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Leaned vs. Leant

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  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
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Past simple tense for verbs in English, especially when you’re not sure whether that word is or is not regular, can be difficult to remember. And when there are two or more forms officially accepted for the same past simple tense of a verb, things can seem even more complicated.

But if you take a closer look, there is actually nothing to get confused about. “Leaned” and “leant” are a perfect example of words that are similar and both used as the past tense of a verb. They are both correct and commonly used, though there are some small differences you should consider before using them in order to be considered an elegant English user. Let’s see which those are!

Leaned vs. Leant

Both “leaned” and “leant” are the past simple forms of the verb “to lean”, there is no doubt for this. Then what makes them different and correct at the same time?
Well, the explanation is very simple: “leant” is the version of the word mostly used in the UK, by British English speakers. “Leaned”, on the other hand, is much more frequently used everywhere outside the UK, in the US especially and other English-speaking regions as well. This is the only difference to consider before using these words in various contexts.

When do we use “leaned”?

Even though British people prefer “leant” for the past tense of “to lean”, it doesn’t mean you will be wrong if you use “leaned”, especially because this word is used around four times more often than “leant”, according to some statistics. So, you can use “leaned” whenever you refer to the past tense of “to lean”, without worrying for the correctitude of your message. But of course, using “leaned” in the US will definitely be more appropriate than “leant”.

When do we use “leant”?

Again, it means the same as “leaned”. So, grammatically, you have no restriction for using “leant” instead of “leaned’. If you aim to make a linguistically elegant choice, though, the best solution will be to use “leant” whenever you are communicating in British English, because this is the word more preferred in the UK even though it’s being used more and more rarely.

Conclusion

“Leaned” and “leant” mean the same thing, expressing the same past simple tense of the verb “to lean”, which means to count on someone’s support or to move the top part of one’s body towards a certain direction. Even so, the difference between them originates from linguistic differences between British and American English. UK prefers “leant”, while US goes for “leaned”. Even though both forms are correct and accepted, it’s a good idea to remember which is preferred by what country in order to showcase your knowledge of English vocabulary and variations.

Leaned vs. Leant

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1 Comment

  • Alexander Hayes
    As a Brit, I have to disagree when it says that leaned and leant are the same word. Although they are both the past tense of to lean, they are not quite the same because they are pronounced very differently. Also to state that "leant" fell out of usage in the 17th century is not quite true since it is clearly still in use in the UK (although it is admittedly a rarer form). 
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