Posted by: Jack Henry | January 21, 2014

Editor’s Corner: BBC America

Here we are, two weeks into the latest season of Downton Abbey and the third season of Sherlock Holmes (with Benedict Cumberbatch), which seems like the perfect time to talk about some of the differences between British and American English spelling.

Years ago, I received an edited document and asked my mentor: “What is wrong with my spelling of catalogue?” And the answer he gave me was, “It is not wrong…if you live in England!” So I dropped the “ue” and tried to start spelling “gray” the American way. Then three days ago, I found another word that I’ve been spelling wrong for years: moustache. Yes! Apparently that is the British spelling and us ‘mericans are s’posed to spell it mustache!

Over the next couple of days, for all of our sakes, I’ll be sharing some information from Spellzone, a site that breaks down some of the primary differences between American spelling and British spelling.

Important: Though both spellings may be labeled “correct” in a dictionary, since we are in the U.S. we need to follow the accepted American spellings.

Words ending in –re

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

British US
centre center
fibre fiber
litre liter
theatre theater or theatre

Words ending in -our

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

British US
colour color
flavour flavor
humour humor
labour labor
neighbour neighbor

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:

British US
apologize or apologise apologize
organize or organise organize
recognize or recognise recognize

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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