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Published by at March 21st, 2024 , Revised On March 26, 2024

Spelt Vs Spelled: Difference & Examples

The English language, with its rich history and global reach, has developed fascinating variations across continents. One such instance is the difference between “spelt” and “spelled.” Both seem to convey the same meaning, but are they truly interchangeable? Let’s explore this. 

SpeltAustraliaShe spelt her name out loud.
He always spelt “colour” with a ‘u’.
SpelledUSHe spelled his name out loud.
She always spelled “favor” without a ‘u’.

Spelt Vs Spelled

Both “spelt” and “spelled” function as the past tense and past participle of the verb “to spell,” signifying the act of forming words with letters. However, the preferred choice depends on the specific type of English you are using:

American English

In the United States, “spelled” reigns supreme. It is the standard and widely accepted form for past tense and past participle constructions.

  • “I spelled the word ‘rhythm’ correctly in the spelling bee.”
  • “The teacher spelled out the instructions on the board.”
  • “The children were practising words that were often misspelled.”

Australian English

Across the pond, things get a bit more flexible. Here, both “spelled” and “spelt” are considered grammatically correct. You might see sentences like “She spelt her name carefully” or “The instructions were clearly spelt out.”

  • “She spelt her name with a double ‘L.'” (acceptable alongside “spelled”)
  • “The message was clearly spelt out in the code.” (acceptable alongside “spelled out”)
  • “The exam tested their ability to identify misspelt words.”

The Etymology Of Spelt And Spelled

To understand the current usage, let’s peek into the etymological treasure chest:

  • Spelt: This variant finds its roots in the Old English word “spellian,” which meant “to tell” or “to relate.” Over time, the meaning narrowed down to the act of forming words with letters.
  • Spelled: This version has a slightly different lineage. It traces back to the Middle English verb “spellen,” which also stemmed from “spellian” but took on the specific meaning of “to write with letters.”

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Examples Of Spelt Vs Spelled

Spelt Spelled
She spelt her name for him. She spelled her name for him.
He baked bread using spelt flour. He baked bread using spelled flour.
The word “read” is spelt the same in the present and past tense. The word “read” is spelled the same in the present and past tense.

Tips For Using Spelt And Spelled

Here are some handy tips to ensure you use “spelt” and “spelled” flawlessly:

  • Double-check your audience: If you are unsure about the target audience’s preferred English dialect, opting for “spelled” is generally a safe bet.
  • Context is key: Pay attention to the surrounding sentence. Does it point towards forming words with letters (past tense or past participle) or the spelt grain?
  • Dictionaries are your friend: If you are still in doubt, consult a reliable dictionary that specifies usage based on different English dialects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Both “spelt” and “spelled” are correct past tense forms of the verb “spell.” “Spelt” is more commonly used in Australian English, while “spelled” is preferred in American English. Both are acceptable globally.

In the UK, “spelt” and “spelled” are both accepted as past tense forms of the verb “spell.” However, “spelt” is more commonly used in Australian English, while “spelled” is more prevalent in American English.

Americans typically use “spelled” instead of “spelt” due to differences in historical language development. American English often favours regularised spellings and has diverged from certain Australian English conventions over time, leading to variations like this in usage.

In Canada, both “spelled” and “spelt” are understood and accepted, as Canadian English draws influences from both British and American English. However, “spelled” is generally more common in Canadian English, reflecting closer alignment with American English usage.

In Australia, “spelt” is the more common past tense form of the verb “spell,” aligning closely with the British english conventions.

In English, “spelt” refers to a type of ancient grain similar to wheat. It’s used in various culinary applications, particularly in baking, due to its nutty flavour and nutritional benefits, including high protein and fibre content.