Benefited or Benefitted: What’s the Difference?

Many writers are flummoxed at the spelling rules in English. In some cases, the consonant at the end of a word is doubled when adding a suffix, like in the words knit and knitting. Other times, the consonant is left alone, as with the words spite and spited.

To make matters even more confusing, some words can follow either strategy, like the verb benefit when conjugated into the past tense, forming either benefited or benefitted.

How should you spell this word? This article will cover the situations where each of these spellings might be considered more appropriate.

What is the Difference Between Benefited and Benefitted?

In this post, I will compare benefited vs. benefitted. I will outline each spelling, explaining when it is appropriate to use each.

Plus, I will give you a memory tool to help you decide whether to use benefited or benefitted in your own writing.

When to Use Benefited

Benefitted versus benefited What does benefited mean? The word benefited is a past-tense form of the verb benefit, which means to confer an advantage.

Here are some examples,

  • The agency benefited from additional oversight.
  • The participants in the experimental group benefited significantly from the treatment.
  • The candidate had benefited from billions of dollars in free airtime.
  • His 2015 Clos de la Roilette Cuvée Christal ($18) was a bright, juicy, uncomplicated delight, while his Clos de la Roilette Cuvée Tardive ($25) was a rich, concentrated wine that benefited from decanting. –The Wall Street Journal

Benefited is the accepted spelling of this word in American English. The chart below shows the relative frequency at which these terms appear in American books written in English since 1800:

benefitted or benefited spelling

As you can see, at least in this time period, benefited has always enjoyed a clear advantage.

When to Use Benefitted

Definition of benefited definition of benefittedWhat does benefitted mean? Benefitted is an alternate spelling of the same word. It is applicable to all the same contexts as benefited, with the caveat that benefitted is the preferred form in British English.

For example,

  • King George VI benefitted from the forbidden love between his elder brother and Wallis Simpson.
  • Wallis Simpson benefitted from being an engaging conversationalist and marrying into the royal family.
  • King Edward VIII benefitted from marrying the woman he loved, but it cost him his claim to the throne.
  • The FT, which strongly favoured Britain remaining in the European Union, has benefitted from the vote to leave on 23 June. –The Guardian

It is commonly said that the British use the spellings benefitted and benefitting (as our example from the British paper The Guardian illustrates), but if you take a look at the below graph, their usage doesn’t look too much different than that of the Americans.

how do you spell benefited

Like the first chart, this one only features data from books written in English since 1800. Neither graph is scientific or exhaustively accurate, so they may full demonstrate each spellings full use.

Sources like Garner’s Modern English Usage list benefitted as the British spelling.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Here is a trick to remember benefitted vs. benefited.

These two words mean the same thing; they are alternate spellings of the same verb.

  • Benefited is the standard spelling in American English.
  • British English writers have standardized around benefitted.

If you have trouble keeping this information organized in your mind, you can use a mnemonic to bolster your memory. Since benefitted is spelled with a double T, much like the British county Nottinghamshire, you can mentally link this spelling with England, where it is more likely to be used.

Summary

Is it benefited or benefitted? Although benefited and benefitted mean the same thing, there are still clearly defined contexts where each is more appropriate.

  • Americans use benefited.
  • British spell the same word benefitted.

Your intended audience will be the determining factor for which one you should choose.

Since benefitted and Nottinghamshire are each spelled with a double T, remembering that this spelling is standard in English will be a simple task.

To summarize, benefited is the American spelling of this word. Benefitted is the British spelling.