Difference between Burned and Burnt

Published on May 29, 2015

Burned and burnt are usually used in the exact same way. In British, Irish, and Australian English, they are the same word, but in American English, there is a difference between the two words.

Definitions

Burned vs burnt

Usually, the words burned and burnt refer to one of two things: the first is when someone has committed an act of burning in the past, and the second is when an object has undergone burning in the past. This means the words are used either as adjectives or verbs.

In American English, however, the word “burned” is a verb. This means that it refers to an act of burning committed in the past.

The word “burnt” is an adjective in American English. This means that it refers to the quality an object has when it has undergone burning in the past.

Comparison chart

BurnedBurnt
VerbAdjective
Refers to the act of burning having already been done.Refers to the object that has already undergone burning.

Burned vs Burnt

What is the difference between burned and burnt? While they both refer to objects being lit on fire, their usage is different in American English because they are different kinds of words.

Burned is a verb, whereas burnt is an adjective. Burned refers to the act of burning committed in the past, and burnt refers to the quality an object has when it has undergone burning in the past.

An example of this would be:

I burned my hand on the stove yesterday.
My hand is burnt because I touched the stove yesterday.