U.S. Companies take note: stop dissing your friendly neighbors to the north!

Canada Vs USA

Three reasons why writing for the Canadian audience is different.

Oh, America. Why does your copy dis your neighbours to the north?Many US-based companies are under the impression that American English is the same as Canadian English. While there are some similarities, the dialect is quite different. And so are the spellings. Not to mention that my fellow Canadians aren’t keen on U.S.-based sites trying to sell something in their language. If we’re an important enough target audience, shouldn’t companies write their Canada-focused copy Canadian-style? In fact, I’ve seen companies make changes to their U.K.-targeted web copy, but it’s rare to see targeting for my Canadian brethren. What’s up with that?

America, it’s time to wake up and smell the Tim’s! (For those that don’t know, Tim Horton’s coffee is like Starbucks. But better.)

It’s time to shed some light on the need for SEO copywriting geared toward the Canadian market. So here are my quick “˜n dirty top three differences between Canadian and American writing. As a Canadian, I’m used to writing for the American market because we’re bombarded with American media all the time””on TV, in magazines, on the radio, etc. That makes it pretty simple for me to write for a U.S. audience. But can Americans write for Canadian audiences just as easily?Let’s put it to the test.Phraseology””is English still English?

Calling all Americans — do you know how to translate the following words and phrases into Canadianisms?

American = Canadian

Case of beer = Two four (or 2-4)

Peameal bacon = Back bacon

Sofa couch = Chesterfield

Soda = Pop

Sure! You bet! = No worries!

Mac & cheese = Kraft Dinner or KD

Napkins = Serviettes

That’s life. = C’est la vie.

Check please! = Could we have the bill, please?

Join me next week for even more Canadian translations 😉

Different dialect“”Canadians have a distinct speech pattern (and no I’m not talking about being a boot or a boat””that’s the accent). I’m talking about the way we phrase things, the way we communicate. Here’s an example of an “American” sentence:

“No problem, I’ll get the mac and cheese, the soda and beer at a 7-11 on my way home.”

Now here’s how I’d say the same thing as a Canadian:

“No worries, I’ll go to the beer store “˜n grab a two-four, and I’ll get a bottle of pop and some Kraft Dinner at the grocery store.”

Different spellings“”As a Canadian, I have Canadian English, French/English, and American English dictionaries. Oh, and I also have Canadian Press and Globe & Mail style guides and AP & Chicago manual of style guides. Here in Canada, we’re used to writing for different languages. Chances are, a U.S.-based copywriter focuses on American style writing exclusively. Be honest – what’s on your book shelf, America?

Do you know the Canadian spellings for these?
American – Canadian
Jewelry – jewellery
Theater – theatre
Neighborhood – neighbourhood
Offense – offence
Traveler – traveller
Draft – draught
Check – cheque
Dialog – dialogue

The Canadian market is huge. We spend money just like our U.S. counterparts.

It just makes good business sense that companies from all four corners should host a Canadian site and gear some of their copy to speak to this massive audience. Try it and see. Speak to Canadians in their “language.” Voila! You’ll see conversion rates soar from your efforts. Pretty awesome, eh?

1 reply
  1. Joyce Derenas
    Joyce Derenas says:

    I love this article and would love to find more. I’m writing a historic biography and realized a little late that it’s NOT for an American audience, it’s for a Canadian audience and I now need to tweak my wording differently. Thanks so much for the vocabulary check.


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