Frequently confused words, AMERICAN AND BRITISH ENGLISH

By Gabriel Osoba

There are many varieties of English, and British and American English are two varieties that are taught in most English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language programmes.

British English is more popular in Nigeria because of our colonial heritage. There are some differences between Standard British English and Standard American English in spelling, vocabulary and pronunciation.

British versus American spelling

For some words, the British English (BrE) spelling differs from American English (AmE) spelling. Both forms of spelling are acceptable. What is important is for you to stick to one and be consistent.

Please note the following spelling differences between American and British English:

1.   -or     vs    -our

American    British     

favor    favour    

color    colour    

honor    honour    

neighbor    neighbour    

vigor    vigour    

behavior    behaviour    

favorite    favourite    

labor    labour    

savior    saviour

2.   -ze    vs     -se

American    British    

patronize    patronise    

analyze    analyse    

organize    organise    

criticize    criticise    

realize    realise    

memorize    memorise    

apologize    apologise    

Note that -ze is becoming common in British English. Examples are criticise or criticize, memorise or memorize, AMERICAN AND BRITISH ENGLISH or realize. Note also that the same spelling is used for the words, advertise and exercise in American and in British English.

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