Analyzed or Analysed: What Is the Difference?

What is the difference between “analyzed” and “analysed”? One of the many challenges of the English language is that we can spell and pronounce certain words differently when we use British or American English, so is this yet another instance of that difference?

The difference between “analyzed” and “analysed” is only in the American English and British English spelling of the word — American English uses “analyzed,” and British English uses “analysed.” The meaning of the word is the same, which means to carefully and closely study or examine something methodically or step-by-step.

This article will compare the difference between the words “analyzed” and “analysed,” examine their meanings, and demonstrate the ways people use them when speaking and writing in English. We’ll also take a look at how and why the use of verb suffixes differs in American and British English.

The Difference between “Analyzed” and “Analysed”

The word “analyzed” or “analysed” functions as a transitive verb that means to discover the nature of something or the relationship of its parts through methodical examination or analysis. It can also mean to subject something to scientific or grammatical analysis.

The word dates back to the 16th century, meaning “to dissect or to take to pieces.” As a transitive verb, it must always have a direct object — something to receive the action of the verb when writing in the active voice or something to perform the action on the subject in the passive voice.

Analyze or Analyse

“Analyze” is the infinitive form or basic form of the verb in US English, while “analyse” is the infinitive form favored in British English. Consider the following examples.

US: One way of reading people is to analyze their facial expressions.
UK: One way of reading people is to analyse their facial expressions.

US: Financial advisors need to analyze all the risks before offering advice on investments.
UK: Financial advisors need to analyse all the risks before offering advice on investments.

Analyzed vs. Analysed

“Analyzed” and “analysed” are the past tense forms of the verb. Again, it is essential that you understand the difference between “analyzed” and “analysed” lies only the difference between American English and British English spelling. The meaning and usage remain the same.

US: He analyzed the data before making a decision.
UK: He analysed the data before making a decision.

US: They critically analyzed his work before the judges made a final decision.
UK: They critically analysed his work before the judges made a final decision.

US: The smartwatch app analyzed her nutrition and exercise data and presented the results.
UK: The smartwatch app analysed her nutrition and exercise data and presented the results.

Analysis

Analyze is the verb form of the noun “analysis,” and we spell “analysis” the same in either dialect.

US/UK: She made a thorough analysis of the problem.
US/UK: My analysis of the data is divided into two parts
US/UK: All the doctors’ analyses of the accident resulted in finding the perpetrators.
US/UK: This is an informal analysis that offers more information on a particular person.
US/UK: They often do a financial analysis on large corporations in order to do this.

Psychoanalyze and Psychoanalysis

The word “analyze/analyse” also forms part of the verb “psychoanalyze/psychoanalyse,” which is to treat someone or something using psychoanalysis or an in-depth study. Again, note that the verb form changes between the two dialects, while the noun form remains the same.

US: Psychiatrists tend to psychoanalyze their patients to gain a better understanding of their issues.

UK: Psychiatrists tend to psychoanalyse (UK) their patients to gain a better understanding of their issues.

US/UK: The man underwent psychoanalysis before they admitted him to the hospital.

Why Does the American and British Spelling Differ? 

A student of English might wonder why American English is slightly different from British English and why they spell certain words differently? 

A Lesson in Linguistic History

American English and British English, as well as their subsequent dictionaries, have differences in words, spellings, and pronunciations because two different sources compiled them with two different perspectives on language. 

Scholars and lexicographers from London compiled the British dictionary by collecting all known English words, and a single lexicographer, Noah Webster, developed the American dictionary and dialect. The job title of lexicographer refers to the person that creates and writes dictionaries in any given language.

Noah Webster wanted American English to be different from that of the British, in part, to show American independence from former British rule. He also wanted to simplify the language by changing the spelling of certain words to resemble more closely the way they sound (source).

For example, he dropped the letter “u” from words like “colour” and “honour,” which had developed from the French influence in England to make them “color” and “honor” instead. 

The simplified spelling meant that it would be easier for a non-native speaker, or even a native speaker unfamiliar with a particular word, to understand how to pronounce it just by looking at the word.

Changing the Verb Suffix from -yse to -yze

We can also see Webster’s emphasis on spelling words the way they sound with British words that contain the “z” sound, as is the case in “analyse,” where he changed the “s” to a “z” to form the word “analyze.”

As we still pronounce them the same in either dialect, their spelling using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) remains the same.

American English SoundBritish English Sound
analyze/ˈan(ə)lʌɪz/analyse/ˈan(ə)lʌɪz/

In American English, the verb suffix is -yze or -ize, while it is -yse or -ise in British English. The original Latin and Greek verb suffixes used the “z” spelling, but a variation in -ize and -ise emerged in Old French.

This usage appeared in Middle English, but a classical revival saw a return to the Greek “z” spelling. However, in 1694, an updated edition of the French Academy dictionary made the “s” spelling standard, and this greatly influenced English.

British English has favored this usage ever since and is linguistically closer to French, while Webster returned the spelling to its Greek and Latin roots.

The following table lists a few other examples of the verb suffix in American and British English.

British English American English 
paralyse
catalyse
realise
minimise
rationalise
subsidise
paralyze
catalyze
realize
minimize
rationalize
subsidize

There are numerous cases where American English changes the “s” in certain British English words to a “z.” This is the case with the words above, as well as the difference between words like cosy and cozy.

What Is Analysis?

The word “analyzed/analysed” stems from the noun “analysis,” which we can understand as a process of studying something complex — looking into the subject in detail to better understand it. It can also refer to the results of a particular study (source).

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary lists the above definition and several others for “analysis,” including to separate something into its component parts. Similarly, it can mean to identify the separate ingredients of a substance, as in a chemical analysis (source).

The same basic concept of breaking down complex things into their component parts applies to multiple disciplines, including mathematics, psychology, and linguistics.

Note that the correct spelling of “analysis” is with an “s” in either British or American English because both dialects pronounce it with the “s” sound.

History of the Word “Analysis”

Our English word “analysis” ultimately comes from the ancient Greek “analusis” through Medieval Latin. In Greek, it often meant loosing, releasing, breaking up, or dissolving (source).

Especially as the Greek philosopher and logician Aristotle used it, it could mean either the solution of or resolution to a particular problem by examining its conditions.

The Greeks derived the word from “ana,” meaning “up,” and “luein,” meaning “loosen” (source).

“Analysis” appears in Medieval Latin in the 15th century, when many Greek scholars fled from the expanding Ottoman Empire to the Latin West. The noun “analysis” in English dates back to the 1580s, where scholars used it to refer to the resolution of something complex by reducing it to simple elements (source).

Plural “Analyses”

The plural of the noun “analysis” is “analyses,” and, here, the spelling also remains the same in both American and British English. “Analyses” even has the appearance of the standard English plural form ending in “s” or “es,” but the rules for forming the plural here differ slightly.

There are some words in English ending in -is that change to -es instead of receiving an additional -es (source).

RuleSingularForming PluralPlural
Noun ending in -s, -sh, -ch, -x or -zguessAdd -es guesses
Noun ending in -isthesisChange -is to -estheses

As a plural noun, we use “analyses” to refer to multiple reports, studies, or examinations (source).

I’ve read multiple historical analyses on the causes of the Cold War.
He enjoyed the commentator’s analyses of each team’s game plan.

Other Forms of “Analyze/Analyse”

Image by ijmaki via Pixabay

The same spelling distinctions apply to various forms of the word analyze/analyse that include the suffixes -ing, -able, -ability, and -er. We apply these to derive such words as “analyzing/analysing,” “analyzable/analysable,” “analyzability/analysability,” and “analyzer/analyser.”

Let’s take a closer look at these words, their parts of speech, their meanings, and how they function in sentences.

Gerund: Analyzing/Analysing

Consider the following examples using either the “z” or the “s” sound in gerunds ending in -ing.

US: Sally spent the day analyzing the information sent to her by the research foundation.
UK: Sally spent the day analysing the information sent to her by the research foundation.

Adjective: Analyzable/Analysable

“Analyzable/analysable” is the adjective form of “analyze” that means something has the capacity for someone to analyze it. It contains the adjective suffix -able after the “z” sound.

US: The physical data needs to be transcribed and processed through the device into analyzable digital data.

UK: The physical data needs to be transcribed and processed through the device into analysable digital data.

US: Some weather phenomena are not analyzable.

UK: Some weather phenomena are not analysable.

Noun: Analyzability/Analysability

“Analyzability/analysability” is a noun, and we use it when we are referring to the degree to which something is analyzable/analysable. For example:

US: The researcher published psychoanalytic material dealing with the analyzability and interpretations of dreams.

UK: The researcher published psychoanalytic material dealing with the analysability and interpretations of dreams.

Noun: Analyzer/Analyser

The word “analyzer/analyser” contains the noun suffix -er, denoting someone or something that analyzes something. You can use this word to refer to a person, machine, or device that analyzes data. For example:

US: She is a deep thinker, an analyzer, and someone who deconstructs her thought patterns.
UK: She is a deep thinker, an analyser, and someone who deconstructs her thought patterns.

US: The lighter particles are the quickest to cross the analyzer tube.
UK: The lighter particles are the quickest to cross the analyser tube.

In order to have a firm grasp of the English language and the many derivatives of certain words, it is helpful for non-native speakers to invest in study aids that can help them make sense of the various forms. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.

Final Thoughts 

Because Noah Webster sought to spell words as we pronounce them, American English uses “analyze,” while British English retains the French spelling of “analyse” despite the origin of the Greek verb suffix. 

Regardless, they both mean to study something complex by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable parts — a useful strategy for learning anything challenging and new. 

When choosing which spelling to use, make sure you consider your audience and whether they are likely to prefer British English or American English.

Dr. Patrick Capriola

Dr. Patrick Capriola is the founder of strategiesforparents.com. He is an expert in parenting, social-emotional development, academic growth, dropout prevention, educator professional development, and navigating the school system. He earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Florida in 2014. His professional experience includes serving as a classroom teacher, a student behavior specialist, a school administrator, and an educational trainer - providing professional development to school administrators and teachers, helping them learn to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of students. He is focused on growing strategiesforparents.com into a leading source for high-quality research-based content to help parents work through the challenges of raising a family and progressing through the school system.

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