Past Tense Of Kneel: Kneeled Or Knelt? (Pronunciation & Usage)

By Benjamin Essek

What Is The Past Tense Of Kneel?

The past tense for kneel can be kneeled or knelt, although kneel is an irregular verb. They are interchangeable but knelt is more popular in certain countries and contexts. So, depending on where you study and live, you can use kneeled or knelt flexibly.

The past participle of kneel is the same as kneel in past tense. You can check out the table below to get more verb forms of kneel.

Simple Present He/She/It kneels

I/You/We/They kneel

Present Continuous He/She/It is kneeling

I am kneeling

You/We/They are kneeling

Present Perfect He/She/It has knelt/kneeled

I/You/We/They have knelt/kneeled

Present Perfect Continuous He/She/It has been kneeling

I/You/We/They have been kneeling

Simple Past He/She/It/I/You/We/They knelt/kneeled
Past Continuous I/He/She/It was kneeling

You/We/They were kneeling

Past Perfect He/She/It/I/You/We/They had knelt/kneeled
Past Perfect Continuous He/She/It/I/You/We/They had been kneeling
Simple Future He/She/It/I/You/We/They will/shall kneel
Future Continuous He/She/It/I/You/We/They will/shall be kneeling
Future Perfect He/She/It/I/You/We/They will/shall have knelt/kneeled
Future Perfect Continuous He/She/It/I/You/We/They will/shall have been kneeling

How do you pronounce knelt and kneeled as correctly and naturally as native speakers? The videos below will be useful:


According to the Oxford Learners Dictionary, the IPA transcription of knelt is /nelt/ in both British and American accents, of kneeled is /niːld/. The past participle of kneel is pronounced the same. You can watch the table below to make it clearer.

Form of word Pronunciation 
kneel /niːl/ /niːl/
knelt/kneeled /nelt/




knelt/kneeled /nelt/




Definitions And How To Use Knelt/Kneeled?

What is the kneel definition? The English verb “kneel” is classified as an intransitive verb that has only one main meaning:

  • To move/go down/stay in a position where one’s body is supported on their knee or knees. (to fall or rest on)


  • He knelt/kneeled to find his favorite toy under the bed and the chair. I saw he searched every corner of the house, he still couldn’t find it.
  • Several prisoners knelt/kneeled before the dementors to undergo torture.

The past tense of kneel has the same meaning as the basic form but is used to talk about the action that happened and was completed in the past.


  • She and her family knelt/kneeled and prayed all night last night. Everyone hopes the surgery will be successful and their loved ones will be healthy again.
  • The gibbons knelt/kneeled and dug for food due to the prolonged drought. The green trees have withered now, and the rivers have dried up.


Created on By Benjamin Essek

Past Tense Of Kneel

Choose the correct verb tense to fill in the blanks:

1 / 5

Christians always …… and pray before meals by giving thanks for the meal and then making the sign of the cross.

2 / 5

In the Middle Ages, prisoners would have to …… to receive food from the warden. Those who do not follow the rules will be tortured to death.

3 / 5

She was …… on the floor beside her child, in front of the Jesus statue every night of Christmas week. It is the biggest holiday of the year for the people here, so they take it very seriously.

4 / 5

He …… and brushed the hair from her face and gave her a kiss. They both wanted this moment to last for a long time because they had been waiting for it for so long.

5 / 5

A month ago, he …… every day before the altar of his deceased grandfather and begged him to bless his little brother. The prayer seems to have been granted, and the boy has woken up.

Your score is

The average score is 0%



What Are Synonyms And Antonyms Of Kneel?

The synonyms of kneel are: bow, curtsey, genuflect, kowtow, stoop, bow down, do obeisance, and prostrate oneself. Among them, according to the Grammarly blog, the words closest to kneel are: genuflect, stoop, and kowtow.

To genuflect means stooping or touching the ground with respect, then immediately standing. It was often associated with worship, rituals, or the submission of enslaved people.

To stoop means stooping and leaning forward. For example, you are standing, and you lower your head, shoulders, and knees to move.

To kowtow is a Chinese word that means kneeling and lowering your head to the ground. This word is often used in ceremonies, worship, and to express repentance.

Rise, straighten, face, meet, stand, stretch, straighten up, ascend, grow, increase, fight, rise, above, stand up, assuage, help, and soothe are considered antonyms of awake.

How To Use Kneeled And Knelt Correctly?

Although both are used, why is knelt more widely adopted? Because it is classified as an irregular verb, it doesn’t follow the rule of adding -ed to the end of the finite form.

Besides, knelt is written and pronounced more concisely than kneeled, so many people use it. In particular, knelt is used in academic and professional writing instead of kneeled.

Before the 1800s, kneeled was used more widely. However, English speakers used knelt more commonly after the 1800s, especially from the 1900s onwards. Most books also use knelt instead of kneeled.

Data compiled by Bryan Garner in the book Garner’s Modern American Usage shows knelt and kneeled usage ratios at 6:1.

Tips To Remember The Kneel Past Tense

Many people like to use both knelt and kneeled in life as well as in writing. So how to remember the spelling and pronunciation of these two words?

To remember knelt, you need to remember that it has a -t sound at the end of the word, and the vowel of the word will be pronounced /e/ instead of /i:/ like the basic form.

For kneeled, you just need to remember the rule of adding -ed at the end of a regular verb. Its pronunciation is similar to the V1 but adds the -d sound at the end.