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v or vs?

In British English it is vs for legal contexts and v for sporting clashes, both without full stops.

In US English it is always vs. – usually with a period.

vacation or holiday?

holiday: Britons go on 'holiday' and Americans go on 'vacation'. To Americans, 'holiday' means the British 'bank holiday' or 'public holiday', while 'the holidays' in American is the (usually) politically correct term for the Christmas holidays. I once worked for an American company that decided to change 'holiday' to 'vacation' in all their European brochures and instructed phone staff (in Britain) to no longer use 'holiday'.

Valentines Day or Valentine's Day?

The correct spelling is always Valentine's Day.

vapour or vapor?

British spelling is vapour and vaporous; American spelling is vapor and vaporous.


Mostly redundant, such as in very precise, but necessary in our very existence.

video's or videos?

Now that CDs have become CD’s and DVDs are DVD’s, it makes sense that videos are now video’s – not.

vigour or vigor?

British spelling is vigour and vigorous; the American spelling is vigor and vigorous.

virus or bacteria?

Don’t confuse the two. Viruses: HIV, measles and influenza. Bacteria: MRSA, TB, typhoid.


This page last updated: 15 November 2014

Jesse Karjalainen is the author of The Joy of English: 100 conversations about the English Language, Cannibal – the language and history of the discovery of the New World, and Roanoke – the language and history of Early Colonial America.