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When I am writing I often come across the words "around" and "round." I was wondering what is different between them, and how they would be used in different contexts.

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According to Cambridge Dictionaries Online (British English) the two words, takens as prepositions or adverbs, are interchangeable, having the same meaning as around as used in American English.

The Moon goes round the Earth.
We ran round (the outside of the house) to the back, looking for the dog.
The idea has been going round and round in my head all day (= I can't stop thinking about it).
When one engine stopped, we had to turn round (= turn to face the opposite direction) and fly home.

This differs when round is used as an adjective, but I don't think that's what you are after.

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Round refers to the shape of something. Around refers to the location, and suggests that the object to which around refers is in the area surrounding something. For instance, one might say that "the ball is round" - that means "the ball has a round shape." One might on the other hand say "the ball is around here" - that means "the ball is somewhere in the area that surrounds us here."

In colloquial speech, you will sometimes hear someone say "it's 'round here somewhere." In that case, 'round is a contraction of around and not the word round.

I believe this is the normative usage in American English.

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One of the differences between American and British English is the usage of the words round and around. Americans use around in contexts in which most British speakers prefer round.

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    Please give some examples of what you mean. – TrevorD Apr 16 '16 at 20:19
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    I am British, and this is patently not true. – baynezy May 13 '16 at 12:43
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'Around' denotes proximity, either in a concrete or abstract sense. 'Round' (as an adverb) denotes position, e.g. in cricket a bowler can bowl over the wicket or round the wicket. In this instance around would be quite wrong, as the proximity to the wicket is not in question either way, it is whether the arm delivering the ball comes from over the wicket, or from round the wicket. In the case of a right-arm bowler, that means bowling on the left of the wicket (over) or to the right of the wicket (round).

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