Spelling variations

One of the more notable differences between English as it is spoken in different countries is in the spelling of word endings. The following table shows some common spelling equivalents. Note that the British spelling is nearly always closer to the French.

American British French
-ck check -que cheque chèque
-ense defense
license
-ence defence
licence
défense
licence
-er center
meter
-re centre
metre
centre
mètre
-g catalog
dialog
-gue catalogue
dialogue
catalogue
dialogue
-m program -mme programme programme
-or color
favor
-our colour
favour
couleur
faveur
-zation privatization
authorization
-sation privatisation
authorisation
privatisation
autorisation
-ze realize
formalize
-se realise
formalise
réaliser
formaliser

 
Here are some less common spelling tendencies:

American British
-e- archeology
encyclopedia
-ae- archaeology
encyclopaedia
-_l jewelry
fueled
-_ll jewellery
fuelled
-_ll fulfill
enrollment
-_l fulfil
enrolment
-ling signaling
traveling
-lling signalling
travelling
-ipped worshipped -iped worshiped

Also, in American English the final e is removed from verbs before adding -ing, whereas in British English this is not always done:

American British
routing routeing
aging ageing

 

Other English Dialects

The above rules are for American vs British spelling. For the most part, the other English dialects also use British spelling, with some exceptions.

Australian English

Australian British
program programme
worshipped worshiped

In addition, several British spellings are in the process of becoming Americanized:

both -ae- and -e- may be found

both -ise and -ize are commonly used

-our is becoming -or, except in harbour and saviour

Canadian English

Canadian British
-_ll fulfill -_l fulfil
-m program -mme programme
-zation privatization -sation privatisation
-ze analyze -se analyse

However, many words have been Americanized and both spellings may be used.

 
English spelling

1 comment for “Spelling variations

  1. alan
    26 June 2014 at 13:03

    Good website.

    I realise this page is on spelling but it is probably worth pointing out that meter, metre, check and cheque are all valid British English words. A meter is how you measure something (eg a gas meter) and a metre is a unit of measure. Check is a verb (as it to check you have done something), a cheque is a means of paying for something. The US English “check” can either mean bill (ie an invoice or request for money) or cheque in British English.

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