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Published by at March 21st, 2024 , Revised On July 11, 2024

Spelt Vs Spelled: Difference & Examples

With its rich history and global reach, the English language has developed fascinating variations across continents. Multiple words in the English language have the same meaning and pronunciation but differ in spelling. 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. 

What is the Meaning of “Spell” and “Spelled” 

The word “spell” is a verb that means to write or name the letters in the correct order. Both words “spelled” and “spelt” are common forms of past tense and past participle of the word “spell.” The only difference between them is geographical regions. These points should be considered when choosing “spelled” or “spelt”.

  • Spelled and spelt are both past tense forms of the verb “to spell.”
  • Spelled is acceptable in all varieties of English.
  • Spelt is not acceptable in U.S. English but in British English.
  • Spelt can also refer to an ancient grain related to wheat, barley, and rye.
Spelt Spelled
Meaning To signify or to explain explicitly. To signify or to explain explicitly.
Used in British and Australia American English
Pronunciation [SPELT] [SPELD]
Can be used as Noun and a Verb Only as a verb
  • Elia spelt her name for him
  • John spelled his name for her.
  • Advert baked bread using spelt flour.
  • Advert baked bread using spelled flour.
  • The child spelt the word for the teacher.
  • The child spelled the word for the teacher
  • Spell as a Regular or Irregular Verb

    The word spell can be used as a regular or irregular verb. It depends on the chosen word spelling in either present or past tense verbs.

    • Verbs that form their past tense by adding “-ed” are regular verbs.
    • Verbs that form their past tense in some other way are irregular verbs.
    Usage Present Tense Past Tense Example Sentence
    Regular Verb spell spelled
  • She spelled her name out clearly during the interview.
  • He spelled the word correctly in the spelling bee.
  • Irregular Verb spell spelt
  • She spelt her name out clearly during the interview.
  • He spelt the word correctly in the spelling bee.
  • In British English, it’s more common to use irregular verb forms that can be either regular or irregular. Other examples of verbs that are both irregular and regular are dreamed or dreamt, kneeled or knelt, burnt or burned, and learnt or learned.

    Is it Spelled out or Spelt out?

    • “Spelled out”: It is most commonly used in American english which refers to naming or writing the letters constituting a word in order. E.g: I spelled out my name: J-O-H-N
    • “Spelt out”: It is most commonly used in British English and Australian English. The phrase to spelt out means to make something clear. E.g: He spelt out the details of his plan.

    You can also find publications that use “spelt out,” but they are less frequent, especially in American English. Similarly, phrases like “spelled trouble,” “spelled disaster,” and “spelled ruin” are more commonly found than their “spelt” usage in both British and American English.

    Is it Misspelled or Misspelt?

    The negative forms of “spelled” and “spelt” are “misspelled” and “misspelt.” Both words are used as verbs to refer to misspelling a word incorrectly. They can also be used as adjectives to describe a word that has been wrongly spelled. The same difference lies in both regions as 

    • In UK English: Both words “misspelled” and “misspelt” are common.
    • In US and Australian English: The only standard and acceptable word is “misspelled.”

    Examples: Misspelt and misspelled in a sentence

    Word Examples
    Misspelt (Irregular Verb)
  • The word on the poster was misspelt.
  • He found out that he had misspelt his friend’s name.
  • Misspelled (Regular Verb)
  • The word on the poster was misspelled.
  • He found out that he had misspelled his friend’s name
  • Using Spelled in a Sentence

    • I didn’t know he strangely spelled his name that way.
    • The principal spelled out the word on the board for the class to see.
    • After watching the horror movie, I learned that redrum is murder spelled backward.
    • E.g: Eisha spelled out the steps for solving the math problem so that everyone could understand.

    Using Spelt in a Sentence

    • My name is Ayesha, but hers is Eisha, spelt with an E.
    • Katherine is a difficult name. Everyone spelt her name incorrectly.
    • I prefer to use spelt instead of heavily processed wheat for my homemade bread because it is nutritious and better in taste. 
    • Her favorite dish was always spelt ‘lasagna,’ with two ‘n’s and an ‘a’ at the end, just like her grandmother used to make.

    Tips For Using Spelt And Spelled

    Here are some handy tips to ensure you use “spelt” and “spelled” correctly in a sentence:

    • Correct Usage: To use it correctly, remember that Spelt is commonly used in British English. Spelt and British both have the letter “T” in them.
    • 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.

    “Spelt” or “spelled” in the “-ing” form

    The verb “spelt/spelled” in its “-ing” form is “spelling” in both British and American English. Whether you use “spelt” or “spelled” according to your region, the present participle (the “-ing” form) for both variations is always “spelling”.

    • In British English: “Spelling”
    • In American English: “Spelling”

    Following are some examples of “spell” with “ing” in sentences using the present participle form of “spelt/spelled.”

    • Elia is spelling the word wrong. (Verb)
    • They were spelling their full names correctly. (Verb)
    • Advert has a passion for spelling. (Gerund)

    Why Do We Use Different Words for the Past Tense of Spell?

    Verb usage that differs from that of other English-speaking countries can appear throughout the U.S. Two factors explain this: the first is that North America is separated from geography and other parts of the world. The people who arrived speaking English and French combined themselves with other languages, such as Latin and Greek, and developed their speech-language. They also gained other words from native populations and different cultures.

    However, irregular verbs are more common in English. So, you may also be confused, in other words, whether offense or offence is correct. When you are stuck in these questions of American spelling, the best way through them is to become increasingly familiar with the language’s irregular verbs. You can accomplish this by reading and writing American English and referring to resources for irregular verbs when you think you’ve encountered one.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    “Spelt” and “spelled” are both corrected words and accepted globally. These words are past forms of the verb “spell” and are used in different regions of the world. Spelt is commonly used in Australian English, while “spelled” is preferable in American English.

    In British and Australian English, both words “spelt” and “spelled” are acceptable. In American English, the only acceptable word is “spelled” that are commonly used.

    Americans typically use “spelled” instead of “spelt.” This difference in usage is due to the development of historical language with time. US English often favours regularised spellings from Australian conventions, leading to usage variations.

    In Canada, both words “spelt” and “spelled” are understandable and acceptable. However, the word “spelled” is generally more common in Canadian English and reflects closer alignment with American Usage.

    Australia usually follows British English conventions. So, the word “spelt” is commonly used in Australia as a past form of the verb “spell.”

    In English, the word “spelt” specifically refers to ancient grain that is similar to wheat. It is most common in culinary and baking due to its various nutritional benefits containing high fiber and protein content.