Kneeled Or Knelt – British vs. American English

15.04.24 British English vs. American English Time to read: 4min

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The global expansion of the English language has created various diverse dialects, each characterized by distinctive spellings and pronunciation facets. In academic writing, the pursuit of linguistic consistency is paramount for maintaining coherence and adhering to the principles of academic integrity. Among the various distinctions between English dialects, British English vs. American English stands out in terms of spelling variations. This article will explore the case of “knelt” or “kneeled.”

“Kneeled” or “knelt”

“Kneeled” and “knelt” are forms of the verb “to kneel,” which means to go down or rest on one or both knees. The action can be voluntary, such as when showing reverence or submission, or as a resting position. The choice between “kneeled” and “knelt” typically comes down to regional preferences or stylistic considerations, with “knelt” being more commonly used in British English and “kneeled” found in both British and American English, though “knelt” is also widely accepted in American usage.


British English




American English



In this case, both “knelt” and “kneeled” are accepted versions of the past tense or past participle forms of the verb “to kneel” in British English and American English. Overall, both dialects prefer to use “knelt” and are considered slightly more formal or litreary. In your academic work, it is crucial to stick to one variant in order to keep academic integrity and credibility.

Note: It is quite uncommon that both British English and American English prefer the same spelling conventions. Primarily, UK spelling conventions are more complex and reflect traditional spelling, while in the US, they have a more simplified structure.

Examples of using “kneeled” and “knelt”

The following example sentences represent the correct usage of the words “kneeled/knelt” as past tense verb and past participle.

Past tense

Kneeled-or-knelt-examples-ed-form-past tense-UK-flag
  • The knight knelt/kneeled before the queen.
  • She knelt/kneeled down to tie her shoelaces.
  • He knelt/kneeled by the bedside every night.

Past participle

  • They had knelt/kneeled in silence.
  • He had already knelt/kneeled to propose.
  • She had knelt/kneeled beside the garden.

“Kneeled” or “knelt” as a verb

The base or infinitive form without any inflection of the verb “kneeled/knelt” is “to kneel” in both British and American dialects. The following examples show how it is used correctly in a sentence structure.

  • The knight will kneel before the queen.
  • She had to kneel to tie her shoelaces.
  • He decided to kneel by the bedside to pray.

“Kneeled” or “knelt” in the “-ing” form

The “-ing” inflection of a verb indicates a gerund or the present participle. In both, Britain and North America, the inflected version is “kneeling.” Below, you will find several examples of sentences with the word “kneeling” as a gerund and present participle.

Present participle

  • He is kneeling by the river to refill his bottle.
  • She was kneeling among the flower field.
  • They are kneeling to make a statement.


  • After an hour of kneeling, her knees felt stiff.
  • Kneeling before the altar is a ritual.
  • The act of kneeling is a sign of respect.

“Kneeled” or “knelt” as an adjective

When the word is inflected in the “-ing” form, “kneeling” can function as an adjective, describing a noun. This inflection is derived from the present participle of the verb “to kneel.” Here are three examples of using “kneeling” as an adjective.

  • She noticed kneeling men by the roadside.
  • The painting depicts a kneeling knight.
  • The kneeling figure conveys humility.


In British spelling conventions, the preferred version is “knelt.” However, “kneeled” is widely acknowledged and also considered grammatically correct.

The simple past tense of “to kneel” is “kneeled” or “knelt.” Both variants are accepted in British and American English, however, “knelt” is the preferred version.

Base form To kneel
Past simple Kneeled/knelt
Past participle Kneeled/knelt
3rd person singular Kneels
Present participle/Gerund Kneeling
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