Grammar Tips & Articles »

Most Common British/American English Spelling Mistakes

In this article you will learn the most common British and American English spelling mistakes.

4:13 min read
  Ashley Wheeler  —  Grammar Tips
Font size:

While both countries speak the same language, no one can deny that there are quite a few differences in the way that some words are spelled. In many cases, people often confuse the spelling of many words and they can’t tell which is correct and end up making mistakes that could have easily been avoided.

If you have to write for a particular audience and need to make sure that there are no spelling errors on your paper, here are some of the most common British/American spelling mistakes to help you out.

1. Words ending in -re or -er

In this category of common English spelling mistakes shows one of the things that confuses people the most. For this, words that end in -re are the ones that are common in British English where the same words are usually spelled with -er in American English. Some examples include:

Centre or Center

Litre or Liter

Fibre or Fiber

Theatre or Theater 

2. Words ending in -ize or -ise

According to the Oxford dictionary, the only difference between American English and British English in this category is the fact that verbs in American English are always spelled with -ize in the end, while in British English both -ize and -ise are considered correct. Here are some examples:

Apologise or Apologize

Recognise or Recognize

Organise or Organize

This makes people think on why the -ise is still being used in a written word. You might want to keep that thought in mind next time you’re writing for a British audience though, as it can make your writing seem more friendly and familiar.

3. Words ending in -our or -or

Another common difference between is the usage of -our at the end of a word, as the British tend to prefer, or a simple -or instead, as the Americans use it. Some examples include:

Colour or Color

Neighbour or Neighbor

Humour or Humor

Flavour or Flavor

4. Words ending in -yse or -yze

Another difference that is often noted is the usage of the ending -yse in verbs in British English and the ending -yze in American English. While in both cases you pronounce it as -z, it will depend on what audience you are writing for. For example, if you’re writing your college application essay for a British University, you might want to be careful about writing verbs with the -yse ending. Here are some examples:

Analyse or Analyze
Paralyse or Paralyze

5. An extra ‘L’

Another one of the common English spelling mistakes is the use of a second ‘l’ in some words. This happens in British English as Americans tend to skip it completely. Some examples are:

Travelling or Traveling

Fuelling or Fueling

6. Words with double vowels

American English is rather simplified in most cases and it seems like Americans believe there is no reason to add an extra letter where it doesn’t appear to be needed. In this case too, British English adds an extra vowel to some words. Some common examples are:

Oestrogen or Estrogen

Paediatric or Pediatric

Leukaemia or Leukemia

For some cases though, the word with the extra vowel is used more around the world, just like it happens with the word ‘archaeology’. Of course the spelling ‘archeology’ is generally accepted as well. If you find it difficult to tell when you should use which way of spelling when writing for a particular audience, you can always use the help of a fast essay writing service in order to help you avoid any simple spelling mistakes.
7. Words ending in –ogue or –og
This applies to some nouns that have this particular ending. In British English the correct way of spelling them is with –ogue and in America with –og. Some examples include:

Dialogue or Dialog
Analogue or Analog
Dialogue or Dialog

The one rule that applies to this mistake though is that the term –ogue is widely used in America too.
8. Words ending in –ence or -ense
There are some nouns whose ending in British English is spelled with a ‘c’ whereas in American English it’s spelled with an ‘s’. This is a common mistake people make when writing but it’s very simple to avoid as there is nothing else to look out for in these words. Here are some examples:

Defence or Defense
Licence or License
Pretence or Pretense
Offence or  Pretense

Differences within the same language

While we are talking about the same language, these common English spelling mistakes happen more than you think and they are simply a result of exposure to both British and American English throughout the years.

So, next time your Microsoft Word corrects a spelling mistake you made, keep in mind that it might just be right. Always keep in mind the audience you are writing for and you’ll be able to stay clear of these common spelling mistakes.

Rate this article:(4.00 / 3 votes)

Have a discussion about this article with the community:



    Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:


    "Most Common British/American English Spelling Mistakes." STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 27 Sep. 2022. <>.

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!


    Free Writing Tool:

    Grammar Checker

    Improve your grammar, vocabulary, and writing -- and it's FREE!

    Improve your writing now:

    Download Grammar eBooks

    It’s now more important than ever to develop a powerful writing style. After all, most communication takes place in reports, emails, and instant messages.