Today’s Writing Tip: American versus Canadian and British Spelling

sig2010Most people who grow up in the US and use American English are not prone to misspelling a word by using the Canadian variant; however, Canadian and British folks often use their own language consistently in a document and then suddenly spell one or two words the American way. How can they avoid doing that? Here are the basic things to look for that differentiate American spelling from British or Canadian.

One. Words like honor, favor, and color all require a “u” in the British or Canadian versions. For example, honour, favour, and colour.

Two. Words that end in “er” such as center, fiber, or somber are spelled with an “re” in British and Canadian English. For example, centre, fibre, or sombre.

Three. Participles that end in “ling” often necessitate an additional “l.” Think of dialing, traveling, and reveling (dialling, travelling, and revelling).

Four. British English spells words like memorized, baptized, or recognized with an “s” – memorised, baptised, or recognised. Collins Gage Canadian Dictionary advises Canadians not to do this but many Canadians who submit manuscripts to me throw in that “s.”

Are these all the differences between the three languages? Not by a long shot but these are some of the big ones and if you can master them, you are well on your way to ensuring that your blog, article, essay or novel is consistent in terms of spelling.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor and two erotic short stories, which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released “The Pink Triangle,” a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here: