Blog Grammar Rules Organisation vs. Organization: What’s the Difference?

Organisation vs. Organization: What’s the Difference?

Hannah Yang

Hannah Yang

Speculative Fiction Author

Published May 10, 2022
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Organization vs organisation article cover

Many people don’t know whether they should write organisation and organization, since these are two commonly accepted spellings of the same word.

So when should you use each spelling?

The short answer is that it depends on whether you’re writing for a British audience or an American audience.

Organization is the only correct spelling of this word in American English, whilst both spellings are acceptable in British English.

In this article, we’ll teach you the difference between organization and organisation, and show you how to use each word correctly.

Contents:
  1. Organisation vs. Organization: Which Is Correct?
  2. Using Organization Correctly
  3. Using Organisation Correctly
  4. Examples of Organization and Organisation (in American and British English)

Organisation vs. Organization: Which Is Correct?

Organization and organisation are two forms of the same noun, which means “a group of people with a common purpose” or “a systematic arrangement or approach.”

Difference between organization vs organisation

Changing the spelling doesn’t change the meaning of the word. The only difference between the two spellings is the geographical audience you’re writing for.

TIP: To remember the difference between organise and organize, remember that the word “British” includes an s. The word organise also includes an s, so it’s an acceptable spelling in British English.

Organization vs organisation

This tip is broadly applicable to British and American English because there are several other words that follow this pattern. Below are some other examples of words that are spelled with an s in British English and a z in American English.

  • Catalyse (UK) and catalyze (US)
  • Crystallise (UK) and crystallize (US)
  • Analyse (UK) and analyze (US)
  • Realise (UK) and realize (US)

Using Organization Correctly

Organization is the correct spelling in the United States. Whenever you’re writing for an American audience, you should spell this word with a z, not an s.

In American English, organization can mean either “a systematic arrangement or approach” or “a group of people with a common purpose.”

For example, you could say, “I’m joining a volunteer organization to tutor children who need help with math and physics.” In this case, organization means a group of people who have joined together to achieve the goal of educating children.

You could also say, “My mother was appalled at the organization of my desk, or rather, the lack thereof.” In this case, organization refers to the arrangement of the speaker’s desk.

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Using Organisation Correctly

Both organization and organisation are correct in the United Kingdom, as well as other parts of the world that speak British English, such as Australia and India. The word means the same thing regardless of how it’s spelled.

If you’re writing for a British audience, it would be equally correct to write “I’m joining a volunteer organisation” or “I’m joining a volunteer organization.”

Whenever you’re in doubt about whether to use an s or a z in the word organisation, go with the z. This spelling is considered correct by every English-speaking audience.

ProWritingAid will correct the version with an s to the one with a z when your language is set to American English, and vice versa when your language is set to British English.

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Examples of Organization and Organisation (in American and British English)

Let’s look at some examples of organization and organisation from English literature around the world.

Organisation Examples

Here are some examples of the word organisation from British authors.

“We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare.”—Animal Farm by George Orwell

“Was it the happiest day of our lives? Probably not, if only because the truly happy days tend not to involve so much organisation, are rarely so public or so expensive. The happy ones sneak up, unexpected.”— Us by David Nicholls

“The Metropolitan Police Service is still, despite what people think, a working-class organisation and as such rejects totally the notion of an officer class. That is why every newly minted constable, regardless of their educational background, has to spend a two-year probationary period as an ordinary plod on the streets.”— Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

“Perhaps one day, all these conflicts will end, and it won’t be because of great statesmen or churches or organisations like this one. It’ll be because people have changed.”— When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

“She was adamant that any organisation that labelled one group of people as evil would eventually do the same to others. That to treat any one person as less than human was to cheapen the very substance of humanity.”— The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

Organization Examples

Here are some examples of the word organization used by authors around the world.

“You’re a New Yorker. You live in SoHo. You volunteer for an arts organization; you volunteer for a food kitchen.”— A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

“NASA is an American non-military organization, and it owns the Hab. So while I’m in the Hab, American law applies. As soon as I step outside, I’m in international waters. Then when I get in the rover, I’m back to American law.”— The Martian by Andy Weir

“If chaos is a necessary step in the organization of one’s universe, then I was well on my way.”— Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

“There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.”— The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

“Life: a constellation of vital phenomena—organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaptation.”— A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

As a rule of thumb, remember that organization is used in American English, while both organization and organisation can be used in British English.


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Hannah Yang

Hannah Yang

Speculative Fiction Author

Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.

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