• Daniel Bullock

British spelling versus American spelling and how it impacts you


british, american, spelling, which, coffee
Should I use British spelling?

While American and British English Share many similarities, there are also many differences, especially in spelling. Should we use British or American spelling? In which situation is it best to use American or British spelling? Let’s find out!

What are the differences between British spelling and American spelling?

In general there are various patterns that make it possible to tell whether it is American or British spelling.

Many words in British English and with “our” and many American words end with just “or”. Also many words end in “re” in British English (for example: centre) while in American English it would be “er” (center). Other examples are: meter and metre. Liter and litre. Theater and theatre.

Differences in spelling


What are some differences in British and American spelling? Let’s find out in these tables.


Is color American or British? Have a look below at "ou"

​British spelling

American spelling

colour

color

flavour

flavor

favourite

favorite

clamour

clamor

labour

labor

What is an example of British spelling?


Janet, I love the colour of your new sweater.

sweater, colour, british, american, spelling
What is the colour of her jumper?


Should I use "og" or "ogue" in my spelling?


British

American

analogue

analog

prologue

prolog

catalogue

catalog

epilogue

epilog





What's an example of the word "analogue"?

When TV switched over from analogue to digital, I couldn't use my old one!


What are some words that end in "re"?

British spelling

American spelling

theatre

theater

centre

center

epicentre

epicenter

fibreglass

fiberglass

lustre

luster

Words with a vowel and "l". How do we spell them in British English?



British English

American English

travelled

traveled

modelling

modeling

counselling

counseling

snorkelling

snorkeling

What is an example of counseling? In British English, it is as follows:

Mark went for a counselling session after his traffic accident

Should I use "ise" or "ize" in my spelling?

British English

American English

realise

realize

socialise

socialize

scrutinise

scrutinize

sanitise

santize

accessorise

accessorize

What is an example of "realize" in British English?


Donovan realised he had lost his phone when he got from the nightclub!

There are a lot of other great examples over at this resource: http://www.tysto.com/uk-us-spelling-list.html


Should I use UK or US spelling?

It really depends on where you are living or what you are hoping to do. If you are intending to go to school in the UK, follow UK spelling practices. The same goes for if you are planning to move to the US in the future.

But let’s be completely honest here-The difference between American and British spelling a pretty superficial. Both are completely acceptable globally. The only thing which might cause problems is lack of consistency. If you are choosing to write in American English then you should remain writing in American English. Do not switch between the two, because that could possibly look unprofessional.


I am taking an English test. Should I use British or Amercian English?


This does depend on the actual test you are taking, however, the majority of examiners accept both as long as you remain consistent. If you start writing in British English, don't suddenly switch to an American spelling. Also, get to know the test. If it is for the American college system, it might be preferable to use American spelling. I don't think you will be penalized though - just remain consistent in your spelling throughout.

Which countries use British English spelling?

South Africa, Australia and New Zealand generally follow British English spelling. This is because of their strong historical ties to the united kingdom.

To find out which countries use the British form of spelling we can look at history. The countries which have strong links with the UK from the past tend to follow British English spelling. It does depend on a lot of things though for example many countries where English is the second language also mixing their own local vocabulary which does not exist in native British English.


Does India use British English?


english, india, speak, taj mahal
Do they speak English in India?

Yes India uses British English. The people also use some of their own words and phrases which don’t exist in British English. As India has such a massive population, the country’s English spelling will probably affect global English in the future.

The site story needle is a good resource on the topic.


Does Singapore use British English?

Because of historical reasons, Singapore does indeed use British English. It also uses American English due in part to being an international business hub. There are also many influences from its own cultures. English is extremely widespread in Singapore and it is the main language for school and work. You can feel confident using British spelling in Singapore.

Does Malaysia use British English?

This country does use British based spelling. However it has been influenced by American English in recent years according to Wikipedia. Rest assured, if you are in Malaysia and you use British spelling, you will be completely fine.

I am taking a test in English, should I use British or American spelling?

In general it is fine to use either British spelling or American spelling. As long as you remain consistent and have correct grammar usage you will be fine. The worst thing to do would be to change from British to American during the test or vice versa pick one form of spelling and stay with it.

What does British English sound like compared to American English?

The spelling of words doesn’t really affect how they sound. As we have discovered there are many differences in spelling between American and British English. If you hear these words spoken you will hear differences but that is more about accent than the actual spelling.

What are some examples of American pronunciation?

In the word “colour” there is an emphasis on the “R” sound. In British English, the R sound is not stressed. The same goes for many other words which include “R”. Examples include water, better, learn, warm.

With words Ending in yse or ize, there isn’t any big difference in pronunciation it is simply about spelling. The same goes for other patterns like “ou” or “o”. For example color, flavor, favorite. (American English)

Are there any strangely spelled words in British English?

The most strangely spelt weird for me is gaol. If you are looking at this and thinking how do I even say this, you are not alone! The American variant of this word is much more simple to read. It is jail. It is worth noting that the pronunciation is the same!

How are British and American English different in terms of spelling?

The common differences between American and British spelling are as follows: ou/o. For instance colour/colour. Yse/ize for instance visualyse/visualize. In British English both ise and ize are acceptable. Using re/er, for instance “theatre/theater. There are other examples which we have also discovered.


Both types are completely fine, however we should remain consistent in spelling style. If you are comfortable using British spelling stay on that track. If you are planning to live in the USA then it is better to practice American spelling especially if you’re going to school there it’s just common sense at the end of the day. Have fun with your spelling journey!