No one has the authority to say whether a word is 'real' or not. We don't have an 'academe' as they do in France. We can look at usage and it is clear that 'earnt' is still alive and well in British English. Jeremy www.jeremytaylor.eu
Earnt is a real word. Earn declines the same way as learn, dream and spell and it dates from Middle English.
Earned is often used due to the similar sound of earnt and earned, in addition to the fact an ed suffix is the most wide spread to form the past tense. People will argue which part of the past tense is the correct usage of it, perfect, plu-perfect and so on, but just use it where it feels correct.
Of course it is. For those who think that is sounds wrong, many of us think "earned" sounds wrong too (or childish). Irregular verbs are starting to be phased out, but "earned" started off as an incorrect form of "earnt". Those who didn't know English very well didn't know that some verbs followed a different pattern ('t' suffix rather than 'ed'), so used the usual pattern instead of the irregular pattern (in much the same way second language speakers miss-use grammar and suffixes today). It's the natural thing to do when you don't have a whole list of exceptions to work from.
There are lots of words which have the irregular "T" in place of the usual "ED" in the past tense, especially when the infinitive ends in a nasal sound (N / M). We don't say "MEANED" do we? It's "MEANT" For some words, both the "T" and the "ED" forms are equally valid. "Earnt" is a word, even if "earned" is a more common choice of spelling these days.
I'd also like to add that everybody who invoked the phrase "bad grammar" or similar is a moron as this is nothing whatsoever to do with grammar - it's to do with morphology and orthography.
These two explanations are particularly stupid -
"Earnt isn't a real word even though a lot of people use it. The correct term is 'earned' even though earnt can be found in some dictionaries"
It's in dictionaries, but it's not a word... Because you say so? With no logical argument whatsoever. Dear me.
"I do not believe this word is correct. It looks and sounds ridiculous and just conjures up bad grammar used by people who are too lazy to think about what they are saying. Also so many people say 'think' instead of 'thing' in general conversation. Example: 'I didn't do anything' UGH! It makes me squirm!"
At least there's a logic to this, but it's still wrong. It's not the same thing as writing K instead of G because using T in past tense verbs is a well established pattern that appears all over English. The meaned/meant example above shows why your explanation is wrong.
Checked the OED 2nd ed. - not a single time is it mentioned, did a full text search.
I think it is an accident from pronunciation. I catch myself spelling 'earnt' when I think in my mind of saying it short and harsh "\" that style of stress (australian pronunciation) Meanwhile, when I pronounce earned - it is a much longer sound "-" that type of stress
No reason why I would choose one or the other. My accent is bastardized australian (I watch too many of you brits on tv...)
I do not believe this word is correct. It looks and sounds ridiculous and just conjures up bad grammar used by people who are too lazy to think about what they are saying. Also so many people say 'think' instead of 'thing' in general conversation. Example: 'I didn't do anythink' UGH! It makes me squirm!