Is It Learnt or Learned? | Spelling, Difference & Examples

UK vs US updated on  January 9, 2024 3 min read
Learnt and learned are two ways of spelling the past tense of the verb “learn,” which means “to gain skill or knowledge.”

  • In British English, “learnt” is standard.
  • In American English, “learned” is standard.
It’s important to choose one spelling and use it consistently. The QuillBot Grammar Checker can help you with this.

Examples: Learnt or learned in a sentence
Lorenzo learnt/learned to cook delicious Italian dishes by following his grandfather’s recipes.
The students learnt/learned about the history of the USA in their classes.
Mason learnt/learned to speak three languages during high school.

Learned as an adjective

The first meaning of the adjective learned is “acquired by learning.” In this case, you can spell it both ways, and it’s pronounced like the verb learned or learnt, with one syllable.

Examples: Learned as an adjective
Children don’t just misbehave. That’s learned behavior!
Learned helplessness occurs after someone has repeatedly experienced a stressful situation.

However, learned can also carry the meaning “scholarly” or “knowledgeable.” In this case, it’s pronounced [lur-nid] with emphasis placed on the first of two syllables.

In this context, you always spell it learned, even in British English.

Examples: Learned as an adjective
Aimee is a learned academic who specializes in research bias.
If you want to become learned, you have to go to school!

Learn as a regular or irregular verb

Learn 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.
Irregular forms of verbs that can be both regular and irregular are more common in British English. Other examples of verbs that are both irregular and regular are smelled or smelt, spelt or spelled, dreamed or dreamt, burnt or burned, and kneeled or knelt.


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:

Difference

Rule

Examples

-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
Organisation or organization
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.

Burned or burnt
Kneeled or knelt
Dreamed or dreamt
Smelled or smelt
Spelled or spelt
Learned or learnt

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

Do you want to know more about commas, parts of speech, email, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Commas

Parts of speech

Commonly confused words

Comma before because

Nouns

Flier vs flyer

Comma before such as

Collective nouns

Its vs it’s

Comma splice

Verbs

Use to or used to

Comma before or after but

Noun clauses

Alright vs all right

Comma before too

Predicate nominative

Affective vs effective


Frequently asked questions about learnt or learned

Is it I have learned or learnt?

Learnt and learned are two spellings of the same verb. They’re both common, but “learnt” is standard in British English and “learned” in American English.

  • I have learned is more common in American English.
  • I have learnt is more common in British English.

Other examples of verbs that are both irregular and regular are smelled or smelt, spelt or spelled, dreamed or dreamt, burnt or burned, and kneeled or knelt.

It´s important to choose one and use it consistently. The QuillBot Grammar Checker can help you with this.

Is it lesson learnt or learned?

Learnt and learned are two spellings of the same verb. They’re both common but learnt is standard in British English and learned in American English.

  • Lesson learned is more common in American English.
  • Lesson learnt is more common in British English.

Other examples of verbs that are both irregular and regular are smelled or smelt, spelt or spelled, dreamed or dreamt, burnt or burned, and kneeled or knelt.

It´s important to choose one and use it consistently. The QuillBot Grammar Checker can help you with this.

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Julia Merkus

Julia has master's degrees in Linguistics and Language and speech pathology. Her expertise lies in grammar, language and speech disorders, foreign language learning, and child language acquisition.

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