As an English learner, you'll want to know about the verb learn. Learn is one of the few verbs in English that have two acceptable forms for the past simple and as a participle. Learnt or learned is acceptable in both American and British English, but learned is more common in American English.
Base Form: Learn
Use the base form of the verb in simple tenses including the present simple. The base form of learn is also used with the future form and modal forms such as can, should, and must:
- I usually learn a lot when I travel.
- Will you learn anything about math today?
- You should learn at least one foreign language.
Past Simple: Learned or Learnt
Use either learned or learnt in past simple positive sentences:
- The children learnt about squirrels in school yesterday.
- I learned to play the piano at the age of five.
Past Participle: Learned or Learnt
Use the past participle learned or learnt in past, present, and future perfect forms. This past participle form is also used in passive sentences.
- Shelley's learnt a lot in the United States.
- Peter had learned to count to ten before he turned one year old.
- They will have learned their lesson by the end of next week.
- Latin was learned by most students in the early 1900s.
- Patience is a lesson that has been learned by anyone trying to study a language.
Present Participle: Learning
The present participle learning is perhaps the most common form as it is used in past, present, and future continuous forms, as well as with the past, present, and future perfect continuous forms:
- He's learning a little Chinese this month.
- I wasn't learning anything new when you interrupted the meeting.
- He'll be learning a lot of new things this time next week.
Perfect Continuous Forms:
- She's been learning English for a few years.
- They'd been learning a lot from Tom before Alice returned.
- Tom will have been learning Japanese for two years by the end of next term.
Example Sentences with Learn
Here are example sentences in each tense in English. As you study these examples, imagine a timeline on which the actions take place to help become familiar with tense usage. Please note that passive forms are much less common in everyday English than active forms.
- Present Simple: She learns languages quickly.
- Present Simple Passive: Math is learnt slowly by some.
- Present Continuous: Jack is currently learning Russian.
- Present Continuous Passive: Russian is being learnt by the students.
- Present Perfect: Angela has learnt four languages.
- Present Perfect Passive: Four languages have been learnt by Angela.
- Present Perfect Continuous: Angela has been learning Arabic for the past few months.
- Past Simple: Jennifer learnt how to play poker yesterday evening.
- Past Simple Passive: Poker was learnt quickly by all.
- Past Continuous: She was learning her lesson when he telephoned.
- Past Continuous Passive: The lesson was being learnt when he arrived.
- Past Perfect: She had learnt the song by heart before Jack did.
- Past Perfect Passive: The song had learnt by heart by the class before the singer arrived.
- Past Perfect Continuous: Our children had been learning English for two months before we moved.
- Future (will): She will learn quickly.
- Future (will) passive: A new song will be learnt soon.
- Future (going to): She is going to learn a new language next year.
- Future (going to) passive: A new song is going to be learnt next week.
- Future Continuous: This time next week we will be learning in a new classroom.
- Future Perfect: She will have learnt everything by the end of the month.
- Future Possibility: She might learn something new.
- Real Conditional: If she learns Russian, she will travel to Moscow.
- Unreal Conditional: If she learnt Russian, she would travel to Moscow.
- Past Unreal Conditional: If she had learnt Russian, she would have traveled to Moscow.
- Present Modal: She can learn easily.
- Past Modal: She can't have learnt that so quickly!
Quiz Conjugate with Learn
Use the verb learn to conjugate the following sentences. In some cases, more than one answer may be correct.
- Angela _____ Arabic for the past few months.
- Math _____ slowly by some.
- Poker _____ quickly by all.
- She _____ the song by heart before Jack did.
- A new song _____next week.
- She _____ everything by the end of the month.
- If she _____ Russian, she would have traveled to Moscow.
- Angela _____ four languages.
- She _____ languages quickly.
- Jack _____ currently _____ Russian.
- has been learning
- is learnt / is learned
- was learnt / was learned
- had learnt / had learned
- is going to be learnt / is going to be learned
- will have learnt / will have learned
- had learnt / had learned
- has learnt / has learned
- is learning