British Dictionary and American Style Guide Used by a Canadian

The Chicago Manual of Style says, “The more we learn, the less we seem to know.” Anyone else feel this way about spelling, punctuation and grammar?

So here is a question.

I follow the Oxford English Dictionary for spelling but the Chicago Manual of Style for grammar and punctuation.

The first is British and the second American.

Should I be following the Oxford Guide to Style if I use the Oxford English Dictionary? Or is it okay to follow one British and one American as long as I am consistently British in my spelling and consistently American in my punctuation and grammar? Now let me add that I am Canadian, and I get really confused. The borders seem to be disappearing on me.

And this gets me back to the first line, “The more we learn, the less we seem to know.”


Thanks for reading . . .


14 thoughts on “British Dictionary and American Style Guide Used by a Canadian

  1. I happen to be the wrong person for this question. Though I’m American, I’m living in a tapestry of cultures and find myself conversing with the world.

    I’m with you “The more we learn, the less we seems to know.” The journey is so much fun, don’t you think?


  2. I would think if you’re aiming for the American market, then go with American on all accounts. If you’re aiming for the British market, then go with that. Don’t know if that helps, lol


    1. And if you’re aiming for the Canadian market, continue to blend your grammar and spelling and throw in un peu de français here and there! British spelling and grammar is used more widely around the world so I’d go with that.


  3. I feel like the more I learn about anything, the less I know about it! This certainly applies to grammar. Maybe because I’m Canadian too, I prefer the Oxford English Dictionary for spelling and I like the Chicago Manual of Style because it’s so comprehensive. But I am waitlisted on the upcoming edition of Gwynne’s Grammar, which is British (I think you’d love it, I hear it has extensive coverage of the comma!)

    Kristina, you ask a very interesting question that I’ve never thought of before. I wonder if the dualism comes from reading mostly Canadian (and sometimes British) newpapers and novels, but hearing a lot of American TV. Maybe our eyes are used to seeing Canadian/British spelling (I cannot read “check” without being stopped dead in my tracks until I realize it means “cheque”) and our ears are used to hearing American grammar.


  4. Over the past 400 years the form of the language used in the Americas —especially in the United States —and that used in the United Kingdom have diverged in a few minor ways, leading to the versions now occasionally referred to as American English and British English. Differences between the two include pronunciation , grammar , vocabulary (lexis) , spelling , punctuation , idioms , formatting of dates and numbers , although the differences in written and most spoken grammar structure tend to be much less than those of other aspects of the language in terms of mutual intelligibility. A small number of words have completely different meanings in the two versions or are even unknown or not used in one of the versions. One particular contribution towards formalizing these differences came from Noah Webster , who wrote the first American dictionary (published 1828) with the intention of showing that people in the United States spoke a different dialect from Britain, much like a regional accent.


  5. Jan, I’m with you on the use of Chicago because it is comprehensive. I’m used to Canadian spelling, but am getting used to American spelling via reading their books. I set my spellchecker to Canadian so it ‘sees’ the spelling for me. Otherwise it looks normal to me – except I don’t think I can go with ‘check’ instead of ‘cheque’.

    I’m interested in the Gwynne’s Grammar. Let me know how you like it. I haven’t read a British Grammar book and maybe I should. Then I could see if there is actually a problem mixing the American and British.


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