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UK to US Conversion - spelling and meaning

British English vs. American English

There are a number of differences between British English (UK) and American English (US). This includes different spellings, word usage, punctuation, date and time format differences and currency display. myWriterTools helps you find and change spelling and usage differences so you can convert from US to UK or from UK to US writing. You will have to ensure that you have properly represented dates, times and numbers as these differ in British English and American English.

Spelling Differences

The spelling differences between the US and the UK became evident as early as the 18th century. British spellings tend to follow those found in the 1755 Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson, while American spelling differences started with Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language.

A majority of the spelling differences between US and UK writing fall into several major categories:

  • -oe- vs -e-: like diarrhoea (UK) and diarrhea (US) though some words in the US are spelled with 'oe', such as amoeba.

  • -ll vs -l: like gruelling (UK) and grueling (US) but there are exceptions to this rule on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • -ae- vs -e-: like aeon (UK) and eon (US) but some words like aerodynamics are used in the US

  • -ise vs -ize: like memorise (UK) and memorize (US)

  • -tre vs -ter: like theatre (UK) and theater (US).

  • -our vs -or: like colour and favour (UK) and color and favor (US), though the US still uses some 'our' words like glamour.

  • -gramme vs -gram: like programme (UK) and program (US) Many metric words fall in this category.

  • -logue vs -log: like catalogue (UK) and catalog (US)

  • -xion vs. -ction: like connexion (UK) and connection (US)

  • -yse vs. -yze: like paralyse (UK) and paralyze (US)

  • -ence vs. -ense: like licence (UK) and license (US) There are only a few words that the US spells differently with 'ense'. There are hundreds of words ending with 'ence' that are valid in the US, such as sentence.

Date Format
The date in the UK is usually shown in abbreviated format DD/MM/YY or DD.MM.YY--this means that December 25, 2008 would be shown as either 25/12/08 or 25.12.08. Since the problems that happened when we switched centuries, these may also be displayed as 25/12/2008 or 25.12.2008. The United States normally displays the date in the format MM/DD/YY or sometimes MM-DD-YY. This results in 12/25/08, 12/25/2008, 12-25-08 or 12-25-2008.
Time Format
The UK normally uses a 24-hour clock to represent the time. Thus, 6:00 in the evening would be represented at 18:00 or 1800. The US normally uses a 12-hour clock with the addition of am/pm/AM/PM/a.m./p.m./A.M./P.M. (depending on your style). Thus, 6:00 in the evening would be represented as 6:00pm while 6:00 in the morning would be 6:00am. The military and related industries use the 24-hour clock.

Now let's use myWriterTools to change a document written for the UK audience to one that the US audience can understand

Here is a an example of some text written in the United Kingdom. Use myWriterTools to convert this text to the spelling and usage used in the United States. Select the US <--> UK tab in the DocScrubber section. You can convert both the spelling and the usage differences based on databases that you can edit and change.

ORIGINAL DOCUMENT
   

Step 1 - Spelling: Change the spelling between British and American spellings. When you click on the action button in the spelling section, the program will automatically go through the entire document and change all UK spelling to the US equivalent. You can select the icons indicating British to American conversion, or American to British conversion.

 
UK flag DOCUMENT AFTER SPELLING CHANGES UK flag
 
 
Words that have been changed to US spelling are shown in yellow in the example above (but not when you run the program)
 

Step 2 - Word Usage: Change the word usage between British and American meanings. When you select his option, you will be shown each phrase that is found and be given a chance to accept or reject the change. Some words will have multiple meanings so you do not want to automatically accept all changes.

 
UK flag DOCUMENT AFTER WORD USAGE CHANGES UK flag
 
 

Phrases that have been changed to US usage are shown in green in the example above (but not when you run the program)

myWriterTools found and helped correct 13 spelling and 22 usage differences just in this short excerpt.

 
Remember - you can convert from the UK to US or the US to UK
 
And you can customize each database as desired, changing both British and American words and phrases. The word usage list does not contain every possible word or phrase with different meanings, just the most common ones. We also avoid rude or explicit words, and stay away from common or vulgar slang words. But you can add whatever terms you want.  
   

 





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Writers
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Use myWriterTools writing software to help your proofreading to find and fix common grammar and style problems so you can focus on your writing. The built-in style guide will answer all your questions. myWordCount counts words and phrases to help you find overused items, and highlights long sentences and sentences with high Flesch-Kincaid scores that make your writing harder to understand.

Editing or Proofreading?

Make your job easier!!
myWriterTools writing software helps you find and fix common problems as well as produce a professional stylesheet that can accompany your editing changes and remarks. Need help? You can quickly access guidelines from The Chicago Manual of Style. Make your proofreading job easier.

Use myWordCount to count words and phrases and color-code them to help you find overused items. It also tracks the Flesch-Kincaid score and length of each sentence to let you quickly identify hard-to-read sentences.


Students
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Don't be a bonehead and turn in papers with obvious errors. Use myWriterTools writing software to find and fix those grammar and usage mistakes that Word spellchecking misses. And highlighting the Flesch-Kincaid score for each sentence makes it easier to find those hard-to-read sentences.

Be Gender-Neutral
Remove Sexist Language!
Perfect for manuals and documents that must be gender neutral. This is required for many government publications. Use myWriterTools GenderBender to find and fix improper gender language. More information about running GenderBender to make your writing gender neutral.

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