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Thread: British and American Spelling Differences

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  1. #1
    MaiaMadness
    Guest

    British and American Spelling Differences

    I hope it's okay to post this here. If not, feel free to delete it.

    English is not my first language, and I know that there are other authors here who are only second language English speakers, or even third. To these people, I know it can be very dificult to be sure of which spelling to use when writing in American, British or any other form of English. I know there are differences when it comes to Canadian and Australian as well, but I'm not very familliar with these differences and so will not go into them.

    I figured this thread could act as a reference to people who are uncertain of which sort of spelling to use. I know MNFF allows both American and British (and any other official form you can think of) as long as it's consistent. No mixing them up, in other words.

    Being a language geek, and particularly an English geek, I have studied these differences rather thuroughly during my reading and writing "career". I'll start this thread off with some basic differences:

    S vs. Z
    A lot of places where the letter Z is used in American English, the British form uses S. This includes words like realize/realise, characterize/characterise, etc. Basically any word that ends in -ize/-ise.

    The Letter U
    In British English one uses the letter U in a lot of words where this letter is usually left out in American. These are words such as colour/color and favour/favor. Colour and favour are British forms, whereas color and favor are American.

    -er or -re
    In American English one has, for rather understandable reasons, switched around the last two letters of certain words, more specifically some words that end in -re in British English. The British theatre, metre and centre become theater, meter and center.

    These are the most immediate differences I could think of. I was thinking that if people have questions regarding words they're uncertain about the spelling of in American or British English, they could ask here. Hope I'm not out of line in creating this thread.

    Maia

  2. #2
    SiriuslyMental
    Guest
    Program = Programme

    Acclimate = Acclimatise

    Aluminum = Aluminium

    (This one is really optional, but I'll include it anyways) Tire (as in for a car) = Tyre

    Forward = Forwards

    Prophecy = Prophesy

    Other things I've noticed, more grammatically than spelling-wise -

    Americans put the full stop inside brackets or commas, but English people put it on the outside.


    Americans:

    He said that the brown box was not "square enough."
    Lucy thought that Harry was well fit (little did she know he secretly thought the same of her.)

    English:

    He said that the brown box was not "square enough".
    Lucy thought that Harry was well fit (little did she know he secretly thought the same of her).

    (This does not apply for speech).

    And Americans tend to use "real" for "really".

    "That shirt was real cool."

    "That shirt was really cool."

    Moderator's Edit: To clarify - yes, practice and practise are the noun and verb forms of the word, not a difference in spelling between Britain and America.

  3. #3
    bluexroses
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by SiriuslyMental
    Americans put the full stop inside brackets or commas, but English people put it on the outside.
    Actually we don't. Some people do use that, but it's incorrect. The period (full stop) usually comes after the closing parenthesis.
    Quote Originally Posted by Horsesbella219
    Something i noticed when i was in new york, is that in restaurants, when you want the bill, you ask for the "Cheque" (sp?). Just thought i'd throw it in:

    Bill= Cheque (or is it check?)
    It is check, but I'm pretty sure both bill and check can be used when paying at a restaurant. There's a phrase "foot the bill" which refers to paying the bill (especially if it's for a group).

    Quote Originally Posted by apollo13
    prinicple = Headmaster/Headmistress/Head
    It's actually spelled "principal" when referring to the head of a school. "Principle" is more like a rule.

    The only things I can think of off the top of my head are:
    battery -- cell
    apartment -- flat
    gray -- grey
    chips -- crisps
    fries -- chips

    Americans tend to spell words how they are spoken, and since American and British accents and styles of speaking are different, so is the spelling of words. Words have also evolved differently in the two countries because they are used differently.

    ~Ayesha

    Edit: This site has a good list of differences.

  4. #4
    apollo13
    Guest
    Heh, yeah sorry about that principal thing - I was trying to watch tv at the same time as doing this, and my mind wasn't really on the job. >.<

    ~Evie

  5. #5
    SiriuslyMental
    Guest
    One thing that really seems to confuse many Americans -

    British does not mean English. An Englishman can be British but a Brit is not necessarily from England.

    British includes all of Welsh, English, Scottish, and Northern Irish peoples.

    British accents are a myth. There is no such thing as a British accent, but there are many English, Scottish, Welsh, and N Irish accents.

  6. #6
    Horsesbella219
    Guest
    One thing that really seems to confuse many Americans -

    British does not mean English. An Englishman can be British but a Brit is not necessarily from England.

    British includes all of Welsh, English, Scottish, and Northern Irish peoples.

    British accents are a myth. There is no such thing as a British accent, but there are many English, Scottish, Welsh, and N Irish accents.
    If anyone has any trouble remembering that, i'd like to suggest a marvellous rthyme we used to sing in school when we were doing french skipping:

    Endland, ireland, Scotland, Wales
    Inside, outside, Inside, On.
    It's also good for remembering how to do french skipping

  7. #7
    emmaholloway
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by bluexroses
    battery -- cell
    cell? Isn't it a cell when it is only half a battery (or something like that, like when you had to draw the circuit diagrams in physics and a cell only had one big line and one small line, where as a battery had two?)

    Battery is always battery as far as I know.

  8. #8
    bluexroses
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by emmaholloway
    cell? Isn't it a cell when it is only half a battery (or something like that, like when you had to draw the circuit diagrams in physics and a cell only had one big line and one small line, where as a battery had two?)

    Battery is always battery as far as I know.
    Hm, you're probably right. I just remember when I went to England and needed one, the lady we were staying with called it a cell. *shrug* I probably just got something mixed up.

  9. #9
    apollo13
    Guest
    I have actually only ever heard Americans refer to batteries as cells.

    ~Evie

  10. #10
    Gorgeous_Ginny
    Guest
    [QUOTE=bluexroses]

    battery -- cell
    QUOTE]

    Well from my experience with physics a cell is one battery and a battery is two, but that is only ever in physics when it is used, I think that's the same in both countries.

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