With the English language having different versions depending on the region you are in, knowing which spelling of a word to use can be difficult. This article will discuss the difference in the American English and British English spelling of “signalling” and “signaling”.
Is It “Signalling” Or “Signaling”?
While “signalling” and “signaling” are correct spellings, there’s a specific time and place for each spelling. The variations are mainly localized, with “signalling” being used in British English and “signaling” being used in American English.
The spelling “signalling” is correct when you are using spellings for British English. The spelling “signaling” is correct in American English spelling. Both spellings may be acceptable in American English depending on which dictionary you are referencing.
Should I Use “Signalling” Or “Signaling” In American English?
When using American English, the correct spelling which is most often used is “signaling”, spelled with only one letter “L”. The other spelling, “signalling”, with two letter “L”s, may be considered acceptable depending on which dictionary you use as reference.
The reason “signaling” with one letter “L” is used most often is due to Noah Webster, who published the first American English dictionary which was used prominently around the country. These effects can be clearly seen in this graph in the Google Ngram Viewer.
Noah Webster was passionate about reforming the American English language to make it both easier to teach and to differentiate it from the British English language, which he felt had many spelling inconsistencies.
Should I Use “Signalling” Or “Signaling” In British English?
In British English, the correct spelling choice to use is “signalling”, spelled with two letter “LL”s. “Signaling”, spelled with only one letter “L” is incorrect. The British English spelling uses two letter “LL”s to show there is an emphasis on that syllable.
Despite “signalling” with two “LL”s being the correct spelling, it has dropped significantly since 2003. “Signaling” with one letter “L” has seen an astounding increase in usage that has surpassed the traditional spelling and continues to climb, as shown in this Google Ngram Viewer chart.
If I Am Not From The US Or The UK, Should I Use “Signalling” Or “Signaling”?
If you are not from the US or the UK, you can use either spelling of the word, as both spellings are used in both American English and British English. However, the American English spelling, of the word, “signaling”, with one letter “L”, is the preferred spelling.
This preference can be seen in this Google Ngram Viewer which shows the usage of both spellings over roughly the past two hundred years in the form of a graph. As you can see, while the double “LL” spelling is preferred, the single letter “L” spelling is still used somewhat.
What Does “Signalling” And “Signaling” Mean?
Both “signaling” and “signalling” are multi-tense forms of the word “signal”, which is defined as “transmit information or instructions by means of a gesture, action, or sound”. American English spells the word with one letter “L”, while British English spells it with two letter “LL”s.
Here are a few examples of how “signalling” and “signaling” can be used despite the difference in spelling.
- He had been signalling a left turn for two whole minutes before he turned.
- There were going to be several instructors signaling different groups using colored beacons.
- I’ve been signalling for fifteen minutes and a cab still hasn’t stopped.
- If you keep signaling to me like that, I’m going to throw my shoe at you.
Do The Same Rules Apply To “Signalled” Or “Signaled”?
When it comes to the spelling of words in a different tense, the same rules apply for the spelling of the word “signal” in the past tense. Both the spelling for “signalled” and “signaled” in the American English and the British English spelling.
As shown in this Google Ngram Viewer depicting the usage of the spelling “signalled” and “signaled” in American English, the spelling of “signaled” using one letter “L” is the preferred spelling, though the usage of the double “LL” spelling is sometimes used.
In British English, this Google Ngram Viewer shows people prefer to use the correct spelling of the word, “signalled” with two letter “LL”s. With the rise in usage of “signaled” with one letter “L”, it is becoming less uncommon to see it used.
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.