Spelling rules American English vs

Spelling Rules: American English Vs. British English

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.

American english and british english related to food

American English VS Indian English-Related to Food

If you are questioning yourself what is the difference between Indian English and American English. Well, They both speak the same language, but it may be frustrating sometimes when one speaks, because we Indian follow British English and Americans follow American English and it causes confusion because some words when translating from American English to British English may cause Spelling difference but words mean the same, Vocabulary Differences and Grammar.

If an Indian student who has gone to America for higher studies or for any other reason, he may have a hard time over there especially at the grocery store as he communicates with the store owner asking for some specific vegetable with Indian English word. The owner may not understand his terminology because they know the vegetable with another name in American English. Below are some British and American English word which have different meaning and pronunciation in America.

  • For example let’s take a British English food term if an Indian ask the American grocery store owner “do you have lady fingers?”, the owner may laugh at him as he cannot understand what he is trying to say because in America they don’t say Lady finger they call it Okra
Lady finger Okra

The Indian English and American English can be different and can cause confusion as you seen the above image how the Indian and American call the same vegetable with different names continue to read below for  more differences in words in American and Indian English.

  • Coriander vegetable is used in cooking, we Indians call it Coriander and the American calls it Cilantro see the given image below: 
Coriander Cilantro
  • Brinjal (Indian English) is a vegetable that is widely used in cooking different food cuisines, The Americans call it Eggplant. If an American visits India and ask the vegetable vendor for Eggplant it will be an awkwardness between them as the vendor may not know what’s an eggplant is.
Brinjal Eggplant
  • Peanut is word that is used by both American and Indian but in British English it is called Groundnuts. But due to the international advertising we also got the hang of calling it peanuts.
  • In India we call Yogurt (American English) Dahi but the British English for Yogurt is Curd.
  • Sweet onion/yellow onion/white onions (American English) we Indians call it only onion.
  • Beetroots (Indian English) is another vegetable that is commonly used and the Americans call it beets.
  • Everyone knows what are vegetables all the leafy ones we Indian call it vegetables only but the American call them greens.
  • Green Onion (American English) it is a small onion with a long leaves used mostly for garnishing and in Indian we call it Spring onions.

Vegetables, Food items – American Accent v/s Indian English (British Accent)

American English Indian English Explanation
Creamer Milkpowder It can be a substitute for milk
Candy Chocolate Sweets
Bell Peppers Capsicum A vegetable containing seeds and comes in different color
Cookies Biscuits A baked hard, flat Sweet
Chillipepper Chillies A Spicy vegetable of different size, color and strength of spice
Jell-O Jelly A flavoured fruit sweet
Shrimp Prawns A aquatic animal

Vegetables, Food items – American Accent v/s Indian English (British Accent)

As there is many different words in British and American English, the key is that the two have more similarities. Accidentally using one instead of the other will not automatically lead to miscommunication. So don’t be hard on yourself. Hope this blog can help you on how to pronounce British accent words.

different words in british and american English

American English VS British English: an Indian perspective

America and Britain are two nation divided by a common language (English).
– George Bernard Shaw

(Nobel laureate for Literature)

Modern English: British English vs. American English

The Modern English language used today globally is broadly categorized into two major schools viz. American English and British English.

1.     British English

Couple of centuries ago, this was the only form of Modern English that existed. With the advent of imperialism, British English became the lingua franca in all its dominions and colonies (today known as the Commonwealth nations).

These include nations from the Indian sub-continent, few Caribbean nations, Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, etc. Over time, the English spoken in these nations has evolved into Indian English, Australian English, Canadian English, etc. The unifying factor is that the foundations of all of these have been built on British English.

In terms of geographical reach and number of nations where it is used, British English is the world standard.

Map highlighting all those nations where British English is used

2.     American English:

This is the English spoken primarily in the United States of America (USA).  Nations where the English used is American English include Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Israel and Latin American nations. (Observe that these are nations originally out of the influence of British colonization.)

When it comes to first language, second language and native language users, American English is, without  a doubt, the global standard.

How is American English different from British English/ Indian English?

Listed below are all the major differences between American English and British English:

  • Vocabulary: The general everyday words used for certain objects differ in American English and British English. (For example, while we go on a holiday, the Americans go on a ‘vacation’.) Certain words can have entirely different meaning in both the nations.
  • Collective Nouns: Americans mostly use collective nouns in singular form only while British use either singular or plural depending on context.
  • Auxiliary verbs: Auxiliary verbs (like ‘shall’, ‘must’, ‘may’, ‘can’t’, etc. are used indicate the grammatical function, voice, modality, tense of the main verb used in a sentence.
  • Spelling rules: There are hundreds of common everyday words whose spellings differ in American English and British English. For a complete list of these rules and affected words, we recommend that you read our blog: Spelling Rules: American English vs. Indian/ British English.
  • Question Tags: Americans use question tags sparingly while question tags are more commonly used in British English.
  • Past tense verbs: The spelling and pronunciation of the past tense form of certain verbs is different in American English and British English. For example, American English version of the past tense form burn, dream and learn is ‘burnt’, ‘dreamt’ and ‘learnt’ while the British English version is ‘burned’, ‘dreamed’ and ‘learned’.
  • Accent & Pronunciation: The pronunciation and accent are quite different for American English and British English. The differences are primarily in the way the vowels are pronounced or stressed.

The English we learn in our Indian schools

The Standard English we Indians are taught in our schools as a first, second or third language is the legacy of the British. The spelling rules, grammar rules, syntax, everyday vocabulary and pronunciation are all British English in nature while our accents and slangs are heavily influenced by our native tongue and region.

So, if you are wondering how to learn British English, this is the default English you learn at school if you live in one of the Commonwealth nations (‘Commonwealth’ is a euphemism to indicate all those nations that were once ruled by the Imperialist British).

This English works quite well for much of the English-speaking Indian population. However, for the younger generation of millennials and urban youth, it can prove to be an ever so slight discomfort or a minor hurdle in communication.

The Indian tryst with Spoken American English

American Entertainment

Most Indians who know the English language encounter American English first-hand only when they visit a movie theatre to watch a Hollywood movie (provided it’s not dubbed into an Indian language) or watch an American movie, TV series, music  video or vlog on their smartphones/  tv.

They end up having difficulty understanding the American accents being spoken. It’s almost alien to them. (It’s one of the prime reasons why English sub-titles are displayed for all movies and tv shows in India though the dialogs are spoken in English.)

The BPO/KPO/Call Center Boom

Two decades ago, there was huge boom in the BPO/ Call Center industry in India. Jobs were aplenty for anyone who could speak fluent English. The only hitch was that their Indian accents just wouldn’t do.

They had to learn to speak and understand the either British, Australian or American English accent based on the demands on their jobs. This in turn led to the development an entire industry in voice accent training.

The All-pervasive influence of Social Media

With the explosion of social media over the past decade and a half, the consequent global exposure via Internet has ensured that most Indian millennials are quite comfortable understanding American English (though very few can speak in an American accent unless they have received professional training for the same).

The lingo used by urban Indian youth from middle-class and affluent families with an English education background is full of pop-culture references to American culture and entertainment.

Is Learning to write in American English beneficial for Indians?

Most Indians who are fluent in English can live the entire lives comfortably without ever having to bother learning the nuances and rules (usually associated with spelling and vocabulary) of written American English. Indian English is good enough to see them through.

However, if you are an ambitious individual with plans for a career that includes travelling across the globe or landing a  fat corporate job with an MNC (multinational company), then it’s in your best interests to learn to write in American English.

American English can end up flummoxing young Indian adults with fluent English when they land well-paying jobs in MNCs. Suddenly, the written English they see in emails and official documents are full of spellings and vocabulary different from the English they are used to. Solution?

Learn to write and American English! The reasoning and logic behind this are quite simple and the advantages of learning American English are numerous. American English is the globally preferred version of English. It will make communication a whole lot smoother.

Is it difficult to learn American English?

Honestly speaking, the differences between the written form of American English and British English are minor in nature and mutually intelligible. It’s easy to learn the nuances of the written American English if one puts in a bit of effort and unlearns some of the rules of British English. Our blogs would come in handy for this exercise. (However, if one aims to speak English with an American accent, professional training would be needed.)

If interested, we recommend that you read other blogs on our website pertaining to mastering American English. What’s more, all our blogs are designed written keeping Indian needs and perspective in mind.