Spelling Tips: Fulfill or Fulfil? | Proofed’s Writing Tips

Spelling Tips: Fulfill or Fulfil?

“Fulfill” and “fulfil” are different spellings of the same word. So, can you use them interchangeably in your writing? The key question is which dialect you’re using. Read on to find out how to use “fulfill” and “fulfil” correctly.

What Does Fulfill Mean?

“Fulfill” is a verb that means “meet a promise, expectation, or requirement”:

The shop was able to fulfill my order.

I am determined to fulfill my duties as a proofreader.

It can also be used to describe something that makes someone happy or satisfied:

He wants to find a job that will fulfill him.

As shown above, moreover, the standard spelling for this term in American English is “fulfill,” with a double “l” at the end of the word.

Fulfill or Fulfil: American vs. British English

So, what does “fulfil” (with a single “l” at the end) mean? Exactly the same as “fulfill”! The only difference is that “fulfil” is the standard spelling in British English:

The shop was able to fulfill my order.

I am determined to fulfill my duties as a proofreader.

He wants to find a job that will fulfill him.

The same applies to Australian English and other similar dialects. The correct term to use will therefore depend on the dialect you are using. If you are writing for a British audience, for instance, you would need to use “fulfil,” with a single “l” at the end. But for American English, you will usually need “fulfill,” with a double “l.”

If you are using a style guide, moreover, you may want to check for advice on which dialect to use (and any specific spelling preferences to follow).

Note, though, that both versions have a single “l” in the middle. As a result, spellings like “fullfill” or “fullfil” will always be mistakes and need correcting!

Variations on Fulfill

If you are writing for an audience outside the US or using an English dialect other than American English, you may need to look out for vowel suffixes (e.g., word endings like “-ing” or “-ed”). When this happens, British English and similar dialects will follow the doubling up rule. For example:

She fulfilled all the requirements of the role.

Climbing Mount Everest was the most fulfilling experience of my life.

In these cases, then, the American and British spellings are the same. However, when you add a suffix that begins with a consonant, the American and British spelling preferences remain. For instance:

It gave me a real sense of fulfillment = American English

It gave me a sense of fulfilment. = British English

Keep an eye out for these spelling conventions when using these words.

Summary: Fulfil or Fulfill?

While “fulfill” and “fulfil” are variations of the same word, there is a key difference:

  • Fulfill (with a double “l”) is the standard spelling in American English.
  • Fulfil (with one “l” at the end) is the standard spelling in British English.

The spelling to use will thus depend on what dialect you are using. However, you never need a double “l” in the middle of this word, so “fullfill” is always wrong.

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