Do You Know the Key Differences Between UK and US English?

Do You Know the Key Differences Between UK and US English?


Sometimes it feels like British English and American English might as well be different languages. Football versus soccer, loo versus bathroom, queue versus line… the differences are endless!

We can’t help you figure all those out, but we can help with alternate spellings between the two dialects. Here are some of the most notable examples.


-ce and -se

This one comes up often here at ProWritingAid with the word “licence.” That’s the UK spelling. The US spelling is “license.” (Every Premium customer has a licence, no matter how it’s spelled!) Here are some other examples:

  • Pretence (UK), Pretense (US)
  • Defence (UK), Defense (US)
  • Offence (UK), Offense (US)

-ise and -ize

Maybe it’s because I’m an American English speaker, but the American version seems more intuitive to me. That’s because when we say these words out loud, we’re making a “z” sound, not an “s” sound. Some examples:

  • Terrorise (UK), Terrorize (US)
  • Realise (UK), Realize (US)
  • Organise (UK), Organize (US)

-yse and -yze

The good news is, if you remember the last one, you’ll likely remember this one, too. With words like paralyse, we’re using an “s” for UK English and a “z” for US English.

  • Analyse (UK), Analyze (US)
  • Catalyse (UK), Catalyze (US)
  • Crystallise (UK), Crystalize (US)

-ogue and -og

Rather than dealing with replacement letters here, we’re dealing with additional ones. You might recognize some of these:

  • Analogue (UK), Analog (US)
  • Dialogue (UK), Dialog (US)
  • Catalogue (UK), Catalog (US)

Remember, these words are all pronounced the same no matter what. It’s just the spelling that’s different.

Some words ending with a vowel and the letter “L”

When using suffixes to modify verbs ending in “L” in American English, it’s customary to use only one “L.” However, British English writers use two. You might’ve noticed that above with the word “crystallise.” Here are a few more examples:

  • Levelling (UK), Leveling (US)
  • Traveller (UK), Traveler (US)
  • Shovelled (UK), Shoveled (US)

Other miscellaneous differences

There are several standalone differences between these two dialects. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Cheque (UK), Check (US)
  • Grey (UK), Gray (US)
  • Hearken (UK), Harken (US)
  • Manoeuvre (UK), Maneuver (US)
  • Mollusc (UK), Mollusk (US)
  • Plough (UK), Plow (US)
  • Smoulder (UK), Smolder (US)
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Get help from ProWritingAid!

Though catchy phrases and memorization might help you remember some of these differences, there’s only one tool that catches them all… ProWritingAid! Try it out free for 14 days and see what you think. Happy editing!

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