Word of the Day: maths or math?

What’s the short for the word “mathematics“? Is it “maths” or “math”? Is it a “maths exercise” or a “math exercise”? “A maths lesson” or a “math lesson”?

Well, dear reader, the answer is: both are Ok. It all depends on where you are.

American English uses the word “math” whereas if you speak British English you should use the form ” maths”. If you have travelled further and are in New Zealand or Australia, then you need to use  the word” maths”.
I work with kids. I tutor them in math (AmE)
I work with kids. I tutor them in maths (BrE)

♥Another thing that might surprise you is the fact that the word “mathematics” is uncountable and therefore takes a singular verb. It has no plural.

Math/ Maths is one of my favourite subjects

There are some other words in English that end in- s but are singular (eg. News, politics, billiards, measles, statistics…)

Politics is a complicated business
The unemployment statistics are worrying

♥Remember that we don’t use capital letters for school subjects but when  we talk about languages, as school subjects, then we need to use a capital letter.

She’s passed with flying colours her Spanish, history and maths exams

So,as you can see there is not just one correct shortened form for the word “mathematics”. If you learned  your English in the US, “math” is correct for you and if you learned it in the UK, then “maths” is the one you should use.

4 thoughts on “Word of the Day: maths or math?

  1. Unfortunately, some students mix British and American English and that is disconcerting for a native speaker.

    You wouldn’t mix Peninsular Spanish and Latin American Spanish.

  2. Today, I was tutoring a twelve-year-old when, while browsing his Student’s book, I was surprised to read that “school subjects are written with a capital letter” and then you could read some sentences which included those subjects. Immediately, I thought about the post you wrote about maths/math.

    How can they make such a mistake? The editors are native English speakers and this is not a typical “typo”?

  3. Well, my experience tells me that even when you are collaborating with university students from the UK , very often they don’t have a clue about how to spell some difficult words. Unfortunately, the number of Spanish students with this problem has been increasing lately and I know who to blame.

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