If you’ve grown up using the word *math*, you might be wondering about the word *maths*, which you’ve probably encountered from time to time. Did you chalk it up to a typographical error or guess that the person using it was just putting on airs? The same goes, of course, if you grew up saying *maths*. Did *math* sound awfully odd?

At this point, you may be wondering: is there room for both of these words in our vocabularies? Should you be using *maths* instead of *math* in some cases?

The explanation may surprise you—and no, it doesn’t involve any actual math!

**What does ***math *mean?

*math*mean?

Both *math* and *maths* are short for the word *mathematics*. The word *math* can refer to either the discipline or subject of mathematics. It can also refer to mathematical procedures. In a sentence like *She enjoys studying math and science*, the word *math* refers to the subject or discipline of mathematics. In the sentence* She insisted on seeing his math so she could understand his proposal*, *math* refers to actual calculations.

**What does ***maths *mean?

*maths*mean?

*Maths* has the very same definition as *math*. If you substitute *maths* into any of the above examples, the sentences mean the exact same thing. For example: *He loves school, but he especially enjoys maths*.

**How to use ***math* and *maths*

*math*and

*maths*

The only difference between *math* and *maths* is where they’re used. *Math* is the preferred term in the United States and Canada. *Maths* is the preferred term in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and other English-speaking places.

There’s no real logical explanation as to why *math* became preferred in some places while *maths* was elsewhere. The usual argument goes that *mathematics* is plural because it ends in an *-s*, so *maths* should be its abbreviation. The problem is that, while it ends in an –*s*, *mathematics* is a mass noun and usually takes a singular verb (e.g., *Mathematics is my best subject*).

Both of these words date back to the turn of the 20th century. There are examples of *math* in writings from the 1840s, and of *maths* from the 1910s.

**Other differences between British and American English**

In some cases, British and American English use different words for the same concept. For example, American English speakers use the words *truck*, *shopping cart*, and *sweater*;* *British English speakers say *lorry*, *trolley*, and *jumper* to mean the same things.

In other cases, the differences between British and American English words are much more subtle. For instance, American English uses the term *racecar*, while British English uses the word *racing car*.

In still other cases, British and American English words differ by just one letter, as in the case of *math* and *maths*. British English includes *U *in the spelling of French-derived words, such as *colour* or *favourite*, which American English omits.

This also happens with the words *sport* and *sports*. In American English, you’d say, “I enjoy playing sports, and I also like watching sports.” In British English, this sentence would be “I enjoy playing sport, and I also like watching sport.” This time, it’s American English that likes the –*s*!