Kneeled and knelt are two ways of spelling the past tense and past participle of the verb “kneel,” which means “to place one or both knees on the ground.” People often kneel to respect or worship an entity, which makes it similar to genuflecting.
In American English, “knelt” and “kneeled” are both used, but “knelt” is preferred.
Kneel can be considered either an irregular verb or a regular verb, depending on the chosen spelling of the past tense verb:
Verbs that form their past tense by adding “-ed” are regular verbs.
Verbs that form their past tense by adding a different suffix are irregular verbs.
The irregular form knelt is more common in both versions of English, but in general, when there’s a choice, the irregular form is more common in British English. Other examples are dreamed or dreamt, spelt or spelled, burnt or burned, smelled or smelt, and learnt or learned.
Main differences between American and British English
American and British English are very similar, but there are a few main differences in spelling. Five important differences are:
-or vs -our
In American English, many Latin-derived words end in -or.
In British English, these same words end in -our.
Behavior or behaviour Labor or labour Favor or favour Favorite or favourite Color or colour Honor or honour
-er vs -re
In American English, some French, Latin, or Greek words end in -er.
In British English, these same words end in -re.
Theater or theatre Center or centre Meter or metre Liter or litre Saber or sabre Fiber or fibre
-ize vs -ise
In American English, many Greek-derived words end in -yze or -ize.
In British English, these words end in -yse or -ise.
Realize or realise Recognize or recognise Analyze or analyse Organize or organise Minimize or minimise Finalize or finalise
-ed vs -t
In American English, most verbs are regular and form their past tense with the suffix -ed.
In British English, some of these verbs are irregular and form their past tense with the suffix -t.
Learned or learnt Burned or burnt Kneeled or knelt Dreamed or dreamt Smelled or smelt Spelled or spelt
Single vs double consonant
In American English, many words are spelled with a single consonant.
In British English, these same words are spelled with a double consonant.
Modeling or modelling Traveling or travelling Canceled or cancelled Labeled or labelled Buses or busses Focused or focussed
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Kneeled and knelt are two spellings of the same verb. “Knelt” is most common in all versions of English, but in British English it’s considered standard, wherease “kneeled” is also acceptable in American English.
I kneeled down and I knelt down are both common in American English.