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#1
Old 01-30-2010, 08:08 PM
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"I spelt it wrong" - is this grammatically incorrect?

I've been told recently that if I were to write, "I spelt it wrong", this would be grammatically incorrect, because it should read, "I spelt it wrongly". This sounds a bit weird to me, but I guess since it's modifying the verb, and 'wrongly' is the adverb form, I can see why the latter might be right. What is the correct way to express that sentence? And if the latter is indeed correct, why do we not say "I got it wrongly" instead of "I got it wrong"?
#2
Old 01-30-2010, 08:51 PM
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"Wrong" can be used as an adverb.

dictionary.com:

Quote:
ľadverb
11. in a wrong manner; not rightly; awry; amiss: You did it wrong again.
#3
Old 01-30-2010, 10:41 PM
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Yes. Though many adverbs end in -ly, it is not a requirement.

In addition, a word can be more than one part of speech depending on how it's used. A word is not "an adjective"; it's used as an adjective (or modifier, or verb, or particle, etc. -- there are more parts of speech than your high school English teacher taught you).
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#4
Old 01-30-2010, 11:13 PM
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The past tense of "spell" is "spelled".

"Spelt" is a kind of wheat. This is the problem with spellcheckers, they don't pick up homonyms.
#5
Old 01-30-2010, 11:23 PM
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Well, well. I learnt something new today.
#6
Old 01-30-2010, 11:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakester View Post
The past tense of "spell" is "spelled".

"Spelt" is a kind of wheat. This is the problem with spellcheckers, they don't pick up homonyms.
Compact Oxford English Dictionary:
spelt
past and past participle of SPELL
#7
Old 01-31-2010, 03:14 AM
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some adjectives are bi... examples: fast, hard, wrong
#8
Old 01-31-2010, 04:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakester View Post
The past tense of "spell" is "spelled".

"Spelt" is a kind of wheat. This is the problem with spellcheckers, they don't pick up homonyms.
Sure, there is a word "spelt" which refers to a kind of wheat. But that's irrelevant. "spelt" is also a variant spelling of "spelled" (both as the preterite and past participle of "spell"), somewhat more associated with British English than American English, but certainly not incorrect anywhere.

Last edited by Indistinguishable; 01-31-2010 at 04:31 AM.
#9
Old 01-31-2010, 05:41 AM
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spelt, learnt, burnt, dreamt, lit... some of the bi verbs
#10
Old 01-31-2010, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakester View Post
The past tense of "spell" is "spelled".

"Spelt" is a kind of wheat. This is the problem with spellcheckers, they don't pick up homonyms.
'Spelt' seems to be listed in most dictionaries as a valid past tense of 'spell'.


I'm pleased that "I [verbed] it wrong" is not a grammatical mistake. Victory is mine after all...
#11
Old 01-31-2010, 11:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakester View Post
The past tense of "spell" is "spelled".

"Spelt" is a kind of wheat. This is the problem with spellcheckers, they don't pick up homonyms.
Rookie mistake. I once asked a similar question myself.
http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/...t#post11025274
#12
Old 01-31-2010, 04:43 PM
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In fact, spelled and spelt are (usually) pronounced differently. When -ed is preceded by a voiced consonant, the /d/ is (usually) also voiced.

The (usually)s are only because I'm sure there are dialects that don't follow those rules for all words. But I've not heard them.
#13
Old 02-01-2010, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakester View Post
The past tense of "spell" is "spelled".

"Spelt" is a kind of wheat. This is the problem with spellcheckers, they don't pick up homonyms.
Thank you for saying that! I cringe so hard when I hear the word "spelt." No. It's spelled.

So, I guess you could say "I spelt it wrong" is incorrect because "spelt" is incorrect. So you got a yes and a no to the OP.
#14
Old 02-01-2010, 09:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
Thank you for saying that! I cringe so hard when I hear the word "spelt." No. It's spelled.

So, I guess you could say "I spelt it wrong" is incorrect because "spelt" is incorrect. So you got a yes and a no to the OP.
No, as already mentioned, "spelt" is a perfectly valid past tense form of "to spell". See the dictionary reference above.
#15
Old 02-01-2010, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
Thank you for saying that! I cringe so hard when I hear the word "spelt." No. It's spelled.

So, I guess you could say "I spelt it wrong" is incorrect because "spelt" is incorrect. So you got a yes and a no to the OP.
We're looking for factual information here, and several posted already gave cites showing "spelt" is correct, too. Keep in mind that British and American English often diverge over what is correct or common. "Spelt" might be hard on the American ear, but it is not incorrect.
#16
Old 02-01-2010, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
We're looking for factual information here, and several posted already gave cites showing "spelt" is correct, too. Keep in mind that British and American English often diverge over what is correct or common. "Spelt" might be hard on the American ear, but it is not incorrect.
True - here in the UK I'd say it's "I spelled" that would be seen as sounding awkward. They're both technically correct though.
#17
Old 02-01-2010, 10:56 AM
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IANAGN (I an not a grammar nazi) but...

IIRC, spelled is the past tense; spelt is the past participle? Or pehaps the OED is suggesting "spelt" can substitite for plain past tense as well?
I spell
I spelled
I have spelt
That sounds more correct-ly to me that "I have spelled". However, English, like American, can vary with age.
I learned my grammar over 30 years ago and I have learnt it somewhat well-ly.

Last edited by md2000; 02-01-2010 at 10:57 AM.
#18
Old 02-01-2010, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
IANAGN (I an not a grammar nazi) but...

IIRC, spelled is the past tense; spelt is the past participle? Or pehaps the OED is suggesting "spelt" can substitite for plain past tense as well?
I spell
I spelled
I have spelt
That sounds more correct-ly to me that "I have spelled". However, English, like American, can vary with age.
I learned my grammar over 30 years ago and I have learnt it somewhat well-ly.
"Spelled" or "spelt" is acceptable for both the past tense and past participle.
#19
Old 02-01-2010, 05:14 PM
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To me, "spelt" sound British in any form. Of course, that is probably subjective.
#20
Old 02-01-2010, 11:18 PM
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Pitted this thread.

pdts
#21
Old 02-01-2010, 11:39 PM
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Incidentally, I'm not really sure that one's convention for whether to write "spelled" or "spelt" necessarily tracks all that well one's convention for how to pronounce such words. Perhaps it often does, but I also imagine there are large numbers of people who mix and match, so to speak. (For example, I think I myself usually write "spelled" but usually use the "spelt" pronunciation in speech. It could just be a personal idiosyncrasy (or I could lack accurate linguistic self-awareness and be giving an erroneous report right now), but I think I'm probably not alone in this.)

Last edited by Indistinguishable; 02-01-2010 at 11:43 PM.
#22
Old 02-02-2010, 08:39 AM
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I'll admit it, I should have looked at more options when I Googled "spelt." They're all about "history of spelt" and "spelt vs. wheat" and "natural foods" ... The conclusion I drew was, regrettably, incorrect.

I guess my larger grief is that the laziness of speaking has translated to laziness in writing. It wasn't always written "spelt." Just because some people (and some could mean a whole dialect family), mispronounce the word long enough, it becomes acceptable usage and spelling? I can understand new words being introduced (from internet to even celebutante), but totally new words are different than just changing the spelling because some people can't say it right. The neighbor kid can't say the letter "r" yet. Should I start getting people to say "wailwoad twain" because some toddlers can't say their "r"s?

I don't like that.

Maybe I'm a language purist. Maybe that's why I love Latin. Maybe I'm just sick of being forced to accept and support other people's laziness.

Last edited by Serenata67; 02-02-2010 at 08:42 AM.
#23
Old 02-02-2010, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
I guess my larger grief is that the laziness of speaking has translated to laziness in writing. It wasn't always written "spelt." Just because some people (and some could mean a whole dialect family), mispronounce the word long enough, it becomes acceptable usage and spelling?
Yeah. I'm glad we've retained the spelling "Wednesday", rather than giving in to lazy people's mistaken two-syllable pronunciation. The same goes for "laugh" (it's a velar fricative damnit, not a labiodental fricative).

Feel free to pronounce witch differently from which and rote differently from wrote. Feel free to pronounce vowels as was done before the Great Vowel Shift. Or just speak Anglo-Saxon.

I'm not even sure that your account of the origins of spelt is correct. Do you object to leapt, wept, and slept?

Quote:
Maybe I'm a language purist. Maybe that's why I love Latin. Maybe I'm just sick of being forced to accept and support other people's laziness.
You think that Latin was somehow created in a pristine state? It derives from earlier languages, in part through a series of "mistakes".
#24
Old 02-02-2010, 09:09 AM
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It's not laziness. It's just how spelt is commonly accepted to be spelt. The minuscule amount of time it takes to write spelled does not make the shorter version wrong or lazy. You spell colour without the 'u' in the USA. Is that being lazy? Well, you're just writing it the way it sounds aren't you?

I would continue, but I'd have to write it in the pit thread.

Needless to say, there is no pure form of English, save Received Pronunciation, which is spoken by hardly anyone. (And you could argue it isn't particularly pure anyway). I sincerely doubt that you speak it.

Last edited by Fake Tales of San Francisco; 02-02-2010 at 09:12 AM.
#25
Old 02-02-2010, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Fake Tales of San Francisco View Post
Needless to say, there is no pure form of English, save Received Pronunciation, which is spoken by hardly anyone. (And you could argue it isn't particularly pure anyway).
Yeah, there's no reason to consider Received Pronunciation to be "pure", or more conservative, or in any way more legitimate than other pronunciations. This is not to disagree with you, but to agree with you wholeheartedly.
#26
Old 02-02-2010, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncertain View Post
...
You think that Latin was somehow created in a pristine state? It derives from earlier languages, in part through a series of "mistakes".
No, I know Latin wasn't created in a pristine state. I just love that it isn't changing now. Cogitare will always be conjugated the same way, with the same spelling. I know I won't see someone in 10 years spelling cogito as cogit or co-to, LOL!
#27
Old 02-02-2010, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
I'll admit it, I should have looked at more options when I Googled "spelt." They're all about "history of spelt" and "spelt vs. wheat" and "natural foods" ... The conclusion I drew was, regrettably, incorrect.

I guess my larger grief is that the laziness of speaking has translated to laziness in writing. It wasn't always written "spelt."
Do you have a cite for that? It is more common for irregular verbs to become regularized rather than vice versa, I believe.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
Just because some people (and some could mean a whole dialect family), mispronounce the word long enough, it becomes acceptable usage and spelling?
Well yes, that is how language works. But in this case it is more likely that people who are ignorant of the correct (i.e., traditional) form just apply the rule that works with most (but not all) verbs. "Spelt" doesnt come from laziness, "spelled" comes from ignorance.

You do know, do you, that it is Americans who pronounce t and d the same? British people know the difference.
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:26 AM
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... and I still spell "blonde" with an "e" and "grey" doesn't have any "a"s in it and I was wrongly kicked out of a spelling bee for spelling "theatre" with an "re" instead of an "er" ... I much prefer the British spellings in many cases...

But what I can't reconcile is the Brits are talking about that they spell "spelt" the way it's said and there's nothing wrong with it. If I concede that point, then wouldn't they have to start spelling "blonde" without the "e" because that's not how it's pronounced?

I wish we could all have our cake and eat it, too.



(missed the edit window on earlier post, sorry)
#29
Old 02-02-2010, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
But what I can't reconcile is the Brits are talking about that they spell "spelt" the way it's said and there's nothing wrong with it.
No Brit is saying this. We are saying the 'spelt' is spelt 'spelt' because it's the way it's spelt. You brought up pronunciation as if it had some sort of relevance.
#30
Old 02-02-2010, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
I guess my larger grief is that the laziness of speaking has translated to laziness in writing. It wasn't always written "spelt." Just because some people (and some could mean a whole dialect family), mispronounce the word long enough, it becomes acceptable usage and spelling?
Does it take that long to look up the word in an etymological dictionary? The word's been spelt "spelt" since the 1500s---since before Shakespeare. And what do you mean a whole dialect family mispronouncing the word?
#31
Old 02-02-2010, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
If I concede that point, then wouldn't they have to start spelling "blonde" without the "e" because that's not how it's pronounced?
Hopefully we eventually will. The use of the "e" to distinguish between male and female hair colour is stupid; we're not French. I don't understand why simplification and rationalisation of the language gets so many people up in arms.
#32
Old 02-02-2010, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
... and I still spell "blonde" with an "e" and "grey" doesn't have any "a"s in it and I was wrongly kicked out of a spelling bee for spelling "theatre" with an "re" instead of an "er" ... I much prefer the British spellings in many cases...

But what I can't reconcile is the Brits are talking about that they spell "spelt" the way it's said and there's nothing wrong with it. If I concede that point, then wouldn't they have to start spelling "blonde" without the "e" because that's not how it's pronounced?

I wish we could all have our cake and eat it, too.



(missed the edit window on earlier post, sorry)

Actually...

Blonde is supposedly only correct when applied to females, while blond can refer to either men or women, though this distinction is currently falling out of favor.


ETA: beaten by the good Capt.

Last edited by SoulFrost; 02-02-2010 at 09:47 AM.
#33
Old 02-02-2010, 09:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
I guess my larger grief is that the laziness of speaking has translated to laziness in writing. It wasn't always written "spelt." Just because some people (and some could mean a whole dialect family), mispronounce the word long enough, it becomes acceptable usage and spelling? I can understand new words being introduced (from internet to even celebutante), but totally new words are different than just changing the spelling because some people can't say it right. The neighbor kid can't say the letter "r" yet. Should I start getting people to say "wailwoad twain" because some toddlers can't say their "r"s?

I don't like that.

Maybe I'm a language purist. Maybe that's why I love Latin. Maybe I'm just sick of being forced to accept and support other people's laziness.
Actually 'spelt' is the original form, and it's older than 'spelled'. It dates back at least to Shakespeare. Spelled, while a perfectly legitimate form nowadays, is what I guess you would like to call the lazy version, adopted because people figured it's easier to trace with other words which take '-ed' for their past tense.

Don't you hate it when people are too lazy to stick to the original form of the word?
#34
Old 02-02-2010, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
I guess my larger grief is that the laziness of speaking has translated to laziness in writing. It wasn't always written "spelt." Just because some people (and some could mean a whole dialect family), mispronounce the word long enough, it becomes acceptable usage and spelling?
I'm not even sure why you would think "spelt" is the newer form of the verb. It looks to me that it would be the other way around. Strong/irregular forms of verb like spelt/dreamt/lit/felt/dwelt/slept are almost always the older ones, and the regular stem+ed forms are the newer ones. The "laziness" is in an effort to make them more regular, not shorter.
#35
Old 02-02-2010, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenata67 View Post
No, I know Latin wasn't created in a pristine state. I just love that it isn't changing now. Cogitare will always be conjugated the same way, with the same spelling. I know I won't see someone in 10 years spelling cogito as cogit or co-to, LOL!
Well, actually, Latin did change, very significantly. It became Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, and the rest of the Romance languages. The only reason you can say "Latin is no longer changing" is the same reason you can say "19 century American English is no longer changing"; the word specifically refers to the state of a language as spoken at a particular point in the past, regardless of what future changes developed within it.

Also, it is absolutely lovely that you moved on from mistaken "'Spelt' is wrong; the correct word is 'spelled'" to mistaken "Ok, 'spelt' is acceptable, but only because the original form 'spelled' was sadly corrupted into it". Here's a hint: in the future, you'll find it helps to look these things up before giving a knee-jerk decay-of-language rant.

Last edited by Indistinguishable; 02-02-2010 at 03:23 PM. Reason: I seem to be becoming more of a dick recently
#36
Old 02-02-2010, 03:29 PM
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For example, in Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost", originally published in 1598, we have the line "Moth: Yes, yes; he teaches boys the hornbook. What is a, b, spelt backward with the horn on his head?"

Last edited by Indistinguishable; 02-02-2010 at 03:30 PM.
#37
Old 02-02-2010, 07:11 PM
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There's no use crying over spelt milk.
#38
Old 02-02-2010, 07:51 PM
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Slight hijack: This article discusses how verbs in English have regularized over the last dozen centuries

http://ped.fas.harvard.edu/peopl...k/Nature07.pdf

" Human language is based on grammatical rules. Cultural evolution allows these rules to change over time. Rules compete with each other: as new rules rise to prominence, old ones die away. To quantify the dynamics of language evolution, we studied the regularization of English verbs over the past 1,200 years. Although an elaborate system of productive conjugations existed in English's proto-Germanic ancestor, Modern English uses the dental suffix, '-ed', to signify past tense6. Here we describe the emergence of this linguistic rule amidst the evolutionary decay of its exceptions, known to us as irregular verbs. We have generated a data set of verbs whose conjugations have been evolving for more than a millennium, tracking inflectional changes to 177 Old-English irregular verbs. Of these irregular verbs, 145 remained irregular in Middle English and 98 are still irregular today. We study how the rate of regularization depends on the frequency of word usage. The half-life of an irregular verb scales as the square root of its usage frequency: a verb that is 100 times less frequent regularizes 10 times as fast. Our study provides a quantitative analysis of the regularization process by which ancestral forms gradually yield to an emerging linguistic rule. "
#39
Old 02-02-2010, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBG View Post
There's no use crying over spelt milk.
Well I think you spelt it wrong.

I mean, you spelled it wrongly. ... I think.

Seriously though, the verb 'wrong' as an adverb is just a bit iffy to me. "He was wrongly accused..." is grammatically correct and you certainly can not use the word 'wrong' as an adverb in this instance. On the other hand, "you are doing it wrong" just feels right; to use the word 'wrongly' here would sound very awkward to me.

"You accused him wrong " vs. "You accused him wrongly"
"You did it wrong" vs. "You did it wrongly"

Fight my ignorance, please.
#40
Old 02-02-2010, 08:13 PM
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'Wrong' and 'wrongly' are both actual words.
'Wrong' can be a verb (to wrong someone)
an adjective (the wrong answer)
or an adverb ('you're doing it wrong', 'I once spelt 'rhinoceros' wrong in the spelling bee').

'Wrongly' is an adverb ('he was wrongly accused', 'I assumed, wrongly, that people could discuss matters of English usage without moaning about how change is bad').
#41
Old 02-02-2010, 08:18 PM
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What is there to fight? I think you described how it works quite well. I suppose what you need to bear in mind is that it really is a matter of style over 'correctness'. The purpose of language is to communicate effectively. If using 'wrongly' in those instances feels awkward, then the rule is - don't use it. There really is no right and wrong.

The reason we have standards at all is to ease communication. This is especially useful in it's written form, because standard grammar and spelling help you understand what is being written. Spoken language doesn't really have rules, unless you're speaking formally about a certain subject.. If everybody understands what you mean clearly, then it's right.

Stylistically I think most would agree that, "You accused him wrongly" and "You did it wrong" work best. Just because 'wrong' can be an adverb, doesn't mean it has to be used as one all the time. Word categories aren't set in stone. A noun can sometimes work as adjectives for example.

Last edited by Fake Tales of San Francisco; 02-02-2010 at 08:19 PM.
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