Grammar GuideAbbreviationsUS spelling vs UK spelling

US spelling vs UK spelling

US spelling vs UK spelling

The UK and USA share the English language, but there are many words that are spelled differently. Some words have extra letters in the British spelling, such as the word cancelled. In American English, we spell it canceled. We also have words that interchange the letters c or s. For example, in America, we use offense and in Britain, we use offence.

Here are some commonly used words that have different spellings. (For these examples, the American spelling will come before the British spelling.)

American English uses the letter z more commonly than British English:

  • accessorize vs. accessorise
  • characterize vs. characterise
  • hospitalize vs. hospitalise

American English often uses one l in words that the British spell with two. These are usually in the middle of words:

  • canceled vs. cancelled
  • traveling vs. travelling
  • funneled vs. funnelled

The reverse is true with the end of many words. There are some British words that end in one l that end in two in American English:

  • enroll vs. enrol
  • enthrall vs. enthrall
  • fulfill vs. fulfil

We have different ideas of the letters c, k, and s:

  • skeptical vs. sceptical
  • offense vs. offence
  • license vs. licence
  • curb vs. kerb

American English drops extra vowels from many words, especially words that have the ou phoneme:

  • color vs. colour
  • labor vs. labour
  • maneuver vs. manoeuver
  • pediatric vs. paediatric

We also switch the letters r and e. In Britain, words that commonly end in -re are spelled -er in America:

  • theater vs. theatre
  • liter vs. litre
  • center vs. centre

Some words don’t follow any particular rule. They are just spelled differently:

  • airplane vs. aeroplane
  • gray vs. grey
  • yogurt vs. yoghurt