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Confusing Words in English - Chapter 3 (Spelling Differences)

Updated on March 23, 2012

This is the third chapter in the "Confusing Words in English" series. This chapter exclusively focuses on many confusing pair of words which are basically the same words but their spellings differ because of the American and British differences in English language. You must have heard both words on many occasions but the key here is to know that what spelling is used by American and what is used by British.

Overview of the series - Confusing Words in English:

CHAPTER 1 contains some confusing pair of words including 'advice vs. advice', 'loose vs. lose', 'affect vs. effect', 'between vs. among' and 'principal vs. principle'.

CHAPTER 2 focuses on words with 'al' as prefixes. Chapter 2 contains 'All ready vs. Already', 'Altogether vs. All together', 'All right vs. Alright', 'Although vs. Though vs. Even Though' and 'Although vs. While'



Among vs. Amongst is a pair of confusing words which has no differences in their usages. Even if there would have been any difference, it has been blurred now. The only difference in their use is that:

Among is generally used by Americans, and Amongst is usually used by British people.


Analyse vs. Analyze is another pair of English words which often confuse readers because of the s/z difference. Again, all the difference is of the British and American English. The key is here to know which ethnicity uses which one.

Analyse is generally used by British people and Analyze is used by American and Canadians.


Center vs. Centre is another confused pair of words because of the spelling differences. Both these words are correct and mean ‘middle of something’ or ‘a gathering place’.

Center is generally used by Americans.

Centre is generally used by British people.

Although, I once read that Americans use centre as the noun, and center as a verb (American speakers should confirm it.)

At some other place, I read that ‘Center´ is used exclusively for the synonym of ‘middle’ and ‘Centre’ is used as a point of a gathering place or spot. This is a common practice to use.


American and British people use this word with the s/z difference. It is important to know that, Americans use the ‘z’ word i.e. Organization, and British use the ‘s’ word i.e. Organisation.


There are many words in English language with an ‘ou’ and ‘o’ difference. Labour is used in British English and Americans, cutting down the u, write ‘Labor’. That infamous ‘u’ has been cut down in many words. Following are some words of the same type.


Again the difference is ‘u’. 'Flavour' is used by British people and ‘Flavor’ is used by American people.


'Colour' is used by British people and 'Color' is used by Americans.


'Favour' is used by British people and 'Favor' is used by American people.


'Honour' is used by British people and 'Honor' is used by American people.


Here the difference is not of ‘u’. The difference is of ‘aero’ and ‘air’. British people often tend to use ‘aeroplane’, although Americans prefer to use ‘Airplane’.


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    • DarylnCochrane profile image

      Darylen Cochrane 5 years ago from New York, NY

      I have always been fascinated by the spelling of certain words in the English language. It's probably one of the hardest languages to master in writing if it is not your first language due to the spelling and pronunciation of many words. Silent e's, silent g's, etc., etc.! In America, it is usually common practice to use Centre when we are referring to a gathering place, it's true. Otherwise, center is the usual spelling. Another example is Theater/Theatre. Theater is most often used, but sometimes Theatre is used in the naming of a theater. Hey, there's also liter and litre! Good hub. Voted up and interesting :-)

    • profile image

      Sueswan 6 years ago

      I am Canadian and use both British and American English.

      Red is my favourite colour.

      The World Health Organization is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters.

      Voted up and awesome.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 6 years ago from USA

      Rosemay - Thank you for correcting me. I believe that I got turned about. Nothing like driving the machine backwards from the way they built it!

      Gus :-)))

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      GusTheRedneck a bonnet is what you would call the hood. The trunk is what English people would call the boot. Top and tail I guess... bonnet for the head and boot for the foot.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 6 years ago from USA

      Howdy Hunbbel Meer - Gotta smile ! Every time I misspell a word I manage to confuse someone, somewhere, somehow. My delight is learning words in the English language that describe the same thing (an object, an action, etc.), but that differ markedly - and some words that are the same, but describe things that are very different from each other. One good example of that is "truck" which, to some, conjures up a big motor vehicle used to haul things around, and "truck" which, to others, brings to mind vegetables that one produces on "truck farms." Speaking of automobiles, a "bonnet" in England is a "trunk" in the United States, where a bonnet is something that ladies and children wear atop their pretty heads, and bluebonnets cover vast fields here in Texas during the early Spring of the year.

      Words are fun, aren't they?

      Gus :-)))

    • mondkill profile image

      mondkill 6 years ago

      Hi Hunbbel your right about that, that I just have to memorize the key. I really like your hub I learn a lot from you. Keep up the good work.

      Vote This hub up... :)

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      @mondkill: I am glad that you are learning and enjoying it as well. Yes, it is not difficult. They key here is to just memorize the basic differences, like the Americans cut the out the 'u' in many words, while British use 'u'. In other words, Americans use 'z' instead of 's'.

      I hope you'll like more upcoming hubs related to the same genre.

    • mondkill profile image

      mondkill 6 years ago

      Nice article, I learn a lot from you... English is my second language so this really help me a lot not to get confuse with words from American and British.

      I appreciate the great tutorial, not that hard to memorize the difference from two language.

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      @Kaynelson: Thank you for stopping by and I totally agree that the study of language is beauty in itself :)

    • kaynelson profile image

      kaynelson 6 years ago

      I am an American, and I find it interesting that there is only a slight difference in way's of how certain words in both British, and American English are spelled.

      It's something that I never thought that I would come across, but I appreciate the tutorial!

      With American English being my first language, it's only natural that I prefer that!But I find the study of language a beauty in itself!

      Thanks for the Hub!

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      Hi Rosemay50: Yes you are right, it annoys me as well. As a student of English, I prefer British English, as so does every one, but MS Word often confuses me with all these words.

      By the way thanks for putting another word to the list. Although, there are many more words, but I hope that many readers will get the idea about 'u' and 'ou' differences and can figure it out on themselves. Thank you so much for stopping by. As you are English, your comment on this hub is highly appreciable :)

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Hello Hunbbel Meer. I am English and find it most annoying when my 'Microsoft word' wants to spell everything the American way. It doesn't matter how often I resrt it to English it slips back into American. It is frustrating at times.

      Neighbour and Neighbor is another one