Canceled or Cancelled?


The English language can play tricks on unsuspecting minds. One word may sound similar to the other but it could mean a totally different thing. There’s rug and rag. There’s pick and peek. One of the most common grammar problems in English is the use of canceled vs cancelled. Which is correct? How do you spell cancelled (canceled)? Is it really canceled or cancelled?


The spelling really depends on which version of the English language you use. American English uses “canceled” with a single “l”. It follows the general rule of appending “-ed” to the end of the verb if the word ends in a consonant.


However, British English spells “cancelled” with “ll.” The British do still spell “cancel” with only one “l” though and there is only one correct spelling of “cancellation” regardless of which style of English you use.


Americans prefer to use one L while the British prefer to use two Ls.

According to Grammar Girl, the difference in usage of cancelled or canceled can be attributed to the influence of Noah Webster in shaping the American English Language as we know today.


The AP Stylebook, predominantly American, uses “canceled.” Therefore, most American publications and papers written for an American audience use “canceled” in their writing. In addition to this, Mr. Webster has also incorporated standard American spellings that use shorter words compared to its British counterpart. There’s color vs colour, flavor vs flavour and favor vs favour.


By principle, both canceled and cancelled are correct. However, you need to keep in mind your audience and which method they will prefer. Even if you are used to American English, if you are writing for a British, Australian or Canadian audience, you will need to adjust your writing style to communicate more effecitively.


Aside from canceled vs. cancelled, other often confused words are “your vs you’re”, “their vs they’re”, “it’s vs its,” “who vs whom”, and “hanged vs hung.”


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