We are all concerned about using the right choice of words each day. However, while the intention is great, the execution is not always easy. This is thanks to the wide range of similar and confusing words in the English language. So, “gray” or “grey?” Which is the correct one to use in a sentence. These like many others is a topic of interest.
“Gray” is a word that depicts a color. This color is popular and it is what you obtain from a mix between white and black. Typically, the spelling “gray” is popular within American English. In contrast, “grey” is also a color, however, it is used in British English.
However, these words are not only limited to colors. Instead, they extend to other specialized terms like animal species. They even extend to scientific terms with some relevant exceptions. We bet you are wondering what this is all about. Well, one thing is clear; you need to dive deeper to grasp the usage of both words fully. So, let us do that.
When to and How to Properly Use the Word “Gray”
First, we will look into how to use the first word, “gray” properly. However, as you can guess, we need to have a thorough understanding of its meaning before making any real attempt to understand its usage. So, what does the word “gray” mean?
The word typically concerns a color. And like with the most color, they are better seen than explained with words. Regardless, this color is generally regarded as being between white and black in appearance.
Now, this word can function as both an adjective and a verb. It functions as an adjective in cases where you want to describe something as having a color. In turn, this word qualifies an object or subject, describing its color. For instance, when you claim that a house is gray. Let us see some examples of how you can use the word as an adjective within a sentence.
- One thing that stood out about the ancient structure was its gray appearance. It provided an ambiance that was not only comforting but was as well inspiring.
- Do you want a gray cloth to fit your white shoes? I think it will turn out to be such a great combination eventually.
- You should buy a gray jogger instead of a white one; they are easier to maintain, really.
Also, this word can function as a verb. In this case, you use it to describe the change in color of an object into gray. For instance, when you claim that someone’s hair has turned gray. This is quite a common usage of the word. Let us also see some examples of how they get used within a sentence.
- We found that Paul’s hair began to gray even before he approached the age of 50.
- I could gray my hair if I had a sample of how It would turn out like; I do not want to take any risk with my hair.
Now, when do you use this word in a sentence? And, of course, how do you tell that you are properly using the words? Well, the reality is that you can use the word “gray” when you are trying to convey any of the meanings above.
So, yes, you can use it when you want to qualify something as having a particular color. You can also use it when you are trying to describe something changing to the color “gray.” All you will just need to keep in mind is that this variety is more popular when writing in American English.
So, to properly use the word, you need to make sure that you are also writing in American English. This will help you stay in line and maintain the correct usage of the word.
When to and How to Properly Use the Word “Grey”
Now that we have covered when and how to properly use “gray,” let us move on to the next item on the list. And that is thoroughly understanding how and when to use the word “grey.” As you would have expected, we will dive into the meaning of the word first. This is to ensure that you have a solid and sound understanding of the word.
So, what does “grey” mean? Is it different from the word “gray?”
Generally, “grey” conveys the same meaning as the word “gray.” In turn, it refers to a color that stands between white and black. Like we rightly stated above, and just like other colors, this color is best seen rather than explained verbally or in writing.
Regardless, what we can do is explain its function when used. Now, just like the word “gray,” this word can take two grammatical functions. It can function to qualify an item or object and act as the adjective in a sentence. On the other hand, it can also act as an action word in a sentence, thus functioning as a verb.
So, just like we stated above, when we say something is “grey,” we use the word in its state as an adjective. Then, when we say something “grey,” we are using it as a verb. Now that we have clarified the meaning of the word, let us check out some examples of the word’s usage within a sentence.
- I plan to get a grey car for myself before the end of the year. I have been saving for a while, and I think I can finally afford it.
- There should be no complaint about the use of grey paint since the client asked for it herself even after advising her against it.
- Have you considered that you could grey your hair since you find it attractive?
- I plan to grey my hair and some other things soon enough; it is quite attractive.
However, there is still the question of how to use the word properly. Well, we have also got that covered, and here is what you need to know or keep in mind. When it comes to using the variety “grey,” it is best used when you are writing in the English language.
This is because this variety is popular in British English. So, while you use the variety “gray” when writing in American English, you will use the variety “grey” when writing in British English.
So, while both words mean the same thing, you will need to be careful about their usage based on your geography. So, as a British English speaker, you will need to use the word “grey” and then for the American English speaker, the word “gray.”
Understanding the Difference Between Both Words
Now, it is clear that the major distinction between both words is not in their meaning. Instead, the distinction that exists comes in the English language, where it is preferred. Still, it is important to note that there are some cases where both words are not interchangeable.
Precisely, there are cases when you need to use the “gray” variety even when you are writing in British English. Similarly, there are also cases where you will need to use the “grey” variety even when you are writing in American English. So, when do these cases arise?
First is with the use of the word “Greyhound.” This is a dog breed that is quite common. In turn, you will find both American and British English speakers trying to reference it. However, regardless of the English language, one thing you must know is that it is always “Greyhound.” So, it would be best if you never replaced the “e” with an “a” even when writing in American English.
There is also the word “Grayling.” It is a popular fish species. In this instance, it comes with the “a” variety that remains preferred under American English. In turn, if you are writing British English, you might just be tempted to change it to “e” to reflect the preference we discussed above.
Well, that would be wrong. This is because the word retains its form as grayling regardless of the English language where it falls. So, avoid trying to change it.
There are also other cases where the words are not interchangeable when you change your English language choice. One of such cases occurs when writing people’s last names. In this case, regardless of English change, it retains its original form.
This is also the same with all proper nouns. You cannot change them. Yes, Gray, which refers to the food irradiation unit, also stays as “Gray.” It never gets changed by introducing the letter “e.”
Various cases of confusion arise when it comes to the use of English words. Luckily, in most cases, we can avoid them through the right information. Well, that is what we have tried to do with this article.
We have provided a comprehensive clarification on the use of “gray” and “grey.” This way, you can enjoy ease and clarity when using both words. So, make sure of that by paying attention to all we have said.
Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He’s one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don’t even want to know what he calls pancakes.