PSLE English TOTW ~ 'Spoil' & 'Spoilt' Speak Up

'Spoil' and 'Spoilt' are seriously sore. Breaking from the ranks of commonly misused words, the embittered duo got in touch to plead their case.

Says Spoil, "Somewhere along the way, people started abusing us."

"Right," Spoilt, who by rule of grammar always makes a later entrance than Spoil, adds, "people started putting words into our mouth, so to speak."

"We'll see what we can do," we say, nodding empathetically.


Consider the following usages of the words 'spoil' and 'spoilt'.

(a) "You'll spoil the birthday surprise if you leave the dugong in the bathtub!"

(b) "Eating smelly beancurd is one thing, but eating spoilt smelly beancurd is a whole new level of foolhardiness."

(c) "Boss, I can't do any work because my computer is spoilt."

(d) "I know you dote on Stephy, but you'll really spoil her if you get her the unicorn she's been asking for."

(e) Spoiling for a fight, gung-ho Floyd kept jabbing good-natured Manny in the ribs.

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The Oxford dictionary defines the verb spoil thus:

  • Diminish or destroy the value or quality of

  • Harm the character of (someone, especially a child) by being too lenient or indulgent

  • Be extremely or aggressively eager for

At first glance, all the example sentences seem to have engaged in legitimate employment of the word spoil.