learned and learnt - the difference
The Quick AnswerIf you're following US writing conventions, use learned.
If you're following UK writing conventions, use learnt.
If you're describing someone as educated, you must use learned.
Learned and learntThe verb to learn means to acquire knowledge of, or skill in, something through study or experience.
To learn is one of those verbs with both an irregular form and a regular form. (See the table below for some others.)
The past tense and the past participle can be written as either learned or learnt. However, they are not interchangeable, especially in the US.
Americans Demand LearnedIn America, learned dominates. The use of learnt as the past tense or past participle of to learn is considered a spelling mistake by many. It will certainly annoy a fair proportion of your readers.
Brits Prefer LearntOutside America, learnt is more common, but learned is generally accepted. (This is almost certainly a result of American influence spreading.)
Verbs with Irregular and Regular FormsThe following verbs (like to learn) can be regular or irregular:
|Verb||Past Simple||Past Participle|
|burn||burned OR burnt||burned OR burnt|
|dream||dreamed OR dreamt||dreamed OR dreamt|
|learn||learned OR learnt||learned OR learnt|
|smell||smelled OR smelt||smelled OR smelt|
|spell||spelled OR spelt||spelled OR spelt|
As with learnt, the second form (e.g. spelt, dreamt) is more common in British English.
Interactive ExerciseHere are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited and printed to create exercise worksheets.
See Alsoadverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? dived and dove e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? hanged and hung imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? spelled and spelt tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
What are verbs? What are regular verbs? What are regular verbs? What is the past tense? What are past participles? What are nouns? List of easily confused words