Spelling Tips: Draft or Draught?
  • 4-minute read
  • 25th April 2020

Spelling Tips: Draft or Draught?

Did you know that “draft” and “draught” sound the same? We won’t blame you if not, as “draught” is rarely used in American English. However, “draught” is common in other English dialects, including British English. And they use it for words we spell “draft.” Check out our tips below to find out how this works!

Draft in American English

In the USA, “draft” can be a noun, verb, or adjective.

As a noun, its meanings include:

  • A written order for a bank to pay money (e.g., A banker’s draft)
  • Conscription, typically to the military (e.g., Called up in the draft)
  • An initial plan or version of something (e.g., A first draft of a document)
  • A current of air (e.g., A cool draft came through the window)
  • An act of drinking or inhaling (e.g., She downed the beer in a single draft)

As a verb, we can use it to mean:

  • Prepare an initial version of a document (e.g., To draft a letter)
  • To enact conscription (e.g., To be drafted into the army)

And as an adjective, it can mean:

  • Drink served from a barrel or tank (e.g., A draft beer)
  • An animal that pulls a heavy load (e.g., A draft horse)

Using the same spelling for all these senses makes it easy to remember! But, outside North America, people use “draught” for some of the definitions above instead. Let’s take a look at when this applies.

Draught in British English (Drinks, Wind, Horses and Games)

“Draught” is actually an older spelling than “draft,” and we still find it in British English and other dialects that borrow heavily from British English (e.g., Australian English). However, even in the UK, “draught” is only correct for certain uses. When discussing a “banker’s draft,” a “military draft,” or an initial version of something, the correct spelling is “draft,” just like in US English.

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The definitions to remember, then, are the following uses as a noun:

  • A current of air (e.g., A cool draught came through the window)
  • An act of drinking or inhaling (e.g., She downed the beer in a single draught)
  • The depth of water needed to float a ship (e.g., A shallow draught)
  • The game of checkers, which is known as “draughts” in the UK

In addition, British English uses “draught” as an adjective in two cases:

  • Drink served from a barrel or tank (e.g., A draught beer)
  • An animal that pulls a heavy load (e.g., A draught horse)

The only time you may see “draught” used regularly in the USA is in relation to draught beer. Even then, though, the standard spelling for a drink served from a barrel in American English is “draft.”

Summary: Draft or Draught?

In American English, this question is simple: You can use “draft” for all definitions of this word. This includes all noun, verb, and adjective uses, as “draught” is not typically used in North America.

However, in British English or similar dialects, “draught” is used:

  1. As a noun meaning a current of air, an act of drinking, the depth of water needed to float a boat, or as the name of the game we call checkers.
  2. As an adjective that applies to drink served from a barrel (e.g., “draught beer”) or an animal that pulls a heavy load (e.g., “a draught horse”).

And if you’re ever unsure whether you’ve used “draught” correctly – or need help with any other aspect of your writing – you can always upload a document for proofreading. We have experts in American and British English, so just let us know when dialect you want to use!

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