Learnt vs. Learned: When to Use Learned vs. Learnt (with Useful Examples)

One more word that is spelled differently, depending on where in the world you are, is the past tense of the verb “to learn”. People from different countries can mean the same thing, i.e. that they acquired knowledge about a certain topic, but some will say that they learned something, while others will say that they learnt it. Which spelling is accepted where?

Learnt vs. Learned: What’s the Difference?

Learnt vs. Learned

Learnt vs. Learned: Key Takeaways

LEARNED is the spelling that is most commonly used in the United States and in Canada, while the rest of the English-speaking world prefers to spell this word as LEARNT.

Learnt vs. Learned: Overview

Definition of ‘Learnt’

Learnt is the past tense and past participle form of the verb “to learn” primarily used in British English. For instance, we would say, “We learnt a lot from our trip to the museum.”

Definition of ‘Learned’

Learned, pronounced as ‘lur-nid’, functions similarly to “learnt,” but it is the preferred form in American English. When we say, “We learned the piano as children,” it follows the American convention.

Learnt vs. Learned: Usages and Examples

Learned, pronounced as ‘lur-nid’, functions similarly to “learnt,” but it is the preferred form in American English. When we say, “We learned the piano as children,” it follows the American convention.

When you’re wondering about which past tense form is the correct one, the answer is that they both are. It all depends on where your target audience is from, and the same sentence will be spelled differently, whether it is addressed to British or American people. For instance, if you’re writing a book that will be published in England, you’ll write, “Sue has learnt a lot throughout her fascinating journey”. However, if you’re writing the same book for an American or Canadian public, your character would have learned a lot.

Keep in mind that, if you need an adjective to describe a person who has a lot of knowledge, you have to use the spelling learned, no matter which audience you’re writing for. Therefore, the sentence “She’s a very learned girl” would look the same in England, America, Australia, and everywhere else.

You can make your life easier by always using learned. This might soon become the only correct option because of the strong influence of American English and its tendency towards turning irregular verbs into regular. For now, however, if you want to be absolutely correct, use learned as a verb only in America and in Canada; in the rest of the world, use learnt.

Learnt vs. Learned Examples

“Learnt” Examples

  • She has learnt to play the piano beautifully.
  • He learnt his lesson after making that mistake.
  • I’ve learnt a lot from my time spent abroad.
  • They have learnt to adapt to the new environment.
  • We learnt about the history of the castle on our school trip.

“Learned” Examples

  • She has learned to play the piano beautifully.
  • He learned his lesson after making that mistake.
  • I’ve learned a lot from my time spent abroad.
  • They have learned to adapt to the new environment.
  • We learned about the history of the castle on our school trip.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between “learnt” and “learned”?

“Learnt” and “learned” are both past tense forms of the verb “learn”. The main difference is in their usage in different forms of English. “Learnt” is typically used in British English, while “learned” is preferred in American English.

Can “learnt” and “learned” be used interchangeably?

In general, they can be used interchangeably, but it’s best to stick with the version that is consistent with the variety of English you are using or your audience is accustomed to.

Is one form more correct than the other?

No, both forms are correct. It simply depends on which variety of English you are using.

In what contexts might “learned” be used in British English?

Although “learnt” is the common form in British English, “learned” can also be used, especially in formal writing.