• 2-minute read
  • 28th January 2021

Spelling Tips: Neighbor or Neighbour?

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”!

Expert Proofreading

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.

You can even try our services without spending a penny! All you need to do is sign up today and upload a free 500-word trial document to find out more.

Comments (2)
Timothy Coogan
19th May 2023 at 13:38
I kind of think Americans should accept the “longer” spelling of neighbour as well as other words like that. A new rule called “the sometimes ‘u’ rule” should be established, don’t you think?
    23rd May 2023 at 14:24
    Hi, Timothy. Thanks for commenting. Yes, regional spellings follow the preferences of the speakers in those regions, but if enough people started to use “neighbour” in the US, then this could take over! It’s becoming more common and accepted to use spellings such as “realize” in British English, so things are always open to change.

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