English: Same word, two spellings. Posted by on Jul 10, 2014 in English Language


Image by "Jimmie" on

Image by “Jimmie” on

Last month I wrote a post about some common spelling rule differences between British and American English. That post was about spelling rules that can be applied to many different words, in systematic ways, in either America or Great Britain.

This post is about specific words that are just spelled differently in these two countries. The words we look at today are spelled differently because they are pronounced differently. So, over time the way these words have come to be spelled have changed because of the accent differences between the United States and Great Britain. Accent differences between American and British English are many, but this is just an introduction for you as you learn these spelling differences.

Here is a list of some important words to know that have differences in spelling and pronunciation.

British English

American English




A flying vehicle with wings.



A foolish or stupid person.



A duty or responsibility to do something.



A boneless piece of meat.



Nasty, disgusting, gross.



A short piece of metal used to force open a window or door.



Facial hair grown on the upper lip.



Mother; the person who gave birth to you.



To know ones position in relation to the surroundings.



Loose clothing worn for sleeping.



An area of particular skill or strength.



A period of time.

A great way to practice your spelling in British or American English, and build your vocabulary, it to play the game Scrabble. Scrabble is a word game for multiple players, who score points by spelling words using letter tiles, each tile has a single letter (like in the picture at the top of this post), the letter tiles are placed on a game board to spell words and new words have to be formed using at least one letter from an existing word. You might want to get together a group of your fellow ESL learners to try out a game of Scrabble, to practice your English and impress your friends with your knowledge of both the American and British English spellings of words!

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.


  1. Lucas Grandusky:

    Oh, thank you very much

    • gabriele:

      @Lucas Grandusky Lucas,
      You are very welcome, glad you found this helpful.