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British and American spelling differences

Here are the main ways in which British and American spelling are different.

Words ending in –re

British English words that end in -re often end in -er in American English:

BritishUS
centrecenter
fibrefiber
litreliter
theatretheater or theatre

Words ending in -our

British English words ending in -our usually end in -or in American English:

BritishUS
colourcolor
flavourflavor
humourhumor
labourlabor
neighbourneighbor

Words ending in -ize or -ise

Verbs in British English that can be spelled with either -ize or -ise at the end are always spelled with -ize at the end in American English:

BritishUS
apologize or apologiseapologize
organize or organiseorganize
recognize or recogniserecognize

Words ending in -yse

Verbs in British English that end in -yse are always spelled -yze in American English:

BritishUS
analyseanalyze
breathalysebreathalyze
paralyseparalyze

Words ending in a vowel plus l

In British spelling, verbs ending in a vowel plus l double the l when adding endings that begin with a vowel. In American English, the lis not doubled:

BritishUS
traveltravel
travelledtraveled
travellingtraveling
travellertraveler
fuelfuel
fuelledfueled
fuellingfueling

Words spelled with double vowels

British English words that are spelled with the double vowels ae or oe are just spelled with an e in American English:

BritishUS
leukaemialeukemia
manoeuvremaneuver
oestrogenestrogen
paediatricpediatric

 

Note that in American English, certain terms, such as archaeology, keep the ae spelling as standard, although the spelling with just the e(i.e. archeology) is usually acceptable as well.

Nouns ending with –ence

Some nouns that end with -ence in British English are spelled -ense in American English:

BritishUS
defencedefense
licencelicense
offenceoffense
pretencepretense

Nouns ending with –ogue

Some nouns that end with -ogue in British English end with either -og or -oguein American English:

BritishUS
analogueanalog or analogue
cataloguecatalog or catalogue
dialoguedialog or dialogue

 

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