Burned/burnt

Burned/burnt: should you say “burned” or “burnt”?

From Collins Word Exchange:

What is the past tense and past participle of “burn”? Is it burned or burnt?

  • Youths burned cars and stoned police.
  • They burnt their hands as they tried to put out the flames.
  • She was badly burned in the explosion.
  • Spanish lorried had been burnt by the French.

The evidence shows that in British English “burned” and “burnt” are equally common, though “burned” is more common as an intransitive verb. (People usually write “The fire burned all night,” rather than “The fire burnt all night.”) “Burnt” is more common in front of a noun. (People write “the burnt building,” rather than “the burned building.”) In American English, “burned” is about 6 times as common as “burnt.”

Leave a Reply