spelled and spelt

If you're following US writing conventions, use spelled.
If you're following UK writing conventions, use spelt.

(If you're referring to the wheat, use spelt.)

Spelled and Spelt

The verb to spell most commonly means to write or name the letters that form a word in correct sequence.

To spell is one of those verbs with both an irregular form and a regular form. (See the table below for some others.) The past tense and the past participle can be written as either spelled or spelt. However, they are not interchangeable, especially in the US.

Americans Demand Spelled

In America, spelled dominates. The use of spelt as the past tense or past participle of to spell is considered a spelling mistake by many. It will certainly annoy a fair proportion of your readers.

Brits Prefer Spelt

Outside America, spelt is more common, but spelled is generally accepted. (This is almost certainly a result of American influence spreading.)

Misspelled and Misspelt

It's the same with misspelled and misspelt. Americans demand misspelled (and Brits will accept it). However, Brits prefer misspelt.

Verbs with Irregular and Regular Forms

The following verbs (like to spell) can be regular or irregular:
VerbPast SimplePast Participle
burnburned OR burntburned OR burnt
dreamdreamed OR dreamtdreamed OR dreamt
learnlearned OR learntlearned OR learnt
also hanged
also hanged
smellsmelled OR smeltsmelled OR smelt
spellspelled OR speltspelled OR spelt

As with spelt, the second form (e.g., learnt, dreamt) is more common in British English.


In America, the noun spelt is used to refer to a kind of wheat.

A Quick Test

Help Us To Improve English Grammar Lessons
Please tell us using this form.

See Also

Learned and Learnt Dived and dove Hanged and hung What are verbs? What are regular verbs? What are regular verbs? What is the past tense? What are past participles? What are nouns? List of easily confused words