Grammar 5 min read

Learnt vs. Learned: Why They're Both Correct

Main Learnt vs. Learned Takeaways:

  • Both learnt and learned are acceptable forms of the verb learn in past participle and past tense.
  • Learnt is more common outside of North America, especially in British English.
  • Wherever you are, when used as an adjective, only learned is correct.
  • Sometimes learned is used as an adjective, but learnt is always a verb.
She learned all the words to the song in less than an hour.
She learnt all the words to the song in less than an hour.
His grandmother was a very learned woman and an accomplished researcher.
Unfortunately, sometimes hate is a learned behavior.

What’s the Meaning of Learned?

As a verb, learned means that you completed the process of acquiring or retaining knowledge. It’s how we conjugate the verb learn in both past tense and past participle. However, as an adjective, learned describes a knowledgeable or well-educated person. You also pronounce learned differently depending on whether you use it as a noun or a verb. For example, learned the verb sounds more like one syllable while learned the adjective sounds more like two.

Great idea: Want to make sure people find your content online? INK is the world's favorite editor for creating web content because it can help your content be more relevant for search engines.
Get the Best Writing Tool For Free
First AI web content optimization platform just for writers
GET INK
learnt vs. learbed: Learnt and learned are both past participle of the verb learn.
Learnt and learned are both the past participle and past tense of the verb learn. Learnt is the preferred spelling in countries that use British English. Meanwhile, learned is commonly used in the U.S. and Canada.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into this difference in pronunciation.

You don’t fully pronounce the second “e” when you use learned in reference to information previously acquired. You know you’re saying the verb correctly when the word sounds more like it only has one syllable.

Here are some examples of when you would use this pronunciation of learned:

I learned how to ride a bike when I was eight years old.
Keeping your elbows off the table while you eat is learned behavior.

Conversely, you emphasize the second “e” when you use learned as an adjective to describe a person. You know you’re saying the adjective correctly when the word sounds more like two distinct syllables.

Here’s an example of when to use this pronunciation of learned:

Don spent so much time reading encyclopedias as as a child that he became quite the learned young man.
Learned definition: (verb) knowledge gained by personal experience or formal studies

Learnt definition: (verb) knowledge gained by personal experience or formal studies

Learned definition: (adjective) scholarly; demonstrating, requiring, or characterized by learning

Learnt vs. Learned: Which one is Correct?

As a verb, both learned and learnt are correct. They both mean that you completed the process of acquiring or retaining knowledge. And, they are both accepted ways of conjugating the verb learn in past tense and past participle. Learnt is exactly the same thing, just the more common way of spelling the verb outside of North America. However, as an adjective, learned describes a knowledgeable or well-educated person. When used this way, only learned is correct, no matter your location. In short, you cannot use learnt as an adjective.

At the end of the day, you can typically use learnt or learned in a sentence without introducing a grammatical error. The only difference is that learned is more common in the U.S. and Canada, while learnt is often preferred outside of North America.

An American and British talking. The American is saying learned, while the Brit is saying learnt. There's a text that reads: As a past tense verb, both learned and learnt are correct. As an adjective, only learned is correct.
“Learned” is the only acceptable spelling when you want to use it as an adjective.

Interestingly, the -ed variant for past tense verbs is becoming more common in British English. That means learned may eventually replace learnt as the preferred spelling for English speakers in countries that use British English.

When used as verbs that indicate the past tense of learn, learnt and learned are interchangeable. But, you cannot use learnt as an adjective, as this function is reserved for learned.

How do you use Learnt in a Sentence?

You can use learnt any time you need the past tense of the verb learn. Let’s review some examples of learnt and learned in sentences.

After burning her wrist, Layla learned her lesson about cooking without an oven mitt.
Janos learnt the material quickly, even though he was absent last week.
Michelle learned how to drive after just one month of practice.
Paul learnt how to build a deck by watching his father.
Lilian learned how to cook after seeing a tutorial on YouTube.
Rico learnt the multiplication table in less than a week.

In the sentences above, learned and learnt are interchangeable words. However, it’s important to remember you can only use learned as an adjective, not learnt.

You may have heard of learned behavior or learned attitude.

Her messiness was a learned behavior.
Her messiness was a learnt behavior.
Being messy is something she learned from her mom.

You can’t go wrong using learnt vs. learned as a verb, regardless of your location. Learnt is more common outside of North America, but it’s still an acceptable word for U.S. and Canadian speakers. You can even use it in Scrabble!

Test Your Learnt vs. Learned Skills With This Quick Quiz

Learnt vs. Learned Question #1

Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is TRUE. Both words function as the past participle and past tense of the verb "learn."

Learnt or Learned Question #2

What part of speech is learnt?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is B. “Learnt” is a verb that references a previous process of acquiring or retaining knowledge.

Learnt Question #3

Which of these statements is NOT true?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. You can only use learned as an adjective in a sentence.

Learned Question #4

Which of these sentences is grammatically incorrect?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is C. You can only use “learnt” as a verb, but not as an adjective.

Read More: Toward Vs. Towards: Which One Should You Use?

First AI Web Content Optimization Platform Just for Writers

Found this article interesting?

Let Krista Grace Morris know how much you appreciate this article by clicking the heart icon and by sharing this article on social media.


Profile Image

Krista Grace Morris

Krista heads up Marketing and Content Creation here at INK. From Linguistics and History to puns and memes, she's interested in the systems we create to share our ideas with each other.

Comments (0)
Most Recent most recent
You
    share Scroll to top

    Link Copied Successfully

    Sign in

    Sign in to access your personalized homepage, follow authors and topics you love, and clap for stories that matter to you.

    Sign in with Google Sign in with Facebook

    By using our site you agree to our privacy policy.