Shades of Gray


Sometimes we tax our gray matter over word choices that seem … well, gray. (Or is it “grey”?) Let’s look at a few.

Orient vs. orientate
Neither is wrong, but “orientate” is more British. Here in the U.S. we can stick with “orient.”

U.S. vs. US
This one is a headache because not all style guides agree, and some say the decision depends on whether we are using the abbreviation as a noun or adjective. (And the AP Stylebook recommends “U.S.” but “US” in headlines.) I’d hazard a recommendation to just lean toward “U.S.” and save our brain power for more important distinctions.

Toward vs. towards
They mean the same thing, so we’re all right if we go with “toward” every time. (The Brits prefer “towards.”)

All right vs. alright
“All right” is the correct one, but “alright” has become fairly well accepted in informal writing. Check back in 50 years when texting has given way to something we can’t even imagine now.

PS It’s “gray” – if you live in the U.S.

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