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Is It Cancelled or Canceled?

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You’ve probably come across two spelling variations of the past tense of cancel: “canceled” and “cancelled.” Which one is correct? Find out below.

How do you spell the past tense of cancel? We'll answer below.
The correct spelling (“canceled” or “cancelled”) depends on which English dialect you’re writing in.
“Canceled” vs. “Cancelled”
  • In American English, canceled and cancelled are acceptable, although canceled is more common. In British English, cancelled is the prominent, most widely used spelling.
    • We canceled the order of fries. (American Spelling)
      We cancelled the order of chips. (British Spelling)
  • Similarly, canceling is also more common in American English, while cancelling is more common in British English.
  • Its noun cancellation (with two Ls) is the recommended spelling, regardless of which dialect you’re writing in.

Is it “Canceled” or “Cancelled”?

Cancel is a verb that means “to decide not to conduct or perform something that was previously arranged.”

They had to cancel the play because the leading actor was sick.

But how do you spell the past tense (and past participle) of cancel: with one L or two Ls?

The short answer is that both are acceptable, it just depends on who you’re writing for. Below, we’ll explain when to use canceled or cancelled.

When To Spell “Canceled” With One L

If you usually read or write in American English, you’re probably used to seeing canceled. However, it’s not totally uncommon to see cancelled from time to time. Take a look at the Google Ngram below:

Looking for canceled or cancelled spelling? We can help.
This Google Ngram graph shows the use of “canceled” vs. “cancelled” in American English.

Although canceled is the preferred spelling, cancelled is not too far behind. The same goes for canceling and cancelling. Canceling is more common, but cancelling is widely acceptable, too.

Here are a few example sentences that use the word canceled:

I canceled the online order because they overcharged me.
Juliana has canceled the pool party because of the unexpected rain.
Unfortunately, the basketball game got canceled because one of the players hurt their ankle.

When To Spell “Cancelled” With Two Ls

Cancelled is the preferred spelling in British English (and other English dialects). And unlike American English, the battle between canceled and cancelled isn’t even close—cancelled wins by a long shot:

What's the difference between canceled and cancelled? Dialect.
This Google Ngram graph shows the use of “cancelled” vs. “canceled” in British English.

As you might have expected, cancelling is also far more popular than canceling.

Here are a few example sentences that use the word cancelled:

We cancelled the match because it was raining.
Robin has cancelled the meeting because he was feeling unwell.
The party was cancelled.

Spelling “Canceled” and “Cancelled” Correctly

One thing to keep in mind is that cancellation is more commonly spelled with two Ls, regardless of which English dialect you’re writing in.

The cancellation left us all with nothing to do.

Besides that, just remember that canceled is more common in American English (although it’s not unusual to see cancelled), and cancelled is more common in British English. The only thing you shouldn’t do is use different variations within one text. LanguageTool—an advanced text editor that supports different English dialects—can remind you of this. Additionally, it can also correct various types of errors and help rephrase your sentences to better suit your audience.

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