Word Choice: Check vs. Cheque

Check vs. Cheque

The words ‘check’ and ‘cheque’ sound identical when spoken. You may have noticed, however, that they are rather different in spelling. And that is a recipe for typos. Luckily, we’re here to help! Check out our guide to ‘check’ and ‘cheque’ to find out how to use these words in your writing.

Check (Examine or Stop)

We’ll start with ‘check’, which has quite a few uses. One common usage is as a verb meaning ‘examine for accuracy’, or as a noun to describe the act of checking something:

Verb: I will check when the flight leaves tomorrow.

Noun: Make sure to give it one last check before you go.

However, some other common uses of ‘check’ include the following:

  • Stop or restrain (e.g. We must check the spread of typos in writing)
  • A tick mark (i.e. the ‘✓’ symbol)
  • A chess move (e.g. I will have you in check next turn)
  • A pattern of squares made up of crisscrossing lines (e.g. A check shirt)

You don’t have to remember all these definitions. They key is knowing that ‘check’ is the correct spelling in multiple situations, which is not true of ‘cheque’ (as we will see below).

Cheque (A Bank Order)

‘Cheque’, by comparison, has only one definition. It is a noun meaning ‘a printed form used to make payments from a bank account’. For example:

They only accepted payment by cash and cheque, not credit card.

This does, at least, make it easy to remember what ‘cheque’ means! And it also means you’ll know that ‘check’ is the correct spelling in any situation other than a financial transaction.

It is worth noting, moreover, that American English does not use the spelling ‘cheque’. Instead, it uses ‘check’ for all the senses above, including making a payment from a bank account.

Summary: Check or Cheque?

These terms sound identical, but they have different uses in British English:

  • The word check has multiple meanings as a verb and a noun. Its most common sense is ‘examine for accuracy’ (e.g. I will check the timetable).
  • A cheque is an order to pay a sum of money (e.g. I will pay by cheque).

As long as you remember the meaning of ‘cheque’, then, it should be easy to avoid errors with these terms. Furthermore, as mentioned above, ‘cheque’ is not used in American English. Thus, if you’re writing for a US audience, you will want to use ‘check’ in all circumstances.

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