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By on September 29, 2009, with 140 Comments

Sine Line Optical Illusion

Sine Line Optical Illusion

SINCE by now all of you are ware that English isn’t my mother language, there are still some minor details I’d like to check. One of the major steps I surpassed recently is learning the difference between it’s and its. Yeah, it may sound dumb but this little thing made me uncertain for quite some time. It took years before I finally understood how the hell verb read can be written the same in present and past form, even though in each case it’s pronounced differently. I think some of these rules were explained to me by one of my readers. Next on my quest of knowledge is to distinguish the difference between color and colour. Anyone cares to explain? I’ve seen both of them in use.

Concerning the illusion of the day, I posted it to the left. The line you see fluctuating is composed of many vertical lines. Do some of those vertical lines seem to be unequal in length? The strange case here, is that all of the vertical lines in this example are identical! Strange, ayeh?

Comments

140 Responses
  1. Judy says:

    As far as color and colour are concerned, it’s just a different way of spelling the same word – a different dialect if you will. There is no difference in the vocabulary or meaning of the word, it’s simply a different spelling.

  2. tmb says:

    Color is the American version and colour is the British version. They both mean the same thing.

  3. Alan P-J says:

    I have loved your site for a long time but have never thought that my opinion would interest you!

    Colour is English (British) spelling
    and Color is English (American) spelling.

    Interedtingly the UK forces and, I think, the government is gradually moving over to the US spelling of these words.

    Love your site, kindest regards
    Alan P-J

  4. Brandon says:

    “Its” is the possessive, while “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.” For example, “My dog chases its tail.” or “It’s cold outside today.”

    As to “color” and “colour,” they are simply two spellings of the same word. “Color” is the American spelling, while “colour” is the British spelling.

    You’ve got to love English and all its quirks… haha

    Hope that helps

  5. Dorota says:

    Hi. Enlish is not my mother tongue as well but maybe I will be able to help you. Colour is in “English” English and color is in “American” English. Hope this is of some assistance to you. Great website by the way!

  6. Danielle says:

    Absolutely no difference in those words, just spelling. Same applies to labor/labour, neighbour/neighbor, honor/honour, etc. We use the spelling with the “u” in Canada as well.

  7. Jim says:

    Isn’t the internet wonderful? Now, how about the difference between there and their. I keep screwing them up. :^)

  8. sarah says:

    colour is the propper and english way of spelling it and color is the american version of spelling it, although there are many versions og the english language the english 9british) way is the original and right way to go about it. and by the way the english government are NOT changing over o the amercan way of spelling things – had to get that off my chest :D

    as usual i loved your illusions and look forward to enjoying some more very soon XD

  9. rho says:

    Just to add to what everyone else has already said:

    “Colour” was the original spelling. Noah Webster was an early American dictionary compiler (Webster’s dictionary) and an advocate of spelling reform. When he made his dictionary, he spelt several words in the way he thought they ought to be spelled, rather than the way they were traditionally spelled, including “color”. Some of them stuck and became standard spelling in US English.

  10. Christopher says:

    I always seem to mix up its and it’s as well, and I AM a native English speaker! It’s hard even for us sometimes. The way I remember it, “it’s” is ONLY used as a contraction for “it is.” If you can’t replace “it’s” with “it is” and have the sentence make sense, then use “its” instead.

  11. Paul Bybel says:

    interesting – would have never noticed that…

  12. Todd says:

    Everyone here is correct. It’s just difference between British (correct) English to American (Slang in my opinion) spelling.
    Another one is Defence (Brit) to Defense (Amer) or Offence (Brit) to Offense (Amer).
    The one I never understood was Arse to Ass. Do Brits really pronounce it with the “r”?

  13. Jason says:

    Colour is the proper way to spell it. It is used in all proper English speaking countries like Britain and Canada. The only place you will read “color” is in American writing where they seem to have developed their own dialect. I believe it has something to do with their stiff accent on the “ou” sound. For example “hour” and “colour.” Same sound, different pronunciation. Americans would never be able to get used to this difference so they made up their own spelling because they feel empowered to do as they please.

  14. Barry says:

    English – Reasons Why the Language Is So Hard To Learn

    1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

    2) The farm was used to produce produce.

    3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

    4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

    5) He’d be able to lead if he would get the lead out.

    6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

    7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

    8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

    9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

    10) I did not object to the object.

    11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

    12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

    13) They were too close to the door to close it.

    14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

    15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

    16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

    17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

    18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.

    19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

    20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

    21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

  15. RetroGriffin says:

    As said, Color and Colour are differences between American English and British English.
    Here’s a useful article if you like to read a little bit more:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_spelling_differences

  16. Mark says:

    re: Jims challenge:
    There is a reason why their spelling is different. They’re three different words.

  17. Libiom says:

    I guess “color/colour” is pretty thoroughly explained, so I’ll leave it alone.
    @Jim: “There” is an adverb indicating a location. “Their” is a possessive adjective indicating that something belongs to “them”. Does that help?

    As to the illusion: if we were to connect the ends of the vertical lines with a continuous curve, to make a curved “band,” we would find that the peaks and valleys of the curve are wider at their widest point (the top and bottom of the curve) than the middle of the curve is straight across. Even though the “band” is divided into individual cross-sections, our brain still fills in the missing parts (the so-called “gestalt” perception) to make a continuous whole. Thus, our brain ignores the true length of the lines and instead appreciates the imaginary “band” with its thick and thin areas.
    My apologies for going a bit long.

  18. Al says:

    Now that you’ve understood the difference between ‘read’ (present) and ‘read’ (past), you should know that ‘lead’ (present) turns into ‘led’ (past) not ‘lead’ (because that’s a heavy metal). However, lead (the heavy metal) is also pronounced ‘led’!

  19. John says:

    You gotta love how everyone wants to explain the same thing that’s been explained 5 times already.

    Cool illusion.

  20. Mike says:

    As to there, their, and they’re: there is a place, their is possessive, and they’re is a contraction of they are.

    They’re there by their car.

  21. mike says:

    As in Canadua?

  22. NijaSkills says:

    color is american
    colour is canadian

  23. Chakolate says:

    You can remember them like this:

    ‘There’ contains the word ‘here’. If you can’t substitute the word ‘here’ and have it make sense, then ‘there’ is not the right one. (Of course, the meaning might change, but it will still make sense.)

    ‘They’re’ is a contraction that uses the apostrophe for the ‘a’, so it means ‘they are’.

    And ‘their’ contains the word ‘heir’, like heir to a fortune, so you can think of it like getting or having something, possessive.

    Does that help?

  24. Mee says:

    Color is US, colour is English, it’s the same with a lot of other words too.
    neighbor, neighbour for example =)

  25. meshell says:

    i have dyslexia, so i say don’t worry i don’t understand english and it’s my first langaue, there’s just tooomany stupid rule that make little to no sense , and i belive with color and colour it’s the same word yet one is more for like comerceail use rather then anything else.

  26. Terry says:

    An early American (I think it was Webster of dictionary fame) decided that the “u” of colour, etc., was not pronounced, at least in the U.S., so he dropped it to simplify the spelling. I think he also dropped some letters in other words so the spelling was closer to the way they were pronounced in the states.

  27. duncan says:

    “Colour” is British English. When they got the boot from America, Benny Franklin and the rest of them decided that all things British were not cool so they stopped drinking tea and started drinking coffee, changed biscuit to cookie and removed all the letters from words that they considered extraneous.

    And so “areoplane” became “airplane”, “aluminium” became “aluminum”, “colour” became “color” and so on.

    Now if someone would explain why Americans pronounce “data” with a hard a.

  28. Yup, color is the American spelling, colour is the British spelling. The same applies with lots of other words you’ll find, like neighbor/neighbour, honor/honour, center/centre, traveled/travelled, even ass/arse. It doesn’t really matter what you use unless people are fussy about it.

  29. Paul McIsaac says:

    Guess your question has been answered by now, although I would have preferred the difference to be American color and Canadian colour.
    Although those of us north of the border do have an (arguably) British heritage (along with French and Native Canadian), the proximity of a nation ten times our size over the past two hundred years has definitely presented us with a fine set of problems.
    Imagine dealing with the metric (Canadian) and imperial (American, yes American)measuring systems all our lives. I am 61 and had to learn metric early in school, long before it became the legal standard here. I can function adequately in either realm, but do not ask me to convert. Usually I just select the system that offers the easiest round-off, eg., I live 100 miles, not 160 kilometres, north of Vancouver BC.
    Then there’s the question about kilometers vs kilometres!

    Really enjoy your column.

  30. Pat says:

    Their means something belongs to someone. ie – Those are their coats.

    There is a location. ie – The coats are over there.

    Does that help a little>

  31. Thomas Smith says:

    OK, english lesson time, sorry if these have already been covered. ‘It’s’ is the shortened version, or contraction of ‘it is’ with the ‘i’ from ‘is’ replaced with an apostrophe. ‘Its’ on the other hand is a possessive word, used when referring to the thing belonging to ‘it’. e.g. the house has its windows closed.

    ‘Color’ is simply the American English version of the British english word ‘colour’, hence Game Boy COLOR is American, well Japanese because of Nintendo, then translated, but you get the picture. It’s the same for other words. Although these days the two are so melded together it really doesn’t matter which you write where. Great illusion though.

  32. Maddie (again) says:

    Colour is british, color is not. No difference. Like grey and gray. Same thing.

  33. anonymous says:

    strange, nobody talked about the illusion so far…

  34. herzmeister der welten says:

    come on all, it’s (it is) really not that difficult.

    it’s = it is

    they’re = they are

    these must be interchangable in a sentence, otherwise it’s the version without the ‘.

    For example, you must say: “The children are terrorizing their parents.” Because it obviously makes no sense to say: “The children are terrorizing they are parents.”

    Another: “The dog is licking its ass.” Obviously wrong: “The dog is licking it is ass.”

  35. MTSzabo says:

    Not to mention: they’re. Or maybe here and hear. Are, our, and hour… ahhh homonyms… gotta love ‘em.

  36. Thad Hawkins says:

    Hey, I have an English Lit degree from Baylor University, and I have extensive knowledge with teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to French and Spanish students. I rarely find serious grammatical errors in your postings, and if you want to see how even native English speakers screw-up the it’s–its dichotomy, look at todays Dallas Morning News where a writer actually used it’s when he should have used its…”Mr. Fix It’s defense sacked”…. Which means Mr. Fix It is defense sacked…the quote refers to Wade Phillps (Mr Fix It) and the Dallas Cowboys’ defense

  37. Hanna Bouma says:

    I never knew the difference between them too, English is not my mother language as well.

    To Jim, this I do know: “there” is used to point to a place for example “I’ve been there.” but their is posessive for example “Their nationality.” It’s about the same thing as with “it’s”/”its”

    Hope to help!

    Hanna

  38. Qbee37 says:

    There’s a great ‘I Love Lucy’ where Ricky is having an incredibly hard time pronouncing
    cough, rough, bough, dough, and through

  39. Ice says:

    2Jim
    “there” is like here(closer) and there(farther)
    “their” is a possessive noun (their school, their stuff, etc)

  40. Alex says:

    Generally, any time there are two words, one with a ‘u’ and one without (favour/favor, honour/honor, for example), the one with the ‘u’ is the British English and the one without is the American English. Same as ‘meter’ and ‘liter’ are American whereas we Brits spell them ‘metre’ and ‘litre’. Another common difference is Americans often use a ‘z’ in place of an ‘s’ in the British spelling (eg organise/organize, recognise/recognize, realise/realize)

    Have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_spelling_differences if you’re really interested in all the differences

  41. Emily says:

    There is a placement term, like saying, “Put the book over there.” Their is possessive, as in, “That book is theirs.” As for they’re, another term commonly mixed up with there and their, they’re is a contraction of ‘they are’. “They’re putting their book over there.” Is basically similar, if not the same, as saying, “They are putting the book that belongs to them in that general area.”

  42. Bryan says:

    There and Their are easy. ‘There’ is similar to ‘Here’ which specifies a location, so ‘There’ is also referring to a location. ‘Their’ is usually possesive, ‘it is their choice’, but is also sometimes used as a desexed version of he or she.

    Wait until you try to work out the difference between Licence and License — that’s the one that gets me.

  43. Damian says:

    heh – and while you’re at it – They’re

    Love the site – thanks

  44. Aimi says:

    Hi ok as for color and colour go color is the american or USA’s way of spelling it while colour is canadian way i use colour for the reason that im canadian hope that helps you

    it’s is a contraction for it is so it’s a black pen or it’s an autobiography (witch i should finish writing right now)

  45. Ed says:

    “There” is a place, somewhere other than “here”.

    “Their” refers to something that some other people have, as in “It’s their baby,” or “Let’s go to their house.”

    Thank you for running this very interesting website.

  46. sam says:

    yea the people that say colour just try to sound fancy and more mature than others, its pointless. were all american here.

  47. kelsey says:

    Everyone is saying “british”, but its used elsewhere too. like, in Canada we spell it “colour”. so really American’s are the only ones who spells it without a ‘u’. same goes for other words. Ex: “savior” vs “saviour”. That American’s are just goofy that way :P

  48. Loza says:

    ‘there’ is used when you’re talking about a place, i.e. “My book is over there.”
    ‘their’ is a possessive pronoun – “My neighbours loved their lawn.”

  49. Andy says:

    Their is possesive and used to describe something that belongs to someone…
    It’s their ball so give it back!
    There relates to places….
    The ball is over there, or even
    Their ball is over there!
    and of course you also have they’re which is just shoert for they are, so
    They’re sad their ball is over there.

    PS Love the site too, visit every day! Thanks

  50. horusko says:

    there = “that place over there”

    their = “it was their choice to do that”

    they’re = contraction of they are = “so what do you think they’re upto?”

    As for UK AF and Government moving to AmerEnglish spellings – I doubt that this is a deliberate thing

  51. RandomGuy says:

    Ya, English is the language of rules that get made up on the spot. And then changed later.

    It’s very confusing, and even we native speakers have some bad grammar.

    Moslty just by the definitions of the schools who haven’t updated to the modern language where nobody says whom. I still don’t know the proper time to use that.

    And since everyone has already basically explained colour, I feel the need to add that we in Canada use colour, as well as the British.

  52. Ron Allen says:

    There is a location, such as “there, on the table”.

    Their refers to two or more people, “that’s their car”.

    Also, they’re is a contraction of they are, e.g. “they’re dancing very well”

    I apologize regularly to my son for the necessity of his learning English… in many ways it truly is an absurd language (even if it is my mother language… the American version, anyway).

  53. Jimboby says:

    color is american and colour is the canadian spelling. both are said the same way. if you try spell check you will see that it will correct colour to color. cheers!

  54. Suicidal 'Ling says:

    Jim, pronounce thier as the-ar and u wont mix them up! not using proper english right now… :D

  55. Tim says:

    English is a very confusing language. So confusing, in fact, that many native speakers do not know when to use “its” and when to use “it’s”. For good reason: in most cases, “‘s” at the end of a word generally implies a possessive sence to the noun preceeding the apostrophe, but that is not the case in this situation. When the noun is “it”, there is no apostrophe before the “s” to denote a possessive sense. The apostrophe is only used to indicate a contraction of the two word “it is”. I am not going to go into “there” and “their”, let alone “they’re”!

  56. crazyyboyy says:

    its is actually used all the time its the only word that dosn’t need an apostraphy at any time even though its a short hand for it is. The strange pronunciation comes from 2 things 1 the strange mix of languages that english is composed of (latin old french germanic norse briton(welsh/celtic)and some more) the 2nd is the fact the english dropped all the accents (eg è é ü æ Þ. As for the illusion its a very good effect though I’m sure I’ve seen it before

  57. Andreas says:

    @jim

    their is the 3.p.plural of “something they own”

    there is -for example- when you tell somebody that something is in another place or just not here

  58. Virgil says:

    The good old English language eh? Only last week did our youngest daughter ask why ‘minute’ has two meanings!

  59. Dave says:

    Just to throw you a few new curves in English, try these:

    Raise, raze, rays, Ray’s. Raise & raze have exact opposite meanings.

    Now in English we also have three (to, too, two)’s and three (for, fore, four)’s, but we only use the to and for sounds once when we speak the above sentence.

    There are many other crazy usages of words in English.

  60. StenC says:

    For the meaning of words, the besst site I have found is:
    http://www.etymonline.com/

    The eye will judge the thickness of the appearant line and the brain will think the line length will match the line thickness.

  61. hamster says:

    color is the american was of spelling colour. if you are leaarning english i sugest using colour and spelling it the RIGHT way.

  62. Les says:

    @ Alan P-J

    You say that the British Govt is changing its spelling of “colour” to the lazy American way . . . well, that will be over my dead body! It is our language so maybe they might be better off trying to persuade the Americans to spell and pronounce English language words correctly. What really bugs me about the ‘net is that, in the majority of cases where you need to choose a language, you are only given the choice of American English! What happened to good old ENGLISH English!

  63. Joanna says:

    There’s also “your” (which is possessive) and “you’re” (which is a contraction, like “it’s”). I love that people are interested in grammar and spelling.

    And yes, those lines in the illusion look to me as though they’re (not “their” or “there”) different lengths, even though they’re not.

  64. Saami says:

    The colour/color difference is spanned across the Atlantic, however, within English there is even more fun to be had, per se:

    Bow (noun) – length of fabric/string tied leaving two loops showing.

    Bow (verb) – to bend at the waist, to curtsey.

    Bough ((noun) – pronounced like the word meaning curtsey)) – limb of a tree

    Rough (noun) – Pronounced ‘ruff’)) – coarse, harsh, not smooth

    Ruff (archaic, noun) – that neckwear seen being worn around the time if Shakespeare, in modern terms using the word ‘ruffles’ conveys a similar meaning. for ‘ruffles’ see the front of some evening wear for men.

    Tuff (noun) – a type of igneous rock.

    Tough ((noun) – pronounced ‘tuff’)) – hardy, able to cope under stressfule situations, strong.

    English, a great language, and one day those that invented it will understand it fully, currently those that do use it have very little care for it.

  65. Vassilis says:

    As a Greek guy living in England, I had to learn many differences between the American and the British ways of spelling and pronouncing things.

    As everyone else says, “colour” is the British spelling. In non-USA and non-British countries, the difference has been dilluted.

    Contrary to AlanP-J, the British spelling is very strongly enforced in England by the british people themselves. There is no central control of the language. In contrast to the French Academie, who create the French language rules, the british-english language evolves by the people and eventualy becomes the norm. There are no central plans to move over to the American spelling.

    It is in fact such linguistic differences that enforce the sence of “belonging” to a different group. As Paul Merton, the actor and comedian, said once about language, [paraphrase] “people in one village share a very strong dislike of the people in the other village down the road, just because they all talk funny over there”. Don’t read too much into it, other than, groups of people need differences in language and expressions so they can have an identity.

    See:
    “theatre”[uk] vs “theater”[us]
    “centre”[uk] vs “center”[uk]

    Quiz: How many different spellings of the letters “ough” can you think, when these occur in words?

    Hint:
    - Though
    - Through
    - Tough
    - Slough [town in Berkshire]

  66. Saami says:

    Apologies, the word ‘tough’ is an adjective and there is no extraneous “e” at the end of ‘stressful’.

  67. Jenni says:

    this is a great illusion!
    Its is for belonging to it, it’s is for it is
    Colour and color, like a few other words, are spelt differently in England and America, and sometimes they have different words for the same thing: like Pavement and Sidewalk

  68. serZ says:

    Going offtop I see.))

    I believe “there” is the opposite of “here”
    (Eiffel tower is in Paris, let’s go THERE.) and “their” means “belongs to them”.
    (It’s not my but their problem.)

  69. Josh says:

    You Americans just stole our English language and removed all the ‘u’s, and not to mention changed all the ‘s’s to ‘z’s! (and that’s a zed, not a zee)
    :(

  70. JW says:

    Their is related to its,:

    My (belongs to me),
    Your (belongs to you),
    His/Hers/Its (belongs to him/her/it),
    Our (belongs to us),
    Your (belongs to you plural),
    Their (belongs to them)

    There is a place.
    It’s is a contraction of it is.

  71. mark says:

    On color and colour, as others have said the difference in spelling and country of origin. There are quite a few of these things out there. Labor and labour, favor and favour, some more common than others. Another similar class of words are theater and theatre, center and centre. In all of these the US spelling precedes the UK spelling. Generally speaking -or and -er = US. -our and -re = UK.

  72. cecilia says:

    Glad to know you have the same difficulties as I do. It is not easy for a non-English native understand such “small” differences. Like you, I do my best to practice and have a perfect written English. I love your site and I love you as well. Since many people have already explained your doubts, I have nothing else to say… :)

  73. Kurt says:

    There is such as a place and their is a person.

    There you are
    It’s over there.

    It’s their object.
    They went to their house.

  74. Greg Elfers says:

    Color is the American spelling, colour is used by the rest of the countries which were once part of the British empire.

    This is actually because of the American war for independence. Noah Webster (who served in the Connecticut Militia during the revolutionary war) when he decided to write a dictionary for Americans wanted to differentiate American English from British English. He felt that the British spelling was overly complex and so he made a number of changes to his “An American Dictionary of the English Language” (Now known as “The Webster’s Dictionary”)

    Colour became Color,
    Theatre became Theater
    Labelled became Labeled
    etc.

    If you want a more exhaustive list you can just Google “American spellings” there are a number of web pages on the different spellings.

  75. Bill says:

    There can indicate a statement of fact, or indicate the existence of an object: There is a hole in my shoe. There can indicate location: The book is there, by the lamp. Their is possessive: That is their house.

    There can be no doubt that English is a crazy language. It can drive non-native speakers out of their minds. :)

  76. Laurie Jo says:

    Another example of American vs. UK is theater and theatre. Basically, Americans have changed words, like dropping the e in the middle of judgement.

    Jim, their is the possessive.

  77. Matt says:

    there – refers to a place (over there, under there etc.)
    their – refers to a group of people (look at their hair etc)
    they’re is short for they are (they’re being silly)

  78. CJ says:

    there is as in ‘my car is over there’
    their is as in ‘that is their car’.
    Their is a plural possessive, and there refers to directions. Hope that helps!

  79. Elehas says:

    Their is possessive (pronoun),
    “I don’t know their names”
    “I wonder if this is their cat?”

    There is an adverb (modifies a noun, adjective or other adverbs)
    “Let’s go over there”
    “There will be a fight tonight”

  80. Marg says:

    As submitted by other people, colour is the British English version of the word. With one small addition; some of the past and present British Colonies use this spelling. Canadians, for example, use the word “colour” as well as the word “grey” in place of “gray” which is used in the US. As well, by pronouncing the letter “z” as “zed” instead of “zee” as the US does. ….English truly is one of the hardest languages to learn.

  81. ANONIMOUS says:

    Simple: the word COLOUR is the british spelling and the word COLOR is the american spelling

  82. ANONIMOUS says:

    responce to alan P-J’s post: the goverment is definitely not starting to spell colour without the U.

  83. Sarge says:

    Jim,

    There = over there, a place.
    Their = their house, ownership

    Hope that helps

  84. DavidTheWise says:

    The exact reverse of this effect works too (different leghts of lines will appear equal once curved) the link below provides more explication
    http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/sze_sineIllusion/index.html

  85. Aliyns says:

    Color = American English.

    Colour = British English / The Queens Language.

  86. Dave says:

    When people moved over to the US years ago to populate it, most of the people who went were after a new life and had little or no education…spelling wasn’t their forte and that is why there are missing letters in English words like colour, neighbour, etc and replaced S with Z and also swapped letters ER RE

  87. crazyyboyy says:

    if you want to learn the ENGLISH language learn ENGLISH not AMERICAN if you want to learn the AMERICAN language learn that their pretty much totally different and the ENGLISH language is the better 1 by far if you want a challange live in liverpool n learn SCOUSE (its ment too be an ENGLISH accent but it sounds like a totally different language :))

  88. crazyyboyy says:

    oh another point i noticed about the changing to american from chemistry the element sulphur is now getting spelt the american sulfur on english exam papers why cant the english stay ENGLISH for goodness sake its not like our prime minister already follows the american president blindly into every thing why not change the united kingdom of great britain and northen ireland into the united kingdom of america sorry bad subject 4 me

  89. Jonathan says:

    I believe that some influential Americans had a bash at simplify the spelling of various words in the latter part of the nineteenth century and ‘color’ was one of their more successful targets. Simply ghastly :)

    Google “american spelling reform” for further info.

  90. joe says:

    color is American english, colour English english

  91. Jessi says:

    American English (spelling/pronunciation) is a cultural thing, and I’m glad that Greg Elfers commented with the info about Webster-it really explains the American approach to the English language.

    What’s great about MO Illusions is that our friendly Illusion Master is conscious of the influx of new visitors to the site from the UK, and he is doing his best to make sure that the language (spelling/grammar) he uses is understandable to all-especially remarkable since English is not his ‘mother’ tongue.

    I’ve been a fan of this site for a long time, and a lot of it has to do with the great images and stories provided, not necessarily the grammar aspect involved in the writing. Thanks for such a great site!

  92. Victoria says:

    Colour = Canadian / British spelling
    Color = American spelling.

    Same word, same meaning. The two different countries spell things differently alot.

  93. Morgan says:

    color is American English
    Colour is ‘the Queens’ English

  94. Ms.Observant says:

    colour is how the german english ppl do it. and others whom im not sure of. same for neighbour, labour, and favourite. I take the ‘u’s out of it all.

  95. Ms.Observant says:

    not a very good illusion considering i knew they all were straight. I see ur havin trouble with homophones and homographs. words spelt the smae but meen diffrent and words that sound the same but meen different.

    They’re = They are.
    Their = defines owner ship of a group of people.
    There = a place.

    Read = pron. reed. means like ‘as i read this’
    Read = (pron. red) Past tense of that that is pron. reed.

    Lead = To guide something. (pron. leed)
    Lead = That stuff in your pencil that is down right deadly if consumed. (pron. led)

    I have problems with its and it’s also. I believe its the only noun needing to define ownership whereas you put an apostrophe at the end yet it’d be wrong.

    It’s = it is
    Its = defines ownership of a thing.

    There are many nouns that can be used as a verb such as ‘guide’

    Guide = Someone that leads you.
    Guide = Something you read that leads you.
    Guide = A verb telling someone to lead you.

    Now I hope this helps.

  96. Ms.Observant says:

    Yeah theater is supposed to be theatre. and ill have you know we didnt drope the e in judgement.

    Ill = sickened.
    I’ll = I will

  97. joel says:

    They’re there with their stuff, and those two are to go there too. :)

  98. Shayna says:

    Color and colour are the same thing except in Canadian (I think British aswell) english we spell “colour” and in the USA they spell “color”. They are pronounced EXACTLY the same ^_^

  99. Meisha says:

    Color= american spelling

    Colour= British spelling

    Like

    grey= british spelling

    gray= american spelling

    There are also some words like theater that are spelt differently but still are the exact same thing and still spelt correctly

    Theater or theatre

  100. Meisha says:

    and there their and they’re are all the same too.

    The to problem:

    Too can be used instead of as well or also.

    Two is the number

    to is pretty much the basic form when you don’t need anything special for ‘to’.

  101. Victoria says:

    The difference is that colour is mainly seen used
    in Britain or something.And color is mainly seen used in USA(im not so intelligent on this stuff :|).I love ur site.The illusions can be hard lol.

  102. Paul Jones says:

    Re: Color and Colour. Color is american, colour is British. Same goes for quite a few other words with …or vs. our. American spelling drops a lot of extra letters, which are retained by the Brits. Also, the Brits spell many words, such as theater, with the e and r reversed, thus theatre.

    A good deal of native English speakers don’t know the different between its and it’s. So, give yourself a break.

  103. Michael says:

    color / colour is simply a difference in dialect. Many words are spelled differently in the US when compared to their Irish or UK forms.

    I also speak Spanish and a similar thing occurs with that language — words change spelling from one country to another (primarily just a change in accented syllables but a spelling change none-the-less) and one particular word comes to mind as meaning “bug” in one country, “thing” in another, and being quite profane in a third.

  104. Doerte says:

    Hey,

    the difference between color and colour is the country. British use the ou in a couple of words, where Americans just use the o.

    Hope it helps.

  105. thehpdrifter says:

    Color is the American spelling and colour is the British spelling. We do the same thing with rumor & rumour as well as other similarly spelled words.

    As I have said before in your blog, “English is the language that makes the least sense.” I don’t understand why it is prevalent. It is an ugly language. It is difficult to learn, cumbersome, there are a lot of rules and twice as many exceptions to every rule.

    I think it is impressive that you speak it as well as you do.

    • BA in English says:

      English is a BEAUTIFUL language. Being difficult doesn’t make a language “ugly”. Take Chinese for example. The sheer volume of characters possible for writing anything in Chinese is so daunting that virtually no Chinese native knows all of them much less a non-native, but I would NEVER say that Chinese is ugly. In fact, I personally find that complexity is what makes a language MORE beautiful. Sure, English is difficult, but there are millions of ways to say just about anything! You have to admit, English isn’t boring!

  106. jane says:

    Color is the American spelling; colour is English (as in the United Kingdom)
    The same goes for neighbor/neighbour; flavor/flavour; favor/favour and many other words.

  107. Eddo says:

    There are a fair few words that are just completely different for Americans and Brits as well.

    Faucet and Tap
    Drapes and Curtains
    Truck and Lorry
    Elevator and Lift
    Sidewalk and Pavement
    Candy and Sweets

    I can’t think of any more right now, but there are quite a few little oddities like that.

    • A Snail says:

      Brits?? Seriously?

    • Caz says:

      Colour = British/rest of world spelling
      Color = American spelling

      It’s very confusing, you can even get an English to American English dictionary now, it’s nuts! lol And before the Americans start ranting, I am not anti-American, just find you confusing! :-)

      Oh, and for the person who said Mother is ‘Mum’ not ‘Mom’, well I’m Welsh so here it’s ‘Mam’!

      English is my first language and still feel I haven’t mastered it yet so well done!

  108. Theresa Moss-Currier says:

    Just want you to know that the grammar issues are not a problem for me. I have seen posts regarding this matter, but I don’t care. I understand that you want to understand English grammar for yourself, and I totally support that. But as far as it’s affect on how I view your web site…dosen’t bother me. I just enjoy your site. :)

  109. Detective Kitty says:

    I love this illusion it’s very effective. And judging by the comments I don’t really have to explain the difference between color and colour. I’d just want to add that us candians follow the british… That’s all…and this situation also occurs in the words flavour and flavor, neighbour and neighbor, rumour and rumor, labor and labour, honor and honour…the most funny thing is that until you brought this up…I didnt realize about the other words…so now I know why certain words look funny in american books. Anywho back to the illusion. It’s quite fascinating I would have never guessed they were the same… it’s probably because of the elevation that makesyou see tem lines as bigger.

  110. Magilicious says:

    omg lol what IS the difference between its and i’ts… i feel silly now!

  111. Chris says:

    You think that’s confusing. I can think of certain words that are only spoken in certain states here in the US. For example here in WI instead of drinking fountain we say bubbler.

  112. Syed says:

    I noticed something about this illusion – well, i dont know if that is what you were showing as part of the illusion, or if i had just luckily spotted it. You mentioned that the illusion was that the lines were the same length. I noticed that this illusion, if you looked at it closely, concentrating on the lines on the left side, it looks as though the image is closer than the lines on the right – almost like a fence. If you then look at the lines on the right, it looks as though the line is like a bridge, as the lines go ‘over’ and curve under!

  113. Mr Average says:

    Agreed, you make yourself perfectly understood as far as I’m concerned, vurdlak. I understand though, English is a confounding language. Cough, rough, bough, through, etc…

    The most important difference in vocabulary between US and UK is that what we call beer in the US, they call lager.

    Oh, and nice illusion, very simple and subtle.

  114. matty says:

    colour is canadian also.

  115. Nixie says:

    Also in Australia/Britain we use an ‘s’ rather than a ‘z’ in words such as ‘organisation’.

  116. Anonymous 59226 says:

    Actually, Meisha is wrong about “there,” “their” and “they’re.”

    “They’re” means “they are.” EXAMPLE: They’re outside.

    “There” refers to a place. EXAMPLE: The books are here (in a place close to me) and the pencils are there (far away).

    “Their” means that it belongs to ‘them’. EXAMPLE: It’s their bike, not yours or mine.

    So, if I said “They’re over there, but their stuff isn’t there.” it would be like saying “They are in that are farther away, but the stuff that belongs to them is not in that place.” ^-^

    Nice illusion, by the way.

  117. Ashe says:

    color is american and colour is british
    my island was british but is now dependent so we use colour instead of color eg.
    labour/labor

  118. Charlotte says:

    I also enjoy your site regardless of little grammar issues :-) You speak/write in English just as well as many people who were born in the states. English grammar can be such a pain in the butt that lots of people born and raised here don’t totally get it. I, for example, passed all my Spanish classes in high school and college with A’s, but nearly flunked English grammar every time!

  119. iloveillusions says:

    colour is British for color….English/American would be color…
    soo…
    American:color
    British:colour
    sooooo…..yeah

  120. It’s and its, read or read… yeah messed up… but what about the “had had” situation… Like for example. Bob had had that before.

  121. Fernando Motta says:

    It´s more difficult to speak Portuguese than English. I´m brazilian and I´m very sure about it!

  122. i agree with Fernando Motta :F

  123. nathanale says:

    to answer your grammer question, i’m no einstine, but i’m pretty sure that colour is the original way to spell that, color is the commercalised version, which came about right around when crayola crayons were invented, so, i guess you can use it either way.

  124. nathanale says:

    but you don’t need to worry about that, mozt ppl talk liek ths when dere on de internet, confusing yes, but you get used to it

  125. nick says:

    Hey th answer to your colour, color question is simple. There is an American way and a Canadian way of spelling it. colour is canadian and color is americam. I’m unaware of how Europeans spell it but thats the reason for two spellings.

  126. “Color,” is the Canadian version of the American word, “Colour.” Also, “It’s” is used in example, It Is. While “Its” is used in example: They made Its gun barrel. (Facination with guns in progress! Oh no!)

  127. What's My Name? says:

    Listen, I don’t mean to be a troll, and I sincerely hope I’m not, but it seems to me that 20 or so people are reapeating eachother,wether they’re correct or not, and even I’m starting to get confused. Bottom line, Vurdlak, you’re English is better than most on this site. What you already know is more than sufficient, as most on the internet speak in made up tongues as it is, as Nathanale said. Keep practicing what you already know, and the rest will come to you. English is a messed up language, as we borrow words and phrases from nearly every other culture, and most of the time, even we Americans mess it up. Ask more as need be, but in the meantime, keep up the good work on the site. And get us more good illusions!

  128. --..--. says:

    I know it was a while ago, but Paul Jones tried to tell you that or and our are the same word and they are most definitely not. Our is a possessive word and is in 1st person plural (which means it goes with words like we and us). Or is a conjunction representing a choice, or multiple outcomes. For example when you serving you cake, a waiter might say “Would you like the vanilla cake, or the chocolate?” or he might say “Would you like to try our chocolate cake?” very different words.

    I know you’ve already been told a million times about color/colour but I’ll tell you a few of the words that are spelt differently:
    gray/grey
    traveled/travelled
    neighbor/neighbour
    flavor/flavour

    The spellings on the left are american, but the ones on the right are used by all other english-speaking countries (eg. I’m canadian and I use them)

  129. American English: Color.
    British English: Colour.
    You can also check the dictionary. AmE is American English, btw.

  130. Binks says:

    If you want to speak/write English then it’s best to stick to the English rules while learning (there are less exceptions to the rules). American-English is a variant of the English language and therefore means that it gets a LOT of the spelling and pronunciation rules WRONG. Americans tend to disagree with this but the English language and how words are spelled follow certain rules. These rules are ignored when you see an American ‘version’ of those words.
    Believe me – it’s just as frustrating to see these varients all over the place when English is your first language. I believe it’s only made harder to learn English because of the American varients. I’m sorry my American friends but there genuinely was a reason colour was spelt with a ‘u’ and it was because of the rules of pronunciation in place at the time spelling was set as a standard. These rules are apparently not taught in schools these days which I think is sad. Then again the rules have changed because of advertising language and ‘nu-speak’ such as text messaging. The language is being garbled. Almost as soon as the spelling rules were set they were garbled again. Very sad. The city I currently live in in England is full of natives who don’t follow the rules of their own mother tongue so don’t worry about getting too much wrong. I speak English pretty well but I had a hell of a time understanding the people born-and-bred here for the first few years that I was here.

    • BA in English says:

      Hm. My History of the English Language professor (and all of my English professors, frankly) would disagree with you. The “rules” didn’t exist in ANY English speaking country until the press (newspapers) and schools started to try to standardize the language to make it easier to disseminate news and communicate. Look at manuscripts and correspondence from before the press and schools started standardizing and you will see that there were no hard and fast “rules” for spelling, grammar, punctuation or anything else. Frankly, this let’s-hate-all-things-American kick many of you who live outside America are on is getting old. America isn’t perfect, but NEITHER ARE YOU. Just remember, my country is still relatively young and we are already trying to correct our faults – your countries have had MELLINNIA of faults to our couple of centuries and have only just begun to correct your faults (remember WHY America started in the first place – Europe wasn’t exactly the land of saints – The Inquisition anyone?). Mote and beam, my friend. Our mote, your beam.

  131. Michael says:

    I am totally with you Blinks. Umm don’t worry about how America butchered the English language, go by British/ the way the rest of the WORLD writes it. And oh, Mother is spelt “Mum”, not “Mom”. Well done on learning “it’s” and “its”, it frustrates me when people whose first language is English still get it wrong. And when you want to say there was many of something, it is “a lot” not “alot”.
    Glad you are trying to improve because all of us could probably do with getting better at English

    • BA in English says:

      Michael, please see my reply to Blinks. America haters are not cool. It’s sad to see so many people (even Americans) jumping on the blame-America-first bandwagon. Everything American isn’t bad, nor are Americans to blame for all the world’s problems – those problems existed long before my country came into being and will, I suspect, exist long after all of us and you as well are dead and gone. I appreciate the good things that other countries bring to the world, but I also get really tired of seeing my country trashed day in and day out by people who clearly don’t know any typical, average Americans (and most average Americans can’t afford to travel abroad – I know I can’t – so unless you’ve traveled to America, you certainly wouldn’t have met ME). The vast majority of us are good people. We are generous, garrulous, friendly, compassionate and yes, we love our country. We would also love your countries more if you would cut us some slack and realize that NO ONE likes to be bullied and attacked, even subtly. Remember that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” meaning if you are mean to us, how can you expect us to be nice to you? Don’t you know that you “catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”? So please play nice and remember, those early Americans, the ones we Americans call our Founding Fathers, were BRITISH. So, really, please explain how the language we spoke BEFORE we were American is suddenly “different” than the language we speak now??? How is “American” English “wrong”? We didn’t start speaking English after we formed America – we were ALREADY SPEAKING IT. Oh, and even in England, not everyone says “Mum”. Some say “Ma” and “Mama” – and in the South, we call our mothers “Mama” just like our ancestors did when they were still British subjects. My ancestors came from the British isles and it is their language I speak – ENGLISH. The spelling you can blame on media and academia who weren’t ALL Americans. Oh, and the rest of the “WORLD” aren’t native speakers of English. The native speakers are England, America, Canada, Australia, etc – in that order. (Canada officially became The Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867 and Australia wasn’t officially a nation until 1901 which puts them AFTER America, so really don’t you think America has seniority on the spelling/ grammar issue second only to England and since my ancestors kicked their butts… ? :P LOL). People who don’t speak English as their first language should refrain from telling native speakers which version is “better” or “right” because – well, it’s just rude. It’s okay to have an opinion, but don’t be so adamant about it. Sorry for the rant, but I love my language and my country and somebody has to speak up for them in this increasingly hostile world! I hope you and Blinks and everyone else here have a nice day and I truly hope you meet some of us nice Americans so your view of us will cease to be distorted. I’ve met plenty of nice foreigners (and a fair few not-so-nice ones) so I don’t automatically assume you are “mean” when you insult Americans. Since I can’t hear your tone of voice when you type I will give you the benefit of the doubt and suppose that you may only be teasing, but caution that if you aren’t teasing, please remember that the people you are insulting have hearts and minds and spirits just like you and deserve to be treated with the same respect and dignity you want for yourself. We also have the right to speak and write OUR language the way WE see fit. England may be the birthplace of English, but aren’t the sons heirs of their father? Isn’t the son of a man whose last name is, say, Smith as much a Smith as his father?

  132. Jess says:

    color and coulor mean the same thing, just coulor is british and color in american

  133. Shriya says:

    Color- american english

    colour- british english

    It’s- it is (in short form)

  134. Mrs. Meyer says:

    The difference between “it’s” and “its” is that “it’s” is the short form of “IT IS”(third person singular of the verb ‘to be’-he is, she is, it is- and “its” is a possessive pronoun like: MINE, YOURS, HIS, HERS, THEIRS.

    I would also like to say that I am not a native English speaker but I do teach English as a foreign language. I also do not agree with English being a ‘hard’ language to learn-so not true- there are many other languages that you cannot understand because they have very few grammar rules (take German for example). At least English has rules and exception…

  135. Dan says:

    “Colour” is used by quaint folks of little significance on a little island north east of France. “Color” is used by the crazy people who dominate geopolitics.

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