Which is more correct, "it fit really well" or "it fitted really well"? The short form is something I encountered when moving to the US, I never heard it in the UK.


The definition of 'fit' used here is given by the OED (5.a.) as:

To be of the right measure or proper shape and size for; to be correctly shaped or adjusted to. Said esp. of dress; also fig.

One of the two earliest quotes for this definition in the past tense uses 'fit'; the other uses 'fitted'.

a1691 BOYLE Firmness Wks. 1744 I. 278 As much of the stone, as was contiguous to the marchasite..fitted the marchasite so close as if [etc.].

1795 BURNS Song, Last May, a braw wooer, And how her new shoon fit her auld schachl't feet.

So both forms have been in use for a long time.

Searching COCA, COHA, and the BNC for "fit well" vs. "fitted well," I found "fit well" outnumbering "fitted well" by 20:1 in COCA (indicating American usage), 8:3 in the COHA (indicating older American usage), and by 2:1 in the BNC (for you Brits). So either is fine, on both sides of the Atlantic, but "fit well" is much more common in modern American usage.

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  • This definition is for the adjective; in the question, however, it appears as the simple past of the verb "to fit". – Steve Melnikoff Oct 22 '10 at 22:35
  • That definition is (word-for-word) definition 5.a. for the main sense of the verb 'fit'. The OED lists the adjectival form separate from the verb – Ophiuroid Oct 23 '10 at 23:41
  • Thanks for confirming my suspicion about the US vs. UK stats. – ukayer Nov 25 '10 at 16:09
  • So a quotation from Scots, a quite distinct dialect, is being used as evidence for this usage in "Standard" English? – Concrete Gannet Feb 28 '11 at 21:48

I think there are two separate verbs here that are the same in the present tense but different in the past.

  1. To fit the way clothing fits. "This outfit fits me fine. Did that outfit fit you? Yes it fit me."
  2. To fit as in to equip. "We fit our men with the best rifles. I was fitted with the best equipment."
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  • Your example 1 does not contain the past tense of the verb “fit.” What is the point of this example? – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 24 '10 at 11:54
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    Claudiu, you may be right, but I would want references for the accuracy of your claim. I would say that both 'fit' (cf 'hit') and 'fitted' are used, the former more in N. America than the UK. There are oher words that show this abundance: 'quit', for example. IN the case of 'spit' there clearly are two verbs: 'spit = expectorate' has past 'spat' in the UK and 'spit' in the US; while 'spit = run through' has past 'spitted'. – Colin Fine Oct 26 '10 at 14:37
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    @Colin: yeah I'm not sure "fit" is the correct example, but your "spit" seems to be – Claudiu Oct 26 '10 at 14:41

Just found this after hearing fit used for past tense again, it is an aberration that has infiltrated the language in the US, what can you do? If someone ignorant of correct language used made up words and conjunctions in every sentence they would be scorned if understood, but because Warren G Harding was a presidential candidate he was perceived to be better educated than most - so when he invented 'normalcy' in a campaign slogan instead of the correct 'normality' it stuck. Only Americans say normalcy, and the few Brits who copy them. As with to fit being used as in the old uneducated speech of the UK West country..."Oooh aaar, it fit me loist week it did" (ooh aaar it fitted me last week, so it did) That usage bled over the Atlantic with emigration and is now the 'normalcy'. Unfortunately I have heard other verbs going the same way, tighten your belts for a bumpy future.

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