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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rules for Spelling Differences Between British and American English | English Language Blog

This article provides useful information about the "predictable differences" in spelling words in Great Britain and the United States. And as the headline says, it provides "rules you can follow to learn these differences."

Blogger Gabriele writes:
It is important to keep in mind that even though these words are spelled different in these two different countries, the meanings of these differently spelled words remains the same. There is no right or wrong spelling of these words in English, but it is important to keep in mind that they are spelled differently in the context of the two cultures.
The rules cover these differences between words in Great Britain and the U.S.:
  • Words that end in: -our / -or
  • Words that end in: -re / -er
  • Words that end in: -ise /-ize
  • Words that end in: -yse / -yze
  • Words that end in: -ogue, -og
  • Words that end in: silent –e
  • Words that end in: past tense -ed
Also, an earlier article, "British English and American English Spelling Differences," focuses on some common words that don't fit dependable rules that govern many of these cross-Atlantic spelling differences.

Instead, Gabriele describes the spelling differences of the following words in the U.S. and Great Britain. I've supplemented most of Gabriele's descriptions with entries from Garbl's Editorial Style Manual. It emphasizes the U.S. spelling and use, sometimes differing a bit from Gabriele's advice:

dependant/dependent -- dependent Commonly misspelled.

disc/disk -- Use disc for compact discs, laser discs, videodiscs, disc jockeys and phonograph records. Use disk for computer terms like hard disk, disk drive and disk space. A floppy disk is a diskette.

enquiry/inquiry -- Synonymous, but inquiry is more commonly used in at least the United States--and thus the preferred choice. Also consider using simpler question.

ensure/insure -- Commonly confused, though ensure is usually the correct choice. Use ensure to mean guarantee or make certain of something, or try using simpler be sure or make sure. Use insure for references to insurance. See assure.

gray/grey -- Gray is the preferred spelling.

insurance/assurance -- assure Assure means "to state confidently to another person or group that something has been or will be done": The director assured the council that staff will act on the resolution. See the ensure, insure.



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