The English language includes many words with more than one correct spelling. For example, many people struggle to remember whether to write canceling or cancelling.
So, which spelling should you use?
The answer relates to the difference between American and British English. Canceling is the preferred spelling in American English, while cancelling is the preferred spelling in British English.
In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between canceling vs cancelling and show you when to use each spelling.
Is It Cancelling or Canceling?
Both cancelling and canceling are correct spellings of the present participle of the word cancel. The rule for the different spellings depends on which region of the world you’re from.
If you come from America and use American English, then you should use the single L spelling and write canceling. On the other hand, if you come from the UK and use British English, then you would use the LL spelling and write cancelling.
For example, you would write, “I’ll be canceling my appointment” if you lived in New York and you would write, “I’ll be cancelling my appointment” if you lived in Liverpool.
Most other countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, also use the British spelling, cancelling. So if you’re not sure where your readers are from, the double L spelling is often the safer option.
If you’re struggling to remember which spelling is which, the ProwritingAid Realtime Report can help you analyze your spelling choices based on the location of your target audience.
Is It Cancellation or Cancelation?
You might assume that cancelation vs cancellation would follow the same rule as canceling vs cancelling, with one L in the US and two Ls in other countries. However, this is actually a false assumption!
Cancelation is technically a correct spelling, but it’s very rarely used. It’s much more common, even if you’re writing in American English, to spell the word cancellation with the LL spelling.
Here are two examples:
- The American Airlines flight cancellations meant they would be driving overnight to Vegas.
- British Airways’ flight cancellation meant they would be taking the Eurostar to Paris.
Examples of Using Canceling vs Cancelling Correctly
Let’s look at some examples of how to spell canceling vs cancelling in American publications versus books from other parts of the world.
Examples of the American Spelling
“Philosophy can really give us nothing permanent to believe either; it is too rich in answers, each canceling out the rest. The quest for Meaning is foredoomed.”—Peter De Vries, The Blood of the Lamb
“It was a lame excuse, and I knew that wasn't the reason he was canceling. If he wanted to avoid me, I would have preferred he made up something about how he and the other guardians had to up Moroi security or practice top-secret ninja moves.”—Richelle Mead, Frostbite
“As far as I’m concerned, the only thing sweeter than seeing a friend is that friend canceling on me.”—Maria Semple, Today Will Be Different
“Hey, don’t go canceling the wedding just yet. The success rate for inter-sport marriages is a lot higher than you think.”—Elle Kennedy, The Mistake
“Our inner beliefs trigger failure before it happens. They sabotage lasting change by canceling its possibility.”—Marshall Goldsmith, Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts
Examples of the British Spelling
“You could die, I thought, and it was a nice relaxing thought at the time. I imagined death like a switch, switching off all the pain and noise, cancelling everything.”—Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends
“I had already modified the day’s schedule, cancelling my market trip to catch up on the lost sleep. I would purchase a ready-made dinner instead.”—Graeme Simsion, The Rosey Project
“One solitary tear crept through the scars of his face, through the diagrams of constellations and the incised maps of influence and dominion. A liquid without a name, it being made of so many emotions and conflicts, each cancelling the other out until only salt and gravity filled the moment and moved down through his expression.”—Brian Catling, The Vorrh
“And so we can understand how all action, all choice, all history is justified, at the end of time, by a final cancelling-out.”—Eugène Ionesco, Fragments of a Journal
Tip for Spelling Canceling vs Cancelling
One tip for remembering the difference between the spellings is to remember the mnemonic “London letters.”
London is the capital of the UK, and the two initials in “London letters” are LL, so the spelling you should use in British English is the one with two Ls.
The same single L vs double L pattern holds true for several other American words and their British counterparts. Here are some other examples:
- Traveling (US) / travelling (UK)
- Modeling (US) / modelling (UK)
- Marvelous (US) / marvellous (UK)
There you have it! If you’re an American or writing for an American audience, the single L spelling of canceling is the one to opt for. And if you’re writing from the UK, you should write cancelling.