Knit or knitted. What is the past tense of knit?

I have always used knitted as the past tense of knit because that is what I learnt when I was growing up in my family who loved to knit.

I have only recently started knitting again after many years and I was surprised to read the word knit being used as a past tense. When I first read it, with I thought it was just a lack of grammar knowledge by the people using it. But then I saw it being used more and more. So I thought I had better look it up. Perhaps I have been using the wrong word all these years and maybe knitted isn’t actually a word!

I was relieved to see that the Grammarist website states that both knitted and knit can both be used as the past tense of knit.

“The verb knit is traditionally uninflected in the past tense and as a past participle. Knitted is now well accepted, though; it appears about as often as the uninflected form in 21st-century texts from throughout the English-speaking world.

Knitted is safest as a participial adjective (e.g., a knitted scarf), but it also works as a verb (e.g., she knitted all morning). Knit also works in these uses (e.g., a knit scarfshe knit all morning), but it’s falling out of favor.”

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16 comments

  1. Interesting! I use knit, but had a non-knitting friend look over a newsletter of mine recently before I sent it and she was so sure I had it wrong – which I totally understand!

  2. Interesting, like yourself I use knitted as the past tense of knit. I think it sounds better. ‘She knit all morning’ doesn’t sound grammatically correct to me. But I’m no expert!!

  3. I always used “knitted” as well, but had looked it up a while ago. “Knitted” is the correct form, but it actually depends on which kind of “knit” is used. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary states the following:

    knitting = material that is being knitted

    knit; pp knitted; in sense 3, usu knit

    sense 1 = knit sth (for sb) = make (a garment or fabric) by forming wool, silk, etc yarn into connecting loops, …

    => She knitted her son a sweater.

    sense 2 = knit = (in knitting instructions) make a plain (ie not a purl) stitch

    => knit one, purl one

    sense 3 = knit (sth) (together) (cause sth to) join or grow firmly together

    => The broken bones have knit (together) well.
    => A well-knit frame, ie a compact sturdy body
    => (fig) a closely-knit argument
    => (fig) The two groups are knit together by common interests.

    Hope that helped.

    All the best
    Anna-Sophia Maré

    http://www.ravelry.com/people/Erobustus

  4. I lost interest in the knit vs knitted question when I read “Learnt”. This is grammatically correct and also prefered in some regions. To my ear, it is chalk on a blackboard! I am looking for “learned” in American English. I quick review of your blog page did not tell me if you are British. What do others think of this?

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