Grammar Catalog or Catalogue: Which Is Correct? |
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Catalog or Catalogue: Which Is Correct?

Have you seen the word catalog spelled two ways—with and without a u—and wondered which is correct? Here we’ll aim to clarify the distinction by explaining the spelling differences and discussing how to use the word in both of its forms.

How Do You Spell It?

In the U.S., we typically spell catalog without a u. The alternative spelling (catalogue) isn’t necessarily incorrect, it’s just not as common.

To understand why, it’s important to note that the English language arrived to America from England (you might enjoy our series comparing British and American English, Exchanging English Over the Pond). Through the years, certain British words and their spellings have been altered as they were assimilated into American English.

In particular, the British use the letter u more than Americans do. This can be seen in words such as flavour, colour, and catalogue, which are preferred in Commonwealth countries such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

There is nothing technically wrong with spelling catalog as catalogue; rather, it’s simply not as common or preferred in the U.S. as it is in Britain.

The Two Forms of the Word

While we are exploring this term, it’s worth pointing out that it has two uses. Many people know catalog mainly as a noun that means “a list of items or products.” This may be the usage most familiar to you.

Examples
I received the store’s catalog in the mail but haven’t decided what to order yet.
The shop moved their entire catalog online so you can use your mobile device to buy anything they sell.
Gina’s early music is my favorite, but you could choose anything from her song catalog and enjoy it.

Another valid but perhaps less common application for catalog is its use as a verb that means “to compile a list of items.”

Examples
I wanted to head home early but needed to catalog everything that came in from the warehouse.
The insurance representative asked me to catalog the items in our art collection for a new policy.
I had never taken the time to catalog my work until I needed to submit it for a review.

As you can see, catalog can be a versatile word whether you prefer to spell it with or without extra letters.

 

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