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Published by at March 19th, 2024 , Revised On March 25, 2024

Kneeled Or Knelt: Differences & Examples

English language is tricky, especially when it comes to the different language rules and variations. A common mistake made by even the most seasoned writers is the use of kneeled vs knelt. 


Let us establish the meaning of “kneel” itself. It refers to the act of bending down and resting one or both knees on the ground. This action can signify respect, submission, worship, or simply getting into a lower position for practical reasons.

For example:

  • The knight knelt before the king to receive his orders. (Respect)
  • The prisoner knelt before the judge, accepting his sentence. (Submission)
  • The gardener knelt to tend to the flower bed. (Practicality)

Kneeled Vs Knelt

Now, onto the crux of the matter – the past tense. Both “kneeled” and “knelt” are grammatically correct ways to express the past action of kneeling. However, there are some differences in their usage depending on regional preferences.

In Australian English, “knelt” is the standard past tense form. You will encounter it more frequently in formal writing and speech. 

Example: The Queen knelt at the altar during the service.

American English leans slightly more towards “kneeled” as the preferred past tense. However, “knelt” is still widely understood and accepted.

Example: The athlete kneeled on the ground in exhaustion after the race.

The same conventions are followed for terms like dreamed vs dreamt

A Matter Of Preference (& Consistency)

Here is the key takeaway: both “kneeled” and “knelt” are correct. The choice often boils down to your audience and personal preference.

  • Formal Writing: If you are aiming for a more formal tone, particularly in British and Australian English contexts, “knelt” might be the safer bet.
  • Informal Writing: In casual writing or American English, “kneeled” is perfectly acceptable.

Examples Of Kneeled Or Knelt

Let us solidify our understanding with some concrete examples showcasing both “kneeled” and “knelt” in action:

Historical Fiction (British & Australian English)

The young soldier knelt before the battlefield cross, a silent prayer escaping his lips.

Science Fiction (American English)

Exhausted from the long trek through the desert, the astronaut kneeled beside a shimmering oasis.

Dialogue (Mixing Both)

Have you ever knelt to propose?” Sarah asked curiously.

John humorously chuckled. “Actually, I knelt when I changed a flat tyre for my date once. Not quite as romantic, but it worked!

News Article (Neutral Tone)

The protestors kneeled in a moment of silence for the victims of the tragedy.

Kneeled Down Or Knelt Down

  • She kneeled down beside the bed to pick up the fallen book.
  • He knelt down in the garden to examine the delicate flowers.

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She kneeled down to tie her shoelaces.
He kneeled in front of the altar to pray.
They kneeled before the king as a sign of respect.
The knight knelt before the queen to receive his honour.
She knelt beside the injured bird to examine it.
His right judgement had Amir kneeled in respect.
The soldiers knelt before the fallen comrade’s grave.

Frequently Asked Questions

The past tense forms of “kneel” are “kneeled” and “knelt.” Both are correct and widely used, with “kneeled” being more common in American English and “knelt” more prevalent in British English. For example: “She kneeled before the altar” or “He knelt in front of the king.”

“Kneel” is a verb that means to bend one’s knees and rest on them, often as a sign of reverence, submission, or prayer. “Knelt” is the past tense form of “kneel.” For example, “She knelt in front of the altar,” indicating she bent her knees and rested on them in front of the altar.

The past tense of “knee” is “kneed.” It’s an irregular verb, meaning it doesn’t follow the typical pattern of adding “-ed” to form its past tense. For example, “She accidentally kneed him in the stomach during the soccer game,” describes an action in the past where the knee made contact.

He paused to kneel beside the riverbank, feeling the cool water lapping gently against his hands. With a silent prayer, he bowed his head, letting the tranquillity of nature wash over him. In that moment of reverence, he found solace in the simple act of kneeling amidst the beauty of the wilderness.