Gray vs. Grey



  jillvance  —  Grammar Tips
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;
  • To describe something that has no clear definition or meaning, such as the term ‘a grey/gray area’, which is often used to mean a point between right and wrong, or that falls outside rules.
  • To describe the weather as a dull, overcast day
  • Or something that is nondescript

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.

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