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British and American spelling

In this list, I’ll outline the rules concerning the main differences between British and American spelling. Rules with examples will be shown in an easy fashion so that you can easily distinguish between American and British spelling/orthography. It should also be noted that, although absolutely not obligatory, it pays to be consistent in your spelling, either following one or the other (American or British spelling), but not both at the same time. The examples below are only a very small portion and do not include ALL the words.


  • Substantives or nouns ending in -ence in British English are -ense in American English:
British English
American English
Offence Offense
Pretence Pretense
License (only noun) License (verb & noun)
Practice (only verb) Practise (noun & verb)
Defence Defense
Vice  Vise
    • British words ending in -our, end in -or in American English:
    British English
    American English
    Flavour Flavor
    Colour Color
    Behaviour Behavior
    Saviour Savior
    Rumour Romor
    Neighbour  Neighbor
    Colour  Color
    Labour  Labor
      • In British English, verbs suffixes or endings are spelt with a -ise, whereas in American English it’s an -ize at the end:
      British English
      American English
      Organise Organize
      Apologise Apologize
      Critise Criticize
      Symbolise Symbolize
      Realise Realize
      Authorise  Authorize
      Capitalise  Capitalize
      Equalise  Equalize
        • In British English, the ‘L‘ is doubled in words ending in a vowel, plus ‘L‘. eg: fuel, travel, label, cancel etc. In American English, the ‘L‘ is not doubled (the rule applies to the participle, gerund forms, and noun forms, if applicable): 
        British English
        American English
        Fuelled Fueled
        Cancelled Canceled
        Jeweller Jeweler
        Woollen Woolen
        Marvellous Marvelous
        Counsellor  Counselor
        Revelled  Revealed
        Levelled  Leveled
          • In British English, verbs ending in -yse are spelt -yze in American English: 
          British English
          American English
          Paralyse Paralyze
          Analyse Analyze
            • In British English, words spelt with the affix –ae or -oe change to an -e in American English: 
            British English
            American English
            Paediatric Pediatric
            Leukaemia Leukemia
            manoeuvre maneuvre
            Oestrogen Estrogen
            Foetus Fetus
            Diarrhoea Diarrhea
            Caesarean Cesarean
            Anaemia Anemia
              • In British English, some words that take only one ‘l’ can have two ‘ll’s‘ in American English:
              British English
              American English
              Skilful Skillful
              Wilful Willful
              Enrol Enroll
              Distil Distill
              Fulfil Fulfill
              Enthral Enthrall
              Appal Appall
              Instil Instill
                • Substantives or nouns that end in -ogue in British English will normally take the -og ending in American English:
                British English
                American English
                Analogue  Analog
                Dialogue  Dialog
                Prologue  Prolog
                Travelogue  Travelog
                Epilogue  Epilog
                catalogue  catalog
                Monologue  Monolog




                See also: 


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