Localising UK, US, AU, NZ and CA English
The English language is not only native in the United Kingdom, but it’s also a language that is spoken across different continents around the world. Whilst it’s not an entirely different language altogether, there are localisms and difference between the countries. This becomes especially important when you are writing content because the Client will expect the text to be written in a way that is native and local to the audience they are targeting.
This guide should help you out but remember, always read carefully the instructions given because that will take priority over what is being advised to you in this guide. Also, this guide does not cover everything so when in doubt, use Google and find reliable resources to look up your questions.
Rule of thumb: Always use UK spelling if nothing else is stated.
UK English vs US English
(a.k.a British vs American)
As a general rule of thumb, British English is considered a little more formal than the English spoken in other countries. Even when it’s spoken in an informal way, the language is not overly personal. Be aware of colloquialisms, many of which are regional. So if you are not certain, it’s better to avoid using them.
Common Spelling Mistakes
Spelling mistakes happen because words are actually just spelt differently altogether. One of the most common spelling differences is the use of S vs Z.
British Spelling American Spelling Apologise Apologize Recognise Recognize Organise Organize
Another really common spelling difference is words that end in –re in Britain vs ending in -er when spelt in American English. Some examples are:
British Spelling American Spelling Centre Center Theatre Theater Litre Liter
Other common spelling differences
British Spelling American Spelling Licence (noun) License Defence Defense Colour Color Favour Favor Travelling Traveling Fuelling Fueling
Not only are some words spelt differently, but some words are also entirely different. We have put together a few of the main ones but for a full list, click here.
British Words American Words Trousers Pants Post Flat Apartment Mobile Cell Taxi Cab Lift Elevator Holiday Vacation
Units of measurement
Most countries use the Metric system and yet America still uses the old Imperial system.
Metric Imperial Kilograms Pounds Metres Feet Celsius Fahrenheit Kilometres Miles
Australian English tends to lean towards British English more but not entirely. The table below are examples where Australian English uses either British or American spelling.
Australian Spelling “Other” Spelling Labor Labour Accessorise Accessorize Colour Color Programme Program Inquire Enquire Centre Center
New Zealand English (NZE) tends to be similar to AUS English. You can read more about NZE here.
The use of Prepositions
British American athletes play in a team athletes play on a team students enrol on a university course students enroll in a course towards the river toward the river
British American Learnt Learned Burnt Burned Dreamt Dreamed
Australian English tends to follow the British version.
Canadian English is a mix of both American and British English. If you need to write “Canadianisms” or you just want to read up on the local way/words of Canadians, you can read about it here.
The below table shows which English way the Canadian prefer.
Canadian Spelling “Other” Spelling Colour Color Organize Organise Centre Center Program Programme Practice Practise
Units of measurement
Interestingly, Canadians use a mix of different measurements.
Canadians Other Celsius (for weather) Fahrenheit Fahrenheit (for cooking) Celsius Kilometres Miles Pounds Kilograms