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Behavior vs. Behaviour

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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There are many English words that are spelled and pronounced similarly. Some of these words are homophones: words that are pronounced the same but mean different things. Still, others are spelling variants that result from differences in American and British spelling conventions.

My sisters will instruct you in the behavior I expect of you.

"Boss, you can send her to behaviour modification training," Pierre suggested.

Now which of the above sentences contain behavior with the right spellings?

Behavior and behaviour are both acceptable spellings of the word.. They are actually alternate spellings of the same noun, being are used in different language communities. Choosing one or the other doesn’t need to be difficult, but many writers are not aware of the differences between these words and make avoidable mistakes. You don’t have to be one of them. Keep reading.

The word behavior originated from late Middle English: from behave, on the pattern of demeanour, and influenced by obsolete haviour from have..

Behavior as noun:

In English language, behavior is used as a noun and it means the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others.

He will vouch for her good behavior.

The way in which an animal or person behaves in response to a particular situation or stimulus is also called behavior.

The feeding behaviour of predators is a well-researched topic.

The way in which a machine or natural phenomenon works or functions is also sometimes referred to as behavior.

The erratic behaviour of the old car is really annoying.

Spellings in Britain:

Behavior vs. Behaviour

Behaviour is the British spelling of the same word. It has all the same meanings as behavior, and British writers use it in all the same contexts that American writers use behavior.

Their crew was one of six boats that was punished by officials for bad behaviour during the 200-year-old competition. [Telegraph]

Road bullying is driver behaviour which intimidates other road users. [Sydney Morning Herald]

That’s a specific behavioural tick, and, what’s more, not a condition generally described as a nuisance. [National Post]

Spellings in U.S.:

Behavior is the preferred spelling in American English. So if you are an American writer or are writing for American audience you should use these spellings.


His behavior has cost him a seat in Congress. [Miami Herald]

When the frontal lobes are compromised, people become disinhibited, and startling behaviors can emerge. [The Atlantic]

The average behavioral differences between large samples of moms and dads are small, in statistical terms. [Wall Street Journal]

Behavior or behaviour:

Behavior is the preferred spelling in American English. Behaviour is preferred everywhere else. Other than the spelling, there is no difference between the two words. The spelling distinction extends to all derivatives, including behaviors—behaviours, behavioral—behavioural, and behaviorally—behaviourally. Remember to choose a spelling according to your origin, audience and preference but stick to the spelling you have chosen in the entire article.


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