Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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
OffenceOffense
PretencePretense
License (only noun)License (verb & noun)
Practice (only verb)Practise (noun & verb)
DefenceDefense
Vice Vise
  • British words ending in -our, end in -or in American English:
British English
American English
FlavourFlavor
ColourColor
BehaviourBehavior
SaviourSavior
RumourRomor
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
OrganiseOrganize
ApologiseApologize
CritiseCriticize
SymboliseSymbolize
RealiseRealize
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
FuelledFueled
CancelledCanceled
JewellerJeweler
WoollenWoolen
MarvellousMarvelous
Counsellor Counselor
Revelled Revealed
Levelled Leveled
  • In British English, verbs ending in -yse are spelt -yze in American English: 
British English
American English
ParalyseParalyze
AnalyseAnalyze
  • In British English, words spelt with the affix –ae or -oe change to an -e in American English: 
British English
American English
PaediatricPediatric
LeukaemiaLeukemia
manoeuvremaneuvre
OestrogenEstrogen
FoetusFetus
DiarrhoeaDiarrhea
CaesareanCesarean
AnaemiaAnemia
  • In British English, some words that take only one ‘l’ can have two ‘ll’s‘ in American English:
British English
American English
SkilfulSkillful
WilfulWillful
EnrolEnroll
DistilDistill
FulfilFulfill
EnthralEnthrall
AppalAppall
InstilInstill
  • 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:

0 Comments

Have any doubts? Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.