When to Use Spilled or Spilt

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: All the While: Definition & Usage

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Spilled vs. Spilt
  • 1:00 Examples
  • 1:33 Use as Adjectives
  • 1:52 Use as Verbs
  • 2:41 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
'Spilled' and 'spilt' sound like similar words, and they are often confused and used interchangeably. In this lesson, you'll learn a brief history of these words and the correct way to use each one in a sentence.

Spilled vs. Spilt

An American meets a British citizen and they go out for a friendly cup of coffee. By accident, the American knocks over his coffee. ''Oh no,'' says the American, ''I spilled my coffee!'' The British friend says, ''Don't you mean you spilt your coffee?''

Which one is correct?

'To spill' means to run or fall out of a container, to give out information, or to fall over.

The past tense of spill is 'spilled' or 'spilt;' either one indicates an action that is finished. 'Spilled' and 'spilt' are also the past participle of 'to spill'. The past participle is used when you use the perfect tense to express an action that happened some time before now: 'have' + past participle form of a verb (in this case, 'spilled' and 'spilt'). Here's an example:

  • They have spilled the milk all over the table.

The past participle is also used in the passive voice: 'be' + past participle, to express an action that was done to something else. For instance:

  • The milk was spilled on the table.


Let's look at some more examples of how to use 'spilled' in a sentence:

  • Having spilled the beans, I realized I had given away the secret of the surprise party. (Here, 'spilled' is used to disclose information.)

  • The crowd at the garden party was so large that it spilled over into neighboring yards. (In this sentence, 'spilled' is used to describe an overflow.)

  • The water spilled out of the bowl and caused a stain on the table. (Here, 'spilled' is used to describe the action of the water.)

  • The spy spilled the information when she was under pressure. (In this sentence, 'spilled' means to give information.)

Use as Adjectives

'Spilled' and 'spilt' can sometimes be used as an adjective, a word used to describe another word. For example:

  • Don't cry over spilt milk. (This is a traditional phrase meaning that you can not change what has been done.)

  • The spilled juice ran onto the floor. (Here, the word is used to describe juice that was already spilled.)

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account