English Language Spellings

May 16th, 2024 in Grammar by April Michelle Davis 0

Have you ever stared at a word a little too long just because it looked funny?

There are a few groups of words in the English language that have different spellings based on which type of English you speak and write—American or British. Many of these words have only slightly different spellings but have identical meanings.

“Cancel” is just one example in which this occurs. In American-English, the past tense is correctly spelled “canceled,” whereas the British spell it “cancelled.” The L-rule also applies to “cancel” with other suffixes, such as “canceling” versus “cancelling.” The words’ meanings are interchangeable; the spelling is not.

The most commonly noticed difference between American and British spellings involves the “-our” or “-or” endings. What is red? In Britain, red is a “colour,” while Americans would write that it is a “color.” Another common difference occurs between words similar to “defence” (British) and “defense” (American).

“Advisor” is often mistaken for an American/British spelling difference. Originally spelled “adviser,” Americans began using “advisor” in the early to mid-1900s, while the British still predominantly use “adviser.” In America, although “adviser” seems to be more widely accepted by credible sources, both are correct spellings.

Such spelling changes between the various types of English stem from the famous Noah Webster, creator of the Webster’s Dictionary. When America broke away from England, the people were attempting to find an identity of their own and wanted to completely disassociate from the English. Webster wrote an American spelling book, and later the Webster’s Dictionary, to create our own American English language.

Try It!

Correct these words to fit the American-English spelling.

  1. Humour
  2. Fuelled
  3. Pretence
  4. Dialling
  5. Rumour



  1. Humor
  2. Fueled
  3. Pretense
  4. Dialing