Learnt or Learned Know the Difference

The number of people who start learning English to freely speak and understand each other is growing every day. English is also is an official language in many countries. That’s the reason why various differences in language are bound to emerge. The English language has been changing through years due to numerous different reasons. As a native language, English is mainly spoken in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Even though the USA and UK English have a lot in common, there is still enough dissimilarity between two variants of the English language.

In fact, as the language evolves, new differences are emerging, and some previous are becoming less evident.

In American English such verbs as lean, spell, dream, learn, spoil, spill, burn and smell are all regular. But in UK English, these verbs are usually irregular with past tenses forms ending in –t – leant, spelt, dreamt, learnt, spoilt, spilt, burnt and smelt. This is a minor difference that can be easily missed in speech but is much more visible in written form.

Learnt vs learned

We will take a closer look at words learned – learnt.

The verb to learn means to gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience. It is a word with both an irregular form and a regular form. You can write either learned or learnt in past simple and past perfect. However, they are not interchangeable, mostly in the US.

A lot of words are spelled differently in UK and American English, even if they perform the same function in a sentence.


Americans prefer Learned

In America, learned dominates. The use of learnt as the past tense or past participle of to learn is considered a spelling mistake by many. It will certainly annoy a fair proportion of your readers.


Brits Demand Learnt

In Britain, learnt is more spread, but learned is generally accepted. (As a result of American influence extending.)


Learned can be an adjective or a verb. As an adjective, learned is 1) a synonym of genius, intelligent and sometimes describes to a person who knows a lot about one or more subjects, especially academic subjects, 2) a learned piece of writing shows great knowledge about a subject, especially an academic subject. Take a look at these examples of learned as adjective:


  • The learned professor will be conducting a lecture tomorrow

  • She was very learned woman


“Learned” is now the preferred form in the UK as well, so especially if you are writing for an international audience, it’s better to stick with “learned”. If you want to show the way some speakers might actually talk, you would better prefer learnt over learned. In all other cases, select learned instead.


The verb ‘learn’ has two variants of the past tense form spellings, which means to acquire knowledge

• The one and only appropriate spelling as an adjective is learned;

• Learnt is more widespread in UK English than American.

In formal writing, you need to write learned. It is more widespread even as a UK English verb, the one context where learnt is accepted.


When you say you learned or learnt something, you talk about the same thing - gaining knowledge or experience of something, for example by being taught. The only difference is that the way you spell it says something about where you’re from.

Also note that “learned” is pronounced /lɜːnd/ (UK) resp. /lɜːrnd/ (US), i.e. with a “D” at the end, whereas “learnt” is pronounced /lɜːnt/


We hope this article was helpful. Using anyone of these two forms learned vs learnt is correct and is up to you which word to use.