American English versus British English: Spelling

Some grammar rules (and embarrassing mistakes!) transcend the uniqueness of different regions and style guides. This new International Grammar section by ultimately identifies those rules thus providing a simple, flexible rule-set, respecting the differences between regions and style guides. You can feel free to ask general questions about spelling and grammar. You can also provide example sentences for other members to proofread and inform you of any grammar mistakes.
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Re: American English versus British English: Spelling

Post by mehmetakkoch » 11 Apr 2017, 14:28

I think all differences show and lead us a richness, abundance, pluralism. Both sides have clear differences about their cultural, historical, geographical backgrounds. In the end, it plays a great role for creating, transforming and shaping a culture. The difference is just a simple example of the great picture.

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Post by Aimy » 11 Apr 2017, 14:51

English is now a global language. People from places other than US or UK may not even notice which one is British and which one is American English.

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Post by Megan Old » 07 Jun 2017, 21:52

Usually in British English spelling, they have the letter u in it. In their American English spelling counterpart, they romove the u.

For example:

Favourite (british) becomes favorite (american)
Colour (british) becomes color (american)
Humour becomes humor
Neighbour becomes neighbor

Basically, america hates u hahahaha

-- 07 Jun 2017, 21:55 --

On an additional note, british english spelling tend to interchange r and e.

For example:
centre (b) becomes center (a)
fibre (b) becomes fiber (a)
litre (b) becomes liter (a)

and in british english, they use s rather than z.

apologise (b) becomes apologize (a)
categorise (b) becomes categorize (a)
analyse (b) becomes analyze (a)

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Post by Kovna Louis » 30 Jun 2017, 05:15

Hello everyone, I'm new in here. :tiphat:

What an interesting topic ! As far as I'm concerned, even though english isn't my native language nor the language I usually speak at home and with my friends, since I'm a teacher and grammar is one of the things I teach on a regular basis, I am completely against mixing languages. I always tell my young students : "Please, speak correctly ! Stop speaking "fran-ole" ! Stop mixing "français" (french) and creole ! Either you speak one or the other !"
Because we have two official languages here and it's absolutely horrendous to hear children and adults mix up the two on a regular basis.

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Post by June Weatherbee » 23 Jul 2017, 19:57

Write what you know. I love the look of the British spellings and like using those as well as dropping little French phrases de temps en temps!

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Post by Sin24 » 23 Jul 2017, 23:17

Okay so this is solely my opinion; after reading some of the recommendations and responses this is what I have to say and I mean no disrespect in saying it, however, most countries that are English speaking writes, not necessarily speak but writes the Queens' Language. I believe that if a book is set in the United States and is published for the United States audience then by all right the grammatical structure of that book should follow the grammatical rules of said country. So when writing a review if you choose to use the grammatical rules of America then you should use it through out the review, and the same rules stand when writing a review using the British grammatical rules. Also, I think it goes with out saying that if a book was composed using a different grammatical structure than the one you are using to write the review then that book should not be penalized as long as the grammatical rules were correctly followed, and if you are unsure as to whether or not the grammar is correct, we live in the technological age , please look it up.

NB. Now with that being said there are times when I prefer the American words over the British and may even use them while using the grammatical rules of the British, for example, Programme and program

Life is controversial sue me.

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Post by Reymart Callao » 23 Jul 2017, 23:45

Cultural difference is significant because it indicates the unique beauty and amazing originality of each culture.

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Post by Kenneth Jassen » 24 Jul 2017, 04:08

The best thing to do is to stick to the first spelling you used. What I mean is, if you have started using colour and is British spelling for color then continue using the British spelling for the consistency of the text. Likewise, if you have started using American spelling, continue doing so.

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Post by Vivian Paschal » 16 Sep 2017, 04:19

I think mixing is quite improper. An author could very well be marked down for doing so. Where the author is American but uses British spelling, it would depend on the setting and the character. If it's set in a location where British English is spoken, then he's good to go. If the character speaking is a Brit in America, perhaps on a vacation, the writer is good to go too. It just has to be logical. So, I think reviewers ought to study the setting and characterisation first. It's unfair and wrong to mark a writer down just because their grammar usage doesn't fit the one you're familiar with.

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Post by BoyLazy » 30 Sep 2017, 05:24

moderntimes wrote:An interesting question but one that's easily answered. Use the grammar and spelling for where you live. Don't try to mix them because it makes no sense to do so. Naturally, if you're quoting something that your character has written, such as a letter found at the crime scene, you'd use the spelling of the character.

I read a mystery thriller about a year ago that offered a clue to finding the bad guy. When referencing a US Interstate highway, the crook said something like " north on the I-680" which helped ID him as native Californian. Folks in Cali say "the I-10" whereas other people in the US omit the article and just say "I-10".

In my 3rd mystery novel (recently completed), I've got a surgeon originally from New Zealand who forms a romantic affair with my private detective protagonist. And she uses British-preferred dialogue, adding of course the NZ spark. But I've not had her write a note or letter, so all we hear is her use of British phrasing and I write her dialogue with US English spelling.

Whatever you do, do NOT attempt to write in dialect, such a deep South American hillbilly, or a Cockney or Irish brogue. You can "salt" the dialogue with a few colorful phrase that denote the person's origin but trying to write using dialect is a mistake as I see it. I recently reviewed a book in which some of the characters speak thick Cockney, and the sentences are nearly indecipherable. An actual example: “...Jus’ ’im blowin’ steam ... about ’im what wif Nell gittin’...” Highly annoying, although the book itself was excellent.

I did slightly mark down the book for its overuse of jargon / dialect, but my reviews are never "starred" so I simply mentioned it as a slight annoyance. Hopefully the author will avoid such in the future.

There are other mechanical differences besides spelling, of course. Punctuation Brit style places the period or comma outside the quote, US style puts the period inside: "I'm sleepy", she said. vs "I'm sleepy," she said. And so on.

My recommendation is to use the preferred grammar for your audience. If you're writing for British readers, punctuate and spell that way. If for the US reader, Yankee style of course. But don't try to get "cute" and play games with spelling or punctuation.

Why? Because when you're trying to sell your book or find an agent or publisher, any sort of "cuteness" falls on deaf ears and usually racks up "no" scores quickly.

Neither you nor I am James Joyce, and taking liberties with the language paints the writer into a corner.
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Post by Gifty Naa Akushia » 12 Oct 2017, 13:58

Am cool with British English, I just don't like to mix the two you either British or American.

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Post by lbhatters » 08 Apr 2018, 15:15

Aspen_Reads wrote: ↑
17 Dec 2014, 13:06
I sometimes find myself switching back and forth between British and American English spellings, and I am not British. I think I do this because I mostly read British authors who use that language.
What editors look for is consistency. If you start with English grammar, end with it. If you start with British grammar keep using it. I'm not sure what Canadian publishers do if the spellings are interchangeable.
:techie-studyinggray: Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
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Post by espicer4life » 08 Apr 2018, 20:54

I would say that it would depend on where one excepts the book to be read. If just he US then use the US spelling and grammar. However, if you expect it to be read worldwide where other countries like Australia and Canada and many more use the British version then I would go with that one.

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