Canadian and American Spelling in Action: A Sampler

Canadian and American Spelling in Action: A Sampler

Language & Editing

Canadian vs. American spelling variation isn't a topic we have talked about recently, but it is definitely a subject that continues to remain relevant! This sampler, pulled from TEC's archives, will help give you an introduction to the differences between Canadian and American spelling, and if you need to check the spelling of a specific word, we suggest taking a look at Barbara's trio of spelling guides (linked below) that list specific words and how they are spelled in Canadian and American English.




Still puzzled by the different Canadian vs. American spellings? Drawing on the three blogs Barbara compiled (A to G, H to P, and Q to Z), we have written these sampler sentences to help you practise/practice. We have underlined the Canadian spellings that you would use if writing for a Canadian audience. Remember: some spellings are the same.


Double -ll- or single -l-

When it is winter in many parts of Canada, layers and layers of [woolen/woollen] clothing are a necessity!


A wildlife management plan was created by the animal reserve to help [imperilled/imperiled] species survive.


Using -ou- or -o-

[Rumour/rumor] has it that the U.S. presidential election will unfold [clamorously/clamourously].


Beth told a very [humorous/humorous] anecdote at lunch today. She has a good sense of [humour/humor].


Using -ue or -u

James spent much of his morning trying to think of good adjectives to use in [catalogue/catalog] copy.


The novel needed extensive editing to make the [dialog/dialogue] more idiomatic.


Using -que or -ck

“The [cheque/check] is in the mail” is a [favorite/favourite] expression that many businesses use when  asked about an  overdue payment.


Tennis, squash, and badminton are all [racquet/racket] sports.


Using -e- or -a- / -ea or -a

“[Grey/gray] skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face” has a [likeable/likable] tune.


Surveying the water-stained wallpaper, scuffed tiles, and grimy windows, Jenna realized that it would take many hours of work to make the room [livable/livable]. 


There’s no denying that high demand for a product can render even low-quality knock-offs [saleable/salable].


Using -ce or -se

The [practice/practice] of good writing comes from relentless hours of [practising/practicing] the craft.


“The board will need to [license/license] me within the week,” Irma pointed out, “because without a [licence/license], I’ll have to serve alcohol-free beverages at the restaurant’s opening.”



Using -re or -er

The gas [meter/meter] measures consumption in cubic [metres/meters].


The Zumba class is at 9:00 a.m. Thursday at the community [centre/center].



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