Musical English Lessons International, England

Established since 1993

This free website has been created especially for you by Bibi Baxter (International Author, Teacher & ESL/EFL Materials Specialist)  <>()<> This website contains 'something' for everyone <>()<> Established since 1993, Musical English Lessons International are the only world-wide suppliers of special ESL/EFL study ideas by Bibi Baxter (formerly Bibi Boarder)

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(This website uses British English spellings)



  • Spelling Rules

Explanation by Bibi Baxter
  • Many American spellings differ from English spellings.  The original settlers to New England taught English Webster's spelling-rules which omitted 'U' in words ending in 'OUR' (eg: honor/honour & color/colour, etc)  and also promoted single consonants instead of double consonants in 2nd syllables, (eg: traveler/traveller, etc) 

  • The influence of multi-cultural immigrants to the US, has also meant that American spellings have gradually evolved over the centuries, becoming more phonetic than British spellings.  

  • American spellings are now becoming more universal as Microsoft software defaults to American spellings and often does not recognise  British spellings.   (On the other hand, our quaint British spellings are a product of history, influenced by Shakespeare, Chaucer, Claxton, et al).

  • Both types of spellings are acceptable, but my advice is to be consistent, i.e.  either use all British spellings, or all American ones.  (If you are taking an English exam, check in advance which spelling rules you should use) 

  • Words ending in OUR have been changed to OR in America (see colour)

  • Words ending in IOUR have been changed to IOR in America (see behaviour)

  • Many words ending in YSE or ISE have been changed to YZE or IZE in America (see analyse, categorise, standardise) Exceptions:  ARISE, DEVISE  (This American spelling is also acceptable in the UK)

  • Many words ending in YSED or I SED have been changed to YZED or IZED in America (see categorised, standardised) (This American spelling is also acceptable in the UK)

  • Many words ending in  ISATION have been changed to IZATION in America (see categorisation, standardisation)   (This American spelling is also acceptable in the UK)

  • Words ending in RE have been changed to ER in America (see centre, metre)

  • Words containing the silent letters OUGH have been changed to in America so they are spelt phonetically (see doughnut, hiccough)

  • Words containing a double consonant before ING and ED have been changed to one consonant (see travelling)    (This American spelling is becoming acceptable in the UK)

  • Words which vary in spelling according to whether they are nouns or verbs have been standardised  in some cases.   eg: verbs: practise, license   (NOTE:  the word standardised follows the ISED rule above)

More will be added to this table from time to time.  Please mail your suggestions or queries


(Alphabetical List)

  • aeroplane (1 word) [UK] = airplane, aero plane [US]

  • analyse, analyze [UK] = analyze [US] (rule)

  • analysed, analyzed [UK] = analyzed [US] (rule)

  • behaviour [UK] = behavior [US] (rule)

  • catalogue [UK] = catalog [US]

  • categorise, categorize [UK] = categorize [US] (rule)

  • categorisation, categorization [UK] = categorization [US] (rule)

  • categorised, categorized [UK] = categorized [US] (rule) 

  • centre [UK] = center [US] (rule)   

  • cheque [UK] = check [US]

  • colour [UK] = color [US] (rule)

  • doughnut [UK] = donut [US] (rule)

  • earnt, earned [UK] = earned [US]

  • equalling [UK] = equaling [US] (rule)

  • favour [UK] = favor [US] (rule)

  • gaol, jail [UK] =  jail [US]

  • grey [UK] = gray {US}

  • hiccough, hiccup [UK] = hiccup [US] (rule)

  • inharmonious/unharmonious [UK] = inharmonious [US]

  • labour [UK] = labor [US] (rule)

  • license (verb), licence (noun) [UK] = license [US] (rule)

  • liquorice [UK] = licorice [US]

  • manoeuvre [UK] = maneuver [US]

  • metre [UK]  = meter [US] (rule)

  • minimalised, minimalized [UK] = minimalized  [US] (rule)

  • neighbour [UK] = neighbor [US]

  • TV programme/computer program [UK] =  TV/computer program [US]

  • pyjamas [UK] = pajamas [US]

  • practise (verb), practice (noun) [UK] = practice [US] (rule) 

  • program (computer) [UK] = program (computer, TV or radio show, show list)  [US]

  • programme (TV or radio show, show list) [UK] = program (computer, TV or radio show, show list)  [US]

  • recognise, recognize [UK]  = recognize [US] (rule)

  • specialised, specialized [UK] = specialized [US] (rule)

  • specialising, specializing [UK] = specializing [US] (rule)

  • standardise, standardize [UK] = standardize [US] (rule) 

  • standardised, standardized [UK] = standardized [US] (rule) 

  • tyres [UK] = tires [US]

  • travelled [UK] = traveled [US] (rule) 

  • travelling [UK] = traveling [US] (rule)

More information will be added to this page from time to time

From :  Amitraj R. Deshmukh <>
Sent :  18 October 2004 05:09:28
Subject :  Question 
Hello, I read the material regarding the British Vs. American English. Could you let me know about the verb SEND? Please let me know the correct version. Thank you. Warm Regards.

                       Verb           Past Tense      Past Participle

  •  British:        SEND          SENT                 SEND 

  • American:    SEND          SENT                 SENT

Bibi's Reply:  Both versions are the same as follows:

SEND          SENT                 SENT

Hello, Chanced upon your website while trying to help my colleague with a spelling query.  What is the difference between "spelt" and "spelled".  Is it contextual or related to a specific tense or is it just another of those British-American idiosyncrasies? Regards Trevor Lee-Joe, Wellington, New Zealand

Bibi's Reply: Thank you for your interesting query.  Both my modern and 100-year-old dictionaries show only 'spelt'.   I suspect both forms exist as a result of regional pronunciation, some people say 'spelled' with a strong D sound at the end and presumably spell it as such, whilst others say it with a T sound at the end.

Having said that, it is common to see the regular form in modern literature and newspapers, although I cannot quote an example off the top of my head.

There are many other verbs which have regular and irregular forms in this way, eg: burned, lighted, etc.  Nevertheless, I advise my students to only use the irregular forms in exams, because not every examiner abroad is aware of the regular form.

  • From: Julia Slotwinski - 

  • Subject: Spelling query 

  • Date: Fri, 14 May 2004 14:47:08 +1000

I've noticed that ageing/aging has two spellings. Is one UK and one US, and if yes, which is which?  Julia Slotwinski, Medical Writer

Bibi's Reply:  Thank you for your interesting query.  Although your logic sounds appropriate to me, I will be quite honest. I am not sure if 'aging' originated from the U.S; however, both spellings are acceptable in the UK.

One good way to test whether a spelling has U.S. origins is to see if the Microsoft spell-checker will accept that spelling. If not, then it is usually of UK origin. Having said that, the 'Microsoft test' shows both ageing and aging as acceptable in the U.S. too.

AGING is a logical spelling, because G followed by E or I is soft. Often E is added to soften the G, even though in this case it is not necessary. Nevertheless, I have always used AGEING, so AGING looks incomplete to me.

A very good question! I have come to the conclusion that it seems to be a matter of personal preference. Nevertheless, remember to be consistent,  whichever one you choose to use.

 From :  Kerwin Fernandes 
 Sent :  17 March 2004 10:14:30 
 Subject :  a query - Brit v American spelling 

Hi, I am interested in knowing if HYPOTHESISING is spelt in British English, the way I have written it, or with a Z in the place of the 2nd S. Cheers, Kerwin

Bibi's Reply: Both types of spellings are now acceptable in Britain: the Z rule (originating in America) and the S rule being the original British spelling.   I recommend you abide by one spelling rule and be consistent.   The explanation for this rule can be found above.  

I would be interested in purchasing a book that contains British versus American spelling and usage variations in the English language.  Our company produces transcripts, so precise spelling is critical.   L.Palmer  Bibi's Reply:  Sorry, but the page on my website is still in its infancy and I cannot recommend any book in particular. I know there are many, so I am sure you will find one on the net.

I took a quick glance at your site and noticed these words were incorrect on     I have spelled them correctly below:
practice (The error is in small print. A later heading is correct.)

  • minimize

  • On one page that I viewed, practice was spelled with a "c" in one place and an "s" in another. 

Bibi's Comment: Thank you for your message. I appreciate your taking the time and trouble to write to me.  There are quite a few spelling differences between American and British English and I have written a page about this subject, which includes one section on PRACTICE/PRACTISE (the former being a noun and the latter being a verb) and another section on words ending with IZE and ISE     

I checked the page you mention ( and found the spellings to be correct and consistently British English.  (The only American spellings on this website are included in material provided by users of American English). 

This English teacher also offers the following suggestion for students of English who are having difficulties with spellings:  Copy the entire document off the Web site and put into another document for which you can use a spell checker. For example, I use Claris (MAC) and can set to "find" for a certain spelling and "change."  On Claris I go to the spell checker and one of the options is to FIND a word.  (1) You type in the word you want to find.  Then there is a slot to type in the word/spelling that you want under CHANGE.  This is an old package, but I would imagine other software has similar systems.  (from an English teacher in Ohio)

Bibi's Comment:  A good suggestion, but remember that many spell-checkers do not recognise British spellings and will only offer American spellings.





(This website uses British English rules of punctuation)

EXPLANATION (by Bibi Baxter)

Differences in punctuation are minimal;  however, they are worth a mention, because the grammar check facility on Microsoft software only accepts American rules of punctuation.

Both rules of punctuation are acceptable, but my advice is to be consistent.  Do not use a mixture of both, as it will make your text look untidy.

2 spaces after a semi-colon 1 space after a semi-colon

I work as a technical writer in the US. I have been asked to proof a document for use in Bermuda, which uses British English. I am aware of many of the spelling differences between American and British English; however, I am not at all familiar with British rules for punctuation. Are there significant differences between the two?  In particular, I have a question about apostrophes and hyphenated words. Which of the following should be used?  Thanks, Wendy Thomaston
1) one car's length
2) one car-length
3) one cars' length

The context is in a test question, which I have included below in its original form. In American English, correct punctuation with an apostrophe would be "a car's length" and "two cars' lengths." In most cases, however, we would use the hyphenated form, such as "one car-length" or "two car-lengths." 

I also have an issue with using a colon after a preposition (or a verb, for that matter), but every client we have writes their test questions this way, and I was instructed not to change it

Bibi's Reply: If you are referring to the way in which the colon is used in the example above (shown in red), this is correct.   A colon is used in this way to avoid using the same word at the beginning of the phrases in a list. 

Do you spread butter with:

  • a knife?

  • a spoon?

  • a fork?

He instructed me to buy a kilo of (each of the following):

  • potatoes

  • apples

  • oranges

Alternatively, these could be written in one sentence:-

  • Do you spread butter with a knife, (a) spoon, or (a) fork? (even the 'a' can be omitted to avoid unnecessary repetition)

  • He instructed me to buy a kilo of potatoes, a kilo of apples and a kilo oranges (a clumsy sentence, due to the repetition)

  • He instructed me to buy a kilo of everything:  potatoes, apples, oranges. (using a semi-colon)

  • He instructed me to buy a kilo of everything - potatoes, apples and oranges. (using a hyphen)

Emergency list of page URLS on this website




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This website contains mostly British-English spellings. Most American software does not recognise/recognize all British-English spellings


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Using commercial videos to teach


  • ESL/EFL Practice Ideas

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A varied range of lists & practice

Worksheets (ESL/EFL) for Pop Songs

A wide range of ESL/EFL exercises for commercial songs.  Many are ideal for use with students with learning difficulties

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It is acknowledged that all maps, flags, poetry, lyrics, trademarks, trade names, used or referred to on this website are the property of their respective owners.  If you can supply relevant copyright information, please send it (together with your name & address)  to:, or to: Copyright Details, Musical English Lessons International, Thimble Cottage, 99 High Street, Garlinge, Margate, Kent CT9 5LX 

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