Centre Or Center – British vs. American English

12.02.24 British English vs. American English Time to read: 5min

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The global dissemination of the English language has created an array of diverse spellings and pronunciations of certain words. Especially in an academic setting, it is pivotal to adhere to linguistic consistency to ensure unified coherence and uphold academic standards. Among the English dialects, British English vs. American English has notable distinctions. This article seeks to underscore the differences between the British variant “centre” and the American variant “center.”

“Centre” or “center”

Both “centre” and “center” serve as a noun and a verb in the English language. They refer to the same concept and merely reflect the different spellings of the British variant and the American variant. As a noun, the word “centre/center” defines the middle point of something or denotes a building or place used for specific purposes, like a shopping centre/center. When it is used as a verb, “to centre” or “to center,” it indicates the act of fixating or placing something in the middle point of something. It can also refer to putting a specific focal point on something. The British version “centre” follows a common pattern, where the ending “-re” is reversed to the American version “center.”

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British English

centre

center

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American English

center

 

Both variants “centre” and “center” are correct in their respective dialects. While both variants are correct in British English, only “center” is accepted in the US. However, it is noteworthy that the standard spelling in the UK is “centre.” To uphold academic integrity and credibility in your paper, it is instrumental to adhere to one English variant throughout.

Examples of using “centre” and “center” as a noun

In the examples below, you can see the different spellings of the word “centre/center” in British English and American English.

  • British English: “Centre/center”
  • American English: “Center”
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  • The city plans to build a fountain in the centre/center of the park.
  • The storm’s eye moved closer to the hurricane centre/center.
  • The new community centre/center has a variety of courses.
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  • The city plans to build a fountain in the center of the park.
  • The storm’s eye moved closer to the hurricane center.
  • The new community center has a variety of courses.

Examples of using “centre” and “center” as a verb

In the examples below, you can see the different spellings of the verb “to centre/center” in British English and American English.

  • British English: “To centre/center”
  • American English: “To center”
  • The coach instructed the team to centre/center the ball next time.
  • To centre/center the discussion, we must focus on the key issues.
  • We need to centre/center the lamp over the table.
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  • The coach instructed the team to center the ball next time.
  • To center the discussion, we must focus on the key issues.
  • We need to center the lamp over the table.
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“Centre” or “center” in the “-ing” form

When the verb “to centre/center” is inflected in the “-ing” form, the present participles or the gerund of the word are implied. While the British inflection is “centring,” the American version is “centering” with an extra “e” after the “t.”

  • British English: “Centring/centering”
  • American English: “Centering”
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  • He is centring/centring the painting. (present participle)
  • They are centring/centring the debate. (present participle)
  • Centring/centring oneself through yoga can reduce stress. (gerund)
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  • He is centering the painting. (present participle)
  • They are centering the debate. (present participle)
  • Centering oneself through yoga can reduce stress. (gerund)

“Centre” or “center” in the “-ed” form

“Centred” and “centered” in the “-ed” inflection represent the past tense and past participle of the verb “to centre/center.” See how they are used in sentence structures and in their respective English variant.

  • British English: “Centred/centered”
  • American English: “Centered”
  • The artist centred/centred the subject on the canvas. (past tense)
  • They finally centred/centred the rug in the room. (past tense)
  • The debate was centred/centred around finances. (past participle)
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  • The artist centered the subject on the canvas. (past tense)
  • They finally centered the rug in the room. (past tense)
  • The debate was centered around finances. (past participle)
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“Centre” or “center” as an adjective

When adding “-ed” at the end of “centre/center,” it can also function as an adjective, describing that something or somaeone is placed at the mid-point of something. Another adjective related to “centre/center” is the word “central,” which is spelled the same way in both British English and American English.

  • British English: “Centred/centered”
  • American English: “Centered”
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  • The target is centred/centred in the field.
  • The art piece was perfectly centered/centered.
  • His approach to life was very centred/centered.
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  • The target is centered in the field.
  • The art piece was perfectly centered.
  • His approach to life was very centered.

The British variant and the American variant do not have diverse spellings of the adjective “central.”

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  • The meeting point is quite central.
  • One sight you must see is Central Park!
  • Central parking is difficult in big cities.
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FAQs

Both spellings are correct. “Centre” and “center” are both acceptable in Britain, however, “centre” is the traditional and preferred version. In America, “centre” is grammatically incorrect, therefore, make sure you only use “center” when you follow American spelling conventions.

The word “centre” originates from the Old French word “centre,” which is the conventional spelling in Britain to this day.

Throughout the UK and Canada, the preferred spelling is “centre.”

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