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What’s the Difference Between “Dialogue” and “Dialog”?

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Using “dialogue” or “dialog” depends on which English dialect you’re writing in. And in American English, sometimes it even depends on what you’re referring to. Below we’ll discuss when to use “dialog” vs. “dialogue.”

What's the difference between dialog and dialogue? We'll answer this below.
Which of these variations do you usually use: “dialog” or “dialogue”?
Is it “Dialog” or “Dialogue”?

British English strongly prefers dialogue. Both spellings of the word are used in American English, depending on the style guide and meaning. Some style guides suggest using dialogue when referring to a conversation, and dialog in a computing context.

  • We had trouble reading the dialogue.
  • The dialog box appeared and prompted me to save the file before closing it.


What Is the Correct Spelling: “Dialog” or “Dialogue”?

If you’re here, you’re probably wondering which is the correct spelling: dialog or dialogue? The answer depends on which English dialect you’re using. British English (as well as Canadian and Australian English) strongly favors dialogue. In American English, both dialog and dialogue are commonly used, depending on what is being referred to.

Analogue or Analog? Catalog or Catalogue? Correct spelling depends on dialect.
The Google Ngram above shows how much more prevalent “dialogue” is over “dialog” in British English. 

“Dialog” vs. “Dialogue”

In American English, dialog and dialogue can be different spelling variations of the same word. Or, they can have slightly different meanings altogether. It often depends on which style guide you’re following.

Dialogue is often used to refer to the conversation between two or more people that was written for and featured in a book, film, or play. It can also simply be a conversation between people (in real life, not in a book, film, or play).

The dialogue between the protagonist and antagonist was anticlimactic.
I can’t go out today; I have to rehearse the opening dialogue with Joseph.
We engaged in healthy dialogue and thought of ways to reduce littering.
Analog or analogue? British and American spelling differ.
“Dialogue” can be the conversation people have in real life or one that was written for a book or movie.

Dialog, on the other hand, is regularly used in a computing sense—dialog box.

A dialog box is a small window that appears on a screen where you can input text or select a command.

When the dialog box appears, click “Install LanguageTool.”
The dialog box was prompting me to choose a reason as to why I was unsubscribing to the emails.
You have to wait for the dialog box to pop up, then you can click on “Save file.”
Dialogue or dialog: What's the difference?
Some style guides suggest using the different spellings of “dialog” and “dialogue,” depending on what is being referred to.

Keep in mind that in American English, dialogue is the preferred spelling when referring to a conversation. However, dialog is an acceptable spelling, regardless of the context. Using dialogue or dialog is often a stylistic choice that depends on the style guide you’re following. For example, AP Stylebook recommends “dialogue,” regardless of meaning. What’s important is that you don’t jump around from one variation to another within the same text. Choose one and stick with it.

Dialog or dialogue: This chart shows the difference in use in American English.
The Google Ngram above shows that “dialogue” has been more commonly used in American English, except when “dialog” spiked when computer and internet use became more widespread.

British vs. American Spelling

You can find the same patterns in other words that end in “–og” or “–ogue.” British English uses “–ogue,” whereas it is common to find both variations of the word in American English.

British English

American English

Analogue

Analogue/Analog*

Catalogue

Catalogue*/Catalog

Homologue

Homologue/Homolog*

Monologue

Monologue*/Monolog

*Favored American spelling according to Google Ngram

We should note that there are a few words that are almost always spelled with “–ogue”, even in American English.

Demagogue
Pedagogue
Synagogue

A Dialog on Dialects

Remembering what is the correct or preferred spelling based on dialects can be challenging, especially if you’re writing for an international audience. Keep in mind that British English (and other dialects like Canadian, Australian, etc.) use the “–ogue” ending, whereas American English tends to use both, depending on the style guide that is being followed.

You can simplify your writing process by using LanguageTool as your writing assistant. This advanced text editor supports over 30 languages and dialects, and will notify you if you’ve used the wrong spelling of a word. Additionally, not only does LanguageTool correct grammar and punctuation errors, but it will also suggest stylistic improvements to take your writing to the next level. Intrigued? Try it below.


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