Learned or Learnt?

English is a tricky language – it has so many variants spoken all over the world that one is almost always in doubt about the usage of certain words or phrases. The Past Participle and Past Tense of the verb to learn is yet another example.

To  learn means to acquire knowledge of, or skill in, something through study or experience. It has both – a regular form and an irregular form, which we will discuss here.

First things first – both learned and learnt are correct. When to use which one depends on the country you are in. Learned is the generally preferred form in the United States and Canada whereas other English-speaking countries (those which follow British English) use learnt.


  • She learned the table quickly.
  • Rita learnt classical dance in school.


At times, learned is the only option – when you use it as an adjective. In such cases, you cannot use learnt.

Pronunciation: emphasis on the last two syllables -ED (as in said).


  • My neighbour is a very learned
  • He seemed to be a learned

Some other verbs with regular and irregular forms:

Verb Past Simple Past Perfect
Dream dreamed/dreamt Dream/dreamt
Hang hung/hanged hung/hanged
Burn burned/burnt burned/burnt
Smell Smelled/smelt Smelled/smelt
Spell Spelled/spelt Spelled/spelt


As in the case of learnt, the second form (e.g. speltdreamt) is more common in British English.

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