I learn from school (in south east asia) that we use -ize, ex: vaporize, organize, etc. But lately, my word processor application and browsers started to suggest a fix for me: to use -ise, ex: vaporise, organise, etc. I can feel this has something to do with US English and UK English, but I can see all over the internet that people still mixing between -ize and -ise, so I don't know which one is actually the correct one, or if both of them are correct, which one is more mainstream and more widely used? I'm already used to use -ize, and feel weird when 'forced' to change into -ise just to silence the spelling errors warning, but I'm learning. I just want to know that I'm not learning something wrong before I internalise this into habit.

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    See english.stackexchange.com/a/4070/166321 and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… It is not exactly a BrE vs AmE thing, but it's close. – Alan Carmack Jul 13 '16 at 3:35
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    Its too bad that we can't send this to ELU so they can call it a duplicate, though they can send any (often already closeworthy) ELU questions here. – user3169 Jul 13 '16 at 3:39
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    I doubt native users mix, like you say. At least American users don't mix. That seems really weird. I think if you stick to just one or the other, it will be fine. I'm confident everyone will understand you. If you mix, then I think some of your audience will find it strange. – Em. Jul 13 '16 at 3:44
  • I mean, I tend to follow the person who I converse with. If the person tend to use -ise, then I'll unknowingly use -ise throughout the chat. But of course there's inconsistencies here and there. With mix, I mean, in a conversation with multiple person, some person use -ise and another person use -ize, much to my confusion. – Chen Li Yong Jul 13 '16 at 4:08
  • There's no reason to be confused. Some words have more than one spelling. There is gray and grey, colour and color... just realise/realize there are two spellings and both, especially in a chat room or session, are correct. If you are writing a paper for publication, you might want to choose the spelling you think your audience might be most familiar with, but this isn't necessary. It's also not necessary for you to use the spelling that the other person in a chat session uses. Use the one you are comfortable with, since both are correct. – Alan Carmack Jul 13 '16 at 13:50

I am a native British speaker and have spelt words with the suffix -ise all the time and looking into the same question has made me realise — whoops, realize — that it's not as straight forward as indicated in the comments.

If you look at the (lower voted) answer by @DanielB in the ELU question linked in the comments, it is all about the formation of the English language and how it is used.

To the purists

The correct way to use the suffixes is to write:

  • Organize or
  • Vapourize (BrE) or Vaporize (AmE) is correct

A point of note though is that you cannot advize, but you can advise (whether American or British).

See DanielB's reference within The Conversation website for more on what I am saying.

Why did -ise override -ize in British English and Australian English?

The article in The Conversation points out that

we think it’s posh and extra proper to standardise everything and homogenise spelling, in ignorant denial of the history of language and its correct use. [Note: The author uses -ise to comply with the style guidelines for articles in The Conversation]

When to use -ize

As the article in The Conversation points out,

The suffix ize should be used for verbs that connote transformation; when something is turned into something else or grows or becomes something. Usually, you can recognise the form whenever there is a simpler version of the word that pre-exists.

Take the example from the article.

The spelling theorize is the correct spelling because

  • we turn something into a theoretical condition, and
  • a simpler word already exists: theory.

When to use -ise

The article in The Conversation covers this too.

If you cannot see either

  • the process of transformation or becoming or
  • a simpler word inside the longer form,

the correct suffix is -ise. It is the reason we must always write advise, comprise, demise, despise, devise, disguise, excise, improvise, incise, merchandise, revise, surmise, surprise.

| improve this answer | |
  • So, "organize" in here should be "ize" because it means "transform something into organ-" ? – Chen Li Yong Apr 1 '19 at 3:21

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