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Pedants' corner


(74 Posts)
NanKate Thu 15-Nov-18 08:03:33

I am relatively good at spelling and grammar but I have never got to grips with past/passed. Help !

Anyone else have a grammar or spelling problem ?

MawBroon Thu 15-Nov-18 08:34:05

Likewise “learnt” and “learned” although I think past (former ) and passed (went past - see what I did there?) are easier.
confused when I overthink things.

ninathenana Thu 15-Nov-18 08:39:38

Lay Lie confused

sodapop Thu 15-Nov-18 08:51:15

Is 'learnt' actually a word though. People also have problems with defuse and diffuse.
I thought for a moment this would be a thread about dying.

M0nica Thu 15-Nov-18 09:12:05

I think too many people rely on spell checkers and actually do not know how to spell. Spell checkers are not contextual so if the letters on the screen spell a word, it accepts it, even if it is wrong for its situation.

Defuse/diffuse surprises me. Their meanings are so different. You defuse bombs and some people have plug-in scented diffusers in their homes that diffuse a scent into the air

grannyticktock Thu 15-Nov-18 09:15:46

I think "learnt" is simply an older form that is less common nowadays; similar verbs are spoilt/spoiled and earnt/earned. Both forms can be either the past tense or the past participle.

"Past" and "passed" are more troublesome because they are used differently. "Passed" is the past tense of "pass" (I passed my exam) and also the past participle (I have passed all my exams) but "past" can't be used to replace it, because we have extra meanigs for "past"; it's a noun used to denote times or events that are further back in time (in the past), and also as a preposition (I drove past your house; it is past my bedtime.) If we want to use a verb, it would be "I passed your house" (past tense of "pass").

Luckygirl Thu 15-Nov-18 09:16:07

Effect and affect; offence and offense.

I was talking with my 5 year old GD last week about the madness of the English language. Wrote and boat were the words under discussion.

PECS Thu 15-Nov-18 09:43:08

There is nothing wrong with using a spell checker but you need to use a grammar check too and make sure it is on English not on US setting !

MiniMoon Thu 15-Nov-18 09:49:57

I use learnt and spelt to try, in my own little way, to keep the old spellings alive. American English spelling is becoming more prevalent these days. I like the old way of spelling best.

MawBroon Thu 15-Nov-18 09:53:27

I think “earnt/ earned “ is even more fraught.
“Earned” is both a past tense and an adjective ( e.g. earned/ unearned income)
In fact do we use “earnt” at all?
Oh it ges worse the more you think about it!

Fennel Thu 15-Nov-18 12:07:09

I thought past was a noun and passed a verb?
I don't know about the others though - maybe accepted alternatives in modern times.

sodapop Thu 15-Nov-18 12:26:40

They are completely different MOnica but I have lost count of the number of times I have seen in newspapers or books 'the situation was diffused' or 'the light was defused round the room' for example grrrrr

sodapop Thu 15-Nov-18 12:28:06

Never heard 'earnt' * Maw* that sounds even worse.

grannyticktock Thu 15-Nov-18 12:30:39

Fennel: yes you're right, as I said above, past can also be a noun, as in "in the past" but also a preposition, as in "You walked right past me" or "half past two"; and yes, "passed" is a verb.

Luckygirl; effect and affect aren't alternative spellings, they are different words with different meanings.
"Offense" is not correct in UK spelling, it's only used in the US.

EllanVannin Thu 15-Nov-18 12:37:54

Spilt-spilled. Present and past tense ?
Those words ending in " T " = present.

Jalima1108 Thu 15-Nov-18 13:37:07

I never know when to used learned or learnt but I do think learned is used here and in America whereas learnt is used more often here in Britain.

Learned can be used as an adjective too eg learned professor

Other words are similar, eg burned and burnt and most people would say 'I burnt the toast' rather than burned
Spoiled/spoilt, spelled/spelt

This link about the use of past and passed may help you:

NanKate Thu 15-Nov-18 14:43:04

I have just looked up the link Jalima and it was helpful but rather lengthy ! I have copied the tip which I think will help me and here it is. Thanks.

‘I hope this has helped and that you’re not past caring about the whole subject! Here’s a final hint: past is never a verb, so if you know that the word you want is a verb, passed is always the right choice. Conversely, if you need a noun, adjective, adverb, or preposition, it’s got to be past.’

Finally Jalima the owner of that dog you kindly looked after earlier this year, would definitely know the answers to all our queries. 😉

Jalima1108 Thu 15-Nov-18 14:59:19

I realise I always say I burnt the toast (quite frequently! grin) but always have to think with learnt and learned.

Help, I must have amnesia, trying to remember the dog, that is worrying

grannyticktock Thu 15-Nov-18 16:56:03

Ellan Vannin: no, the present tense is spill (and learn, pass, burn etc).

Funny, isn't it, how that -t ending (which I think is gradually becoming archaic) is used on some words but not on other, similar ones: burnt but not turnt, spilt but not fillt.

NanKate Thu 15-Nov-18 17:03:50

Jalima do you remember her Maj and her corgis ?

Jalima1108 Thu 15-Nov-18 21:17:53

I had forgotten NanKate!

NanKate Thu 15-Nov-18 21:48:39

I suspect Jalima you will no longer get a royal Christmas card from her Maj or the 🐶

phoenix Thu 15-Nov-18 21:51:53

gnashing my teeth currently about a post on the village website that refers to " the oldest record of male residence in the village"


gerry86 Fri 16-Nov-18 09:46:18

I have trouble with learnt and learned and also bought and brought

moorlikeit Fri 16-Nov-18 09:56:38

I certainly use earnt and learnt as they are definitely words!! There are other similar forms. Here's a link: