Skilful Or Skillful – British vs. American English

27.05.24 British English vs. American English Time to read: 3min

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Maintaining consistency in academic writing is crucial to ensure that the work is concise, consistent, and simple to comprehend. Nevertheless, a lot of students find it challenging to make a distinction between British English vs. American English, which can lead to confusion while spelling certain words, like “skilful” or “skillful.” If you’re trying to enhance your knowledge of these two variations of English, please continue reading.

“Skilful” or “skillful”

“Skilful/skillful” is an adjective that describes someone highly proficient, accomplished, or adept in a particular skill or activity. It is not a verb, and therefore, it does not have a specific tense associated with it. In American English, the preferred spelling is “skillful,” while in British English, “skilful” is more commonly used.

British English


American English


Both spellings are correct, but the choice depends on the variant of English used. It is recommended to use the spelling that aligns with the chosen variant for consistency.

Examples of using “skilful” and “skillful” as an adjective

The following examples will illustrate the difference in the spelling of the adjective “skilful/skillful” in British and American English.

  • British English: Skilful
  • American English: Skillful
  • The chef’s skilful hands created a masterpiece on the plate.
  • Her skilful negotiation tactics led to a successful business deal.
  • The artist’s skilful brushstrokes brought the canvas to life.
  • The chef’s skillful hands created a masterpiece on the plate.
  • Her skillful negotiation tactics led to a successful business deal.
  • The artist’s skillful brushstrokes brought the canvas to life.

“Skilful” or “skillful” in the “-ed” form

In both British English and American English, the word “skilled” is spelled with two L’s. Thus, “skilled” remains consistent across both dialects, but it’s the derivative forms like “skilful/skillful” where the spelling differs.

  • British English: Skilled
  • American English: Skilled
  • She is highly skilled in negotiation.
  • The team needs a skilled coder.
  • He’s a skilled carpenter.

“Skilful” or “skillful” as an adverb

“Skilfully/skillfully” is the adverbial form of “skilful/skillful.” It describes how someone performs a task with a high level of skill, proficiency, or dexterity.

  • British English: Skilfully
  • American English: Skillfully
  • The pianist played the complex piece skilfully.
  • The surgeon skilfully performed the delicate procedure.
  • The detective skilfully solved the mystery, uncovering hidden clues.
  • The pianist played the complex piece skillfully.
  • The surgeon skillfully performed the delicate procedure.
  • The detective skillfully solved the mystery, uncovering hidden clues.

“Skilful” or “skillful” as a noun

The noun “skill” is spelled with two L’s in both British and American English. There is no difference in the spelling of “skill” between these dialects. The variation occurs with derivative words like “skilful/skillful,” where the American version doubles the L and the British version uses a single L. However, “skill” itself always retains the double-L spelling.

  • British English: Skill
  • American English: Skill
  • Her skill at painting is remarkable.
  • Mastering a new language requires skill.
  • He showed great skill in handling the crisis.


Yes, “skilful” is used in British English.

No, there is no difference in meaning; they represent the same adjective but with different spellings based on regional preferences.

The spelling “skilful” with one L is the traditional British English spelling and follows the traditional British English orthography. In British English, certain words drop the second L when forming adjectives ending in “-ful.” However, in American English, “skillful” with two L’s is more commonly used.

The American way of spelling is “skillful” with two L’s in the middle of the word.

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