Do you “fill in” or “fill out” a form? Well, this is a very common situation in our lives; therefore, learning the correct word to use for it is important. So, please read on; in this piece, you’ll find all the answers you are looking for with helpful examples.
Fill Out or Fill In – Which Is Correct?
“Fill in” is an expression used in British English to talk about information input on a given questionnaire or form. “Fill out”, on the other hand, is the equivalent phrase for American English speakers. Thus, the use of both is correct depending on where you say it.
Although most people will understand you in the USA when you say “fill in” a form, the expression you’ll hear the most in that country is “fill out” a form. On the other hand, the British way is the exact opposite, and while they will very likely understand you, they won’t use “fill out” but “fill in”.
Thus, you can use them as interchangeable terms in most places you go and people will understand what you mean. That being said, it is always better to respect the proper regional way of saying things in every country.
To “fill out” means to input information into the requested areas of a form or questionnaire. The expression “fill out” is considered the American English version since it is used the most in the USA. Finally, it is considered to be the correct use of the English language.
Let’s see how to use “fill out” in some examples:
- To get to the first interview, please fill out the blanks in this form.
- Excuse me, Mrs. Should I fill out the fields in this form or wait for instructions?
- Are you done filling out the forms? Now it’s time for the driving test.
- Please fill out the answers to this questionnaire and drop it in the box on your way out.
- Do I need to fill out this entire form before noon? I’ll never make it!
- Please, don’t make me fill out endless forms just to tell me the answer.
- Fill out the paperwork and the car will be yours to enjoy.
“Fill in” is an expression used to input information in a form or questionnaire. “Fill in” is the British English variant of the expression since it is used in the UK more than in the USA. Still, “fill in” is perfectly correct and valid on both sides of the Atlantic.
Let’s see how to use “fill in” with some examples.
- You’re finally here! Please, fill in the details so we can be on our way.
- Did you already fill in the information at the customs office?
- I always fill in the paperwork before getting there so the whole process runs smoothly.
- The man said we should wait here and fill in the forms; we’ll be briefed by noon.
- Did she really say we can fill in the grades with whatever we think we deserve?
- Fill in the blanks left in the form for you with personal information, please.
- You need to know about the proper way to fill in paperwork or you’ll never make it through.
Which Is Used The Most?
When researching which term is used the most in English books, there is no better tool than the Google Ngram Viewer.
Thus, according to this powerful tool, the terms “fill in” and “fill out” have enjoyed different degrees of popularity in the last century. “Fill in” is the most used of them while “fill out” is used significantly less. That being said, although the use of both terms increased in the last century, they currently show a negative trend.
Fill in a Form or Fill out a Form?
The expressions “fill in a form” or “fill out a form” are correct. The first one is British English while the second is American English. Also, “fill in” can be used to refer to partial filling of the blanks; for example, “fill out the form by filling in the blanks.”
- Fill in the form; the taxi is waiting at the door!
- He had to fill out the form when coming into the country, right at the customs.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.