Sometimes you may see words that are spelt differently from what you’re used to. This might be a case of a different locale. Some words have different spellings whether the dictionary used is American English, British English, Canadian English, or even Australian English.
American and British are the most dissimilar, while Canadian and American English have overlap with both.
Below are some common differences in spelling, and while I only offer a few examples here, there are far more extensive lists that you can find online. Be sure to double-check with these lists if ever you are unsure.
1. American words often end in “or” while British words end in “our”:
This can also happen in the middle of a word:
2. “er” vs “re” at the end of a word:
3. “ze” vs “se” at the end of a word:
Using “ze” is becoming more and more common, even among British writers.
4. “el” vs “ell” at the end of a verb when changing its form:
5. Single vowel “e” vs double vowels “ae” and “oe”, particularly in medical jargon:
6. “se” vs “ce” at the end of a word:
If things weren’t complicated enough, Canadians use the American “se” spelling when using the word as a verb or descriptor (participle), but use the British “ce” spelling when using the same word as a noun.
7. “g” vs “gue” at the end of a word:
8. Miscellaneous words that are spelled differently:
Again, this is only a short list of dialect spelling. Arm yourself with a spellchecker like Grammarly to fix mistakes while you type (you can set the dictionary). Then, while you self-edit, have a list of these words beside you (you can use the Find & Replace function). Finally, hire a professional (copyeditors are the ones who catch spelling errors).
For further information, see my other Spelling articles.
Aaron, J.E. & Morrison, A. The Little, Brown Compact Handbook, 5th Canadian ed. Pearson, 2013, chap 6
Judd, K. Copyediting, A Practical Guide, 3rd ed. California, CA: Crisp Learning, 2001, chap 5