The irregular past and past participle form smelt is only used in British English.
Smell / smelt / smelt (GB)
Smell / smelled / smelled (US)
Smell can be used as a copular verb. In this case, we use an adjective to modify it. Note that ordinary verbs are modified by adverbs.
- The soup smells awful. (Here the adjective awful modifies the copular verb smells.) (NOT The soup smells awfully.)
- Roses smell beautiful. (NOT Roses smell beautifully.)
Smell can be used with the prepositions like and of.
- She smelt like jasmine.
- The room smelt of cigarettes and bear.
When someone or something smells, they smell bad.
- He has smelly feet. (= His feet smell bad.)
- Your dog smells. When are you going to give him a wash?
Note that when smell is used as a copular verb, it is not used in its ing form.
- The steak smells funny. (NOT The steak is smelling funny.)
Smell can mean perceive something with the nose. In this case, too, it is not used in the progressive form.
- I can smell something burning.
Progressive forms are possible when smell is used to say that we are using our noses to find out something.
- ‘Why are you smelling those socks?’ ‘I’m just trying to see if they will do for another day.’