I would always have said that the main difference between the spellings centre and center is that the former is British English and the latter is American English; however, I have learnt today that there are some variations to this rule. Difference Between.net explains that countries such as Canada and India “have adopted the British system of spelling” and therefore spell it as centre. The definitions they provide for centre/center are:
- a word that refers to the middle of something
- a meeting place
- certain sporting positions
Grammarist.com have conflicting information and say that “in Canadian English, centre is the noun meaning a gathering place, while center is (1) a noun meaning the middle, and (2) a verb meaning to place at the center”.
Can the spelling be used interchangeably in British and American English?
The answer to this appears to be yes when refering to certain sporting positions. Difference Between.net writes “sometimes, depending on the context, you will see centre being used in America and center being used in Britain, but these usages are rare and often considered affected by their fellow countrymen”.
I wasn’t aware of this the other day when I had a discussion with my partner and insisted that it was always spelled as ‘centre’ in British English – I might have to go and tell him now!
That’s all for today.
When blogging, I’m becoming more confused when using centre, center – colour, color, – neighbourhood, neighborhood etc. I’m from Canada and we use the french suffixes. Sometimes I use one and sometimes, the other. A bit schizoid!
Sounds very confusing. Does it depend who you are writing for? Thanks for your comment. Sandra 🙂
If I know my audience is Canadian, i will always use the French suffixes. On my blog I started with the French suffixes, switched to the generic ones as the blog is read internationally and now I’ve gone back to the French ones. It was too confusing and – I am what I am – Canadian!