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What Is the Difference Between Acknowledgement and Acknowledgment?

Updated on May 17, 2019Grammar
Acknowledgement vs. Acknowledgment

This post acknowledges the pesky spelling of acknowledg(e)ment. If the verb ends in -e, where does that letter go when you add the -ment?

For the most part, folks in the United States or Canada will ditch the E, while people outside North America tend to keep it. But that’s far from a hard-and-fast rule, so chances are you’ll see both spellings regardless of where you’re reading.

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If you want to stick to general geographical standards, think of it this way: the British like to use extra letters. Think canceled vs. cancelled, or favorite vs. favourite, for instance—Americans prefer the former in both instances. While “judgment” is a closer parallel to our friend “acknowledgment,” more sources agree that “judgement” with a middle E is just plain incorrect. With “acknowledgment” and “acknowledgement,” on the other hand, you’ll see a lot more of both.

Now that we’ve given acknowledgment to geography, let’s take a peek at some of the most common usages of the word, with examples of both spellings.

1 The act of acknowledging; admission; avowal; owning; confession.

  • Owning up to making a mistake:

The coach was not comforted by the referee’s acknowledgment that he had incorrectly given the star player a red card.

  • Confession of something formerly secret:

May 2, 1939, “marked the beginning of Gehrig’s very public acknowledgement of ALS, the disease which would come to bear his name.” (NBC Sports)

  • Admitting to improper behavior:

“The kingdom awaits the U.S. Government’s acknowledgment of error.” (The National Interest)

2 The act of recognizing the existence, authority, truth, or genuineness of a fact, point, or characteristic.

  • Recognition of a valid point:

The financial analysts interpreted the warning about high spending “as an acknowledgment of their claim that taxes must rise.” (The Australian)

  • Attention to a topic:

“Public acknowledgement of and commitment to diversification strikes a new tone, and suggests recognition of a new reality.” (Foreign Policy)

3 An award or other expression or token of appreciation.

  • Award:

“Each honoree receives a crystal paperweight commemorating the award and $3,345 as an acknowledgment of their superior leadership abilities, scholarship and appreciation of basic American values.” (The Purdue Exponent)

  • Symbol of appreciation:

Young students often give their teachers an apple as an acknowledgment of their teaching.

4 An expression of gratitude or respect.

  • Expression of gratitude:

“He gave from his heart. . . . He did not want a lot of acknowledgement.” (Raw Story)

  • Recognition, appreciation:

“What . . . came to pass on Wednesday night was a sober acknowledgement of Bowie’s talent and contribution to the music industry.” (WWD)

  • A thanks to people who helped an author over the course of writing a book:

“Mr Khanna lists over 400 people in a nine-page acknowledgments section.” (The Economist)

5 A confirmation that something has been received.

  • “Goodwill, favor and payback may result from courteous acknowledgement letters.” (Write Express)
  • “Question: Invitation acknowledgment. Answer: RSVP.” (Crosswords Online)Those are the most common uses of the word, but it can also show up in legal or computing contexts. See a full list of definitions and synonyms here.If you’ve read this far, consider this the acknowledgment that you have finished the article.

    Written by Alice E.M. Underwood

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