One of our readers wrote to ask if we could clarify the difference between program and programme.
The Noun: Program or Programme?
The basic difference is between different languages:
- American English always uses program
- British English uses programme unless referring to computers
- Australian English recommends program for official usage, but programme is still in common use.
The word “program” was predominant in the UK until the 19th century, when the spelling “programme” became more common — largely as a result of influence from French, which has the same word “programme”.
So, if you’re writing in British English (either as part of an examination, if you’re studying English, or for a British publication), here’s some examples of how to use programme and program correctly:
- We’re still drawing up the programme for the concert.
- This computer program won’t run on my PC.
- I missed my favourite television programme last night.
The Verb: To Program, Programmed, Programming
The word program is also a verb, as in “I’ll program the computer today.” In this case, both American and British English use “to program”.
These forms are also valid in American English:
But the Oxford English Dictionary recommends the double-m instead, which is in far more widespread usage:
If in doubt, and writing for a publication, check whether or not they have a style guide or a rule on which form of the verb to use. When you’re writing for yourself, just make sure you’re consistent.
Program and Programme on Newspapers
… “It is a commercial obligation of all 72 Football League teams to have a printed programme for every home game but clubs will vote on whether this will continue… (www.theguardian.com)
… National Citizen Service, which was launched in 2011, brings together young people from different backgrounds for a programme of personal and social development. It offers a three- to four-week part-residential programme where 15- to 1 … (www.theguardian.com)
… New York Times sponsor a subscription program allows you to make a contribution that provides Times digital subscriptions to public schools and student … (www.nytimes.com)
… said Wednesday that members of its rewards program will be able to see up to three movies a week for $19.95 a month as part of its Stubs A-List tier. The movie … (www.usatoday.com)