Is it learned or learnt?

These are from a set of words which has two forms of the past.

These include the following:

  • burned/burnt
  • learned/learnt
  • smelled/smelt
  • spelled/spelt
  • spilled/spilt
  • spoiled/spoilt

Usually, when forming the past tense of a verb, the -ed form is used, while the -t form is used mainly for adjectives, but not always.


  • What have you learned? [perfect tense]
  • It was burnt toast. [adjective]

NB: Archaic English uses an exception (but this is pronounced differently) – ‘a learned man’.