The United States and United Kingdom are "two countries divided by a common language".
George Bernard Shaw
This week we will look at the spelling differences between American English (God bless America) and British English (God save the Queen).
Last week the reasons was explained for the differences between the American English and British English. So, this week you might ask: what causes the differences in spellings?
Well, even though the English language originated in Britain, it is said that dictionary makers drove the American spelling changes. According to Wikipedia:
Noah Webster wrote the first American dictionary in 1828. At the time America was a relatively new country and Webster's particular contribution was to show that the region spoke a different dialect from Britain, and so he wrote a dictionary with many spellings differing from the standard. Webster initiated many of these changes unilaterally.
In spite of Americans changing things in order to be different from the British the English spelling rules (and for any different variety of the English language) are complex, with many exceptions. You can however, check your spellings by; spell check the document if it is electronic, ask someone you trust to review your written document, re-read the written document carefully for errors, use a dictionary (most dictionaries contain the spelling of its derivatives: plural forms and participles and even the correct pronunciation of the word) and finally, learn the basic spelling rules of spelling. It is important to point out that, if you are using the British English make sure you use a British English dictionary and likewise, if you are using the American English make sure also that you use an American English dictionary. It is important to be consistent with the use of the same word if there is a difference in spelling. Remember, whatever English you are using make sure to keep the preferences of who you will be writing for in mind and that it is the appropriate form to use. This you will find necessary if you write, travel, live, work and study in other countries that use its own preference of the variety of the English language.
The list below is showing a general spelling differences between the American and British English. The list is placed in alphabetical order and is not comprehensive. Further down you will see another group of lists, highlighting some of the changes that cause the differences in spelling.
American BritishRelated articles:
anymore any more
ax /axe axe
buret, burette burette
donut/ doughnut doughnut
Dr. Dr(no full stop)
forever for ever
gauge, gage gauge
omelet, omelette omelette
uh, um er, erm
Some of the changes that cause the differences
The change of compound consonants into simple
check (bank) cheque
draft (ship’s) draught
The omission of a redundant “e”
story (of a house) storey
The change of terminal “-re” into “-er”
The omission of unaccented foreign terminations.
The omission of the penultimate u in words ending
The omission of u when combined with “a” or “o”
The change of “o” into “a”
slug (verb) slog
The conversion of decayed diphthongs into simple
The change of “e” into “i”
The reduction of duplicate consonants to single
The change of “c” into “s”
vise (a tool) vice
The substitution of “s” for “z”
The substitution of “k” for “c”
The substitution of “y” for “i”
The change of y into “a“, “ia” or “i”
tire (noun) tyre
The substitution of “ct” for “x”
The insertion of a supernumerary “e”
-ed vs. -t
verbs that use “-ed” or “-t “for the simple past
and past participle.
(These forms do not exist for every verb.
The British also use “ed” for the past tense.
There are also other variation).
English Idioms - English phrases and their meanings
Latin Abbreviations and their English meaning
Languages by Countries
Differences between American and British English - PT. 1