Spelt Or Spelled – British vs. American English

08.08.23 British English vs. American English Time to read: 2min

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In any type of academic writing, language and spelling are paramount. Whether you’re drafting an essay, novel, or dissertation, ensuring your spelling remains consistent throughout your writing is vital. Yet, one of the predominant dilemmas for writers derives from the different spelling of words between British English vs. American English. Whether it is “spelt” or “spelled” is a common example and frequently leads to confusion, resulting in inconsistencies. Gain a clear understanding of these two different spellings in this comprehensive guide.

“Spelt” or “spelled”

The word “spelt/spelled” refers to the verb “to spell” in its past tense and past participle, which means to write or speak out the letters of a word or words in their correct order.

Spelt or spelled UK flag

British English

spelt

spelled (not recommended)

Spelt or spelled US flag

American English

spelled

 

In British English, “spelt” and “spelled” are acceptable ways of spelling the word. However, in American English, it is standard to only use “spelled”.

Examples of using “spelt” and “spelled”

The following provides example sentences of the word “spelt/spelled” in British and American English.

Spelt-vs.-spelled-examples-verb-UK-flag
  • You have spelt/spelled my name wrong. It’s with a ‘S’, not a ‘C’.
  • The rules were spelt/spelled out in comprehensive terms.
  • The student pointed out that the teacher had spelt/spelled it wrong.
Spelt-vs.-spelled-examples-verb-US-flag
  • You have spelled my name wrong. It’s with a ‘S’, not a ‘C’.
  • The rules were spelled out in comprehensive terms.
  • The student pointed out that the teacher had spelled it wrong.

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

The verb “spelt/spelled” in its “-ing” form is “spelling” in both British and American English. I.e., regardless of whether you use “spelt” or “spelled” for your paper, the present participle (the “-ing” form) for both variations is always “spelling”.

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

The following will provide example sentences using the present participle form of “spelt/spelled”.

Spelt-vs.-spelled-spelling-UK-flag
  • She is spelling the word wrong. (Verb)
  • They were spelling their full names. (Verb)
  • He has a passion for spelling. (Gerund)
Spelt-vs.-spelled-spelling-US-flag

FAQs

“Spelled” refers to the standard form of the past tense of “to spell” in the US.

Both “spelt” and “spelled” are correct ways of spelling. However, “spelt” with -t in the end, is the preferred version in British English, while in American English they only use “spelled” with -ed in the end and double “l”.

“Spelt” is the preferred way of spelling of the past tense of the verb “to spell” in the UK. Therefore, it is correct.

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