“Lighted” or “Lit”?
Which is the correct past tense of the verb light — lighted or lit?
There are two accepted ways to create the past tense of light. And this time, it doesn’t matter if you are American or British. You may choose which you prefer:
- We lit the Christmas candles.
- We lighted the Christmas candles.
English speakers have preferred one or the other over time as demonstrated by the N-gram charts below. The first compares the appearance of lit to lighted in American publications, the second in British works.
Although lit is currently preferred as a verb, lighted is relatively common as an adjective (or past participle):
The recently lighted campfire lit our faces with a warm glow.
One of the more famous uses of lighted is in the title of Ernest Hemingway’s short story, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” But as the n-gram chart shows, well-lit has replaced well-lighted as the more common compound adjective.
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