Is gray your neighbor’s favorite color, or is grey your neighbour’s favourite colour?

A quick look at British and American spelling

For the past three years, we have been answering questions ranging from the use of punctuations (semicolon, colon, comma, and even the interrobang) to the most common grammar and spelling peeves (lay/lie, affect/effect, who/whom, etc.).

Those questions are to be expected, especially since for many of our followers English is their second, third, or even fourth language. English grammar and usage is challenging enough to native speakers:

What caught us by surprise, however, was how something as (seemingly) simple as spelling differences between identical words could be such a revelation to both our American and international followers.

Take a look at the following evidence:

This tweet was only two hours old at the time of writing this post, so we can expect the RT count to go up.

Clearly, people are interested in this topic. This is either something they had never been taught, or they’re eager to share it with people around them who aren’t aware of these spelling differences. And though it would be easy to generalize that Americans are familiar with only American spelling and English-speakers in other parts of the world are familiar only with “British” spelling, students in literature classes around the world have been reading novels written by American and British authors for hundreds of years. What’s more, both forms of English are also ubiquitous on the Internet. So it will be interesting to discover what has kept (mainly young) people from picking this up.

The remainder of this post will be devoted to sharing some of the more common words that are spelled/spelt differently in American and British English. Along with the words mentioned in the above tweets, we have the following:

This post covers just the tip of the iceberg, but it will give you a better understanding of how spelling differs between American and British English (-or vs. -our, -ze vs. -se, -ed vs. -t, etc., respectively).

Has this post piqued your curiosity? Would you like to know just how many words differ in spelling between American and British English?

Take a look at this comprehensive list of 1,800 roots and derivatives from Tysto.

We hope you have learned/learnt something interesting in the past five minutes.


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