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Lighted vs. Lit

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  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
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Sometimes, it might be difficult to identify in which cases we should use a word and which cases require the use of another, yet very similar one. "Lighted" and "Lit" are two words in this situation, which can be easily confused.

Read this quick and easy explanation to understand when and where you should use "lighted" and "lit" correctly.

Lighted vs. Lit

Both words represent the past-tense forms of the word "light", which is one of the rare verbs that accept two different past-tense forms in English. Therefore, both forms are correct and represent the past action of "to light".

The difference between them, though, is how they are used in the sentence, as they can work both as a verb and as an adjective.

When do we use "lighted"?

Obtained by adding "-ed" at the end of the present form of the verb "to light", "lighted" is the regular past-tense form and can be used both as a verb and as an adjective correctly. According to how the sentence sounds to you, you can choose to use "lighted" anytime, without worrying you might be wrong.

When do we use "lit"?

Lit is considered to be the irregular form of the past-tense for the verb "to light" and is mostly used as a verb, rather than as an adjective. Even so, it is not wrong to use it as an adjective as well. So you should only count on your instinct if you should or should not use this form of the verb, with no doubt that you could be wrong.

Conclusion

When and in which context you use "lighted" or "lit" is completely up to you. There are no statistics to show whether a version is preferred for another in certain cases, regions or in American/British English. It is only a matter of choice and the only thing you should remember is that neither "lighted", nor "lit" will ever be considered grammatically wrong in your expressions.

Lighted vs. Lit

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4 Comments
  • GoatGuy
    Then there is green-light and green-lighted versus green-lit. With-or-without the hyphens! Substantial evidence points to the -lit form gaining popularity especially in the narrative of the present journalists' trade.


    But what about gas-light / gas-lighted and the wrong-sounding gas-lit?


    But back-light and back-lit sound just fine, as does back-lighted.


    And candlelit is the only for I'd naturally use.


    Highlight, highlighted ... and never highlit


    Lamplight, lamplit. And basically never lamplighted.


    Moonlit. If having to do with light. But moonlighted is not just acceptable, but maybe the only reasonable form of 'to work outside of one's nominal job.'


    Red-lighted ... lit? I don't think so, contrary to the green- version.


    Definitely spotlighted instead of spotlit, even tho' the spellcheckers think the 2nd form is ok.


    Here's a thinker: unlit versus unlighted. They both seem to be on an even weighting to me, as in teeter-totter probabilities. An unlit campfire. An unlighted cigarette, evidence of a crime. Hmmm....


    Just saying, GoatGuy
     
    LikeReplyReport1 year ago
  • 沐真蒋
    沐真蒋
    I understand the article. Thanks.
    LikeReplyReport3 years ago
  • Sean Easley
    Sean Easley
    What about the form of the verb that refers to a bird lighting on a branch, from the Germanic roots? Is it still "lit"? When it comes to that form for some reason it sounds better to my ear to say "the bird lighted on the branch" than lit, and I just want to make sure. 
    LikeReplyReport3 years ago
  • Roger Bosco
    Roger Bosco
    "lit", not "lighted". "fit", not "fitted"!
    LikeReplyReport 33 years ago

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