• Kathy Kimbray

U.S. SPELLING VS. AUSTRALIAN SPELLING

Updated: Apr 3, 2019


Over the years I have written books in both American English and Australian English.


Here are some key differences that I’ve noticed:


1. SUFFIXES


-IZE and -ISE

US spelling uses “-ize”, e.g. strategize, agonize, recognize, realize etc.

AU spelling uses “-ise”, e.g. strategise, agonise, recognise, realise etc.


-YZE and -YSE

US spelling uses “-yze”, e.g. analyze, paralyze etc.

AU spelling uses “-yse”, e.g. analyse, paralyse etc.


-ER and -RE

US spelling uses “-er”, e.g. centimeter, fiber, center, liter etc.

AU spelling uses “-re“, e.g. centimetre, fibre, centre, litre etc.


-OR AND -OUR

US spelling uses “-or”, e.g. flavor, favor, color, humor, behavior etc.

AU spelling uses “-our”, e.g. flavor, favour, colour, humour, behaviour etc.


2. FINAL CONSONANTS


US spelling uses a single consonant for inflections where the final syllable is not stressed, e.g. instalment, modeling, labeled etc.


AU spelling uses a double consonant for inflections where the final syllable is not stressed, e.g. installment, modelling, labelled etc.


3. PAST TENSE ENDINGS


US spelling uses “-ed” for some past tense verbs that AU spelling does not, e.g. learned, dreamed etc.


AU spelling uses “-t” for some past tense verbs that US spelling does not, e.g. learnt, dreamt etc.


4. RANDOM DIFFERENCES THAT HAVE SHOWN UP IN MY WRITING


“airplane” (US) and “aeroplane” (AU)


“ax” (US) and “axe” (AU)


“check” (US) and “cheque” (AU)

. . . when referring to a money check/cheque. Not when talking about “checking” your work or that the pattern had “checks” on it.


“cozy” (US) and “cosy” (AU)


“curb” (US) and “kerb” (AU)

. . . when referring to the side of the road. Not when talking about “curbing” your enthusiasm.


“draft” (US) and “draught” (AU)

. . . when referring to a drink container or a cool gust of air. Not when talking about a writer’s first “draft” or being “drafted” to go to war.


“gray” (US) and “grey” (AU)


“jewelry” (US) and “jewellery” (AU)


“mustache” (US) and “moustache” (AU)


“pajamas” (US) and “pyjamas” (AU)


“story” (US) and “storey” (AU)

. . . when referring to the levels in a building. Not when talking about a children’s “story”!


“tire” (US) and “tyre” (AU)

. . . when referring to the rubber on the outer part of a wheel. Not when talking about being “tired”.


Of course these rules are not set in stone, and this is by no means a thorough list. However, I find it interesting to see the differences.

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© 2019 by Kathy Kimbray

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