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Earned Or Earnt?


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#1 Crown Taxis

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 05:14 PM

Here's another one !?

Is "earnt" really a word?
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#2 David P

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 05:51 PM

No, it's not.
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#3 Fran

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 07:20 PM

I don't disagree with David, and his answer is short and practical. However, if you want the full story, it's a little more complex (and if you don't, feel free to ignore the rest of this post).

There is a group of irregular verbs whose past tense can end in -t or -ed. These include: burn, dream, kneel, lean, leap, learn, spell, spill and spoil. British English tends to accept either, while American English usually only accepts the -ed version. "Earn" is not among those words, though "earnt" is sometimes found, perhaps because of its similarity with "learnt". However, "earnt" is generally regarded as non-standard, so I would avoid it.

In practice, there is often a subtle difference in meaning between the -t and -ed versions, with the former relating to something quick and one-off (e.g. spilt milk) and the latter referring to a longer process (e.g. oil spilled out of the tanker for several weeks).

Perhaps the most interesting debate is what constitutes a word? If it's widely used, easily understood and mentioned in dictionaries (even if only as non-standard or even wrong), in what sense is it not a word, and what are the criteria for being a word?

#4 jkracing

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 09:11 PM

Perhaps the most interesting debate is what constitutes a word? If it's widely used, easily understood and mentioned in dictionaries (even if only as non-standard or even wrong), in what sense is it not a word, and what are the criteria for being a word?


I was going to say the same thing, if people say it, its a word, though is there is the debate is it correct in the sense of the "correct english language".

Many words before have come into the dictionary simply because of use amongst people or have already been in circulation and changed meaning.

#5 Crown Taxis

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 01:27 PM

Thank you all for your input.
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#6 K&P

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 06:23 PM

I love these threads, Crown Taxis!

How about 'learnt'?

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#7 Fran

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 06:35 PM

How about 'learnt'?

See my post, above. ;)

#8 Crown Taxis

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 06:51 PM

I love these threads, Crown Taxis!


Just updating our website.... Better to ask than make a spelling mistake !
I remember reading a thread where people were pointing out spelling mistakes in local shop windows, don't want to end up in that thread.
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