0

I am not a native speaker of English so I get confused when writing since there are sometimes two different spellings of words in English — by which I mean an American spelling and a British spelling.

Are there specific situations where one spelling is recommended over the other?

  • Could you give some examples? I think it depends. For example, you would not spell color colour in AE, but whether it is theater or theatre is less clear. – Jake Regier Aug 13 '15 at 14:50
  • @JakeRegier My situation is that I am supposed to write some literature reviews, research papers, etc. So I would like to know where to use which spelling/variant! I do not really have a specific example but I am simply looking for some general recommendations. – abdeaitali Aug 19 '15 at 21:48
2

I'm from the UK, but will use US spellings in some contexts. Programming languages generally use US spellings, the HTML center tag or the CSS color property for example, and it can be a bit jarring to write stuff like "use color to set the colour". Another issue is that spell checkers are always either US or UK, so you end up with loads of red lines on correct spellings if you use a UK spellchecker to discuss code.

Generally speaking, you can use either UK or US spellings, even when addressing one or the other audience (I've never known anyone that objected); just be consistent.

0

Pick one and stick with it. Both are acceptable in just about any case, as long as you don't switch back and forth. The only time I could imagine it mattering is when submitting a literary or scientific piece that's required to be in a certain format.

0

It all depends on your target audience, whether it is British or American. Using British spelling for an American audience, or vice-versa, does look odd to your audience and detracts from the message you are trying to put forth.

  • What about theater and theatre? You will see both referenced in AE, although the latter spelling is BE. I've been told — but forget now — that the spellings differ in different situations (e.g., the building is the theater, but the performance is theatre — or vice versa, something or other). – Jake Regier Aug 13 '15 at 14:48
  • 3
    I wouldn't downvote this, but disagree. We read UK and US texts all day long and never even notice that we're doing it. – Carl Smith Aug 13 '15 at 15:17
  • @CarlSmith: I must be the exception to the rule, then. When I see spellings such as "armour" and "theatre", it jumps right off the page at me. – Bob Stout Aug 13 '15 at 18:04
0

You might want to consult Bryan Garner's Modern American Usage. In that book, he writes about conventional words and spellings in American English and British English. (For example, if you read American newspapers, you'll rarely see the world "whilst." You'll see "while.")

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.