I've been noticing that some of my fellow Canadians habitually spell words such as "organise, organisation" "realise" recognise""authorise" instead "organize, organization" "realize" "recognize" "authorize." I've been told by other Canadians that Canadians use -ise and -ize interchangeably; both are considered correct as long as you choose one and be consistent. But that puzzles me because according to all Canadian dictionaries that I've looked at, the -ize spelling is prescribed. I thought the -ise would appear as a minor variant, but it doesn't appear at all in any Canadian dictionary. My question is: is the -ise really an acceptable variant in Canadian English? or is the -ize mandatory like in the US?

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    is the -ize mandatory like in the US? Who mandates it? I understand that it is customary in US English to use -ize where many British would use -ise but who mandates it? Jan 14 at 19:12
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    Welcome to SE EL&U. I notice you haven't completed the Tour and suggest that you do that as this SE lists are a little different from others. If you a look at the Help on Asking Good Questions you will see that we expect posters to do some research themselves. You might do an internet search for these words in specifically Canadian publications — newspapers and the like — to see if the practice is different from what the dictionaries prescribe, as that is your interest. Anecdotal answers from individuals are not really useful.
    – David
    Jan 14 at 19:14
  • Hi Steven! You might find these sites helpful. The Canadian Style and The Remedy of Errors. Jan 14 at 19:26

Margery Fee & Janice McAlpine, [Oxford] Guide to Canadian English Usage, second edition (2007) offers this discussion of -ize versus -ise verb endings in Canadian English:

-ize, -ise, -yze, -yse Where there is a choice between -ize and -ise Canadian writers, kike Americans, tend to to choose the endings with z. In fact, Canadian, American, and British writers all prefer -ize for recognize, civilize and civilization, organize and organization, realize and realization, and specialize and specialization. The British preference for -ise endings is an innovation rather than a longstanding spelling tradition. In Canada and Britain either spelling is usually considered correct, while in the United States the -ize endings are de rigueur.

Note, however, that Canadian, American, and British writers all use -ise for advertise, supervise, and surprise. For these words, the spelling with z is not an option.

So, according to Fee & McAlpine, some Canadians (and some British people) do use -ise endings for many words that most people in the United States would spell with an -ize ending.

  • I think we've had stats here before indicating that (and some British people) should be (and 65% of British people). Jan 18 at 16:34