Sometimes, old language rules can intermingle with new language rules, and the result can give us two different spellings for the same word. The debate between “focussed” and “focused” is one such culprit that falls foul of this rule, but is there a correct way to spell it?
Should I Use Focussed Vs Focused?
The correct spelling is both “focussed” and “focused,” though “focused” is the more common variant. There is a rule in the English language called the doubling up rule. Basically, if you add a vowel suffix to the end of a word, you typically want to double up the final letter to allow room for it.
However, the rule only applies to two-syllable words where the second syllable is stressed. In this case, the “o” portion of “focused” is where the stress lies, so you don’t need to double up in the same manner.
Is Focussed Or Focused Used Differently In American English, British English, And Australian English?
In American English, it is most common to use “focused.” Both variations are correct in American English, but they simplify their speech and writing, so “focused” is the only iteration used today. What about focused vs focussed UK addition, though? Well, it’s more common to use “focused” still, but the generally accepted term is actually “focussed” with the double “s” on the end.
The same goes for focussed vs focused Canada and Australia rules. Since both countries typically follow British English over American English, writing ” focussed ” is more correct.” However, since it’s an outdated word, it’s more common to see “focused” in all of the countries.
If I Am Not From The UK, The US, Or Australia – Should I Write Focussed Or Focused?
Now that we’ve cleared up the word’s popularity, it’s time to know which one you should write. If you’re from a non-English speaking country and you’re not sure which one works better for you, don’t worry! It’s more common for non-English speaking countries to follow British English rules, which should mean “focussed” is the best choice.
However, as we said above, “focussed” is rarely used no matter where you’re from in the world. So, to keep things easy, you can pretty much always say “focused” and be totally fine. No one is going to question your spelling of it, that’s for sure.
Does The Rule Also Apply To Focusses Vs Focuses And Focussing Or Focusing?
The same doubling up rule also applies to “focussing” and “focusing.” Since we’re adding a vowel suffix to the end of the word, we’re still expected to double up the “s.” However, because the second syllable isn’t being stressed, “focusing” never required the second “s” for it to be grammatically correct. Again, it’s come down to a point where “focussing” has been phased out, and “focusing” is the more acceptable and widely used variation.
10 Examples Of How To Use Focussed And Focused
Now, let’s look at a few example sentences to see when you can use either of the words. Remember, they both mean the same thing, one is just a more old-fashioned spelling, and the other is more up-to-date. You can use whichever you fancy, as long as you’re talking about someone or something being “focused.”
- He was focussed on his studies.
- We weren’t very focused on the task at hand.
- You’ve never been focussed on the importance of things.
- We weren’t focused, and now we’re paying the price.
- Can you remain focussed, please?
- She focused on making sure her work was up to par.
- He had a focussed approach ready for game day.
- The photographer focused his camera.
- These pictures aren’t very well focussed.
- I had to stay focused.
Alternatives To Focused And Focussed
Now, if you’re still uncertain about using “focused” over “focussed,” don’t worry. There’s one more thing you can do that’ll make your life a whole lot easier. Rather than trying to remember one spelling over another or hoping that no one calls you out on an outdated spelling, you can replace the word entirely. It’s the easiest solution if you can’t wrap your head around the “focused” predicament.
Hopefully, one of those words will work a lot better for you! And thankfully, none of them have alternative spellings!
You may also like: Focuses or Foci – What is The Plural of “Focus”?
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.