British English style guide - Wordapp

British English Style Guide

Like most languages there are many colloquialisms in English and a lot are regional. If unsure, do not use them, especially if you are writing about a specific region. British English, even informal, does not tend to be overly personal, calling people ‘my dear’ or ‘lovely folk’ is not well received. Unless the text calls for it do not use flamboyant language or lots of jargon.

As with any piece of work, it is important to check it. Simple, yes but so important, our brains work faster than our fingers so typographical errors can occur. Reading your work out loud is still the best way to proofread, reading slows you down and this way you can spot errors in the flow which your eye may miss.

General Grammar

  • Use “favourite,” “colour,” “honour,” and “labour” (the –our suffix opposed to the American –or).
  • Double the last consonant when adding suffixes. Ex. Use “travelling” “worshipped” and “cancelled” (the –ell / -epp suffixes opposed to the American –el / -ep). However, “profiting” does not apply to this rule for British English.
  • Use “centre” and “theatre”
  • Use ise/yse for example:- “strategise”, “paralyse” and “recognise
  • Use the –ice / -ence suffix – for example:- practice, defence and licence. However, “advice” and “advise” are universal.
  • A (an) is an indefinite object and indicates any person or thing – a girl, a dog, a bag.
  • The is a definite article and denotes something or someone specific – The girl, the dog, the bag.

To use ‘the bag’ in a sentence and then ‘a bag’ in the next is confusing to the reader, who will not know if you mean the same or a second bag.

Avoid ‘Americanisms’ – these are creeping into British English and should be avoided.

Examples:

  • Use ‘trousers’ instead of ‘pants’
  • Use ‘post’ or ‘post box’ not ‘mail’ or ‘mailbox’
  • Use ‘flat’ not ‘apartment’
  • Use ‘puncture’ not ‘flat’ (tyre)
  • Use ‘taxi’ not ‘cab’
  • Use ‘mobile’ (phone) not ‘cell’
  • Use ‘lift’ not ‘elevator’
  • Use ‘expand the business’ not ‘grow the business’
  • Use ‘at the weekend’ not ‘on the weekend’
  • Use ‘film’ not ‘movie’: The cinema or the pictures (Northern UK) not ‘The movies’
  • Use ‘Gain access to’ not ‘access’

There are a number of words from Latin/Greek/French that have earned their place in English grammar and can be used to enhance text: Words such as:
ad hoc; aficionado (a fan of the arts more than a sport); bona fide; bete noir; carte blanche; crème de la crème; de rigueur; déjà vu; faux pas; femme fatale; je ne sais quoi; rapport; RSVP. Plus many more but as with any word, know what it means and its appropriate use before entering it into text.

Want to know more or check out any queries you might have? These sites may prove useful:

  • http://www.skillsyouneed.com/write/grammar1.html
  • http://www.edufind.com/english-grammar/english-grammar-guide

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