Is It Spelt or Spelled? | Spelling, Difference & Examples

UK vs US updated on  January 9, 2024 3 min read
Spelt and spelled are two ways of spelling the past tense of the verb “spell,” which means “forming words with the letters in the correct order.” The spelling depends on the type of English you use.

  • In British English, “spelled” and “spelt” are both used, but “spelt” is a bit more common.
  • In American English, “spelled” is standard.
It’s important to choose one spelling and use it consistently. The QuillBot Grammar Checker can help you with this.

Examples: Spelt or spelled in a sentence
Eoghan carefully spelt/spelled his name to avoid any mistakes.
Abdullah spelt/spelledsynecdoche” with ease during the spelling bee competition.
Kimberley accidentally spelt/spelled the author’s name wrong in her essay.

Misspelled or misspelt

Misspelled and misspelt are the negative forms of “spelled” and “spelt” and refer to the act of spelling a word incorrectly. It can also be used as an adjective to describe a word that is spelled incorrectly. The spelling again depends on whether you’re using American or British English.

  • In British English, “misspelled” and “misspelt” are both used, but “misspelt” is a bit more common.
  • In American English, “misspelled” is standard.

Examples: Misspelled or misspelt in a sentence
“Beck and call” is often misspelt/misspelledbeckon call.”
I have never misspelt/misspelled “onomatopoeia” before!
Cassandra was embarrassed when she realized she had misspelt/misspelled her friend’s name on a birthday card.

Spell as a regular or irregular verb

Spell 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 in some other way are irregular verbs.
In British English, it’s more common to use the irregular form of verbs that can be either regular or irregular. Other examples of verbs that are both irregular and regular are dreamed or dreamt, kneeled or knelt, burnt or burned, 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:

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.

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

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.


US vs UK

Parts of speech

Rhetoric

Gray vs grey

Action verbs

Metaphor

Judgment or judgement

Stative verbs

Simile

Favour or favor

Transitive verbs

Alliteration

Fulfil or fulfill

Verbs

Assonance

Labor or labour

Nouns

Malapropism


Frequently asked questions about spelt or spelled

Is it spelled or spelt wrong?

Spelled and spelt are two spellings of the same verb. The usage depends on the type of English.

  • In British English, both “spelt” and “spelled” are used, but “spelt” is a bit more common. So “spelled wrong” and “spelt wrong” are both accepted.
  • In American English, “spelled” is standard, so the correct version is “spelled wrong.”

Other examples of verbs that are both regular and irregular are dreamed or dreamt, burnt or burned, learnt or learned, 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 spelled incorrectly or spelt incorrectly?

Spelled and spelt are two spellings of the same verb. The usage depends on the type of English.

  • In British English, both “spelt” and “spelled” are used, but “spelt” is a bit more common. So “spelled incorrectly” and “spelt incorrectly” are both accepted.
  • In American English, “spelled” is standard, so the correct version is “spelled incorrectly.”

Other examples of verbs that are both regular and irregular are dreamed or dreamt, burnt or burned, learnt or learned, 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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