UK english

Copper Contributor

I bought MS Word yesterday (Office) I've a LAPTOP. I've set it to UK English, but it still wants to change my 'leant' into 'leaned', my 'focussed' into 'focused', my 'backwards and forwards' into 'backward and forward' etc. What am I supposed to do? Also, in the UK, we don't use Oxford commas much, like the USA, but MS Word keeps highlighting the lack of commas. Thanks.

18 Replies


You need to set the region/language in Windows to English-UK.

For more, see Spelling Checker Does Not Work! - Proofing Language Keeps Changing - Solutions 


Check your grammar settings under File > Options > Proofing.

Thanks for that. I checked and the oxford comma box isn't even ticked but the absent oxford is highlighted as missing on my documents. Also, my language settings are UK or British English.  @Charles_Kenyon 

Also, some UK English is okay, like road 'kerb' instead of road 'curb' (Us english).


  • The Word UK dictionary does allow some Americanized versions of Words.
  • The language setting of the operating system can override Word settings.
  • The language setting is by character, not word, sentence, paragraph, document, or application!
  • Changing settings will not change the setting for existing documents.

See the link I gave earlier for more. There is much more. This is ridiculously complex.

Thanks. I tried your link 'Spelling checker does not work'. I don't have a status bar at the bottom of my screen and on the top where it says 'File', 'Home', 'insert' etc., there's no 'tools' or 'language'. So I couldn't get far with that. If I type 'Language' in the 'search' bar, it says I'm on UK English.
Thanks for the help btw – much appreciated.
To add to the above – it probably goes without saying that I'm concerned that I'll write something in American English by mistake and MS Word won't highlight it.
Are you on a Windows system?
Does your Ribbon have a Mailings tab? If not, you are using the (inferior) browser program named Word.

I'm using Windows 11. My ribbon does have a mailings tab, between 'references' and 'review'. It cost £59.99 from the Microsoft website..


On the Review tab look at the Language button in the Language group.

I just did. There wasn't a 'language group'. When I clicked on 'review' I had a 'Translate' and 'Language' option. Clicked on 'language' and then I had two options. 'set proofing language' and 'language preferences' – both are already set to UK English.
Proofing language is NOT a document setting. It is potentially set for each character in a Word document. Select All in a document and apply the proofing language. A different proofing language can be introduced with pasted text as well.

You also need to set the region language setting in Windows.
I 'selected all' then confirmed UK proofing language (it was already set for UK).
My region language settings in Windows 11 says:
Windows display language...English (UK)
Then English (USA)
Then English (UK)
When I click on The second 'English (UK)' nothing happens. I go back to the document and I've got '...any more..." blue underlined. (In the USA it's sometimes 'anymore' but always in the UK – any more.



Just a note on terminology: On the ribbon, Word commands are put into groups. These have captions that are shown by default (in Word for Windows at least). This allows us to talk about the Language group which is the area on the Review tab that includes commands for Translate and Language. 





If the Word window is small (because it is collapsed or because your screen is small), Word may collapse one or more groups which turns them into drop down menus instead. Below, I have expanded the Language group and its commands: 








Maybe the issue here is that UK English is more likely to accept spelling alternatives (I am not sure). Of course, allowing for spelling alternatives is not going to be helpful for anyone who wants to ensure consistency. 


As Charles said, language formatting is unnecessarily complex in Word—or at least it isn't fully transparent. 


To verify that the language is correct in the document, select a small portion of text, such as a single word, and then visit the Language dialog box (Review tab > Language group > Language > Set Proofing Language). Repeat this with other words in the document. 




This is necessary because Word may not correctly display the language if you select a large portion, such as the whole document.


However, it is possible to re-apply the correct language to a large selection, such as a whole document. That is why re-applying UK English should work (and that is why Charles suggested doing this). In such an instance, you just use OK in the Language dialog box (do not choose Set as Default because you are not changing the default). 

Thanks. If you look at my reply on July 3rd, 10:28, you'll see I've already gone to the language 'group' (where it says 'translate' and 'language'). I clicked on 'Language' then clicked on 'set proofing language' and it's already set to UK English. Okay, so I opened a word document with 'any more' in it, highlighted 'any more' and then clicked on set proofing language again. UK English was still selected, then I clicked 'OK' and nothing happened – 'any more' still underlined.



Thanks for the update. It wasn't clear (to me, at least) that you verified the language for a smaller selection, which will be the only way to get an accurate report from Word about the language which has been applied to text. 


As I wrote previously, maybe the challenge is that UK English simply accepts more spelling alternatives, then. :(


Perhaps adding the affected word(s) to an exclusion dictionary will be helpful. See

"any more" is correct, at least in US when it is referring to quantity, but an error if it is referring to time or sequence. Here is English US:



English UK gives the same result.



No, the top one's an adverb, the bottom's a determiner and in UK English they are both written as 'any more'. The top one is usually 'anymore' in US English. But! All my messing around with this has improved word with the English spelling. Not sure what I've tweaked, thanks to you lot, but 'focussed', 'backwards and forwards' etc. is no longer being underlined.
Thanks a bunch to you all!