To gain mastery in using English, we must conquer the following three of the God of English’s creations:

  • The angel called ‘reading’
  • The human called ‘writing’
  • The devil called ‘spelling’

While most of us have been put through the paces for reading and writing, we unfortunately almost always falter when it comes to complicated spelling. To make matters worse, the artificial intelligence in our digital devices, with their constant spelling prompts and auto corrects, provides us an easy escape from memorizing proper spellings.   

If English is not your native language and you are one of those seekers who wishes to understand the nuances of spelling differences between American and British English, then welcome! You have come to the right place! This blog offers details on the various spelling rules in American English vis-a-vis British English for many common everyday words.

Why are Spelling Rules different in American English and British English?

We recommend you read our blog: Why American English is more Popular than British English. The reason#4 in that blog provides you the answer to this pertinent question.

Is Indian English Spelling different from American English Spelling?

Yes. The spelling used in Indian English is a legacy of the British rule. All the spelling rules are distinctly British in nature. If you are an Indian wishing to write and spell in American English, read and learn the rules listed below in this blog.

The 12 Rules of Spelling Difference between American English and British English/ Indian English

Rule 1: Words ending with the suffix ‘-re’ in British English/ Indian English

If a word ends with the suffix ‘-re’ in British English/ Indian English, then in the corresponding spelling of that word in American English will end with the suffix ‘-er’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Words ending with ‘-re’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Words ending with ‘-er’)
  amphitheatre amphitheater
  calibre caliber
  centimetre centimeter
  centre center
  fibre fiber
  kilometre kilometer
  litre liter
  lustre luster
  manoeuvre maneuver
  meagre meager
  metre meter
  millimetre millimeter
  sabre saber
  sceptre scepter
  sombre somber
  spectre specter
  theatre theater

Rule 2: Words ending with the suffix ‘-nce’ in British English/ Indian English

If a word ends with the suffix ‘-nce’ in British English/ Indian English, then in the corresponding spelling of that word in American English will end with the suffix ‘-nse’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Words ending with ‘-nce’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Words ending with ‘-nse’)
  Defence Defense
  Offence Offense
  Pretence Pretense
  Licence (as a noun) (*the verb form used is ‘License’) License (both as a noun and a verb)

Rule 3: Words ending with the suffix ‘-ise’ in British English/ Indian English

If a word ends with the suffix ‘-ise’ in British English/ Indian English, then in the corresponding spelling of that word in American English will end with the suffix ‘-ize’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Words ending with ‘-ise’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Words ending with ‘-ize’)
  Apologise Apologize
  Appetiser Appetizer
  Authorise Authorize
  Capitalise Capitalize
  Characterise Characterize
  Civilise Civilize
  Colonise Colonize
  Criticise Criticize
  Dramatise Dramatize
  Emphasise Emphasize
  Equalise Equalize
  Mobilise Mobilize
  Naturalise Naturalize
  Organise Organize
  Popularise Popularize
  Realise Realize
  Recognise Recognize
  Satirise Satirize
  Standardise Standardize
  Symbolise Symbolize
  Vaporise Vaporize

Rule 4: Words ending with the suffix ‘-our’ in British English/ Indian English

If a word ends with the suffix ‘-our’ in British English/ Indian English, then in the corresponding spelling of that word in American English will end with the suffix ‘-or’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Words ending with ‘-ise’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Words ending with ‘-ize’)
  Armour Armor
  Behaviour Behavior
  Candour Candor
  Clamour Clamor
  Demeanour Demeanor
  Endeavour Endeavor
  Flavour Flavor
  Glamour Glamor
  Harbour Harbor
  Honour Honor
  Humour Humor
  Labour Labor
  Neighbour Neighbor
  Odour Odor
  Rancour Rancor
  Rigour Rigor
  Rumour Rumor
  Saviour Savior
  Splendour Splendor
  Valour Valor
  Vapour Vapor
  Vigour Vigor

Rule 5: Words containing ‘-ph-’ in British English/ Indian English

If a word containing the letters ‘-ph-’ in British English/ Indian English to represent the ‘f’ sound, then for the corresponding spelling of that word in American English, it will be replaced with ‘f’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Words containing ‘-ph-’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Words containing ‘-f-’)
  Sulphate Sulfate
  Sulphide Sulfide
  Sulphur Sulfur

Rule 6: Words containing the double vowel ‘-oe’ in British English/ Indian English

If a word contains  two consecutive vowels ‘oe’ in British English/ Indian English, then for the corresponding spelling of that word in American English, this double vowel will be replaced with ‘e’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Words containing ‘-oe’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Words containing ‘-e’)
  Diarrhoea Diarrhea
  Oestrogen Estrogen
  Foetus Fetus
  Manoeuvre Maneuver

Rule 7: Words containing the double vowel ‘-ae’ in British English/ Indian English

If a word contains two consecutive vowels ‘ae’ in British English/ Indian English, then for the corresponding spelling of that word in American English, this double vowel will be replaced with ‘e’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Words containing ‘-ae’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Words containing ‘-e’)
  Anaemia Anemia
  Caesarean Cesarean
  Gynaecology Gynecology
  Haemorrhage Hemorrhage
  Leukaemia Leukemia
  Palaeontology Paleontology
  Paediatric / paediatrician Pediatric/ Pediatrician

Rule 8: Words ending with the suffix ‘-ogue’ in British English/ Indian English

If a word ends with the suffix ‘-ise’ in British English/ Indian English, then the corresponding spelling of that word in American English is truncated to end with the suffix ‘-og’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Words ending with ‘-ogue’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Words ending with ‘-og’)
  Analogue Analog
  Dialogue Dialog
  Catalogue Catalog
  Epilogue Epilog
  Monologue Monolog
  Prologue Prolog

Exception:

  • Travelogue (The spelling of this word is identical in British English/ Indian English and American English.)

Rule 9: Words ending with the suffix ‘-mme’ in British English/ Indian English

If a word ends with the suffix ‘-mme’ in British English/ Indian English, then the corresponding spelling of that word in American English is truncated to end with the suffix ‘-m’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Words ending with ‘-mme’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Words ending with ‘-m’)
  Programme Program
  Monogrammed Monogramed

Rule 10: Words containing the syllable ‘-que’ in British English/ Indian English

If a word contains the syllable ‘que’ in British English/ Indian English to represent the ‘k’ sound, then for the corresponding spelling of that word in American English, this syllable is replaced with ‘ck’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Words containing ‘que’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Words containing ‘ck’)
  Cheque Check
  Chequer Checker

Exception:

  • Exchequer (The spelling of this word is identical in British English/ Indian English and American English.)

Rule 11: Certain Words containing the letter ‘y’ in British English/ Indian English

If a word contains the letter ‘y’ in British English/ Indian English to represent the ‘i’ sound in, then for the corresponding spelling of that word in American English, this letter is replaced with ‘i’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Words containing the letter ‘y’ to represent the ‘i’ sound) Equivalent American English Spelling (Words containing the letter ‘i’)
  Tyre /Tyres (of a wheel) Tire / Tires
  Gybe Jibe

Rule 12: Some Words containing the double consonant ‘-ll’ in British English/ Indian English

  • For some verb whose basic form ends with the consonant ‘l’, the adjective form, past tense form of verb and present participle forms will contain ‘ll’ in British English/ Indian English. The equivalent American English spelling will contain only one ‘l’.
  • For some nouns in British English/ Indian English containing ‘ll’, the equivalent American spelling will contain only a single ‘l’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Verbs containing ‘-ll-’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Verbs containing ‘-l’)
  Cancelled Cancelling Canceled Canceling
  Equalled Equalling Equaled Equaling
  Fuelled Fuelling Fueled Fueling
  Grovelled Grovelling Groveled Groveling
  Levelled Levelling Leveled Leveling
  Libelled Libelling Libeled Libeling
  Modelled Modelling Modeled Modeling
  Panelled Panelling Paneled Paneling
  Quarrelled Quarrelling Quarreled Quarreled
  Revelled Revelling Reveled Reveling
  Travelled Travelling Traveled Traveling
  British English / Indian English Spelling (Nouns containing ‘-ll-’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Nouns containing ‘-l’)
  Jeweller Jeweler
  Jewellery Jewelry
  Traveller Traveler
  British English / Indian English Spelling (Adjectives containing ‘-ll-’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Adjectives containing ‘-l’)
  Marvellous Marvelous
  Woollen Woolen

Exceptions to Rule 12:

  • For some verbs whose basic form ends with the consonant ‘l’ in British English/ Indian English, the equivalent American English spelling will contain ‘ll’.
  • For some adjectives whose first syllable ends with the consonant ‘l’ in British English/ Indian English, the equivalent American English spelling will contain ‘ll’.

Examples are given in below table:

  British English / Indian English Spelling (Verbs ending ‘-l’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Verbs ending with ‘-ll’)
  Appal Appall
  Distil Distill
  Enrol Enroll
  Enthral Enthrall
  Fulfil Fulfill
  Instil Instill
  British English / Indian English Spelling (Adjectives containing ‘-l’) Equivalent American English Spelling (Adjectives containing ‘-ll’)
  Skilful Skillful
  Wilful Willful

Miscellaneous Words whose spellings differ in American and British English

This blog focused on all those words for whose spelling difference in British and American English could be broken down to rules and exceptions to those rules. However, there are quite a few words for which there are no specific rules to determine the spelling difference.

If you are interested in such words, we recommend you read our blog: Miscellaneous Spelling Differences in American and British English.