What Is the Difference Between British and American English Spelling?

Whether you take your coffee black or lace it with milk, it does not change the fact that it is coffee. The English language works similarly, there are multiple varieties, but it is still recognized as English. British English and American English is spoken and written differently but is understood by both groups. Both are correct, and the use usually depends on personal preference. British and American English have several differences in terms of vocabulary, grammar, and spellings. As a thumb rule always, be consistent in your writing. If you are uncertain, you can verify spelling on Grammarly. With the Grammarly student discount, you can confirm whether your text is consistent in the use of British or American English.

Spelling differences

The spelling differences in the two variants are mainly found in the suffixes and prefixes of words. Noah Webster, of Webster’s dictionary, wanted the Americans to be independent lexically. Therefore, he made some changes to differentiate words in British English and American English. Here are significant disparities in the spellings of the two languages.

Removal of –U in American words

British English spots an extra –u in some words, unlike the American counterparts. For example, in British English, we have colour, armour, flavour, and humour. American English, on the other hand, is color, armor, flavor, and humor.

The use of -er

Another popular spelling difference is the reversal of –er in British English for words like theatre and centre. In American English, the words are written as theatre and center.

Ending words with -ise in British English and -ize in American English

American English ends words with –ize instead of –ise used in British English. Look at the examples below:

Apologise vs. apologize

Recognise vs. recognize

Organise vs. organize

Title capitalisation vs. title capitalization

Double vowels in British English like –oe/-ae change to a single vowel –e for Americans

Look at the following examples:

Anaemia / Anemia

Diarrhoea/ diarrhea

Use of –t and –ed in the past tense

In British English, some words end with  –t in their past tense form while in American English, they end in –ed. For instance, burn becomes burnt or burned in British and American English, respectively. The same case applies to dreamt/dreamed, and leapt, leaped.

Use of –ence and –ense

Words ending with -ence will change to –ense in American English. For instance:

Offence becomes offense

Licence becomes license

Use of –ll and –l

In British English, words with an –l preceded by a vowel will change to –ll in the past tense. However, in American English, the –l does not double.

A good example is cancelled and canceled. Moreover, some nouns have double –ll while their counterparts in American English remain single. Such words include jewellery and jewelry. 

Use of –y instead of –i

A word like tyre as spelled in British English becomes a tire in American English. The above difference in spellings does not change the meaning of a sentence. However, you should try to be consistent. That is why you need to take advantage of Grammarly student discount to use it for spell checks and as a title capitalization tool.

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