Is it acceptable nowadays to use both types of spelling in writing?

I have a tendency to mix up American and British English. This is because most of the South Asians have learned English in two ways simultaneously. 50% from academic books which are mainly of British Standard, and 50% from watching Hollywood movies/subtitles which are most times of American Standard. Therefore, it is almost a common phenomenon to find writings of students that have both types of spelling, and most of the teachers do not mind it at all.

So far, I can correct myself on using "o" vs "ou" based spellings. Although, it seems there are plenty more types of differences that exist between these two standards. And to fix this problem seems to be a mountainous task.

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    Acceptable to whom? If you're writing to friends who are knowledgeable about both cultures, no problem. If you're writing to users of one or the other dialect, you'll sound strange or foreign. If you're writing a research paper, you'll want to avoid such admixtures because the readers will simply assume you're poor at spelling and didn't work hard enough to correct your issues.
    – Robusto
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


Michael Harvey is correct that formal work should be consistent. Just remember that some spellings you may have learned are "American" spellings are actually historically acceptable in British as well - but hypercorrection in reaction to perceived Americanisation has led to some people rejecting it. It's a little annoying, really.

Americanisation is actually a good example. It used to be acceptable in British English, and still is to many, to use the 'z' spelling of that suffix - Americanization. But while those spellings appear in some dictionaries, spellchecker word lists are convinced that the 'z' spellings are American only.

For informal usage, don't worry about it much. Most of us who have spent much time online don't even notice spelling differences any more. I can't remember, after reading something, what sort of spelling it used. Vocabulary differences are more noticeable, but are understood by most people these days. We might think very different things are meant by words like pants or fanny mean different things, which might lead to giggling, but most people in Britain know the American meanings even if Americans don't know the British ones.

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    I think that AmE has an advantage in spoken language because we export so many movies, TV shows and music albums. Anyone consuming that stuff at least gets exposed to our vocabulary and idioms. The written advantage goes to British or really "international" spelling I think.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 23:34

For any kind of formal or academic work, it is desirable to use only one type of spelling in a piece of writing. American students who come to study in the UK are sometimes told to learn, and use, British spelling conventions, and sometimes to choose one or the other and stick to it. Mixing the conventions will be seen as careless and will lower the student's standing with teachers. In US establishments I think a person would be wise to stick to US conventions.

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