General Question

BronxLens's avatar

Did past tense of 'to light' change?

Asked by BronxLens (1539points) October 14th, 2008

More and more I see ‘lighted’ instead of ‘lit’. What is the current take on this? According to this it should be ‘lit’.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

16 Answers

Allie's avatar

I still think it’s lit. “My neighbor lit her candle” sounds much better than “My neighbor lighted her candle.”

skabeep's avatar

I agree with lit. Lighted seems to me to be defined as containing lights. Like a lighted hallway or something

jasonjackson's avatar

Lit is still “correct”. But sometimes verbs become regular or irregular over time in general usage, and eventually what is deemed to be correct changes.

For instance, in a book by Raymond Chandler I saw that a key ‘fitted’ into a lock; checking it out, I discovered that ‘to fit’ used to have a regular past tense (back when Chandler was writing, in the 1930s-40s), but has since drifted to irregular, so we now would say that it ‘fit’ into the lock. At one point, using ‘fit’ as past tense would not have “sounded right”, but now it does.

I guess ‘to light’ is experiencing the same kind of drift, but in the opposite direction.

lapilofu's avatar

Most sources I checked with suggest that lighted and lit are both acceptable and interchangeable both as a past participle and an adjective.

And furthermore, Hemmingway does have that famous story, “A Clean Well-Lighted Place.” That’s a good enough endorsement for me.

susanc's avatar

Yes, but I notice “lighted” in both instances – “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” and “a lighted hallway”
have the verb form transferred into an adjective. Why this is different escapes me – la_chica_gomela must untangle this for us. She’s our linguist.

robmandu's avatar

Example usage: A well-lighted spliff aids in getting lit.

Knotmyday's avatar

Both work, but “lit” is correcter.

morphail's avatar

The past tense has always been both “lighted” and “lit”. The OED:

1154 O.E. Chron. an. 1140 (Laud MS.) Me lihtede candles to æten bi.

c1300 Havelok 585 Blou the fir, and lith a kandel.

1679 DRYDEN & LEE OEdipus II. 28 If an immodest thought, or low desire, Inflam’d my breast, since first our Loves were lighted.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Susanc, I am so flattered!
Morphail beat me to the punch with the OED (lurve to you morphail), but to answer your question, susanc, about the adjectives: Both “lighted” and “lit” can be used as past participles or adjectives.

According to the OED they do have slightly different connotations, which could lead to some flutherers’ preferences for one or the other. While “lighted” is defined as “Kindled or illuminated”, “lit” means “Lighted, illumined”.

So, yes they are both correct, but each could be “more correct” in subtly different scenarios.

JasonJackson is right on with the assessment that there is a sort of “drift” in language. Some variants come into fashion and some go out. Sometimes this leads to one word becoming archaic, sometimes the words are used interchangeably indefinitely.

BronxLens's avatar

Thank you all. I’m sticking with ‘lit’ for my own writing.

morphail's avatar

La chica gomela: If the OED defineds “lit” as “lighted”, then I’m not sure how you can say that they have different meanings.

As to the correctness of “lighted” or “lit”, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage has this to say:

“A few of the handbooks opine that lighted may be more frequent in adjectival use (“a clean, well-lighted place”), but even here our evidence shows about equal use of both forms. We have reputable citations for “a lit cigar” and “a lighted cigar” and “a lit window” and “a lighted window.” The matter, then, is simply one of the author’s preference – choose whichever sounds better in a given context.”

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Morphail, we’re in perfect agreement. I didn’t say they have different meanings; I said they may have slightly different connotations.

Strauss's avatar

According to usage I’ve witnessed, as well as several sources I’ve checked (here, here and here), there are interchangeable

Strauss's avatar

I guess that’s one light that we’ve lit,
Of many in the talking pit.
And if by chance you should feel slighted,
Go light the one we haven’t lighted.

BronxLens's avatar

Touché Yet ~ Lurve to you!

seazen's avatar

Lighted sounds better when the person is doing something, and lit when talking about the state of the candle: He quickly lighted the candle and walked into the room. The candle, now lit, burned brightly.

Of course they are interchangeable, it’s just an opinion.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther