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In this list, I’ll outline the rules as to the main differences between British and American spelling. Rules with examples will be shown in 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 Critize
Symbolise Symbolize
Realise Realize
Authorise Authorisze
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 Reveled
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 be 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

 


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