British and American English are very similar in most respects. However, there are some small but important differences in the way that some vocabulary groups are formed. In this article we will explore the role of suffixes. For example, whereas in British English you write centre, litre and theatre; in American English you would need to change the -re suffixes to -er. For example, center, liter and theater.
The following patterns of suffixes will be useful to remember when switching between the two languages:
- Words ending in -our in British English change to -or in American English:
- Verbs ending in -ise in British English change to -ize in American English:
- Words ending in -ence in British English change to -ense in American English:
- Words ending in -re in British English become -er in American English:
- Verbs ending in -yse in British English change to -yze in American English:
- In words ending in vowel + ‘l’ and if the suffix starts with a vowel, in British English the ‘l’ doubles to ‘ll’. In American English, the single ‘l’ remains:
One practical move is to ensure that the word processor you use has the spell checking feature set to the correct variant of English. Your document will still need to be reviewed manually through proofreading, but the spell checker will flag up many of the incorrectly used suffixes in your text.
That just about covers this evaluation of the minor differences between the formation of British and American English suffixes. Just remember that unless you are studying in a university or writing for a particular audience, either spelling convention is acceptable. Just ensure that you are consistent throughout your text, and proofread your submission to check for any misspellings that slip through the net.