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There are many nuances and variations in spelling that can cause confusion, even among native English speakers. One such example is the spelling of the color grey/gray.

Depending on where you are in the world, you may see this color spelled as “grey” or “gray.” While both of them are considered correct, you should know a few things regarding their usage.

So let’s clear up the gray vs. grey confusion.

“Grey” or “gray”: Is there a difference?

Many people wonder whether they should write “grey” or “gray” and whether there’s any difference between them. The short answer is no. Both spellings refer to the same color, which we all know how it looks like.

However, there are some differences in usage and connotation depending on the location and context. In general, “grey” is most commonly used by people in the UK, while “gray” is mostly used in the US.

This means that both of these sentences are correct:

I want to paint my room grey. (BE)
I want to paint my room gray. (AE)

Gray vs. Grey When Used as Other Parts of Speech

Generally, we use “grey” or “gray” to refer to the specific color, in which case it acts as an adjective or noun. When used as an adjective, it describes that something is colored grey or gray, and we use it next to a noun, regardless of the spelling.

My grandma has gray/grey hair.
My kid loves grey/gray teddy bears.

In both sentences, the adjective gray or grey describes the color of the nouns hair and teddy bears.

When used as a noun, it refers to a specific color, and once again, both spellings are correct.

My favorite color is gray/grey.

But you can also use this term as a verb. In that case, it means to make something become grey or to become grey oneself. Again, you can use either spelling.

The winter weather has greyed/grayed the skies
His hair has started to grey/gray with age.
In a nutshell, the gray or grey spelling doesn’t change depending on the part of speech used. Instead, it depends on your personal preference.


So far, you’ve probably realized that you can use either form of spelling without causing confusion or misunderstanding. However, there are some cases where one spelling may be preferred or required over the other.

One such case is when using proper nouns or names that are spelled with a specific spelling. For example, the bus company called “Greyhound” located in the United States, is always spelled with an “e,” while “Earl Grey” tea is spelled with an “a.”

And you certainly can’t change someone’s last name if it’s Grey or Gray.

Other examples are the dog breed called “greyhound” or the species of fish called “grayling.” Spelling them “grayhound” and “grayling” would simply be incorrect.

Want to check yourself?
Answer these 6 questions and see if you understand the difference!

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