As you listen to English conversation, you may notice that not everyone uses the language in an identical manner. Differences in English speech may be due to pronunciation, grammar, or even word choice. Some words, like kneeled and knelt, are used in similar situations. The -ed and -t endings represent different ways of conjugating verbs into the past tense, with -ed being used for regular verbs, and -t being better suited to irregular verbs. But, which of these variants is correct for this particular verb? If you struggle picking kneeled vs. knelt, you aren’t alone. Many English speakers and writers aren’t aware that one of these words is proper and the other is substandard.
Kneel as verb:
They knelt down and prayed.
Use of knelt:
The sobs of a man, grief-stricken with pain, could still be heard feet away, even as he buried his face and hands in the grassy ground and knelt in front of an American flag that leaned against a caution-tape-wrapped pole. (The Terre Haute Tribune Star)
Use of kneeled:
“It’s growing in not just artists but attendees,” said Ronning, founder and director of the Chalk.a.Lot Sidewalk Festival in Two Harbors, as people sat, crouched, kneeled or even lay alongside squares of the walk along either side of Waterfront Drive, creating temporary works of art. (The Duluth News Tribune)
Kneeled or knelt:
Kneeled and knelt are both used as the past tense and past participle of the verb kneel, which means to drop to one’s knees. Knelt is much more common, and is considered standard. Kneeled is not widely accepted. You should avoid kneeled in academic and professional writing. Since knelt contains the letter T, just like past tense and past participle, you should always be able to remember when to use it. Even though these two words are similar, you can avoid common and embarrassing mistakes by engaging in basic research. Don’t forget to check this site if you need a quick refresher, or any time you have questions on word choice or other writing topics.