Realise vs. realize

  • Realise and realize are different spellings of the same word, and both are used to varying degrees throughout the English-speaking world. Realize is the preferred spelling in American and Canadian English, and realise is preferred outside North America. The spelling distinction extends to all derivatives of the verb, including realised/realized, realising/realizing, and realisation/realization.


    Although realize is now regarded by many in the U.K. and Australasia as the American spelling, it is not an Americanism. In fact, the -ize spelling variant is older than –ise—realize predates the United States and Canada by nearly two centuries—and has been the preferred spelling throughout most of the word’s history in English. If we can believe the ngram below, which graphs the use of realize and realise in British books and journals published between 1800 and 2000, realise had a brief ascendancy in British English from the late 19th century through the early 20th, but realize was preferred before around 1875 and is again preferred today—perhaps because of the influence of dictionaries like Oxford, Cambridge, and Collins, which encourage -ize over -ise.

    But the British preference for realize is not in evidence when we search for the two spellings in 21st-century British news publications, where realise is about ten times as common as realize. We have trouble explaining this, but perhaps it’s simply that a few influential British news organizations have collectively adopted the newer spelling, while most of the publishers of books and journals (including prestigious British scientific periodicals such as Nature and The Lancet) in Google’s Books index have kept –ize. The favoring of -ise may also have something to do with a decline in classical education; with Latin and Greek no longer mainstays of British schooling, their influence on English is weakening (-ize has its origins in Ancient Greek).1

    As the –ise spelling grows in popularity, realize is increasingly associated with North American writing, giving rise to the belief that it is an Americanism and hence to be avoided. There is no doubt, however, that both -ize and -ise are acceptable in British, Australian and New Zealand English, and writers in those varieties should not feel obliged to shun -ize, nor should they abandon -ise if they prefer it. The caveat on this advice is the -ize suffix does risk distracting non-American readers with what is (mistakenly) perceived to be a Americanism.

    Whichever suffix you use, it is wise to use that one consistently throughout any given text. Note too that, for etymological reasons, some words are never spelled with a z in any variety of English, e.g. surmise, improvisation, televise, surprise, etc.

    Just to satisfy curiosity, here is the corresponding ngram graphing the two spellings in American books and journals from the same period:



    Realise is more common in news publications from outside North America. For example, realize appears only rarely in these British and Australian publications:

    Next time you realise you’re sucking in your gut, don’t feel ashamed. [Guardian]

    I realise I will still have to lodge a tax return but what will happen if I get a job? [Herald Sun]

    However, for the telco’s competitors, it’s a sobering realisation that the battlefields in the mobile sector have dramatically widened. [The Australian]

    And what his devoted fans—known as Beliebers—don’t realise is that the battle between his warring parents is tearing the talented Baby singer apart. [Mirror]

    American and Canadian publications prefer realize by a very large margin. Searching the websites of major North American news organizations, we find only a few scattered instances of realise and its derivatives. Realize, as used in the following examples, predominates:

    The industry is finally starting to realize this problem, but one of the first, flawed attempts to fix it only illustrates how much work remains. [Washington Post]

    They don’t realize they have to stay active to qualify for free flights or luxury items. [Toronto Sun]

    Linus apparently didn’t realize he was talking to Natalie Portman at one point, and his wife asked Warren Beatty who he was.  [San Francisco Chronicle]

    He has betrayed this realization in off-hand comments to Western intellectuals. [Wall Street Journal]



    1. Wrong .
      In UK English realize with a Z means actualise, realise with an S means understand

      • Grammarist says

        That’s a preference that some UK English writers have, but it’s not consistently borne out in actual usage. 

      • Sorry, but no it doesn’t. Check your dictionary.

      • Stop “idiotising” the language.

      • That is exactly what I wanted to comment ! :-) Although I am Dutch from origine,(but with Scottish ancestors) and not educated in Grammar – in English or any other language , this is what “Feels” and ‘Sounds’ right to me.

      • You’re a moron mate, wow. LOL.. realize with zed is a Greek derivative, while realise with an S is an English spelling. They have the exact same meaning. Check a dictionary that includes colloquial uses. The S/Z spellings are just interchangeable by preference, the definition is the same. You can say effect and affect are different and have different definitions, being that they are different words entirely, but realise/realize are one in the same you silly cunt

        • There’s no need to be so unpleasant is there Justin James? Are we adults having an adult conversation/debate or just juvenile children who want to score points and use offensive language towards each other? :/ Grow up Justin James! People will listen to you much more and take you much more seriously if you don’t swear at them.. The moment you swear.. You’ve lost the argument/debate.. FACT.. Try it? You may be pleasantly surprized/surprised by the response that YOU get.. :)

          • I’m sorry that you do not understand the usage of curse words in language. They add more emphasis and importance to what the writer is trying to say. Much like bold print and italics, curse words draw attention and help the reader dig deeper into what the writer is trying to convey! Good day!

            • Truth Speaker says

              No, curse words don’t add more emphasis and importance. Rather, it shows their realization that they have no other means to improve their limited vocabulary.

            • Cloud Strifee says

              You wouldn’t know truth if it sat on your face.

            • Carl Andrew says

              Whilst swear words may sometimes have a place in real life situations, I think that they are less likely to be of any benefit in this arena. For instance, I would hope that you wouldn’t use a swear word in a conversation with a stranger in a real life situation, most civilized/polite people wouldn’t any way, even if they may in a conversation with a person who is known to them and who they know won’t be offended. Why then would it be appropriate ‘online’ where we are all strangers?

              Furthermore, there’s clearly a difference between emphasising a point in an adult conversation using an expletive “It fucking hurt when I stubbed my toe” and merely using it to put someone down “You silly cunt”

            • incognitomatto says

              Back to the topic of the subject: -ize/-ise. I noticed that you used both of them in your text: “…civilized…” and “…emphasising…” . Is there a rule to use only one, as can you switch between English “languages”? It seems like a dumb question but I’m curious, because if you write an essay, will you get less points for having different English everywhere?

            • Cloud Strifee says

              It depends on the type of person, if they were old fashioned or in a respectable position, I’d agree, but the difference is that MOST people online are of the younger generation, and most people in this generation use swear words. Just because old fashioned people class them as terrible words that should not exist, that doesn’t mean they are right. People are growing up and realising that they are just words, no worse than hello or goodbye. It is the intent of a word that makes it bad, which, in another way, you did say yourself. The point is is that swear words themselves aren’t bad, and don’t take anything away from an argument.

          • It is amazing how ignorant those who claim knowledge of the nuances of English are of the use of English. Silly cunts are not the same around the world as they are in the United States.

            • Cloud Strifee says

              I hope you know, the English language comes from a place called England. In the US they use American English.

          • Cloud Strifee says

            What is up with people being so butthurt about swear words? It doesn’t make you lose an argument at all. If you have a point, you have a point, regardless of the words you use. Just for the sake of the argument, if we are having a debate about bread and I was arguing that it is made of dough, and you were arguing that it wasn’t, even if I said “That fucking bread is made of dough, you fucking asshole” I would still be right. Swear words take nothing away from an argument, they are simply sentence enhancers and fillers. Just because times are changing and more people are using swear words, does not mean you have to get all pissed off because you don’t like it. Grow up yourself.

            • Truth Speaker says

              Basically, when I hear people cursing over and over, I don’t understand what they are saying. Just like gibberish, saying umm, like, umm, like, you know, you know, umm, like, like. One word means everything. It’s just a simple matter of poor education. Limited vocabulary. It’s like hearing people say like, like all the time, like they can’t like, umm, like find a word that will fit because umm, like, umm, like umm, like….yeah, like, it’s tough to find useful words that aren’t like, in your head. Keep using those pointless words where they don’t even fit. If the word “fuck” means having sex, how can it be used as a curse word? I sex wrong? Or, is the subject matter sexual? How about we start using a word like fagg. A new four letter word. It’s meaning is already defined as sexual, disgusting, abnormal and, has a use.

              Like, “fagg you” or, “you fagging ullah sucker”

            • I suppose this depends on the social groups or media that you are
              influenced by. Whether one uses such words or not, the context of the
              intended message is still intact, but one might want to consider the
              receivers’ perception on the use of these swear words and their emotional impressions too.

              I think that language will always evolve given time, so I believe that the current trends also have impact over the frequent usages of words and spellings too. I’m a little uncomfortable with the separation of “who is right
              “based on the exact origins or minute corrections, since many people
              tend to interchange some of the said spellings and words for their personal intent.

              I do also have an impression that people of different
              countries tend to prefer different variations of a language, simply for
              self-identity [national pride perhaps] or cultural reasons; geography makes a difference here.

              To the author and for some other commenters, it would be nice to post some of your references for clarification. And I apologise for only reading these years-old posts today.

          • “The moment you swear.. You’ve lost the argument/debate.”

            No, that’s actually a lie. The moment a lie has been uncovered, the argument is lost.

    2. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary (and that is Oxford in England!) clearly shows a preference for spelling realize and derivatives with z without reference to where on Earth you are located. Same thing for all other z/s words.

      • But we base our conclusions on what people actually do. Outside North America, “realise” is preferred by a huge margin, no matter what the OED says.

    3. Rc_Project says


    4. Rc_Project

    5. tomo008866 says

      US English is silly. During the American Revolution they were desperate to distinguish themselves from the UK so messed up the core grammar and pronunciation of the English language. If you pronounce ‘color’, it comes out as ‘colore’ if you’re good at pronunciation. The ‘u’ is essential in English so therefore American English is incorrect. If you say the word ‘zone’, the ‘z’ is pronounced the proper way it was intended, however in ‘organized’, it is pronounced as an ‘s’ sound. This is another reason UK English is correct and American English incorrect. There’s so many more reasons…

      • neanderthal says

        Both are correct…and I do not believe that was a postmodern statement


        They were so desperate to distinguish themselves? Your an IDIOT. They wanted their FREEDOM from the British. Get it right. The Brits thought they could rule the world and everyone was going to just lie down on their backs and take it. Get it right.

        • How ironic. An american using poor grammar on a grammar rich site. “Your” should have, of course, been “you’re” or ” you are”. Get it right indeed.

        • And now it’s the Americans who think they can rule the world. You realiSe the irony in that? Oh that’s right, Americans don’t do irony either!

          • Who says we’re trying to rule the world? What are you, some third grader with access to WiFi? We’re prosperous, yes, and that’s because we’re united and righteous to ourselves, our country, and other countries in need on help, which makes us happy, as our right states. A happy nation is one that can come up with great things– together as one.
            All through history, we’ve helped others help themselves, too, no matter what. We initialized the World Peace Organization to live in harmony with our neighbors.

            So you know what? Use your privileges to LEARN something before you comment on it.

            • Olivia, I was, of course, directing my comments to “American Veteran” and his silly remark. I was not referring to the American overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy so that American plantation owners wouldn’t have to pay import duty on Hawaiian exports to mainland USA. I wasn’t referring to the US support of numerous latin-American right wing dictators staving off communist movements. I wasn’t referring to Ronald Reagan’s treachery with the Iran hostages nor the Iran Contra deals, or the other righteous deeds.

            • American Joe says

              A new study has found that at various times the British have invaded almost 90 per cent of the countries around the globe. The analysis of the histories of the almost 200 countries in the world found only 22 which have never experienced an invasion by the British.
              Peaceful? Really?

            • Matt Sharrett says

              You really are living in denial.

            • “prosperous”, “righteous”…?
              Have you looked at where your country is going and what you are doing…?
              You are so scared of terrorists that you put innocent people in prison for joking.
              America is well on its way to becoming as shitty as Britain.

        • Matt Sharrett says

          Now the Americans are doing the same…

        • mario mariofil says

          I agree with you about British and ruling the world but who would not if they could? Regardless, your mother tongue is still English (unless you are a native American) is it not?

      • How can any language that is standardized and accepted across a large group of individuals for the purpose of social and economic communication be determined to be more or less “correct” than the language of another country and culture? The language is used differently and sounds different depending on what part of the U.K. you’re in. Now drop an ocean in the middle, and see what happens.

        To criticize a culture for having distinct culture is silly.

        • Truth Speaker says

          It has more to do with not being able to understand what someone is saying, rather than how they may say it. Umm…never mind.

          On a somewhat similar subject, the way some words are pronounced or body language portrayed depicts behaviors rejected by most of society. If a man pronounced realize spelled like realise (real-ice) or crossed his legs like a woman, he’ll be noted as “gay”. And, being gay isn’t something normal men don’t like being associated with. Pronouncing like it’s spelled.

          I once had to attempt listening to an instructional video where this nice, British lady kept saying strange things like haych p (HP). Could not stand it, and was distracting to the point I had to tell them, you know, you should find someone else for your videos.


          Even using my spelling checker tags the word and it suggests:
          Co lour

          Col our

        • Very well said.

      • Spanish versions of words are incorrect. Only North American versions of words are correct. For example, corre is an incorrect pronunciation of “run.”

      • Since when is organized pronounced with an ‘s’ sound? Why would a person pronounce color as colo-ray without the u? If anything, the ‘u’ would produce a diphthong, so colour would be ‘col-hour’ if ‘you’re good at pronunciation.’ This is all beside the point, though, because my hair is a bird, sir.

        • Not colo-ray, co-lore

        • hahahaha

        • Truth Speaker says

          I always laugh when I see the “colour” spelling. I say it out loud…cole-hour…hmmm . Why, because we pronounce with syllables. “kuhl-er” Seeing colour, we see col our. our? our is our problem I guess. Down south, where people really pronounce words horribly, you’d hear words like “come ova hurr” (come over here), “git on ova hurr and greyb thes wahr” (get on over here and grab this wire”, “thayet ol’ mayn enick lived a louwng tahm” (that old man enoch lived a long time” Just listening to folks from the south, southeast, and east parts of the USA will have you straining sometimes to figure out what they said. It’s the same while listening to British, Australian, and New Zealand. Usually, we’re sitting there, listening and we look at each other, saying, what did he say?? So much mispronouncing and slurring/mumbling. I’ve noticed that a lot of the accents we hear in the USA, are similar to some europeans. Well, I suppose when the USA is a melting pot where the whole world was immigrating to, we tend to end up with a wide variety of accents. All we can do is laugh and say, whatever. Even the closed captioning on youtube, or voice recognition on devices can’t understand! Heheh. :-) I have noticed on some programs that I watched often, like Foyles War, there are many who are easy to understand, and some who are totally hideous in their speaking. I have to replay several times sometimes to figure out what they said. Once while I was working in Texas, Fort Worth area, the “ebonics” was impossible to understand. I actually felt like I was in a different country while down there. One day I had an Australian fellow I had to talk with, and he got so aggravated with me because I had to have him repeat his “words”. He had to use different words to get his point across eventually. Was really awkward.

      • So, just because you don’t like American English, you choose to call it ‘incorrect’ even though it clearly is accepted as a perfectly good language by almost an entire nation? Who even gave you the right to do that? American English is just as much a proper language as British English, and you’re putting down an entire language to say that it’s incorrect.

        • What was the name of the language again? Oh, that’s right, ENGLISH!

        • Don’t worry, bro. They don’t English the way we Americans do. We like our sexy Z’s in our suffixs. Stuffy Brits are always so quick to point out that they were first, failing to realiZe how SWAGGY we adequately sexed their language. Their quirky Cockney bull AIN’T SHIT TO OUR SWAGGDOM. BOW DOWN, BRITAIN! *in my Beyonce voice*

          Interesting topic, though. :)

      • The “z” isn’t an Americanism. UK English has deviated from using z.

        • I know right? They call us the dumb ones

          • Well, you are the dumb ones. Lol.

          • Steven Joubert Thorold says

            Did you mean to end off with Ironic / …ironically! …or [H]hypocrites? Depending on what you meant, your comment could be seen as boarder-line hypocritical – and quite ironic! You’ve just called both of “them” dumb…..for calling each other dumb. ? :-)

      • Ivo Gregurec says

        Every English has a strong tendency to be incorrect or at list ignorant, firstly to its own “rules” of letter combinations to write down a phoneme and then to the other languages when trying to pronounce foreign word by those “rules”.

        For example: “Fuchsia” – in latin should sound like “Fook See Ya”, not “Few Shah” :D

      • Actually Webster wanted to capture the unique English usage that had evolved in the Americas and was, in part, capturing English spelling and pronunciation as it was already starting to be used. Many of what we think of as “Americanisms” came from Britain – people in Britain just moved on to new terms whereas those in the Americas stayed with the old terms. Therefore, many “Americanisms” are almost more British than the British terms! Many of the new terms that arose in the Americas were terms for things that didn’t exist in England – species of flora and fauna in particular. American English is not “wrong” – it evolved from British English, much as modern English evolved from Middle English and Old English before that. You would hardly say that modern English is “wrong”. Everything you have said regarding pronunciation is blatantly wrong. “The ‘u’ is essential in English” for example – it is also essential in American English (eg, “unicorn”). It is not essential to the pronunciation of “color/colour” – any pronunciation differences you are hearing are accent derived, not spelling derived. The “z” is the same in both “zone” and “organized”. In fact, this is a better match than “zone” and organised” – if we used “s” in both, we would have “sone”, with the “s” as in “soap”. Pronunciation largely depends on the phonemes surrounding the letter in question.

      • Well, if you really want to get technical, and talk pronunciations, then why is it the British can’t seem to pronounce the R in words like car, bar, star, far,? The list goes on.. Who are you to say what’s right, and what isn’t? You didn’t wright the dictionary.. In Britain the ize in Realize was around before ise in realise, and the British decided to change it, so because we still use the old spelling that the British used long ago we are wrong? If you knew about anything, you would know that both of all the words you are mentioning are correct spellings both ways.. It’s not our fault you can’t pronounce words correctly.. You people think you’re right about everything. Everywhere I go on the internet, You foreigners are Always the first ones to run your mouth, and start crap, when it’s not needed.

        • A very pissed person says

          Oi! Why do you Americans not know how to speak? Dont go about complaining about our accent. Really? Us “foreigners”? In case you forgot, people moved from over here to your filthy continent. And, right now, you are running your mouth too. Now shut your mouth before I shut it for you.

          • I’m not the one who gives a crap about accents or how to say words.. If English people are going to go around nit picking about how Americans speak you should know your facts before running your trap, because you are the one making yourself look stupid.. If your going to make a big issue about how we say anything, then you might want to look at your own flaws.. English don’t pronounce R in lots of words.. I would like to see you try and shut my mouth.. So go on like the street trash you are

        • Redlotusglenn says

          Unfortunately, for your argument, the British are not all from Mitcham (sorry Andy and Nige). My mates from Scotland have, I would say, the world monopoly on the letter “R”. They are also British – pending the devolution vote of course, at which point most any Welsh person should still be able to provide any R’s you require saying.
          I’m also not sure you can go anywhere on the internet, and certainly, on a thing called the WWW, the concept of foreigners is a little tricky. By definition an international concept, the WWW makes all, or none of us, foreigners. I do agree with you that both ways to spell the words, as the article clearly states, are equally valid, making banal sniping at other posters somewhat inane.

          • We are all foreigners.. I’m not from your country so I would be a foreigner.. When I said foreigners, I wasn’t only speaking of English..

      • Sabs Feigler says

        Since when do the English pronounce anything as it is spelled? Colour as it is spoken would be ‘cullah’, the letter ‘r’ is usually ignored all together, unless of course it is not in the word at all, for example when some pronounce names ending in an ‘a’ such as Rebecka as ‘Rebecker’ and countries such as Canada as ‘Canader’.

        • Actually, since British are the ones who created English, it’s more accurate to say that British pronunciation is correct. So, technically, you can’t say British pronounce words wrong, because Americans are the ones who altered the pronunciation.

      • Come join the New World..half a billion strong here in North America and we all use realize. Yes, I realize I’m siding with Canadians

      • It is true that Americans tried to distinguish themselves from UK. The reason why the presidential election is on Tuesday and not Thursday is because Thursday was the day British had general election.

      • It’s not wrong because it’s different. Shows your IQ…
        Americans and Brits live on different parts of the planet, so we were influenced in different ways. Americans have all types of accents and writing preferences depending on where they live. Californians speak differently than New Yorkers because of the derivative pronunciation of the respective place, just like Brits have their own pronunciation– they were much more influenced by Europe.

        As for Americans’ desire to “distinguish themselves”, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Pick up an unbiased book and read it. Americans wanted freedom from the rule of the Brits to be an independent country with “freedom and justice for all”. Do you really think they had time to alter pronunciations and words/phrases amidst all of that?

        So before you comment on something, don’t embarrass yourself; get your facts down right.


        There is so many more reasons….really? Talking about incorrect English…

      • “If you pronounce ‘color’, it comes out as ‘colore’ if you’re good at pronunciation.”

        If you pronounce it that stupidly, it means that you are bad, and not good, at pronunciation.

      • Steven Joubert Thorold says

        I am sorry … I do realise/ize that this is 4 years after you wrote your comment on this blog, but should your paragraph not have concluded with: ‘There ARE so many more reasons.’ instead of “[T]there’s so many more reasons…” ? In any way…thes(z)e are merely cultural usage disputes :-) Enjoy your evolving language, everyone!

    6. I was writing a paper and I decided to look up the difference between the spelling of realise and realize. Why because i just realised reliazed there are two realiSZ’s. Then I stumbled across this page and couldnt help but laugh.. Ya’ll are hilarious, or should I say “You all”. It does not matter what the “so called” correct way is to say or perhaps write a word. If a certain word is USED in any language, whether it be Spanish, English, UK English, French, Sign etc it is CORRECT. Who’s to say what language is better than another. In my humble opinion, there is no correct language or correct way to speak/sign. At least we can all communicate and argue about silly things online. Thanks for the laugh :)

      • I agree. I only came here because I wasn’t sure if both were correct. It doesn’t annoy me that both exist, what does annoy me is when spell check in microsoft word or some other program corrects me for using an acceptable varient on the spelling of something. I do have my personal preferences, but only because I’m familiar with those ways of spelling. I think I did get annoyed with so called americanisms when I was younger, but after a while I realised/realized it was petty and immature. The right way of spelling things is whatever way you can get away with using while still allowing people to understand what you’re saying.

        • This article JUST said that it is not an Americanism

          • tomo008866 says

            ‘Ise’ endings used to be written as ‘ize’ in English English, but it was too inconsistent with words such as ‘advertise’, ‘compromise’, ‘exercise’, and so many more keeping the ‘ise’ endings. What’s the point in using ‘ise’ endings and ‘ize’ endings simultaneously? With ‘ise’ endings, ALL endings end with ‘ise’, but with ‘ize’ endings, some are still only accepted with ‘ise’ endings. This’s what makes it inferior, in my opinion. Not to mention, ‘s’, a more common letter looks better in everyday spellings.

        • English and uk english are the same. Did you mean english and us english or Us english and uk english?

      • I disagree. Grwthl werwog nambit oprektas. According to this logic, that is a correct sentence because I just used it.

        • No, you misunderstood his point. Unless I’m mistaken grwthl, werwog, nambit and oprektas aren’t used in any language. If “oprektas” was used by most English speaking countries then it would be a used word in that language. You bashing on your keyboard doesn’t mean the resulting words are used in a language.

          • Philip Machanick says

            So now we are heading for more people speaking English in China and India than in the US and the UK, we can look forward to some interesting new trends in accepted spelling and grammar.

        • Mr. Mister says

          Language is descriptive, not prescriptive, otherwise all language would converge onto a specific standard of rules instead of diverge. Empirical use determines the truth behind a language. So yes, as long as what you had just written conveyed a meaning understood by both the writer and reader, then it would indeed be a correct usage of language.

      • Yes it duz mater if you spel it aight. u haff to understand that wen peeepl reid yor shit thay will be abul to si if yor a moron. (<–accepted spelling in the inner-city school district). Spell it the right way. If they're both accepted fine, good arguement. However, You should consider that your paper will reach many people who for in this day the majority consider 'realize' to be the correct spelling.

        Your preference would have you looking moronic to a majority. If you're trying to get a good grade, you might want to look like someone who isn't a moron.

        • Gary Barnet says
        • Mr. Mister says

          The very fact that anybody who read your first sentence could understand what you were saying proves the point that spelling can in fact be altered and still be “correct” enough to convey a message; TL,DR you just proved yourself wrong in practice.

          • incognitomatto says

            In my country, we have a concept of “Written language” and “Spoken language”. Have you heard of it? The Spoken language can be written down, resulting into a sentence that’s written as you say it (like Mr Radyor did just now). This again is something that I know we have in my country. I’m unsure if English or countries that speak English have this kind of system, but it would help to have one :)

    7. Or we could accept that UK English is our, American English, parent language. Face it guys: we’re a dialect.

      • Grammarist says

        Except that today’s UK English is in no way the parent language of American English. They are two evolving varieties of English that share a set of ancestral dialects, with a point of divergence around the second half of the 18th century. Today’s UK English resembles the 18th-century English “standard” dialect (i.e., that spoken by the London upper class) perhaps a little more than does today’s American English, but 21st-century UK English is nevertheless a completely different variety of English from that which was considered standard in 1800. Most of the modern conventions for UK English weren’t settled until the middle 19th century or later, making them no older than the conventions that govern American English. And most of the forms and spellings we now consider American were actually around for many centuries before the formation of the United States (if you look around this site, you’ll find many examples of these). It’s just that from the 17th century forward, the English-speaking world was increasingly spread over multiple continents, so English understandably went in a few different directions.

        • However, one problem with the ‘free and innovative’ American English is that we get words such as ‘fantabulous’ in our dictionaries

          *double facepalm*

          • To be fair, there are a LOT of melded words which you probably don’t realise are melds and use every day (unless you happen to be a linguist, of course). The only reason ‘fantabulous’ sounds silly is because it’s new.

    8. I agree. Some British authors regularly use -ize. It is NOT an Americansim, but people think it is.

    9. In fact, the Shorter Oxford Dictionary (1926) says that ‘realize’ is the accepted spelling; it adds ‘realise’ as a ‘U.S. variant’. Interesting that perceptions have changed. My copy of ‘Frankenstein’ (1818) uses realize – and yes, it’s the original type setting.

    10. I am a seventy year old Australian and was taught to spell the word as realize.

      • Iryna Harpy says

        Well, I’m a fifty-four year old Australian and was also taught to spell the word as realize. I’ve noticed that over the last twenty years or so (correlating to the advent of regular internet usage, texting, etcetera), all of the major English dictionaries have become overtly swift in picking up on recent colloquialisms and popular spellings. If one is an avid reader, one soon becomes addled by the numerous changes and uncertain as to the reliability of one’s own memory. Essentially, I have no serious quibble with minor ‘either/or’ spellings but, as it seems we’ve reached the stage of reinventing neo-Middle-English, perhaps it’s time for some serious standardization/standardisation for the sake of civilization/civilisation! The most prominent outcome (or, certainly, on face value) is the advent of a new age of illiteracy being barely concealed by debates that would have us perceive that it’s merely a matter of ‘-isms’. When Merriam-Webster accepts ‘publically’ as a valid alternative spelling of ‘publicly’ you know you’re headed for serious problems!

    11. Pocketninja says

      The only reason ize is increasing over ise is because the internet forces American Grammar on the rest of the world!!! As far as I’m concerned sites like Google should look up your country and return your countries dictionary from initial engagement rather than US English Default.. Fact!

      • Someone didn’t read the article before commenting.

      • Why? Google is an American company. If it was an English company they would use English spelling. Live with it or boycott it either way I don’t think they care. Also how is that a fact? It’s your opinion.

      • Pocketninja, if you read or checked anything before posting (which you should have as this forum will be used by people as a resource for correct spelling) you would realize that both spellings are 100% correct. Also, Google does not correct realize to realise or vise versa. Google returns results based on how you spell the word and does not correct (or ‘force’) either spelling since both are correct English words. If Google looked up your country and returned your countries dictionary (as you suggest it should) then they would be forcing one spelling over the other…which is what you originally complained about ‘the internet’ doing. Your post is wrong and has logical flaws. It should just be deleted.

        Please don’t answer questions on the internet without reading or doing some research to verify what you think first. The internet is a big place and it would be a shame if it was full of false information like yours. It’s actually posts like yours that wrongfully enforce one spelling over the other.

        Both spellings are correct but as others have pointed out, you should be consistent in your writing.

    12. Martín Cigorraga says

      Wonderful page this is for non native English-speaking persons, I’ve enjoyed quite a lot this article and the comments below, thanks for enrich my English language.

    13. “Although realize is now regarded by many in the U.K. and Australasia as the American spelling, it is not an Americanism.” Amazing what happens when you read the article instead of the comments.

      • Grammarist says

        After receiving Thylacine’s comment, we collaborated with him offsite to revise this post, using much of his wording. Perhaps we should delete this comment thread now so it doesn’t look like he’s just repeating things we already said above.

    14. shesghelmoraba says

      would you mind explaining the difference between”there” and “over there”?
      Thanks a million

      • “Over there” carries connotations of a larger distance. For example compare – “I have a farm in the country and I love to ride my horse there.” with, “I like to go to the USA in the summer and whilst over there I often ride my horse at the rodeo.”

      • Chaztikov says

        Ooh, ooh, pick me!

        Let ^_^ denote the English-speaking human observer, x1 denote the location referred to as “there” and x2 denote the location referred to as “over there”. By definition, “over there”, point x2, is at a greater distance from a fixed reference point (usually where one is standing) compared to “there”, point x1. So x2>x1. Please see the crude diagram below:

        ^_^—–x1—–x2———> (x)

        With respect to ^_^ not only is x2 farther away than x1, but, in one perspective, point x2 is in the sense of distance ‘above’ or ‘over’ x1, so if x1 is referred to as ‘there’ it is only appropriate to say that x2 is over x1, or, as is usually said: ‘x2 is over there’.

      • Redlotusglenn says

        There is what you say, doubled, when a child falls down, grazes his knee and has to be comforted. Over there is where the plasters live.

    15. CuriousChris says

      I really don’t think it matter which form of realise/realize you use. People are raised in different cultures to spell differently, does it really matter which one is “correct”? Essentially both are correct, anyway. I’m a Canadian, and prefer “realise” in my writing, and I’m sick of being corrected and told it’s “realize”. I really don’t understand why it matters. If they’re both accepted spellings, why aren’t we accepting them?

      • Yes it duz mater if you spel it aight. u haff to understand that wen peeepl reid yor shit thay will be abul to si if yor a moron. (<–accepted spelling in the inner-city school district). Spell it the right way. If they're both accepted fine, good arguement. However, You should consider that your book may reach many people who for in this day the majority consider 'realize' to be the correct spelling.

        Your preference would have you looking moronic to a majority. If you're trying to sell the book, you might want to look like someone who isn't a moron.

        • tomo008866 says

          Yes, but ‘realise’ is generally more common every outside of the United States. And the sole reason for me using ‘ise’ endings instead of ‘ize’ is because ‘ize’ endings are inconsistent. Do you spell ‘exercise’ as ‘exercize’? Do you spell ‘advertise’ as ‘advertize’? The same with ‘improvise’, ‘incise’, and so many more. If they all had a ‘z’ spelling, I’d be undecided about which one I’d use, but using the ‘z’ endings are way too inconsistent because of these words that still have ‘ise’, so I’ll be sticking with ‘ise’.

        • ‘Dialect’ and ‘spelling variants’ are like apples and pears, while you wouldn’t want to write a book in ‘dialect’ except maybe for dialog, you wouldn’t be forced to use the form of a word that you are not familiar with. This is not a question of being literate or not, this is a matter of preference in this case. I was educated in a ‘neocolonial’ (British) education system where I have always used the form of ‘realise’ and it’s always been correct.

    16. To be honest, British news media’s preference for realise is a combination of ignorance and straightforward anti-Americanism; imperfectly educated journalists and editors resisting what they see as colonization (colonisation?) of their native language.

    17. I’m an American and I use both. I read a lot of British text, so I often switch realise and realize around, along with color and colour, gray and grey, and I don’t even notice it. The first time I realised that I used both was when my English teacher went up to me after using both of the realises in a paper. (Note that I have an easily influenced 16 year old mind)

      • tpkyteroo luebeck says

        I still don’t know the different between “gray” and “grey”. And, in Elementary long before I knew how Brit’s spelled “honour” I thought the correct way for an American was “honour”. I quickly found out, that we take out the “u” and spell it “honor”, which still looks spelled wrong to me. LOL

    18. WilliamOckhamensis says

      You might comment, though, on the Americanisms “analyze” and “paralyze”. There is no good reason why the -lysis ending should change to -lyze when forming the verb; it is etymologically distinct from -ize, which comes from the Greek -izein, whereas “lysis” is also Greek but has a completely different meaning.

    19. MyThoughts says

      The Toronto Sun is no great indicator of Canadian anything. Perhaps an excerpt from The Globe and Mail or The National Post would be more appropriate. I attribute the use of -ize in Canada to the spell-check phenomenon dominated by the US market since the decline of Corel, the fact that its pronunciation has an audible “zed” sound, and people’s general confusion over which to use, either being acceptable; consistency being the point.

      • Grammarist says

        I understand you’re not suggesting that the Globe and Mail and National Post favor “realise”–just that their better for this sort of thing than Toronto Sun, which we would agree with–but just out of curiosity, I checked out the recent occurrence of the spellings in those two publications. Click the shortened links to see the results.

        “Realise” in the Globe and Mail, 2010-present: 4 results (
        “Realize” in the Globe and Mail, 2010-present: 442 results (

        “Realise” in the National Post, 2010-present: 13 results (
        “Realize” in the National Post, 2010-present: 809 results (

        If these papers are at all indicative of broader Canadian usage, this would suggest that “realize” is preferred by a significant margin, which of course would make sense if it is the case standard Canadian spelling generally follows the OED (which several Canadian commenters have claimed on this site—we don’t know if it’s true or not).

      • stadtneurotiker says

        While I agree that spellcheck is probably accelerating the “Americanization” of Canadian English, my feeling is that “ize” has been standard here for quite some time, to the point where “ise” always rings a little false to me. I have two Canadian friends who consistently use the “ise” ending: one is an uptight Anglophile, the other semi-literate, at best. Also, I recently saw an image of a WWI-era propaganda poster (Canadian) containing the word “realize” spelled with a “z”. I can also recall seeing an exhibition of vintage clothing here in Montreal which featured pages from old Eaton’s catalogues from the 1920s and 30s, with “colour” spelled “color”. I think Canadian English has always been a hybrid of American and British spellings, with the former perhaps even more common in the past.

    20. Ruth Sanchez says

      Greetings! I’m an Elementary School ESL Teacher…when teaching English, I teach American English, but don’t understand why is English from other countries introduced or mixed with the American or vice-versa.This makes this a little difficult when teaching English Grammar to little ones,though is very interesting.As of the learner, when learning English as a second language, this can be pretty difficult.:) Just an opinion!

    21. Ruth Sanchez says

      But tell me Grammarist…..Are the grammatical rules different ? Your answer will hwlp mw understand it better and learn more! GRACIAS!

    22. ISE is used by uneducated people and American people who think everything from the UK is better than what we have here.

      Everyone is debating this because we’re trying to mix US english with UK english. It’s not gonna happen. It won’t be accepted. When in Rome…..
      This will be a never ending debate until the day Obama finally has the US incorporated into the European federation of 2026.

    23. I was taught the “ise” spelling when I learned English in France, and
      encountered the “ize” version later when using English in a work related
      context with, mostly, US-based people. “Realisation” seems also more
      natural to French speakers as it is the way that word is spelled in
      French (with an added accent on the e).

    24. tpkyteroo luebeck says

      What I find funny is how a language evolves. Brits went from using -ize to preferring -ise. Then, after a language evolves to have spelling differences between two countries speaking roughly the same language, its becomes a Nationality War, which I find silly and immature.

      I also find it funny how most foreign countries, learn the British English, but it is the American English that seems to get more “airplay” so to speak. In America, we would say “right or correct”, in England, “Right” is a direction only, and can’t be used mean “correct”. However, that changed, and I have seen “right” as “correct” used in England. I’ve also seen “for sale” and “apartment” on English signs, instead of what I expected to see “to let” and “flat”. I want the British Language to stay British. I don’t want to move to England to have my American language taking over. I love the differences, and think its what makes us unique.

      • “Right” is very commonly used in England in preference to the word “correct”. There is a phrase that is used by parents when teaching their children which say they need to know what’s “right or wrong”.
        Certainly, “right” has been used throughout my entire life to mean “correct” but it is interchangeable.
        I’ve noticed that in conversation people will often say that something is “right” or someone might ask if they are “right or wrong” when voicing an opinion. However, in written word or in terms of examinations or quizzes, “correct” tends to be the word that is used.
        We also quite often use the word “right” as a confirmation of understanding in a conversation, in the same way that “okay” is often used too.
        The direction issue is generally only a source of comedy between people when giving or receiving directions. People will often say something like “Okay, so I stay on this road for five miles then turn left, right? or “Okay, so I stay on this road for five miles then turn left” followed by a second person confirming this instruction by saying “right”. In everyday use this is just an in-joke for most of the populous. It only becomes difficult when people forget that they are giving directions to non-native English speakers that, whilst having an excellent grasp of the language, don’t yet understand the vagaries, nuances or beauty of English’s flexibility in use.

    25. Miguel Angel Oquendo says

      I can’t imagine the sound for realised whereas realized (ize) sounds credible. I guess I’m either trivial or nuts.

    26. quit argueing

    27. Zelene Lupes says

      lol u so zilly

    28. Zelene Lupes says

      stahp it, hahahaha.

    29. Zelene Lupes says

      real eyez real ize hahahah

    30. Only one contributor touched on the difference between “to realize/realise one’s potential” and to “realise/realize that even educated people can be idiots”. Using different spellings to differentiate quite discrete meanings would seem sensible.

    31. Wow, some of you guys are stupid! Neither are incorrect, they are both accepted as the correct spelling in either places. Why does it bother some of you guys so much? As long as you spell it the way you want, and it’s using correct grammar, it really shouldn’t matter. And as for Google correcting realise to realize, you can change it if you want. US English is the default language, but you have the option of changing it to a different language. Man, it seems like some of you didn’t read the article!

    32. Mr. Mister says

      I’m sorry all of your teachers spent their time telling you what you cannot do, instead of truly educating you to be empowered and capable of fulfilling what you CAN do.

      The fact is, as long as the message is conveyed from the author to the reader, it doesn’t matter if you follow the “rules”. This is how language evolves. This is the very reason we have poetry. This is why puns exist. If you are a stickler for rules, that’s fine, go ahead, limit yourself and stifle your creativity. As for the rest of you, please, feel free to use ‘s’ or ‘z’ in your preferred spelling of ‘realize’ (you see here my preference, based only in the fact that I like the soft buzzing tingle of a ‘z’ or ‘zed’ rolling across my tongue, a MUCH more important reason to prefer a spelling than silly things like “rules”).

    33. The z to s usage was a reform by the English. The Americans, for the most part at least, have preserved the Oxford recommendations. The word “color” was a common usage that’s centuries old predating the colonies. It’s not an Americanization. Many words that Brits think are radically American are actually conserved from historic usage.

      For whatever reason, many people think that the “motherland” usually preserves the original language while emigrants evolved it. But historically, it’s usually the reverse. If you consider the English settlers in the colonies were Puritans who feared change, with a “religious” loyalty to the King James Bible from 1600s as one of their English references, you can understand how a lot of American words can be much less “evolved”.

      There’s also a myth that Webster reformed the language simply to distinguish themselves from the English, but the main reason was that he wanted to preserve pronunciation by simplifying the spelling. But in many ways, he’s responsible for reversing the new reforms that took place in England, to the original spelling and usage.

      English is a hodgepodge of inconsistencies, but that’s the beauty of the language. It’s art, not math. And it’s legitimacy is based on cultural acceptance and usage.

    34. like you see, i’m not a english speaker, hahaha sorry (if i have a mistake please correct me),
      in this moment i doing a big try to speak in english,
      i have a doubt this words(realise and realize) their pronunciation is the same.?

    35. Efraim A. Gonçalves says

      Just found your blog through google. Great post.

    36. Truth Be Told says

      I’m glad I found this site. I believed the spelling with an “S” was incorrect until researching proved me wrong …I’m American and have seen it both ways…I prefer it with a “Z”.

    37. chriskylelovr2003 says

      all these europoors lmao

    38. I am French.
      In French, the same word is “réaliser”. It means “to realize”. But in french, you can not put either “z” or “s”. Only “s”.
      During my English classes at school, I’ve always been told to write “realize”. We, students tended to write this word with a “s” because the words are so close in French and English, but the teachers always reminded us not to make the mistake. It’s “realize”, not “realise”. So now, when I see “realise”, it seems wrong to me. I saw it several times lately, so I decided to check out… and here I am ^^ ! Sorry if my English isn’t perfect. I try my best.

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