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A note on English varieties

Which variety of English should I use?

When we talk about varieties of English, we usually refer to speech and, more specifically, to pronunciation.

KTH’s language policy makes clear that we welcome linguistic diversity, and this welcome should be extended to different varieties of English. Therefore, it should not matter which variety of English you use as long as you follow the conventions of the variety consistently.

However, you should prioritise language that is clear for your (usually international) readership. Note, also, that some journals and publishers require a specific variety of English.

Use spelling conventions consistently

 For example, you should not mix UK and US spelling conventions:

UK spelling:

colour, behaviour, centre, metre, travelling, prioritise, organisation, defence

US spelling:

color, behavior, center, meter, traveling, prioritize, organization, defense

Avoid or explain local vocabulary

You should always keep your international readership in mind and either avoid or explain local words, as in (1b–c), (2b) and (3b).


(1a) The total cost is 1.5 lakh rupees.


(1b) The total cost is 150,000 rupees.

(1c) The total cost is 150,000 rupees (roughly equivalent to 20,000 SEK).


(2a) The kampongs are threatened with closure.

Better (note italics + explanation in parentheses):

(2b) The kampongs (villages close to the port) are threatened with closure.


(3a) At gymnasium, only a few engineering-related topics are studied.

Better (note italics + explanation in parentheses):

(3b) At gymnasium (senior high school for pupils aged 16–19), only a few engineering-related topics are studied.

Innehållsansvarig:Susanna Zeitler Lyne
Tillhör: Institutionen för lärande
Senast ändrad: 2023-06-22