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Learnt VS Learned: Difference Between Them And How To Correctly Use Them

by subhasree nag

There are many words that use the letter ‘t’ at the end in their past tense. I hope you have noticed that the words slept and burnt are the past tense of the verbs sleep and burn, respectively. But these are not what we are going to discuss today; today, we are going to discuss the verb ‘learn,’ and its past forms, ‘learned’ and ‘learnt.’

The past tense of the verb learn is spelled in two ways, “learned” or “learnt.” Both the spellings are correct, but which one to use where depends on the location and dialect. One is used mostly in British English, and one is used in American English. Today, we are going to finish this confusion about learnt vs learned. Let’s get to that.

Learnt vs learned_ Exploring the difference

Learnt vs learned: Exploring the difference  

Let’s try something different about understanding the difference this time. The table given below will help, I believe.

Differentiating factorLearnedLearnt
MeaningObtaining knowledge or informationObtaining knowledge or information
Association to learnPast/Past participle tensePast/Past participle tense
Parts of speechAdjective or verbVerb
UsageAmerican/Canadian EnglishBritish English
ExamplesHe learned about his wife’s illness through the letter he received.He learnt about his wife’s illness through the letter he received.

There are lots of variations of a single word that actually means the same, and the above-mentioned table explains that. Both the words ‘learnt’ and ‘learned’ have similar meanings and are both used as the past as well as past participle form of the word learn.

Learnt can only be used as a verb, whereas learned can be used as a verb as well as an adjective. Learnt is actually used in British English, whereas learned is used in Canadian and American English.

All we have to know about ‘learnt’  

To begin with, learnt is a verb that is used as the past as well as past participle form of learn. But this spelling is mostly used in British English when they try to portray that they have learned about something or go to know about some information in the past.

So it is acceptable and not wrong if you use the word learnt instead of learned in a sentence or while speaking, but keep in mind to use it when you are writing in British English. Do not get confused with both forms.

Examples of learnt in a sentence  

  • I learnt the French language when I moved there for my marketing job in a French firm.
  • I learnt a valuable lesson today; this will be with me forever.
  • Rory learnt the pianoforte back in the sixties, and look how she has mastered the art now.
  • Jack learnt about her wife’s death while he was in the meeting, and he broke down almost immediately in the conference room.
  • It was almost time that he learnt a lesson, or it was getting really difficult to get him under control.
  • Joe is such a talented boy; he learnt the song by heart and gave an amazing performance in from of the audience in the auditorium.
  • Barry learnt that he had not only passed the examination but had made the cut-off for getting the scholarship as well.
  • Tony learnt about the history of the place from his grandmother. Since then, he has been fascinated by its history and culture.
  • Christine learnt about her father’s transfer and got really upset about the fact that she would have to relocate and leave all her friends behind.
  • Cheryl learnt how to cook the hard way during the covid-19 lockdown when she was all alone in her apartment.

All we have to know about ‘learned’  

The word ‘learned;’ is also the past tense and past participle tense of “learn.” This term is used to demonstrate educational qualifications, gather knowledge, and polish some sort of skills.

Previously the word was used to mean “to teach,” but now that has been rejected, and the standard meaning of the word is “to learn about something.” People use this word to show what skills they have acquired or what they have learned.

Examples of learned in a sentence  

  • No one has learned all of this by birth; they have worked really hard to reach where they are today.
  • Mary learned all of these by herself, she couldn’t afford to keep a tutor, so she put in more effort.
  • Emma is the most learned lawyer I ever met, I have never seen her lose one case in her entire career.
  • Jenny had been planning this for a long time, but she managed to keep it a secret from her friends as well: I learned that from her journal, which she left behind.
  • Ben learned to cook faster than we thought; he caught on quickly.
  • We learned how to dance from the tutor, and she prepared the whole act in just one week.
  • Jenny learned sewing all by herself and made an amazing blouse for her mother.
  • Ben learned a lot about his legendary grandfather, who fought for the country in the war.
  • “CBC News has also learned a number of Conservative MPs will be called to testify by the Crown.” – CBC
  • “Ackerman has learned from user feedback that many of his listeners fall asleep during the twenty-minute introduction, and I’m usually one of them.” The New Yorker

The exception  

Grammer never fails to amaze me. Even though both spellings are correct to use, in some scenarios, ‘learned’ is the correct one, no matter what. Sometimes we try to pronounce the term ‘learned’ in syllables like “ler-ned.” This is used when we want to refer to someone with a lot of educational qualifications or who has a lot of knowledge.

For example  

  • “The girl with the very ordinary education became, in the words of her daughter, Sue, a ‘very learned’ woman.” – The Sydney Morning Herald
  • “You’re welcome / Most learned reverend sir, into our kingdom: / Use us and it.” – William Shakespeare, Henry VIII
  • He is a learned man; talk about him with respect.


I hope the confusion between “learnt vs learned” ends with this article, and you stop looking up the internet for “define learnt vs learned,” “learned vs learnt uk,” “learn past tense,” “past tense of learn,” and “learnt meaning.”

Just remember which form you are using, British English or American English. Do not mix things up, and you will stay clear from making any mistakes.


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