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August 28th, 2013

This is another post that’s been prompted by a couple of emails we’ve received here at The Writers Bureau. They concern how we choose to spell words. The first was from overseas and asked why we spell enrol with one ‘l’ – ‘Should it not be two?’ was the query. Well, if you live in the USA, and this person does, then yes, it should be two. But, here in the UK we spell it with one.

The second query related to the word ‘mislead’. This person believed that, taking the tense into account, i.e. the past, the word should have been spelt ‘misled’. Well, this is a tricky one as, in effect, he is correct, the past tense of ‘mislead’ is ‘misled’. But, if you read more about it, you will see that it has now become acceptable for people to use ‘mislead’. I think this misspelling may have arisen because people think of ‘read’, which remains the same spelling regardless of being past or present. I know that some people are sticklers for correct grammar and usually I’m all for that, but in some cases we have to capitulate to the masses and if the masses accept a spelling, then we should use it. After all, language is ever changing and, as writers, you need to keep up with it.

So, what point am I making here? The first point is, watch your spellings. If you plan on sending your work to English language overseas publications, make sure you adjust your spellings to those of the target country. You can do this on your PC – your spell-checker will allow you to change from British English to American English and vice versa meaning that all the words spelt differently will be underlined.

The second point is, what’s linguistically correct may not always be the way people use the language. So, it’s maybe good to check what’s in current use before making any choice


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