• 2-minute read
  • 10th November 2015

Spelling Differences Between American and Australian English

If you are an international student, you may have noticed some of the differences between American and Australian English. As well as Aussie specific-slang, there are some spelling differences you will need to use in your academic writing. For example…

-our vs. –or

Australian English tends to favour ‘-our’ endings rather than the ‘-or’ that our US cousins favor (see what we did there?!). Other words that follow this pattern include colour/color, behaviour/behavior and neighbour/neighbor.

A notable exception is the political party The Labor Party, who spell ‘labour’ with an -or ending (as is standard in the US).

-tre vs. -ter

Several words which come from French retain a -tre ending in Aussie English. So we have the words ‘centre’, ‘theatre’ and ‘metre’, whereas the Americans use ‘center’, ‘theater’ and ‘meter’.

-ise vs. -ize

Although -ize and -ise endings are both accepted in Australian English, the most common spelling is -ise. So, we use ‘authorise’ rather than ‘authorize’, ‘plagiarise’ rather than ‘plagiarize’ and so on.

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-c rather than -s

In US English, the word ‘practice’ is always spelt with a ‘c’. However, in Australian English, we differentiate between the noun ‘practice’ and the verb ‘practise’. So while we ‘have a band practice’, we ‘practise the tuba’.

-oe and -ae vs. -e

While British usage is rigid about this, we Aussies are a bit more relaxed and like to mix things up a bit! So we write ‘manoeuvre’ (the same as British English), but we also write ‘encyclopedia’ (which uses the US spelling).

Double Consonants

In Aussie English we generally go for double consonants, such as ‘travelled’ rather than ‘traveled’. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The US spelling ‘program’ is often preferred to ‘programme’ in Australian English, for example. In the UK, the US spelling is only applied to computer programs.


There are also some words that are spelled completely differently. So in the US, you might see ‘aluminum’ used, whereas in Australia you’d use ‘aluminium’ instead. Words like this don’t follow any particular rule, so you will just have to remember them!

Test Your Knowledge of Dialects! Click to start

Comments (1)
Alex Marsh
19th July 2017 at 05:22
Mainly there are two basic differences between Australian and American English , first is the spoken of the language and the other one is spelling and vocabulary. If you have good command over English language, then you can easily understand the difference. Thanks for providing correct information on the topic.

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