Grammar Cancelled or Canceled: Which Is Correct? |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Cancelled or Canceled: Which Is Correct?

Let’s say you notice it’s raining so you decide not to visit the beach with your friends. Have you cancelled or canceled your plans? The answer might surprise you.

Why Cancelled and Canceled Are Both Technically Correct

Although many teachers and editors would prefer cancelled over canceled, the truth is that both are technically correct. Either spelling could appear in a dictionary, and both are perfectly fine to use.

However, that doesn’t mean you should always use either version interchangeably. As it turns out, one is more popular than the other in American English.

The Difference Between Cancelled and Canceled

Both words mean the same thing and have the same origin.

Cancelled is the original spelling, but you typically wouldn’t use it in American English. Cancelled (double “l”) is the preferred spelling in the United Kingdom, while canceled (one “l”) is the preferred spelling in the United States.

Such spelling variations can be common in the language we share with our friends across the pond. Just as Americans visiting England might see some words as being spelled differently from their own, so might our usage appear distinct to those whose English is learned in Commonwealth countries.

So Which One Should You Write?

Because canceled and cancelled are pronounced the same way, you’ll notice their difference primarily when they are spelled out. In that case, you can probably maintain your American-ness by using the single “l” version of canceled unless you have a good reason to choose differently.

You might ask why you would do that if both words mean the same thing and are technically correct in spite of their spellings. Here are a few reasons:

Some teachers, professors, and employers might not know that either version is correct (as you do), and they may think that your alternate spelling is wrong.

In some cases, using an alternate (but acceptable) spelling can draw undue attention to the spelling and detract from your point.

It’s possible that certain spell-checking software packages may flag your spelling as having an error even when you are technically correct.

Simply stated, it’s easier to follow prevailing usage as they concern minor points of spelling and grammar as long as you are correct.

Add to Your Grammar Knowledge One Fun Article at a Time

Learning grammar can be fun if you approach it the right way. The more you learn, the better your writing and speaking can get! Visit us again soon to pick up more great tips and advice in the use of American English.

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