• Dreamt and dreamed are both past tense forms of dream.
  • Dreamed is more popular when talking about sleeping.

Is there a difference between dreamed and dreamt? You might be surprised to find that there are conflicting reports. Some people say that there is no difference. Others say that they have different meanings. What’s the real deal?

To dream is to experience visions of thoughts as you sleep. However, you can also dream while you are awake when you envision an event, hope for something, or just daydream. To illustrate, here is a quote from Epigrams by Oscar Wilde:

Oh, I dream of dragons with gold and silver scales, and scarlet flames coming out of their mouths, of eagles with eyes made of diamonds that can see over the whole world at once, of lions with yellow manes and voices like thunder. . .

In addition to definitions, you can also search for the past tense of a verb in a dictionary. lists two forms for dream—dreamed and dreamt. So, the two words have at least one thing in common; they function as the past tense of dream. As you probably guessed, which one you favor depends on where you live. In all varieties of English except British, dreamed is the most common form by a landslide. However, in the United Kingdom, dreamt is almost as prevalent. Here are a couple of examples of dreamed and dreamt, both from ESPN sites. Pay attention to the meaning. Do you see a difference?

“Our goal is gold―we’ve dreamt about it from when we were little kids, laying in bed dreaming about it, getting that gold medal put around our necks on the podium.”

Cristiano Ronaldo said Portugal [has] “dreamed” of making the final of Euro 2016 “since the very beginning.”

Don’t worry if you couldn’t find a difference. There really wasn’t one. Both sentences use dream in the sense of “to hope” for a future goal. Dreamt, if it is chosen, is most often used in this capacity. Writers talking about a sleep state or a waking fantasy are more likely to choose dreamed, as you will find in these literary examples:

He no longer dreamed of storm, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach. . . . He never dreamed about the boy.
―Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

I dreamed I flung the violin into a brackish, wind-rippled slough, where the glue would slowly soften until it fell to pieces. I dreamed I laid it on the frozen ground and stepped on it, crushing the thin shell into jigsaw shards.
―Marta Iyer, The Pilgrim’s Book of Hours: A Baroque Migration

If someone asked you what your dreams were about last night, how would you answer? Would you say, “I dreamed of. . .” Or would you say, “I dreamt of. . .”? If you are British, dreamt is almost as likely a choice as dreamed. American English speakers would probably opt for dreamed, but they are both acceptable options.

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