Program or Programme

November 15, 2011

in Writing Style

Often confused, program, or programme, is one of those words capable of making you think twice halfway through a sentence, causing a mad Google search and interrupting the writing of your masterpiece. So let’s jump straight into it and look at the basic rules concerning this word.

  • American English, regardless of the circumstance, always uses “program.”
  • British English uses the variation “programme” unless writing about computers
  • Australian English follows the English line, although officially recommend using “program.”

So why is the UK being awkward? Well, until the turn of the 19th century, “program” was the dominant spelling. But then, influenced by the French, the English began to use the variation of “programme.” So, when we write British English, we use “program” as follows:

“We are creating a new programme for the television channel”.

“This computer program is so annoying”.

“The programme for the concert will run as scheduled”.

As mentioned previously, if these examples were written for American English, the spelling “program” would be used in all instances.

Program is also a verb. For example, “I will program the computer tomorrow.” Both American and British English use “program” in this instance. However, the spellings of “programmed” and “programming” in American English, are recommended by the Oxford English Dictionary to be spelt “programmed” and “programming.”

NB: It isn’t always strictly a case of distinguishing between American and British English, and you should always check the style guide of the publication/employer you are writing for. If you are unsure, stick to one style and maintain consistency throughout your work.

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