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Gray vs. Grey

The words Gray and Grey might sound the same, but have different meanings and different spellings. In this Grammar.com article, you will learn the differences between these two confusing words.


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  Jill Vance  —  Grammar Tips
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Gray vs. Grey

Which is correct, Grey or Gray? What is the difference?


These common questions, which many writer, and indeed readers ask, have never been fully answered.

The quick answer is simple. There is no difference and both are correct. They are even pronounced the same.

A more accurate answer, is longer and a little more complicated.

‘Gray’ and ‘grey’ are two different ways to spell the same word. Which you chose, or consider ‘more correct’, depends simply where you live, (or where you are writing for).

‘Grey‘ is more commonly used in the UK, Ireland, and other places that use British English, although grey is also considered correct.

‘Gray’ is the more popular spelling in America and countries which use American spelling. Again, if you write ‘grey’ everyone will understand what you mean and it is not incorrect, (despite what some people would have you believe).

Exceptions

There are some proper names that have the word in question in them, Earl Grey Tea, and the
Canadian national bird – the Gray Jay and the dog breed Greyhound. As these are names, the
spelling should always remain as the name states, so you need to learn, or look up, any item which contains this colour in its name - if you want to be precise.

Grey/Gray as a noun, verb and adjective

As a noun, Grey/Gray refers to a colour, (black diluted by white), and has various shades; light, dark, charcoal etc.

Example: I like the colour grey/gray.

We use grey/gray as a verb to indicate that something is becoming or had become grey/gray.

Example: Your hair becomes grey/gray with age.

When describing the shade of the colour, we use grey/gray as an adjective.

Example: He wore a greyish/grayish suit to the meeting.

The comparative and superlative forms are; grayer/grayest and greyer/greyest.

Grey/Gray is also used with meanings other than a colour;


I hope this helps you all understand this word better.

Note: Color, (US), and Colour, (UK), are two other words spelt differently in British English and American English. There are many more.

Rate this article:(3.12 / 41 votes)

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8 Comments

  • Santa Ric Erwin
    How ironic, that a grammatical resource article would begin with an incomplete sentence... "These common questions many writers, and indeed readers ask." lacks a predicate; the existing sentence structure is simply a complex subject-- as in, "These common questions [which] many writers, and indeed readers ask [have never been fully answered]. 
    LikeReplyReport 11 year ago
    • Santa Ric Erwin
      Of course, the simplest correction would be to add a verb, as in: "These [ARE] common questions {which} many writers, and indeed readers ask.
      LikeReplyReport1 year ago
    • STANDS4
      Indeed... fixed that per your suggestion -- thanks!
      LikeReplyReport 11 year ago
  • Jill Vance
    P.S. I didn't know Maseratis could be flashers. I thought that was reserved for humans! And if a Grey/Gray beard is limited to a 'man', does that mean bearded ladies have to stop work when their hair turns grey/gray? I would love to know it this person was paid to write this incorrect article, or if they thought their knowledge of grammar, (and even vocabluary), was so good, they volunteered? 
    LikeReplyReport 11 year ago
    • STANDS4
      Thanks for your comrehensive feedback, Jill -- We've updated the article accordingly...
      LikeReplyReport1 year ago
  • Jill Vance
    What a load of rubbish. Gray and Grey do NOT have different meanings based on their spelling - they have different uses - for both spellings, and the 'e' or 'a' only depends on whether you write British English or American English. Both are correct in British Engliah, but 'Grey' is more commonly used in the UK, Ireland, and other places that use British English..Gray is more popular spelling in America. It is that simple. UK or USA! 
    LikeReplyReport 11 year ago
    • Santa Ric Erwin
      Like the British use of the letter "u" in words like "favor" and "flavor", or "honor" and "rigor"-- neither is technically incorrect, but individual selection IS revelatory of the user...
      LikeReplyReport 11 year ago
  • John Tamplin
    We should not be taking advice on the English language from an article that contains this "Grey with an e is the right spellings all the world except America." and this "... gray squirrel/grey squirrel both represent a squirrel found in Atlantic." 
    LikeReplyReport 71 year ago
    • Marty Jo Thomas
      This really made me laugh. So sad but true.
      LikeReplyReport 11 year ago
    • Brian Sammond
      I was about to make a similar comment. A site purporting to teach grammar should be meticulous about grammar itself. There are numerous errors of grammar, as well as typos or misspellings, in the article. It has some good information on the question of "gray" versus "grey", but it is marred by too many errors. 
      LikeReplyReport 21 year ago
  • Dawit Ketema
    Thank you, now it is clear for me the difference between gray and grey!
    LikeReplyReport 21 year ago
  • Joseph Smith
    Thanks, hopefully that'll clear up any gray area... Murica!
    LikeReplyReport 51 year ago
  • Megan Webber
    okay, thanks. I needed that to correctly describe an oarfish in a paper about Jotaro Kujo.
    LikeReplyReport 11 year ago
  • Topey Uy
    Cheers.... quite informative..
    LikeReplyReport 12 years ago

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