1. ravenflutterby
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    ravenflutterby New Member

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    Earnt/Earned, Learnt/Learned

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ravenflutterby, Jul 4, 2009.

    Passed/Past

    What is the difference? Sometimes I think I know then it comes up in a sentence and I'm confused!
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    As I understand it, with earnt/earned, and learnt/learnt, the -t spellings are older, British uses. The -ed spellings are, I believe, the only valid US spellings, but in British English are still valid. That said, they are increasingly uncommon, earnt in particular.

    With passed/past the difference is more clear cut. Passed is the past participle of to pass, i.e. he/she/it/they passed....

    Past can be a noun, meaning that which has already happened, but I get the impression you mean its adverb or preoposition form.

    With the adverb, it means in a direction that passes, i.e. He walked past.

    The preposition refers to either location (i.e. The house past the pub), or time (i.e. half past two)- in both cases meaning beyond something.


    I hope that was a little more helpful than it was confusing :p
     
  3. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    In my 2005 dictionary, it has the verb conjugated:
    learn--learned--learned
    OR alternatively:
    learn--learnt--learnt
    for standard simple past and past participle for both Br AND Am English usage.

    But it only has:
    earn--earned--earned
    for same.
    'earnt' in contemporary Br English is VERY rare!

    There's also the much more common:
    dream--dreamt--dreamt
    and
    spell--spelt--spelt

    If we are talking about 'correct' usage, i.e. according to the historical development of English--then the '-t' ending is more, not less, correct--BUT of course, English is a living language, so that would be absurd.

    As Banzai points out, the verb 'pass' goes:
    pass--passed--passed, NOT 'past'.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    put simply:

    'passed' is only a verb... the past tense of 'pass'

    'past' is a noun, adjective, adverb, and preposition... never a verb!
     
  5. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    How I remember is if I can write, she passed by the shop, then I know passed is correct. If I can write, she walked by the shop, then I know past is correct. At least, that is what I used to do.

    But you don't want to write "passed by,' but passed.
     
  6. A2theDre
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    A2theDre Active Member

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    Australian/New Zealander here. And I have always used the -t ending. I'm pretty sure that's what I was taught in school too. Not sure what they'd be teaching there now.
     
  7. ravenflutterby
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    ravenflutterby New Member

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    Thanks for the help.

    I find it strange that 'earnt' is thought of as rare as I'm British and it's used just as much as earned. Perhaps it's something to do with my area, Surrey is known for it's middle class roots.

    @A2theDre: Down under do you guys use British or American English more? Just out of interest.
     
  8. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    "Earnt" and "learnt" are just the British English version of "earned" and "learned," which is American English (so it's more a matter of where you expect to publish your work, or whether your intention is to reflect a Biritish or American English language usage in your writing).

    But "passed" is the past tense of "to pass." "He passed by the house on his way to the marketplace." She "passed" her test.

    While "past" is a noun signifying a time before: "The past is sometimes relived when we don't pay attention to the mistakes that were made." Or an adjective suggesting the "past," as in "past tense."

    "We passed (verb) a house I'd visited in the distant past (noun). As we drove by, I recalled some of the agony of my past (adjective) life."
     
  9. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    This is why English in general is considered the hardest language in the world to learn.
     
  10. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I found it very easy to learn. It was a lot easier to learn than Irish Gaelic.

    But I hate the phrase British English. People don't allow Scots to be a language, which is fine until they pretend that they can understand it...:(

    There are regional differences in the UK. In English-speaking parts of Scotland, you can only really have -t as an acceptable ending. It's the same in northern England and areas of Northern Ireland that speak Ulster Scots. This means that it's also used more often in parts of the world where Scottish or Irish accents, words, or pronounciation is a part of speech, such as many parts of North America.

    Depending on your audience, your use of language could alienate them. I've seen a few people writing in Gaelic magazines that used the bizarre Lewis-Skye dialect which is not actually used in conversation, only in media, and as a result they've messed up their careers.
     
  11. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Do you have any links to examples of these publications and dialects? I'm fascinated by linguistics.
     
  12. ravenflutterby
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    ravenflutterby New Member

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    Just out of interest, what would you prefer it to be called? English English, Scottish English, Welsh English etc.

    I do find it amazing how the way English is spoken can vary so much in the British Isles, you can almost tell which county someone is from.

    Personally relearning Dutch (spoke it as a child then pretty much forgot it) was the hardest language for me, despite the fact I can speak German reasonably well.
     

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