The verb "shrink" is used when something gets smaller. It’s an irregular verb:

simplepastpast participle
shrunk or shrunken*
  • I put my sweater in the dryer and it shrank.
  • The money in our bank account is shrinking.
  • Bill’s waistline has been shrinking since he went on a diet.
  • The number of students remaining in this class has shrunk since the beginning of the semester.
  • The number of shopping days left until Christmas is shrinking quickly.
  • The commute to downtown Minneapolis shrank after the highway construction project was completed.
  • You should never shrink from your responsibilities. (In this sentence, "shrink" means to withdraw or remove oneself.)
  • It will be impossible for him to wear this shrunken t-shirt. (The word "shrunken" is an adjective in this sentence.)

shrunken t-shirt

When the word "shrink" is used as a noun, it’s slang for psychiatrist.

  • Tom is seeing a shrink. (He’s meeting with a pyschiatrist.)
  • It’s not unusual for wealthy, famous people to regularly visit a shrink.

The "shr" sound is difficult for some students. For more practice with this sound, click here.

*Notice that there are two choices for the past participle. The verb "shrink" is one of those strange verbs that has a few different possibilities for the past participle. They both sound okay, but I prefer "shrunken" when it’s used as an adjective.


This page was first published on December 11, 2011.

It was amended on December 20, 2014.