British English 1800 - 2000: learnt (blue) vs learned (red)
We can see learned is more common but declining. The worrying thing is that we just seem to be talking about both of them less! Let's see if the same is happening in American English:
American English 1800 - 2000: learnt (blue) vs learned (red)
Ah, less of a decline there! And a very clear and consistent preference for the ed ending.
Now burnt and burned:
British English 1800 - 2000: burnt (blue) vs burned (red)
Oh, interesting! As the years have passed British English speakers have burned about the same but burnt a lot less. No idea why! And American English?
American English 1800 - 2000: burnt (blue) vs burned (red)
Oh, wow! Completely different. Preference swapped over mid-18th century. No coincidence I suppose that Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1828.
What about my big question: spelt or spelled?
British English 1800 - 2000: spelt (blue) vs spelled (red)
So traditionally spelt in British English but the American English has gained ground over the past 60 years and now spelled has taken over. But in American English:
American English 1800 - 2000: spelt (blue) vs spelled (red)
So which should I use in my book? You may think spelled wins hands down, but I wonder if I should support the underdog? I'm planning to bring out a British version first, closely followed by an American version. Perhaps spelt needs a little boost from me in the British version, then spelled in the American one. But then again ...
Which will I do? There's only one way to find out ...send me your email address and I'll let you know when the book's out (soon)!
And which should you use? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
What do you think of Google Ngram?
How could you use it?