When You Have a Choice of Spellings

The American Heritage Dictionary of the Englis...

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whenever words can be spelled more than one way, the preferred spelling is always given first in the dictionary. The same goes for pronunciations.

A friend wrote today about seeing the word “publically.” I have seen it written only as “publicly,” but she said a dictionary gave the “—ally” variant as the second spelling. I consulted my online dictionary, which specifically stated the “—ally” version is not acceptable; the American Heritage Dictionary (my favorite) does not even mention that spelling. Stick with “publicly.”

You realize that countries that are or were part of the British Empire use the”—our” spelling, while we in America prefer “color” and “humor” without the “u.” I can’t say it’s wrong to include it, but if you are a native-born American, you might be considered pretentious if you use the British spelling. The same goes for “judgement”; we leave out that middle “e.”


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Filed under All things having to do with the English language

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