What is the difference between `learned’ and `learnt’?

There are many verbs like this: dreamed, dreamt; spoiled, spoilt; kneeled, knelt, etc. When used as a verb, both `learnt’ and `learned’ have the same meaning. You can say:

* I have learned/learnt a lot from Ganesh this semester. * Our new bowler has learned/learnt to bowl the `doosra’.

According to some scholars, `learned’ is more common in American English, while `learnt’ is used frequently in British English. When `learned’ is used as a verb, it is monosyllabic. In fact, some people pronounce it like the word `learnt’. Others pronounce the final `ed’ like the `d’ in `dip’, `deep’, and `do’.

When the word `learned’ is used as an adjective to mean `scholarly’, it is pronounced as a word with two syllables. The final `ed’ is pronounced like the `ed’ in `wanted’, `grounded’, and `hated’.

* As expected, the learned professor bored the poor students to death.

Source: The Hindu ‘Know Your English’ Series, November 7, 2005.

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