Question from Heather in the USA

Which one is correct – theatre or theater?

Hi Heather – well it all depends on where you live!

Have a look at the article in the English4Today Online English Grammar called ‘Which English?’ to give you more details.

The spelling of words such as ‘theatre‘ and ‘centre‘ differ depending on where you are in the English speaking world. In the USA and Canada it is ‘theater‘ and ‘center‘ and in Britain it is theatre and centre are spelt. There are quite a few of these variations which is one of the reasons why we have an ‘American English Dictionary’, ‘Australian English Dictionary’ and a ‘British English Dictionary’. The important thing to remember is that none of the variations is more correct than another! And if you are a non-native English speaker living outside of one of the usage regions you can really take your pick without feeling that you are making a mistake!

Here’s a short list of some of the main variations between British spellings and American spellings:

British English American English
humour humor
favourite favorite
realise realize
theatre theater
kilometre kilometer
socks sox
cosy cozy
colour color
dialogue dialog
cheque check
jewellery jewelry
traveller traveler
tyre tire
organisation organization
centre center


This is a short list only! And spelling isn’t the only area of difference – for example, there are vocabulary differences such as the difference between fall (American) and autumn (British) to talk about the season before winter… however, that is for another posting!

Hope that has helped Michelle!

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