Article Writing 101: Choosing the Correct Form of English

The content creation specialist has to consider a long list of important factors when creating articles for clients. One of those factors is the correct form of English. Believe it or not, the type of English used influences how a given article is perceived by both search engines and readers. Whether it is British English, American English, etc. is important. Therefore, good article writing considers the target audience when choosing the correct form of English.

The two most commonly used forms are British and American English. However, content specifically targeted at a given country may use different forms of English for Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India, and so on. This suggests that the first line of delineation needs to be one of localisation. In other words, is an article intended mainly for readers living in the same country in which the website is hosted, or is it intended for an international audience?

International versus Local

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, usability studies provide compelling evidence that the choice of English is important to consumers of information. For example, a British website selling products primarily to a British audience may actually turn potential customers away with content written in American English. The differences between the two are significant enough that some British consumers might be ‘insulted’ at the use of the American form.

In a case such as this, we are clearly dealing with local content targeted primarily a British users. However, is there ever an appropriate time to use American English on a British website? Absolutely. Let us use the topic of football as an example.

A British company attempting to sell football related gear or memorabilia to an American audience would need to think about referring to the sport as ‘football’. As you know, football is something entirely different in America. What we refer to football here is known in America as soccer. In order to appeal to the American audience, the appropriate term should be used UNLESS using the British term satisfies a specific need the website owner has.

Article writing intended to reach an international audience will likely be based in British English. Why? Because British English is the most widely used form of the language. To reach the largest audience possible, it is the form that would be used. Alternatively, some website owners choose to create local content for multiple countries in order to make sure they are speaking the right language to the right group of people.

The Native Language Question

Good article writing in any form of English comes down to having a command of the language. This leads us to a second question of whether or not it is important to insist on native language writers. We believe it is, in most cases. While it is possible for someone whose native language is not English to still learn the language thoroughly enough to be a good writer, such individuals are rare exceptions to the rule.

One of the biggest problems with the different forms of English is that the differences between them are more than just vocabulary. (click to tweet)

English is a language of incredible nuances that are impossible to learn in the classroom. Between vocabulary, spelling differences, style and syntax differences, idioms and, yes, even grammar, English is a language that is best learned through a combination of classroom and real-life experience.

If good article writing includes being able to write effectively in any form of English, that job becomes exponentially more complicated for someone whose native language is not English. Indeed, even some native English speakers have trouble writing in a form other than their own. It should be no surprise therefore that so many SEO companies and content developers insist on native writers.

At Connotations, we understand the importance of creating content that will connect with your readers. We believe that it is important for us to consider the proper form of English before beginning any article-writing project. Please feel free to let us know of your specific needs when ordering articles from us. Our writers are capable of producing work in any of the most common forms of English.

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