Monday, 23 November 2009

Learnt & Learned

I didn't think 'learned' was a word. After arguing with a friend about the proper past tense for the word 'learn', I decided to look it up. It turns out that both 'learnt' and 'learned' are equally grammatically correct. They are alternative forms of the past tense and past participle of the verb. 'Learnt' is more common in British English, and 'learned' in American English. There are a number of verbs of this type (burn, dream, kneel, learn, leap, spell, spill, spoil etc.). They are all irregular verbs, and this is a part of their irregularity. For most, but not all, of these irregular verbs I use the 't' in past tense. I like that I'm a little more British than I am American (6 out of the 9 words I would use with a 't').

5 comments:

Deborah said...

I wrote 'leapt' the other day and Word raised an objection!

Hezabelle said...

The "t" verbs are dying! I always said dreamt, but spell check hates it.

I can't imagine saying burned, dreamed, kneeled, leaned, leaped, spelled, spilled and spoiled.

Damn Americans.

Stephanie said...

I would use t with 5 of the 9. I would use it with 6 but I thought for some reason that learned and learnt were for different things that I didn't really understand so I always just used the -ed one. Now that I know I can use them interchangeably I will probably start using the t more often as I like British tenses more.

JJ said...

English major...whaaaaaaaaaaat??

Erin said...

I use 6 out of 9 too. You know how I love it when Canadian Geese attack Americans. I feel like they're doing our bidding. Unfortunately they give off a lot of friendly fire.