Draught vs. Draft: What’s the Difference?

The English language is full of confusing words that mix up native and nonnative speakers alike. English is also ripe for dialectical differences, considering its widespread use as an international language and its de facto use in many countries.

English is the primary language in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, all of which are thousands of miles apart. It’s no wonder why there are so many differences in use within the same language.

What is the Difference Between Draught and Draft?

Draught and draft are different spellings of the same word. But, these spellings are used in different parts of the world and at different times.

So, when should the word be spelled draught or draft? Well, that depends on where you are writing, who your audience is, and the context of the word.

In this post, I will go over all of these variables and give you a trick to remember which word is used when. After reading this post, you shouldn’t ever confuse draught vs. draft again.

When to Use Draught

draught versus draft English grammar rulesDraught (pronounced droft) is the preferred British spelling of the word in all but three senses. Those three senses are,

  1. A bank’s payment order.
  2. The compulsory enlistment of people into the military.
  3. An initial or preliminary version.

In all other instances, British writers use draught.

  • In Great Britain, you ask for draught beer.
  • There is a draught in this house.
  • Perhaps we might have a game of draughts? (Called checkers in America)

As I said above, however, British writers do use the spelling draft in three limited senses.

When to Use Draft

draft versus draught spelling rulesDraft, which is a phonetic respelling of draught, is the preferred spelling for all senses in American English. There is no distinction between spellings and meanings, as American English uses draft in all senses.

  • In America, you ask for draft beer.
  • On July 28, the Post held its annual fantasy football draft for a 10-owner league following standard scoring rules. –Washington Post
  • Jimmy Carter did not name each Vietnam draft-dodger when he granted amnesty in 1977, wiping out tens of thousands of criminal convictions. –Washington Post
  • Architect Frank Gehry is working with city officials to draft a new master plan for the redevelopment of the Los Angeles Rivera. –A. Times

There are, of course, many other meanings of ­draft that I didn’t mention.

Here is a sample of those many definitions, a gulp, swallow; the act of drawing a fishing net; a narrow line chiseled on a stone to guide a stonecutter in leveling its surface; the depth of a vessel’s keel below the water line; etc. See others here.

Draught Beer vs. Draft Beer

A lot of people wonder if there is a difference between draught beer and draft beer, and there is one difference between the two: spelling.

That’s right. Draught beer and draft beer are the same thing, just spelled differently. In America, it is spelled draft beer. In the U.K., it is spelled draught beer.

Remember the Difference

how to spell draft or draught in American EnglishIn order to write a piece that is specific for your audience, it’s important to remember when to use which word. Here is a helpful trick to keep track of draft vs. draught.

Draught is the primary spelling in the U.K. Think of the “U” in draught as standing for U.K.

You could also think of the “A” in draft as standing for American English, but since draught also has an “A” in it, this might get confusing.

Summary

Do I use draft or draught? Of course, this depends on how you’re using it.

Draught is the preferred spelling in British English with three exceptions (see above)

Draft is the preferred spelling in American English for all senses of the word.