the present moment necessitates the use of stunk.

Answer: Stunk

Explanation: Similar to the previous examples, stunk is appropriate here due to its use in a perfect tense structure. The sentence implies that the fruit started smelling bad at some point in the past and that the condition continued over a period (for days) until the time of discovery. This continuation of the state up to a relevant point in time aligns with the use of the past participle stunk.

Answer: Stunk

Explanation: In this sentence, stunk is used as the past participle form, suitable for describing a state or condition resulting from an action over a period. The socks smelling bad is a result of being worn for a prolonged time (a week straight) without washing. This extended duration and the resultant state of the socks make stunk the correct choice, as it reflects a condition that developed over time and is relevant to the present.

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