I know that there are two ways to form the past tense of to light (i.e. lit/lighted). Which one is appropriate for the sentence below?

His thoughts lighted our way.


His thoughts lit our way.

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    For reference: englishrules.com/writing/2006/lit-and-lighted
    – user10893
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 9:41
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    This question is easily answered by a dictionary: verb (past lit /lɪt/; past participle lit or lighted). If the question was "why are there two different past participles for some verbs?", we are happy to answer that (we have already).
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 9:54
  • Here is the thing that I suspect you are missing. english is not my native tongue. I speak and write pretty well though. But sometimes I may miss the nuances of the language. When I googled for lit-lighted I could not find an answer that satisfied me. The worry I had was if these two used for different contexts. For example maybe lit was used for actualy putting something on fire and lighted in a more allegorical way. That is why I gave the example His thoughts lit/lighted our way instead of I lit/lighted a candle. Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 9:55
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  • We understand that many users here are not native speakers. However, asking for the past participle of a verb is fairly general reference. It adds a lot of research to a question if you say "I found that these are both past participles. Are they correct in different situations?"
    – user10893
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 10:00

3 Answers 3


I have a feeling that the best word for here is "lighted". "Lighted" is used more when referring to something illuminating another.

When generally referring to a source of light that brightens up the room, "lighted" is preferred:

The lantern lighted the whole room.

"Lit" is generally more used for "setting on fire" :

He lit the paper and threw it in the bin.
The little spark lit the straw, and the whole barn burned down.

Also,"lit" has an alternative meaning:

Slang . under the influence of liquor or narcotics; intoxicated (usually followed by up ).

Thus, I feel that "lighted" would be best here.

His thoughts lighted our way.

"Light" has two meanings, one meaning "to cause to take fire", and the other "to illuminate". When referring to "light" in the first sense, the past would be "lit":

He tried to light his cigar/ He lit his cigar

When referring to "light" in the second sense, "lighted"(often along with "up" is used:

His words were a light to my future/His words lighted up my future.

  • Just for everyone's notice, the OP has changed the question, and it is now a valid question. I am reopening the question.
    – Thursagen
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 10:22
  • Agreed. I had a discussion with the OP, and this seems like a very valid question now.
    – user10893
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 10:38

This is easy. Lighted and lit are synonymous and can be used in place of each other. There is no rule to use one or the other. Pick either.

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    Not yet so, although they're moving towards collapsing into each other. Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 14:18

Lit is British English and lighted is American English, the same thing with dreamt and dreamed respectively.

  • Without some authoritative support, this answer is likely to be closed.
    – bib
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 22:10
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    Not only do you have no evidence for this, but it seems unlikely in light of this Google Ngram Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 22:51

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