Grammar Tip – How should I spell it?

I am often asked which spelling to use? There are three styles: Canadian, British or American.

My answer is to use the spelling of the reader. After all, the role of a writer is to ensure the reader gets the message quickly. If I spell a word in a different manner than the reader is used to, he or she may be distracted and focus on the word rather than the message.

Therefore, if I am writing someone in the U.S., I will use American spelling. However, if I am writing to a Canadian I will use that spelling.

What is the Canadian style?

The Canadian style borrows from both the Americans and the British. Like the Americans, we use ize/yze endings for words such as organize, criticize and rationalize. The one exception is analyse.

Like the British, we prefer –ce endings instead of –se endings on nouns such as defence and offence. In addition, we double the l at the ends of words when adding a suffix: travelled, enrolled, and counsellor.

Canadians also use –our endings for words such as colour, honour, favour, and harbour.

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary is the authority for the Canadian Press spelling.

1 reply
  1. Deb Shepstone
    Deb Shepstone says:

    I see and hear in the media, and in conversations the word ‘less’ being used instead of ‘fewer’. It is a pet peeve of mine. I see it on T.V., in print, on packaging, and on the radio – the CBC no less! I hear “less calories,” when it should be “fewer” calories. Has there been a change in grammar? Does “less” now replace “fewer”? should I correct ‘educated’ people when they use less instead of fewer? (I’m sorry, but it bugs me.)


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