smell

Listen:
UK:*UK and possibly other pronunciationsUK and possibly other pronunciations/ˈsmɛl/US:USA pronunciation: IPA and respellingUSA pronuncation: IPA/smɛl/ ,USA pronunciation: respelling(smel)


Inflections of 'smell' (v): (⇒ conjugate)
The past form "smelt" is mainly used in UK English. It is correct in US English, but rare.
smells
v 3rd person singular
smelling
v pres pverb, present participle: -ing verb used descriptively or to form progressive verb--for example, "a singing bird," "It is singing."
smelled
v pastverb, past simple: Past tense--for example, "He saw the man." "She laughed." (US & UK)
smelt
v pastverb, past simple: Past tense--for example, "He saw the man." "She laughed." (Mainly UK)
smelled
v past pverb, past participle: Verb form used descriptively or to form verbs--for example, "the locked door," "The door has been locked." (US & UK)
smelt
v past pverb, past participle: Verb form used descriptively or to form verbs--for example, "the locked door," "The door has been locked." (Mainly UK)
WordReference Collins English Usage © 2020
smell
Smell can be a noun or a verb. The past tense and -ed participle of the verb is smelled, but smelt is also used in British English.
used as a noun
The smell of something is a quality it has that you are aware of through your nose.
I love the smell of fresh bread.
What's that smell?
used as an intransitive verb
If you say that something smells, you mean that people are aware of it because of its unpleasant smell.
The fridge is beginning to smell.
His feet smell.
You can say that a place or object smells of a particular thing, which can be pleasant or unpleasant.
The house smelled of flowers.
Her breath smelt of coffee.
Be careful
You must use of in sentences like these. Don't say ‘The house smelled freshly baked bread’.
You can say that one place or thing smells like another thing, which can be pleasant or unpleasant.
The house smelt like a hospital ward.
I love this shampoo – it smells like lemons.
You can also use smell with an adjective to say that something has a pleasant or unpleasant smell.
What is it? It smells delicious.
The room smelled damp.
Be careful
Don't use an adverb after smell. Don't say, for example, ‘It smells deliciously’.
used as a transitive verb
If you can smell something, you are aware of it through your nose.
I could smell the dinner cooking in the kitchen.
Can you smell the ocean?
Be careful
You usually use can or could in sentences like these. You usually say, for example, ‘I can smell gas’ rather than ‘I smell gas’. Don't use a progressive form. Don't say ‘I am smelling gas’.
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'smell' also found in these entries:
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