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Published by at March 15th, 2024 , Revised On March 22, 2024

Favor Vs. Favour: Differences & Examples

The English language can be a tricky beast, with its variations across different regions. One such example is the pair “favor” and “favour.” or favourable vs favorable. Both seem interchangeable at first glance, but their true meaning lies in the context of their usage. 

UsagePreferred in USPreferred in UK and Australia
ExampleCan you do me a favor?Can you do me a favour?

Origins & Dialectal Differences Of Favor Vs. Favour

The story of “favor” and “favour” begins with their common ancestor, the Middle English word “favour.” This word, derived from the Old French “faveur,” signified “goodwill, grace, or kindness.” 

Over time, due to the Great Vowel Shift, a major sound change that occurred in English pronunciation during the 15th and 16th centuries, the pronunciation of “favour” changed in some regions. In American English, the “ou” sound shifted to a simpler “o” sound, resulting in the spelling “favor.” The same happened with “color”, “humor”, etc. 

However, in British English and other English dialects influenced by British conventions (like Australian and Canadian English), the original spelling of “favour” was retained. Just like “favourite”. This difference reflects the historical development and diversification of the English language across different geographical areas.

When To Use Which

While both “favor” and “favour” are grammatically correct, their usage depends on the specific variety of English you’re using:

  • US English: If you are writing for an American audience or using American English conventions, the preferred spelling is “favor.” This applies to both the noun and verb forms of the word.
  • British English and other dialects influenced by British conventions: In these contexts, the standard spelling is “favour.” This includes countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and others.
  • When in doubt: It’s safe to follow the conventions of your target audience or the specific style guide you’re adhering to. Most online platforms and word processors have built-in language settings that can help you choose the appropriate spelling based on your chosen language preference.

While the spelling is the most significant difference, it’s crucial to understand that these words carry slightly different connotations in specific contexts, even within the same dialect:

  • Formal vs. Informal: In US English, “favor” is generally considered more neutral and can be used in both formal and informal settings. “Favour,” on the other hand, may sometimes be perceived as slightly more formal or archaic.
  • Emphasis: In British English, “favour” can sometimes be used to emphasise a preference or support more strongly than “favor.”

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Examples Of Favor Vs. Favour

Favor Favour
Can you do me a favor? Can you do me a favour?
I owe you a favor. I owe you a favour.
She asked for a favor. She asked for a favour.
He did me a big favor. He did me a big favour.
Could you do me a favor? Could you do me a favour?
Would you like a favor? Would you like a favour?
I’m doing him a favor. I’m doing him a favour.
That’s a small favor. That’s a small favour.
He asked for a big favor. He asked for a big favour.
She’s returning the favor. She’s returning the favour.
We did him a favor. We did him a favour.
Can I ask you a favor? Can I ask you a favour?
She’s doing him a favor. She’s doing him a favour.
They’re doing us a favor. They’re doing us a favour.

Frequently Asked Questions

The difference between “favor” and “favour” lies primarily in spelling and regional usage. “Favor” is the American English spelling, while “favour” is the British English spelling. Despite this distinction, both words share the same meaning, referring to an act of kindness or assistance provided to someone.

The choice between “favour” (British English) and “favor” (American English) depends on your audience. If you’re addressing a British audience, use “favour.” For an American audience, opt for “favor.” Both words convey the same meaning of requesting assistance or kindness.

Australia predominantly follows British English conventions, so “favour” is typically used in Australian English. However, due to the influence of American culture and media, “favor” is also recognised and understood in Australia. Both spellings are accepted, but “favour” remains more common in formal writing and speech.

Australia primarily employs British English spelling conventions, reflecting its historical ties to the United Kingdom. However, due to globalisation and cultural influences, American English spellings are becoming more prevalent, especially in informal contexts and online communication. Despite this, British English remains the standard in formal writing and publications in Australia.

The primary difference between “favor” and “favour” lies in their spelling and regional usage. “Favor” is the American English spelling, while “favour” is the British English spelling. Both words carry the same meaning, denoting an act of kindness or assistance, with no difference in definition or usage.