Distinctions in the Canadian Writing Style and Language (English, French, U.S. English)

Did You Know? Canada has its own English and French which includes its spelling and even words.

For those who already knew that, the following is usually the next question to come up: Should I use the Canadian spelling when writing to an American? The answer is a definite Yes!

The biggest culprit to Canadians by far, besides not knowing how to spell in our own English, is their Windows based computer. In an attempt to correct this situation, there are three places in Windows where you will need to make changes:

  1. Changing the Windows Keyboard Language (English, French and the placement of the keys)
  2. Changing the Windows Regional Settings (date/time. currency and other formats)
  3. Changing the Windows Time Zone

Canadian English and Canadian French

Here is a list of some of the differences in how to apply punctuation in Canadian English and French.

Quotation marks -- English: " and ". French: « and ». In French only, add a non-breaking space on the inside of each quotation mark.

Punctuation marks -- In French only, add a space in front of: "!", "?", and ":". Don't put a space in English.

Telephone Numbers

Many people write a telephone number in the following format:

(999) 555-1212

The "(999)" used to be written that way because it was optional. Today, the area code portion of the telephone number is no longer options in many locations. If it isn't optional in your town/city, write it instead as:

999-555-1212

Also, 800 numbers should always have a "1-" in front of it because it is never optional. Example:

1-800-555-1212

Spelling

Sometimes the difference between the way Canadians write a word and the way our American neighbours to the south spell can be minor. But at other times, we use completely different words. For example, in many words we use -ize and -our like the British whereas Americans would just use -ise and -or. Here are a few:

 U.S. CanadaNotes
CenterCentre
ColorColour
FavoriteFavourite
NeighborNeighbour
NicheNicheIn Canada, we say "niche", in the U.S. it's "nitch" as in itch
ShadesBlinds
ZZIn Canada, we say "zed", in the U.S. it's "zee"

While I could go on and create yet another site on Canadian spelling, there are already some really great ones out there like Dave VE7CNV's Truley Canadian Dictionary of Canadian Spelling.

More to come including…

  • Address format
  • Opening and closing of a letter

Comments

Distinctions in the Canadian Writing Style and Language (English, French, U.S. English) — 4 Comments

  1. Thanks Dave, very helpful. However the typos on this page are a bit troubling. ie. “It’s” instead of “its” for possessives, “american” and “canadian” require capitals, and “Truley” and “Dictionnary” in your link are misspelled.

    • Thank you for your feedback Jason! But please, call me Michael (who is Dave?)

      As indicated everywhere on this site, these articles are all draft so I hope the typos haven’t troubled you too much. That said, you are absolutely correct of course (except for my name) and I really appreciate your feedback. I will definitely correct the typos you pointed out.

      Best regards,

      Michael

    • Hi Kitsune,

      I am not sure as I don’t speak Greek. However Google Translate says it is “???????? ??????????”

      Best regards,

      Michael

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