British Or American English

British or American English? Which one do you prefer? We'll never agree - ever. However, because I ghost write for a lot of American bodies, (or foreign companies who want to sound American) I have to be really careful how I spell - depending on who I'm writing for. I don't always get it right. Many times I forget and switch the spelling for the wrong crowd. I grew up in a former British colony and now live in England as a British subject. However, because I work on the Internet, I constantly have to use Americanized versions of words. Would you know the difference if you saw them? Let's look at some common British versus American English spelling. You should never get them wrong again! :-)

Additional reading: Speak English With Confidence (for foreigners learning English)
Free, Quick English Lessons Online (for foreigners who speak English and English speakers who want to brush up on grammar, punctuation etc.

British or American English

As with everything in the English language in general, please note that there are exceptions to most rules. The words featured below are in no way representative 'across-the-board'.

Verbs ending in 'ise' and 'ize'

UK - Organise
US - Organize

UK - Realise
US - Realize 

Verbs ending in 'yse' and 'yze'

UK - Analyse
US - Analyze

UK - Paralyse
US - Paralyze

Nouns ending in 'our' and 'or'

UK - Neighbour
US - Neighbor

UK - Colour
US - Color

Nouns ending in 'ence' and 'ense'

UK - Licence (except when used as a verb)
US - License

UK - Defence (exceptions to this rule)
US - Defense

Words ending in 'er'

UK - Centre 
US - Center

UK - Metre (except for something like a 'gas meter')
US - Meter

Some common words to watch out for when you write/speak:

UK - 'Trousers' meaning trousers and 'Pants' meaning underpants
US - 'Pants' meaning trousers.

UK - 'Pavement' meaning the place at the side of the road (where you walk)
US - 'Pavement' meaning where you drive. (You walk on the 'side walk').

UK - Cheque
US - Check

And don't get caught out with these common miss-used words in English. (link takes you to another page on this blog)

Cancelled (British) and Canceled (American)
Grey (British) and Gray (American)
Manoeuvre (British) and Maneuver (American)

You'll also want to read: Common Spelling Mistakes on Your Blog
You're and Your

If you enjoyed 'British or American English' please share it with others on your social networking site or send it to someone who's having a hard time telling the difference between the two. Which of these differences gives you more grief? For me it's definitely 'ense' and 'ence' ones. 


Keef August 21, 2012 at 10:48 AM  

Also 'gotten'. And 'holler' for yell or shout.

Anne Lyken-Garner August 21, 2012 at 11:33 AM  

Yeah, Keef. I love 'holler'. The word just makes me smile. It's got a certain ring to it. :-)

Colette S August 21, 2012 at 10:50 PM  

Oh I love it!

I've had a post like this ready to go forever.

I speak British! And so I love to play the British against American way of spelling. Ooh I wreaked havoc on my teachers on school when it was time for spelling tests!

So many memories :)

Anne Lyken-Garner August 22, 2012 at 10:15 AM  

Would've been fun to watch from a corner of your classroom, Colette.:-)

Chubskulit Rose August 22, 2012 at 1:54 PM  

I had so much fun reading this one. So UK uses S more than Z. Hmmmnn, thanks for sharing this Anne.

Anne Lyken-Garner August 23, 2012 at 8:41 PM  

Yes. And don't forget we like the extra 'ou' too, C :-) Thanks for popping by.

Icy BC August 24, 2012 at 4:15 PM  

I recognize some of the British words when I come across them..and I like some phrases that British said too.

Anne Lyken-Garner August 25, 2012 at 9:11 PM  

I suppose the only differences aren't the spelling. They're a lot to do with how these nations say words and express themselves.

Anne's a published author, freelance writer and experienced editor. She's just signed her second publishing contract this year with 2 separate publishing houses. You can hire her or see her available books in the side panel on the right.
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