When someone writes about people who live near to one another, you may have seen the spellings “neighbors” and “neighbours” both used. But are these both correct? And should you write “neighbor” or “neighbour” in your own writing?
The answer to these questions may depend on where you are from and who you are writing for. Check out our guide below to make sure you know which spelling to use!
What Does “Neighbor” Mean?
On a basic level, the noun “neighbor” typically means “someone who lives close by.” This could be in relation to yourself (i.e., your neighbors):
My next-door neighbor is having a barbecue this weekend!
Or you could refer to other people in relation to one another:
Tim and Michelle have been neighbors for eight years.
Sometimes, people also use “neighbour” to refer to places:
Spain’s western neighbor, Portugal, is different in many ways.
Or they use it to refer to fellowship in general (e.g., the phrase “love thy neighbor” refers to all other people rather than specifically the people who live near to you).
In all cases, though, the correct spelling in American English is “neighbor.”
Neighbor or Neighbour?
As mentioned, “neighbor” is the correct spelling in US English. However, the correct spelling in British English is “neighbour” with a “u.” This is also the standard spelling in other English-speaking countries, including Australia and Canada:
My next-door neighbour is having a barbecue this weekend!
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Tim and Michelle have been neighbours for eight years.
Spain’s western neighbour, Portugal, is different in many ways.
This follows the pattern of other words that end “-or” in American English but have a “u” in other dialects (e.g., color/colour, behavior/behaviour, or humor/humour).
The same applies for words related to “neighbor/neighbour,” such as the following:
American English:neighborhood, neighborly, neighboring
UK English:neighbourhood, neighbourly, neighbouring
So, if you’re writing for people outside the US, don’t forget to include the “u”!
If you struggle with the spelling differences between American and British English, or any other English dialects, don’t forget to have your writing proofread! Our expert editors are available 24/7 to help you perfect your written work.
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