Gray or Grey?

I was teaching an ESL* class not too long ago, and we came upon a word that confused people. The word was “gray.”

Some folks, especially those who liked to drink Earl Grey tea, insisted that grey was the correct spelling. And in some countries, it is. In fact, grey is the preferred spelling for our cousins across the pond (and north of the border).

But, as I tactfully told everyone, we’re in America now. In America, the correct spelling is gray. Just look on any Crayola crayon if you don’t believe me.

My high school refresher grammar teacher, Alfrava Latham, had a great trick to help those of us who read a lot of English classics remember which spelling is correct.

Gray has an A in it; America starts with an A.

Grey has an E in it; England starts with an E.

My class understood quickly. I hope you do, too.

*ESL is the acronym for English as a second language.



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